(The Gear Loop) - Catching a glimpse of one of the best camping chairs after a long day spent exploring the great outdoors is a magical moment. Whether you’re returning after a strenuous hike or kicking back on the beach after a long session in the surf, relaxing with a beverage on a comfortable padded seat is one of life's blessings.
It doesn't matter what the weather is doing outside, it’s likely you are starting to formulate plans for an epic summer of camping and fesitvals. Getting yourself a high-quality camping chair will pay dividends, not just for this year but for years to come. Here, we feature highly durable, robust and luxuriously comfortable models, designed to last so you're not leaving battered old rubbish strewn across the land.
From an innovative chair that swings from a seated position to a full-on recline, to a featherlight model for beach trips and wild camps, we’ve chosen a quintet of the best camping chairs for all manner of applications. Each is included on merit and is the best-in-class for what it offers.
To get to grips with the features and matters to consider when choosing a camping chair, see the "what to look for" section and the bottom of this guide. Otherwise, read on for our roundup of the best camping chairs. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we shall begin...
The best camping chairs
Helinox Chair Zero High Back
- Tall and supportive
- Still ultra-light
- Packs down small
- It's very expensive
Helinox is renowned for its ultra-lightweight and extremely portable chairs, and the Chair Zero is arguably the Helinox mantra incarnate.
The frame and fabric pack down to an impossibly small 40cm and it weighs just 690g, yet it can somehow house 120kg of human without breaking. This is all thanks to space age materials and an ingenious design that’s easy to live with and easy on the back when hiking.
The frame simply slots onto position via tent pole-esque nylon bungee cord that snaps it all together and makes it just as quick to pull apart. and pack down. This High-Back version gives a little extra support over its standard sibling, which we feel is well worth extra investment for added comfort.
ALPS Mountaineering King Kong
- Supremely comfortable padded seat
- Great storage options
- Too large and heavy for wild camping
- Takes a while to dry
For a supremely cosy campsite throne or a great option for taking the weight off your feet in the garden on sunny days, look no further than ALPS Mountaineering’s King Kong. This rather roomy and robust one-person camping chair features a well-padded seat made from 600D polyester fabric and sturdy, adjustable arm rests. The steel frame is super strong and folds away easily. It’s simple, effective and boy is it comfy.
There’s plenty of storage too, with a mesh cup holder on either arm and side pockets, perfect for stashing books, magazines and the like. Running along the back of the chair is a mesh pocket, which can be used for items like sun cream. We wouldn’t put anything valuable in there though, as it’s obviously out of sight.
The main downside is that its size and weight (6.4kg) mean that it’s not a practical choice for wild campers or anyone who’s got a bit of a walk in to where they’re pitching up. However, it does fold down into a carry bag with two backpack-style straps, meaning that it’s still a relatively portable choice for countryside picnics or events like music festivals. Just don’t leave it out in the rain as the padded fabric takes a while to dry.
Coleman Deck Chair with folding table
- Well-padded, comfy seat
- Lightweight and portable
- Useful side table
- Built-in straps
- No storage
- Back is a little low
- Not ideal for wild campers
This director's chair-esque offering from American camping gear stalwarts Coleman is an excellent all-rounder for all manner of outdoor events. Weighing in at around 3.5 kg, it’s sturdy enough to hold 113kg thanks to its excellent build quality and rust-resistant aluminum frame.
It folds down in an instant and is portable thanks to two built in straps. This makes it ideal for ambles down to the beach or for lugging across festival sites to where you’ve pitched your tent. The abrasion resistant 600D Oxford polyester fabric is well-padded, while its ergonomic shape is supportive, though its back doesn’t reach as high as some models, which may give your neck a bit of bother after a while.
There’s a cheaper version that does not include the fold-out table. However, the table is one of our favourite features, locking into place securely and giving you plenty of room for books and beverages. The Deck Chair doesn’t have any storage pockets, though, and its weight and packed size mean that it’s not ideal for carrying over significant distances. However, for a solid go-to for the campsite, you can’t go wrong.
Helinox Beach Chair
- Superbly portable
- Splayed legs prevent it from sinking
- Integrated side pockets
- Sits low to the ground
An ingeniously engineered seat, Helinox’s Beach Chair is the best camping chair in its class in terms of a lightweight, portable option for the seaside. Yep, the beach is what this chair is primarily designed for, with splayed legs that distribute weight and mean you won’t sink into the sand.
