Lightweight Chairs for Backpacking (Gear Guide & Reviews)
Jun 29, 2019 at 5:35 am #3599874Backpacking LightAdmin
@backpackinglightLocale: Rocky Mountains
Companion forum thread to: Lightweight Chairs for Backpacking (Gear Guide & Reviews)
Reviews of lightweight chairs and other seating options for backcountry use, including backpacking – 18 chairs and seats less than 25 oz.Jun 30, 2019 at 7:29 am #3599990GumboBPL Member
@redgumLocale: Aussie in exile in the PNW
Great review, covering most of the benefits and trade-offs of backpacking chairs. I wouldn’t take one on a through hike, but one of the joys of getting my base weight real low is being able to add a chair back in, for anything in the 1-4 day range.
I love my Helinox Chair Zero, though would consider the REI alternative if starting over, given the 2oz weight savings. It looks like it might have slightly better geometry, though I’d probably miss the extra back height, and definitely the leg angle – I like to stretch my legs out (and find the inflatable kits very comfortable – though not enough to be willing to risk enduring the discomfort of a leaky sleeping pad).
One additional factor in choosing between the REI and Helinox frame chairs is warranty/customer service. These chairs are pushing the boundaries of durability, and I (6`, 175#) have buckled a leg on the Helinox while wrestling a log onto the fire. It was repaired free of charge under warranty, but being a Big Agnes brand, they’d have likely done so for the life of the chair. Not sure if REI would have done the same – they don’t list a warranty for the chair, and are known to limit “wear and tear” claims. That said, I have no idea of (the new, standalone) Helinox’s customer service, now that they’re no longer under the BA umbrella.Jun 30, 2019 at 8:09 pm #3600066Shawn PeytonBPL Member
@alifeoutdoorsLocale: Iron River, WI
Little tip I picked up from here a year or so ago, the chair zero skin will fit the ground chair frame. The weight of the ground chair and the zero are the same. If you don’t mind the lower chair. Doing most of our backpacking in north woods the legs sink 90% of the time. I already had a ground chair so I knew that it wasn’t an option for my 220 lbs but picked one up for the wife. They sank just as much for her. I was contemplating a DIY foot situation until I ran across someone posting the tip in a thread I can’t remember. It was a little expensive of a solution as I had to pick up a ground chair for her but I just ordered the replacement zero skin for myself. It is nice having options though, day hiking, canoeing or camping take the tougher ground chair original skin to save wear on the zero skin which only gets put in for backpacking.
Anyway……..great thorough review, I’ve tried just about every chair option there is the last twenty years seeking the unicorn. Your thoughts were pretty dead on. I love that we’re in the era of the 1 lb frame chair, I’ve stripped the rest of my load just to feel good about taking that extra pound. I don’t have to have it but the older I get the more my back appreciates taking some pressure off during breaks or at the end of the day.
Jul 1, 2019 at 8:44 pm #3600238Ben H.BPL Member
- This reply was modified 3 months, 2 weeks ago by matthew k.
@bzhayesLocale: No. Alabama
Nice run-down! I’m glad someone put the chairs side-by-side.
In terms of room for innovation, it seems like the Monarch butterfly could use a make-over. It doesn’t make any sense to me that a 2-legged chair would weigh 25% more than a 4-legged chair. The weight only makes sense from when the chairs were developed (Monarch butterfly is much older and the model that spurred innovation of this type of chair).
Also, you mentioned:
Maybe it’s time for an established cottage brand to take this challenge on – or for someone new to make an entrance…
I am surprised you didn’t mention slinglight particularly since they appear to be back in production (at least for the time being): https://www.slinglight.com/sl2/orders/ I would have been nice to hear how they compare to the top two on your list. They all seem very comparable.Jul 2, 2019 at 1:16 pm #3600321JCHBPL Member
While the REI and Helinox chairs are very similar in materials. design and construction, they differ greatly in one respect. The leg structure of the REI is rotated 90 degrees from the Helinox or if you prefer, the Helinox is rotated 90 degrees from the REI :)
Since the feet form a rectangle…Long side oriented front-to-back on the REI, side-to-side on the Helinox…it would seen this would make a significant difference in each chair’s directional stability. Can anyone who has used both comment on this? In all of the chairs I have used, I have valued side-to-side stability over front-to-back.
Am I allowing visual appearance to color my expectations for the REI chair?Jul 2, 2019 at 6:03 pm #3600366Ben H.BPL Member
@bzhayesLocale: No. Alabama
They mentioned in the review that the REI chair has side-to-side flex and the Helinox has front-to-back flex:
Flexlite Air is a tad more comfortable (just a wee bit more roomy at the hips), and we like the slight side to side flex, vs. the front to back flex of the Helinox.Jul 2, 2019 at 6:59 pm #3600370JCHBPL Member
Ben – that makes sense and is exactly what I would expect from looking at the implementation. I personally prefer the side-to-side stability and quite enjoy the forward-backward flex of the Chair Zero. Looks like there is an good option for everyone’s tastes :)Aug 9, 2019 at 10:20 pm #3605436Jeff HollisBPL Member
One big advantage for using an inflatable chair kit over a framed chair, is you can use it in your shelter when weather turns bad. I’ve been using them for decades and I wish the article actually tested some models since durability can be a real problem. I have had good luck with Therm A Rest Trekker chair kits but anything in the 5-8 oz range is suspect based on my experience.Oct 5, 2019 at 8:53 pm #3612756Edward RileyBPL Member
I love my Alite Monarch Butterfly chair. Feels like I’m sitting on a rocking chair. When I don’t feel like balancing I turn it over and with the back rest on the ground I lean against the seat section. It’s not quite as comfortable as the Crazy Creek chair, but it’s close.
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