Camping equipment, especially that which is considered the best, is built and cemented into place on a series of underpinnings. A camping chair, should fill the following 3 commandments: durability, portability and comfortability.
Whenever you’re in the market for new camping gear, you need to tattoo, staple and memorize those crucial components. In essence, you should walk down the aisle of any sport store or outdoor emporium chanting under your breath: “Durability, comfort, portability…”
We are here to help you pick out the best camping chair out there, to single out the winners, and hand out the trophies and gold medals just so you get a comfortable seat on your next outdoor adventure. If you don’t feel like a longer read, our 3 favorites are listed below. For a more detailed comparison, keep reading on and check out our buyer’s guide as well as an in-depth look at 10 of our favorites currently in production.
- Camping Chair Buyer’s Guide
- Top 10 Chairs For the Money
- Parting Thoughts
Camping Chair Buyer’s Guide
There are dozens of companies that cater to campers, hikers, mountaineers, fisherman, outdoor enthusiasts and weekend wilderness wanderlusters in this red, white and blue nation. If you add to that list the hundreds that spring liberally throughout the globe, you suddenly have a free-for-all. Hundreds and hundreds of corporations want a piece of the camping pie.
North Face, Patagonia, Nemo, Montagne, Outdoor Gear Builders, First Ascent and Big Kahuna—just to name a few. If you also happen to stack onto that pile the different multi-nationals, that also have a dedicated branch of their award winning product (Victorinox, Nike, Under Armor), snaking their way into that niche, the list suddenly balloons into unknown territory.
When it comes to buying camping equipment and figuring out where to place your bets, the trouble starts to snowball into epic proportions the minute you come into any store and find yourself bombarded by so many brands of different types of chairs. Luckily, we are here to help.
We’ve decided to limit ourselves to a few brands—the ones you can find nationwide at any shop and those which have a sterling track record and impressive resume to their nature.
1. Big Brands: Alps and Coleman
Coleman is THE classic camping gear company. It has a rich history that spans decades and a variety of products that have become iconic and benchmarks of the American spirit. Coleman is part of the tapestry that is Americana. The company, which specializes in outdoor recreation products, began its career in the early 1900s in Oklahoma.
Its most distinctive and perhaps most famous product has been the legendary Coleman Lantern. Since the 1920’s, Coleman has expanded its operation, and now includes tents, camping stoves, cookware, sleeping bags, chairs, and just about everything you’d likely need in order to brave the outdoors with some level of comfort in its huge catalogue of goods.
Alps Camping, meanwhile, is the relatively new kid on the block. Nonetheless, since its inception, it has managed to grab the public’s attention and garnered a great deal of support for its various products.
Founded as ALPS Mountaineering by Dennis Brune in 1993, this newcomer has taken the industry by storm. They have a catalog as diverse and noteworthy as Coleman’s (that alone is a great claim to fame) and, like that giant, one of their most enduring traits is the fact that it has flooded the market with its products.
2. Materials: What’s Best?
When you picture a comfortable seat, you’re probably envisioning a simple fabric throne that’s portable and easy to use. Nowadays, this standard is a thing of the past.
The top options on the market right now, aside from a series of features and add-ons, sport one tangible difference from those hulking beasts our forefathers lugged around… space-age synthetic fabrics. Each company has their own take on what fabric is the top choice. You may also be asking which fabric is is the lightest of the group.
The reality of the situation is that polyester or nylon mesh (no matter how they call it) is the big ticket item in chair’s manufacturing industry. Although they have their downside (both get hot during the summer), their many upsides trump everything else. Synthetic fabrics are lightweight, durable, some are waterproof and easy to clean, all significant and important attributes for a camping chair.
3. Different Types of Camping Chairs
Backpacking chairs – Backpacking chairs are portable, diminutive chairs that can be easily be attached to a backpack or fold to fit inside one. They are generally nothing more than a tiny stool with three legs. What you should look for in this case is something that’s extremely small and lightweight. In these types, the one trait you should prioritize is portability. Here, in this subgroup is where you’ll find the best portable chairs.
Beach chairs – If you want to take your seat out onto the sand, we highly recommend one that’s beach ready— some companies pride themselves on advertising this fact. These are usually lightweight, light-colored choices constructed out of a nylon mesh. The mesh will ultimately keep you well ventilated as you soak up the sun. You should also find something with waterproof treatment to protect from the sea air.