It’s often the case that one ends up lugging stuff for miles to get to the perfect spot by the sea. Helinox has clearly thought this through, crafting a chair that weighs just 1.5kg and packs down into a streamlined stuff sack that measures just 47cm across. You would think this would mean that the Beach Chair can’t take much weight, yet it can comfortably hold up to 145kg. It’s portable and featherlight credentials make this a great option for wild campers and festival goers, too.
But how comfortable is it? Admittedly, it’s not quite as plush as some of the leading, albeit heavier, camping chairs and the sitting position is quite low to the ground, though it’s high back gives excellent support to your head and neck. Other features include an adjustable headset design that allows you to customise a pillow out of whatever’s to hand and integrated side pockets keep your latest novel from getting sand between the pages. All this ingenuity comes at a price though, so you may be better served elsewhere if portability isn’t your priority.
Kelty Low Loveseat
- Fits two people
- Very comfortable
- Robust design
- Not a portable option
Kelty goes as far as to name its Low Loveseat as "iconic". They’re not far off the mark as, where two-person camping chairs are concerned, this is the finest product on the market.
Its low and slightly reclined design is intended for couples to kick back and relax around the campfire, while comfort is achieved thanks to its padded 600D polyester fabric. The support bar across the middle of the seat means that it’s a little uncomfortable to lie across, however let’s remember we’re talking about a chair here, not a bed.
Crafted to hold two happy campers, it can take up to 181.4kg thanks to its durable, robust steel frame. Its armrests are fully adjustable and feature insulated cup holders for your beverage of choice.
Of course, the large size equates to extra weight. The Low Loveseat comes in at a not inconsiderable 7kg, meaning it’s not an option for lugging over any kind of distance, despite its well-designed case and padded strap. However, for car camping trips and back garden use, there’s no competition when it comes to a quality two-person camping chair.
Nemo Equipment Stargaze Recliner Luxury Chair
- Great for reclining
- Made from sturdy materials
- Not as comfortable as some
Nemo’s innovative Stargaze Recliner Luxury chair has been turning (or more correctly reclining) heads for some time now. Its frame-and-pulley system allows you to swing from a seated position to a reclined position, perfect for gazing up at the starts on clear nights or for an afternoon nap.
This puts the Stargaze Recliner somewhere in the middle ground between a camping chair and a hammock. It’s very stable, thanks to its aircraft-grade aluminum suspension frame and can hold up to 136kg. If you fancy a beverage while considering the infinite majesty of the cosmos, the integrated cupholder will take care of that, while there’s a stash pocket for your copy of Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time, or your car keys.
Despite the seeming complexity of its design, the chair is straightforward to assemble and packs down quickly and easily into padded carry case with an adjustable strap. At 3.2kg, it’s neither the lightest nor the heaviest listed here and is portable enough over medium distances. All these bells and whistles don’t come cheap though; it’s easily the most expensive chair in our round-up and it is not as comfortable as some of the competition.
What to look for when buying camping chairs
Portability vs comfort
When it comes to the best camping chairs, there’s often a compromise between comfort and portability. After all, if weight and portability were no issue, we’d all take our sofas to the campsite. If you enjoy seeking out remote beaches or camping wild, a model like the Helinox Beach Chair, which is light and packs down small, is ideal.
However, the most comfortable chairs, such as ALPS Mountaineering’s King Kong and Kelty’s Low Loveseat, are usually heavier. Despite the fact that their designers have gone to great lengths to create comfortable carry packs, their mass still means that they are unsuitable if you are having to trek any considerable distance. These chairs are best suited to car camping and the back garden.
Ease of setup
After assembling your tent, blowing up your sleeping pad and sorting out all of your creature comforts, the last thing you want to do is assemble a complex camping chair piece by piece. If this sounds like you, a model that simply folds open might be the best option. None of the chairs in our roundup take very long to assemble or pack down, though some are quicker than others.
The best camping chairs come in all shapes and sizes. The five featured above all fulfil a unique role, so it’s important to work out what kind of camper you are before choosing a chair. The ingenious design features of Nemo’s Stargaze Recliner and Helinox’s Beach Chair come at a cost, so if you’re simply looking for a comfortable campsite throne, you’ll get more bang for your buck with more traditional chairs.
Other prominent features to look out for are things like side tables, pockets and beverage holders. Some chairs come with a warranty, so it’s also worth checking this out before committing to a purchase.