Written By
Published Nov. 11, 2021

Any camping trip can become a potentially miserable experience without an appropriate camping chair. Sure, camping today is more a ritualistic reminder of the primitive roots we all share, but while it may be a “primitive” experience, we no longer have to utilize the primitive tools and equipment our ancestors did. If you’re looking for a useful camping accessory for your next outdoor adventure, consider a camping chair to bring comfort to your campsite. 

Those who have been in the military are intimately familiar with camping, especially the infantry since that’s half of the job description. In my unit, several of us had purchased little three-post camping stools to take into the field. One day, I got the bright idea to use my stool as an improvised seven-ton seat, and within a matter of minutes, the stool’s legs gave out and we all had a good laugh at my expense. I had no clue back then what to look for in a camping chair and I’ve learned my lessons the hard way. Let’s make sure you don’t make the same mistake.

There is a major difference between cheap, generic-brand chairs and the best camping chairs that cost a little more, which is what we’ll explore here. Listen up, because these chairs could save your hiney during your next excursion into the great outdoors.

You need a camping chair that’s not just going to hold you up, but also hold your drinks and accessories while you sit around spinning yarns — and even then, you need to know that it’s going to hold up time and time again. This dual-locking chair by Kijaro exceeds camping chair expectations as it locks in both the open and closed positions. Constructed from diamond rip-stop polyester and steel tubing, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a comparable seat for the same price.

Weighing in at 9.5 pounds, it’s light enough to carry on most camping expeditions. The built-in carrying strap allows you to easily carry your locked chair without having to stuff it into a bag or worry about it flinging open. The mesh back offers excellent ventilation on hot summer days while preventing water build-up if you leave it out in the rain. Each armrest sports a mesh cup holder, and dropping from the right side of the seat is a zipping pocket organizer with two mesh outer pockets.

Product Specs
  • Brand: Kijaro
  • Dimensions: 37 inches tall, 23.5 inches wide, 26 inches deep
  • Load Capacity: 300 pounds
PROS

Excellent weight capacity

Locks in both open and closed positions

Diamond rip-stop polyester for increased durability

Mesh organizer pouch

CONS

Small diameter footpegs could sink in soft ground

19-inch seat height slightly higher than your average chair

Price alone does not determine value. It’s about how much you get for how much you pay — and when a two-pound chair can hold 242 pounds at the same price as a good steak dinner, that’s a value not to overlook.

The seat is made from 600D Oxford cloth, which means its nylon makeup is thick and durable, and nicely contrasts with the mesh backing. Both sides of the chair feature seven-inch wide pockets to stash your cell phone, book, or other accessories. You may struggle to get out of this chair with the seat a foot off the ground, which might not be a bad thing after a long day. The whole chair packs up into a 14.2-inch by 4.7-inch carrying case that could easily attach to the side of most hiking packs.

Product Specs
  • Brand: Moon Lence
  • Dimensions: 25.6 inches tall, 23.6 inches wide
  • Load Capacity: 242 pounds
PROS

Incredibly lightweight

Strong construction

Easy-to-carry compact design

CONS

No armrests

Not recommended for anyone weighing more than 230 pounds

Narrow feet could sink in soft surfaces

Maybe if I’d had this tripod chair, my seven-ton story might have ended differently — it does have a 275-pound rating, after all. Then again, even if you have a chair capable of holding you and your gear, it’s never a good idea to use it while riding in a vehicle. This tripod chair is still superior to the inexpensive one I had purchased back then.

The seat is a combination of nailhead and rip-stop fabrics which offers excellent durability and longevity. Even the steel frame is designed to be durable with a powder coat finish to ward off bad weather juju. All three of the legs feature wider-than-most footpegs to offer extra stability and prevent sinking. It is incredibly portable too, weighing under two pounds, and folding up to a 24-inch tall by 2.75-inch wide bundle.

Product Specs
  • Brand: TravelChair
  • Dimensions: 20 inches tall, 14 inches deep, and 12 inches wide
  • Load Capacity: 275 pounds
PROS

Compact and lightweight

Strong steel tubing

Durable seat fabrics

CONS

No armrests or back support

Not ideal for lengthy lounging

Just because you go camping to disconnect from the world doesn’t mean you have to disconnect from one another, and OmniCore Designs has done an interesting job with this collapsible loveseat. The standout feature is the MoonPhase technology, a large piece of mesh that connects the two seats that allows a side-by-side or curved arrangement. You can easily pair this with a folding table for an enjoyable date night.