Tailgating chairs – Tailgating or car camping offers a unique opportunity as far as options are concerned. Tailgating typically doesn’t involve a lot of walking; as such, when buying, bulk, size and weight aren’t really critical issues. Here you have the advantage of choosing your seat solely based on its comfort—something that’s cozy, agreeable and absolutely delightful to sink into.
Special features – The add ons: Nowadays, everything, no matter how trivial, either comes with an extra feature or a free gift. Camping chairs are no different, they’ll do anything to lure their target away from the competition and into their grasp. Some of the most common add ons are: parasol, bivouac covering, waterproof sheet, free carrying bag, cooler, miniature electric fan, magazine rack, etc.
Top 10 Chairs For the Money
While Alps and Coleman take up a big chunk of our list, there’s plenty of high quality options out there on the market today. We are going to cover our 10 favorites. While our list is not all-inclusive, these nine chairs will cover just about any outdoor camping adventure you can throw at them.
Below, we look at our 10 favorites in much more detail. We cover cost, features, pros, cons and more. Any of the chairs in our top 10 should put you on the path to a very successful outdoor excursion, whenever the wilderness calls.
1. Coleman’s Oversized Quad
This is the perfect high-backed chair on the market right now. Coleman really outdid itself with this product. It has absolutely everything you could possibly want and need, and a bit more, for lounging about after a nice stroll through the woods. This chair was designed for the libertarian in mind, it has all the comfort and added features you’ll want at hand at your campsite, BBQ, picnic or backyard.
The Coleman Oversized Quad Chair is made of high grade polyester and comes equipped with a built in arm rest cooler that holds up to four cans. The mesh cup holder keeps a fifth drink close at hand. The storage pocket is handy for magazines and/or personal items. It has adjustable arm rest heights and the chair itself can hold up to 300 pounds. It’s compact and fits in most car trunks and comes with a 1 year limited warranty.
The bottom line is that the Oversized Quad Chair kicks some serious camping butt. It comes in more than one color, and is pretty much a steal for the cooler alone. The only drawbacks are that it might take you a few times to get comfortable getting it back into the original bag and figuring out how to carry more than one chair at a time. The Oversized Quad chair is a favorite of many, and is generally perfect for the budget minded camper.
2. ALPS Mountaineering Rendezvous
This low-profile chair, flying under the radar, is ALPS’ answer to hikers—one of the top folding chairs and portable marvels in the market right now. The Rendezvous is a lightweight, highly durable, resilient, transportable chair. It has a durable steel frame with legs low to the ground that are perfect for all kinds of earth (mud, sand, Astroturf, etc.).
The Alps Mountaineering Rendezevous has many of the same traits that the Coleman Quad does, and for a lot of people – the choice between the two comes down to personal preference and the want/need for a cooler. These chairs are slightly smaller than the Coleman, making them ideal for backpacking, hiking or carrying out to the beach. The steel frame is powder coated, making it extremely durable. The weight capacity is 300 pounds, and it only weighs 6.8 pounds.
The primary advantage this chair has over most of the others is the fact that it’s extremely portable and lightweight, which means it’s perfect for camping trips, hunting trips, time at the beach or even a picnic at your local park. It can be taken pretty much anywhere you want to go. The only downside is the lack of cup holders, but hey – that’s what your hands are for.
3. Coleman Suspension Chair
The Coleman Comfortsmart Suspension Chair is the top option for those with a bit more girth on their bones. It’s a surprisingly comfortable seat with a flexible bungee suspension system that has just the right amount of give and durability for those looking for a little more comfort. The mesh back gives it an added comfort level on those hot days; the glass holder is a must when you simply need a cold beverage; and, finally, the frame is perhaps one of the most reliable.
One of the primary bragging points that the Comfortsmart Suspension Seat has is that it’s extremely comfortable. The nylon mesh has quite a bit of flexibility, making it extremely comfortable. Similar to other choices on the list, this option can hold up to 300 pounds and is a little more comfortable doing it.
