Whether you have been hiking the Appalachian Trail, blazing a path through the Australian Outback, or simply taking a short trip to your nearest national park, there is no better feeling than sitting down on a backpacking chair at the end of the day. However, the choice of backpacking chairs is enormous and choosing the best one to suit your needs is always a challenge. Fortunately, this guide to the best types of backpacking chairs will answer all your questions, making sure you have the most rewarding backpacking experience.
If you have been to a national park or even a camping music festival, you will have seen the classic foldable chair. These chairs are the most common and reliably comfortable backpacking chairs on the market. What’s more, they often come in with a lower price tag than any other type of camping chair. With sturdy legs made from a similar material to tent poles, fabric seats that come in all different shapes and colors, and a seat that sits around 12 inches off the ground, these are the perfect chairs for backpackers who want to kick back and relax around a campfire after a long adventure in the wilderness.
However, the foldable chair does have a couple of minor downsides. If you are backpacking over boggy terrain, their narrow legs often sink into the mud under a person’s weight. Moreover, foldable chairs are usually heavier and bulkier than other types of chairs. This makes them less than ideal for taking on a multi-day backpacking adventure.
Foldable Chair Brands
The best brands of foldable chairs are the HELIONOX Zero. Although more expensive than many other foldable models, it’s one of the lightest on the market with a total weight of less than 500 grams. Another fantastic model is the Kijaro Dual Lock Portable Chair. It is without a doubt one of the sturdiest available to purchase. While it does weigh just under 3 kilograms, making it less appealing for long hikes, it comes in a great array of funky colors. In short, it is the best camping chair to leave at the campsite and return to at night.
A more unusual design that would also serve any backpacker well is the ALITE MayFly. It sits lower to the ground and has bar legs for added stability and weight distribution on soft ground.
Also, for any backpackers looking for a romantic getaway into a national park, one of the best seats available is the Coleman Quattro Double Seat. It acts as a loveseat you can share with your special someone.
Foldable & Inflatable Stools
Stools are some of the lightest and most portable camping seats available. They are most commonly seen with a fabric seat supported by tripod legs. They’re much like those on a foldable chair or two bars; known as the ‘clamshell’ design that can be opened or shut. In recent years, new forms of inflatable stools have also begun appearing on the market. These are often formed of a sleeping pad rolled up and stood on its side that can then be inflated into a comfortable stool. All in all, stools are the perfect backpacking chair for those who are embarking on multi-day hikes and want something space-saving and lightweight.
However, stools are also infamously uncomfortable to sit on for long periods of time. This is because they lack any back support and are often quite low, close to the ground. In short, if you are planning a backpacking trip where you will spend long evenings sitting around a campfire, this is not the form of a backpacking chair for you.
Foldable & Inflatable Stool Brands
The best brand of stool on the market is the REI CO-OP Stool. This stool has it all. It is super lightweight, as it comes in at just 400 grams. Its tripod design makes it one of the easiest to set up. Also, it’s also one of the cheapest available with a price point of just over $20. Another top-rated stool for backpackers is the Grand Trunk Collapsible Micro Stool. It’s very lightweight at 300 grams and made of water-resistant micro-fibers. Also, it has a user-friendly clamshell design.
For something a little more hi-tech, then the Therma-Rest Neo-Air Seat Kit is one of the best, as it combines a roll-up foam mattress and an inflatable stool. While this model may be heavier than the traditional stools, its dual-purpose means that your pack will weigh less. Another option with all the mod cons is the Walkstool Comfort Camping Stool. This is made from super-lightweight aluminum with a mesh seat and comes with a variety of different height options. This allows you to adjust it to your personal preference.
Ground chairs are the perfect type of backpacking chair for the serious outdoors enthusiast. Often doubling up as a spongy sleeping pad, these all-purpose chairs are lightweight, easily storable, and they either sit directly on the ground or allow you to sit a few inches above its surface. In short, these chairs are the ideal piece of gear for advanced backpackers who are setting out on a multi-day hike and are primarily concerned about how lightweight and space-efficient their kit is going to be.
For the average backpacker, however, ground chairs have a number of drawbacks. As they sit directly on the ground, they can often become very dirty. Natural debris such as leaves, pine needles, or mud, sticks to them. If not cleaned before being packed away, they can make the rest of your gear dirty too. Moreover, although their spongy padding does make them surprisingly comfortable, they are still not quite as good in this respect as a standard foldable camping chair.
The best variety of ground chair available for backpackers to buy is the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0. This chair has a foldable back that offers great back support even though you are sitting directly on the ground. What is more, when placed flat on the ground, the chair is perfect to be used as a sleeping pad. This model of ground chair is also extremely affordable, coming in at around $40. A more hi-tech ground chair is the Sea to Summit Air Chair, which fits directly onto your sleeping bag and used elastic straps to create a comfortable chair with ample back support.
Seat pads are another type of backpacking chair designed for the advanced backpacker who is most concerned about saving space and keeping their pack lightweight. These are also as simple as backpacking chairs get; all you have to do is place it on the ground and sit down with no further work required. Seat pads generally come in two different varieties. There are foam pads and inflatable pads. Foam pads are made of the same material as sleeping pads. On the other hand, inflatable pads can be blown up manually or with a pump.
However, for the average backpacker, seat pads are best used for short breaks when on the trail rather than your primary chair, as they offer no back support and, much like ground chairs, can become dirty very quickly if you are hiking in wet conditions.
There are many models of seat pads on the market with very little difference between them. However, an exemplary model of the foam seat pad is the Therm-a-Rest Z-Seat. It comes in a variety of funky colors and can be easily folded into a backpack. Also, it weighs very little. A fantastic inflatable pad is also the REI Flash Sit Pad, which can also be used as a pillow during the night.
Make Your Own Backpacking Chair
One of the joys of backpacking is that nature often provides everything you need. Of course, deluxe backpacking chairs provide maximum comfort. But if you are looking to lighten your pack, then why not use large rocks logs or tree trunks as natural seats? While this may not be a glamorous option, in most cases, it works just as well. Also, in dry conditions, you can even lay your sleeping bag on the ground to create a comfy lounge chair.
All in all, these are a backpacker’s best and favorite types of chairs. They come in all types, weight, and sizes—each one good for different circumstances. However, it’s all up to the backpacker’s choice of how relaxed you want to be.