The seats themselves feature double-layered quilted padding for superior comfort. The armrests are sloped, allowing natural rest of the arms, and sport mesh lining that connects to the seat. Each armrest also features a drop-down cup holder and attached bottle opener. At the bottom of each leg is a square foot-peg that offers a little extra security on softer ground. Included is a carrying case with built-in backpack straps to free your hands for more important gear when setting up or taking down.

Product Specs
  • Brand: OmniCore
  • Dimensions: 42 inches wide
  • Load Capacity: 600 pounds
PROS

Moonphase technology for variety seating

High load capacity

Backpack-style carrying case

Integrated bottle opener

CONS

Heavier than single-seat chairs Quilted seats would soak up more rain than other chairs

Quilted seats would soak up more rain than other chairs

Ultralight Premium

One lesson from the military stuck with me: Ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain. It’s a lesson all backpackers are familiar with or learn very quickly, and is why ultralight camping gear has seen so much research and development in recent years. Weighing in at only one pound and two ounces, the Helinox Chair Zero is the prime example of this principle in action, specifically designed for those who plan to hit the trails and mountains for days or weeks at a time.

The metal frame is constructed from an aluminum alloy by DAC; slender they may seem, but strong they are, sporting rubber footpegs for stability on hard surfaces. The seat is a simple design and built from rip-stop polyester material that resists UV rays and harsh weather. Setting up and taking down is incredibly simple: the seat and frame are separate pieces, and it stows away into a 14-inch tall by 4-inch wide carrying bag. That’s small enough to fit in the side pouches on most hiking packs.

Product Specs
  • Brand: Helinox
  • Dimensions 25 inches tall, 20.5 inches wide, 19 inches deep
  • Load Capacity 265 pounds
PROS

Weighs just over one pound

Incredible load capacity

Easy setup and takedown

Portable and compact

CONS

Small footpegs are not ideal for soft ground

Low seat height

If your back is bad like mine, then you’ll probably appreciate a high back chair that offers extra support and relaxation. This NiceC version is a great lightweight option you’ll look forward to after setting up camp. The seat starts at 19 inches, comparable to your standard dining chairs, and the chair is a total of 38.5 inches tall with a slight recline.

Constructed with a 7075 aluminum frame and 1000D Oxford polyester seat material, you’re looking at a durable chair. As long as you don’t go over the 250-pound weight limit, you should see plenty of life from this campsite accessory. Despite its lack of armrests, the chair features two mesh pouches that hang from either side. The sides themselves are also a mesh material, allowing you to chill. Everything packs away into a 17-inch by 6-inch carrying bag that’s included.

Product Specs
  • Brand: NiceC
  • Dimensions: 38.5 inches tall, 23 inches wide
  • Load Capacity: 250 pounds
PROS

Tall back for increased relaxation

Lighter than most camping chairs

Detachable pillow included

CONS

Narrow footpegs could sink in softer ground

No armrests

‘Glamour camping’ has become so popular that it’s now just referred to as “glamping.” This is any camping that involves non-primitive creature comforts, including but not limited to an RV, cabin tent, generator, or any number of high-tech gadgets. If this sounds like your style of camping, then there’s no better pick for your glamping site than a zero gravity chair.

Featuring oversized dimensions, this chair can easily be locked into any position between 0 and 170 degrees. That allows the double-cord suspension system to fully support any recline level you desire. You can customize the position of the head cushion depending on the intensity of your napping needs, too. Probably one of the neatest features, though, is the attached side table with a built-in cup holder.

Product Specs
  • Brand: Ever Advanced
  • Dimensions: 29.5 inches long, 32 inches wide, and 45 inches tall
  • Load Capacity: 350 pounds
PROS

Zero gravity relaxation

No assembly required

Hard side table attached

Locks into position from 0 to 170 degrees

CONS

No carrying bag included

Too heavy to easily carry around

Premium pricing

That’s right: the outdoor gear market makes rocking camping chairs — and these sure as hell aren’t what Granny Clampett used. The GCI freestyle rocker is a camping chair that allows you to rock back and forth by using spring-action technology, which helps keep the chair from being cumbersome and bulky like traditional rockers. Even with springs, this chair sports a 250-pound load capacity, good enough for most folks.

The sturdy frame is built from steel tubing and is powder-coated to protect from the elements. Each armrest features padding with a drop-down cup holder on the right side (sorry lefties). Although it weighs 13 pounds, the chair easily folds up for transport. Thanks to the rocking design, there’s plenty of material to provide a secure placement on most terrain types, but I recommend avoiding the beach.