The bungee system it has that anchors the nylon mesh is a winner. It allows the nylon mesh more flexibility and give when you move around in your chair, and it also contours to your body extremely well. The glass holder is decent, and can hold just about any type of drink container. The only real drawback is that it weighs almost double (over 14 pounds) some of the competition. That means if you are a backpacker or hiker, there are better options. It’s also slightly more expensive than some of the others on our list, but hey – you’ve gotta pay for comfort.
4. ALPS Mountaineering King Kong
The name sort of says it all, King Kong. This chair doesn’t disappoint. If the king of Skull Island needs a place to rest for a while, this little beauty would happily give him a hand. Hailed by its makers as the “final stand against disposable chairs,” the King Kong is the sturdiest chair on the market right now. It’s perhaps the top choice for folks that need a bit more support.
The ALPS Mountaineering can hold up to 800 pounds, making it one of the more heavy duty options available. It carries on your shoulder in a convenient shoulder bag, and has a cup holder on each arm which is great if you have kids. It weighs in at only 12.8 pounds, making it about average against its competition. It also comes equipped with two magazine pockets for extra storage.
The only real drawback to the ALPS Mountaineering chair is the fact it’s a little more expensive than some of its competitors. It’s a more luxurious chair though, and typically you have to pay a little more for comfort.
5. Caravan Sports Zero Gravity
Unlike others on this list, that transform into a cylindrical pole, Caravan decided to go another route with its Sport Infinity Zero Gravity Chair. It folds like one of those auditorium metal seats you see so often in empty gyms. This is a unique thing. Is it a bad thing? We’re not passing judgement—it all depends on what you’re looking for. This chair was made for those who have simply gotten tired of trying to stuff their Coleman or Alps back into the carry-on to no avail. With Caravan’s wonder, all you really have to do is fold it like a sandwich and lock it into place with its improved locking system.
This is perhaps one of the most comfortable outdoor options we’ve featured here, but if you are a hiker or someone that needs to limit your pack weight – glaze over the Caravan ZG Chair. The weight is almost 19 pounds, making it one of the most unfriendly choices when it comes to weight. With that being said, if you plan to pull up to your camping site in your car, this is an extremely comfortable option that you can unload and relax in next to the trees.
It supports up to 300 pounds and has a recline function (something that most of the products we feature in this review lack). The headrest is adjustable and helps keep you comfortable while you elevate your feet in reclining position. It also comes in a variety of different color, so you can pick whichever suits you best.
6. KingCamp Moon Saucer
King Camp wanted to try something different to see if they could rise and challenge the Gods (Alps and Coleman) with its own take. It put the beanbag of these seats on the market. The Moon Sauce is a heavy-duty polyester chair with foldable iron frame that isn’t really that spectacular to begin with. The only real thought that went into this product was on how to make it a cool chair and not necessarily a practical one.
If you are a backpacker or a hiker, this is another seat you can steer clear of. This particular option should be used by campers, hunters, and people just looking for a really cool and different looking product that they can just pop out of their car and setup on the ground. It’s got an extremely well padded seat and is very comfortable for long periods of sitting.
The frame holds up to 260 pounds, and the flat discs on the bottom of the legs will prevent it from sinking into the sand or other surface you use the chair on. What could be the best part is that it allows you to sit in it however you want, making it a perfect chair to curl up in and read a good book while sitting outdoors among the trees. The only drawback is the fact that it’s slightly bulkier to carry and weighs a tad more than its competition.
7. Coleman Quattro Lax Double Quad
Who would have thought that these products had that niche, let alone that Coleman would exploit it? This is the best chair to get close up and cozy with your loved ones. Whether it’s cuddling up with your kiddos during a camping trip, or sitting next to your significant other after a long hike, the Quattro Double Quad is a great chair to hang out in together.
The Quattro Double Quad seats 2 people and has 2 mesh cup holders as well as 2 seat back pockets for you to double up on your reading material. It folds up for compact storage and transport and is a nice option if you need a two seater but only feel like carrying one along for the ride.
This one is not meant for someone that’s just looking for a little extra room as the supports in the middle are designed specifically for two people to occupy the space. It’s basically a really nice camping love seat that you can tag a long on family camping trips. It’s just over 10 pounds making it not too heavy to carry, but there are plenty of other options that are lighter which would make more sense if you are a hardcore hiker. It’s a great choice if you’ve got someone else to share it with.
8. Coleman Broadband With Mesh
This is Coleman’s entry-level camping seat. Among the best of the best camp chairs on the market, this is a standard version. It has all the necessary doodads and things that you would need out in the wilderness, minus none of the extras. It’s exactly what it advertises itself as… a comfortable, will-get-the-job-done, camping seat from Coleman. It’s a durable, affordable and best of all, a comfortable choice.
Basically the Broadband Mesh Quad Chair is one of the cheapest options you can find, but it’s not quite as comfortable as some of the higher quality products. It supports up to 250 pounds, but you’ll want to look at other options if you want a little more support.
If you are on a strict budget, or need to purchase several seats, then the Broadband is a fantastic option to keep your costs low and have something to sit on. If you can afford a higher quality option, then the next tier up would be our top choice, the Oversized Quad Chair with cooler.
9. Kijaro Dual Lock
Kijaro’s primary selling point is the fact that it offers its fans a medley of colors to brighten up their camping life along with no-sag seating. These are great chairs, with an amazing mobility based on a push-lock mechanism. It’s one of the most stable options on this list, and also one of the most portable.
The fact that you can get them in just about any color is a huge plus because you can take them to your favorite sporting event and support your team by matching colors. At just 9.5 pounds, it’s also pretty lightweight and easy to carry around. It supports up to 300 pounds like most standard camping seats, and looks good while doing it.
It’s made out of 600D polyester which is a stronger synthetic fabric that’s designed to take a lot of abuse. There is a strap on the carry bag but also directly on the chair as well, so if you want to pick up and move locations at your kid’s football game – it’s easy to do. The price point is good, making the Kijaro a solid little camping seat. The only drawback is the lack of a rust proof coating, so if you expose the chair to salty sea-air, don’t expect the rust to stay away long term.
10. TravelChair Slacker Folding Seat
This is the ultimate hiking chair. It’s a simple tripod developed for extreme circumstances; incredibly durable, amazingly lightweight and highly portable. This is one of the best hiking stools out there. With a total weight of 1.9 lbs. and integral Velcro straps, this travel set is designed to weigh less than a newspaper and also fold into the relative size of one.
This option is perfect for people that need to carry light which typically is hikers, backpackers and hunters. It makes a much better seat than a nearby rock or large log, and offers decent support for being such a small option. It’s made of high quality 600D polyester fabric as well, so it can take a beating and keep going.
The feet generate decent friction and prevent it from sliding around, which is a huge plus. The TravelChair slacker comes in a variety of different colors, and the whole chair has been double coated with a protective coating to prevent fading or product degradation from the sun. The only drawback is the fact that it’s basically a stool, so don’t expect a ton of lower back support.
There’s an option for every occasion and environment. Before you go out and buy your next portable seat, the best thing you can actually do is pinpoint what exactly you’ll need it for. Once you have that answered, everything else will fall into place.
If you’re tailgating, RV camping, or simply just veering up to a lake and popping the trunk of your car open, you simply can’t go wrong with Coleman’s Oversized Quad Chair With Cooler. It has all the extras and necessary add-ons to really help you relax out in the wilderness. One of the only cons, the fact that it lacks padding, can easily be remedied with a travel pillow. Its weight, and the fact that it’s not as portable as the rest shouldn’t really matter given the fact that you’re not exactly lugging it up a mountain.
If you’re in the market for something foldable, easy to store, that you can pop out at your next BBQ and score some whoa points from your neighbors, then go out and buy Caravan’s Sports Infinity Zero Gravity. It’s extremely chick and slick, a bit posh, easy to maneuver and use, and, over all, immensely comfortable. But, this is not a hiking or camping seat; this is an outdoors/patio seat.
If you’re scaling a mountain, rappelling down the face of Kilimanjaro or simply going out for a 3-hour walk, then ditch all other seat choices and buy a lightweight, easy-to-use, stool. As such, you can’t go wrong—given its price—with TravelChair Slacker Folding Tripod Camp Stool. We’ve field tested this portable option and can honestly say, that during a 5 hour hike, we hardly noticed its weight as it hung off our backpacks.
If you’re a bit bulky, or have a spare tire or two spare tires hanging off your belly, then by all means go out and fetch ALPS Mountaineering King Kong. It’s one of the most durable options on the market and can actually support more than 700 lbs.