Product Specs
  • Brand: GCI Outdoor
  • Dimensions: 24 inches deep, 25 inches wide, 31 inches tall
  • Load Capacity: 250 pounds
PROS

It rocks!

Compact design

Heavy load capacity

CONS

Not ideal for soft ground

No carrying case included

Why you should trust us

Camping was a family tradition growing up, and we went through our fair share of chairs. Since then, I’ve purchased many and sat in many more in search of the best option. Being a larger man, I have broken a few chairs, even ones rated for my weight. It pays to have friends, and throughout my adventures, I’ve built relationships with many hikers and campers who have shared their experiences with me. I’ve combined my own experiences with those I’ve learned about to evaluate where to rest your rump. 

Types of camping chairs

There are many styles of camping chairs available on the market — too many to jot down here, so instead, we’ll focus on the weight range. This is a huge determining factor in what the chair can do for you. Generally speaking, the more features a chair has, the heavier it will be. On the inverse side, the fewer features a chair has, the lighter it could be. The weight also determines the ease of transportability and versatility. 

Ultralight

This is the category that any chair under three pounds belongs in. Construction is simple and uses alloy metals instead of traditional steel tubing. Fabrics will be thinner and lighter than other chairs. Typically, the design allows the chair to be strapped to or carried inside a hiking pack.

Light to medium 

Here’s where you’ll find the generic camping chair, as well as some fancier versions with varying features. These chairs weigh more than three pounds, but not more than 10 pounds. They’ll still be easy enough to carry around, but not for any extended period of time (over five minutes). Constructions will remain simple but can include steel frames. The fabrics will be thicker and vary in texture. 

Heavy

Anything over 10 pounds is heavy for a foldable camping chair. You might be capable of lugging it around, but why would you want to? Construction is of heavy metal framing and fabrics will feature thick materials. It is the size that generally makes these chairs so heavy. This category is really best suited for your backyard patio than camping. 

Benefits of camping chairs 

Rest

The most prominent benefit of a camping chair is to be able to sit and rest. Setting up and working a campsite is hard work, especially if you’re crazy enough to hike into it. Sitting allows our body to rest the legs and core without having to lay down on the ground.

Connect with others

Believe it or not, sitting down allows us to connect with others. Talking to someone who is sitting while you’re standing isn’t the best body language to use. Getting on the same level with someone allows you to better connect with them. 

Storytelling 

No, seriously: If you go camping and no stories are told, did you really go camping? Storytelling and campfires go together like PB and chocolate (don’t be jelly). Setting up camping chairs allows you to share your stories from a relaxed position. 

Camping chairs pricing

Inexpensive

Like any other product, you get what you pay for. Cheap chairs can be found almost anywhere and are only good for a few outings or a whole season, if you’re lucky. The options, styles, and features offered by cheap chairs are pretty limited, making these chairs not very versatile.

Moderate

These are your average camping chairs that feature more padding, increased seam work, and creature comforts like cup holders. The durability of these chairs will offer you a few seasons of usage, especially if you take care of them. With more options comes more versatility. 

Premium

Believe it or not, there are camping chairs that cost more than your auto payment. In this category, you’ll find butt heaters, rockers, and more. The materials used are going to be of higher quality and offer greater durability and longevity. Premium-priced chairs are an investment in your adventures. 

How we chose our top picks

Each product was selected based on performance criteria and the brand’s respective history of reliability. We looked for chairs that could be used by the average traditional camper, as well as chairs with special features more suited for non-traditional camping. We avoided products with extravagant pricing or unrealistic claims. Not all of these reviews come from hands-on testing, and rely upon industry knowledge and experience instead.

FAQs on camping chairs

You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.

Q: Is a camping chair the same as a beach chair?

A: No, beach chairs are typically lower to the ground and feature bars or wide pads to prevent the chair from sinking into the sand. You could use your camping chair on the beach if you want, though.

Q: Can camping chairs get wet?

A: Yes, depending on the type of material. However, it could impact the durability and longevity of your camping chair, not to mention make your butt soggy.

Q: Do weight limits on camping chairs matter?

A: Absolutely! At least for big guys like me. 

Q: Do I need a camping chair? 

A: Not necessarily. If you can sit on a rock, a stump, or the ground for hours at a time without aches, pains, or losing circulation, then go right ahead. 

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Scott Whisler is a Marine Corps veteran and family man. He’s an avid student of philosophy who strives for self-growth and challenge, both found in his outdoor adventures.  As a new Okie, his focus is on exploring the South Central region. His lifetime goal is to have excursions in all of the National Parks.

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