Saggy bottoms, bad backs…do camping chairs have to be a pain in the posterior?
No! We’ve been testing exhaustively (!) to find a camping chair that’s both supportive and upright enough for eating at a table, and slumpy enough for lazing with a book.
Here are the best camping chairs we’ve found.
Latest update: July 2020
Camping chairs to avoid
Lots of camping chairs use a folding, concertina-type construction. Great for packabilty, but they tend not to make the seat fabric taut enough.
We thought we’d found a good compromise in Outwell’s Gorman Hills camping chairs. They felt comfortable in the shop and, with their choice of colour and rounded armrests, were a stylish change from all that camping khaki.
A week of sitting on them, though, and the lower back twinges kicked in. We found ourselves perching on the more solid front edge of fabric to eat at a table, but more often than not, we’d slump backwards and have to hold a plate on our knees.
So, we’d always avoid any chair where the seat material isn’t held completely taut. That applies to most camping chairs with this concertina-type fold.
The best camping chair? The Coleman Deck Chair
The best chair (for us, at least) would have a taut seat, a strong and supportive backrest, be made of aluminium for lightness and fold up reasonably small.
So, the best we’ve found are directors’ chairs, and the best of these for sturdiness has been the Coleman Deck Chair. Good support with a backrest and strong seat. Not exactly chairs for lounging in, but you could definitely read a book, play a board game or eat a meal in comfort.
This chair just seems built to last. It’s smart, simple and very supportive. It has an aluminium frame, a sloping back and padded armrests, which incorporate carrying straps when it’s folded (to 13 x 53 x 75 cm).Weighs around 2.5kg, can carry 113kg and costs around £40. Available in khaki or green.
There’s a chair with a fold-out table too. Around £50 and some nice colours.
We weren’t so keen on the taller back reclining version (the Sling chair), but we’ve spoken to a lot of campers who love it. It’s a little cumbersome and a bit saggy on the seat, but pretty good for relaxing. Around £45.
Fishing chairs are a comfy option, though many are a bit heavy and the padding makes them bulky to pack.
If you do fancy a fishing chair, then make sure you get one with longer or extendable legs or you’ll be at ground level.
More recommended camping chairs
These fabulous chairs with lumbar support look heavy, but the Guru weighs 4.7kg, and the larger Elite is just 5.4kg.
Both these chairs curve in at the back rather than letting your back slump outwards.
Now this is a good idea. The Uquip Woody has a swivel table that also pivots so you can use it for your iPad or to rest a book.
It’s made from powder-coated aluminium and weighs around 5kg. It packs into a nice bag 86 x 53 x 13 cm. Can carry up to 120kg. Around £50. Very popular, so apologies if they go out of stock.
Helinox are famous for their virtually weightless chairs. They’re quite expensive and, for us, not all that comfortable because your bum is lower than your knees. However, they pack small enough to go in a rucksack, so they have their place.
Naturally, there are now a zillion copycat designs. The best we’ve found is the Robens Observer chair, which we like for its high back.
Need to lounge?
If you have the space (and the need to relax!), then an adjustable lounger is the answer. You can use it with the back straight at dinner time and lie back for a snooze afterwards. They’ll make quite a big pack-size, of course.
Got a favourite chair? Or one you’d warn people not to buy? Do tell…leave a comment below.
This Monaco recliner by Portal Outdoor folds flattish to 105 x 62 x 13cm. It’s the most expensive at around £70, but weighs less than 5kg and has one of the most interesting styles we’ve found. Aluminium frame. Supports up to 120kg.
A bit bulkier and heavier than the others, but the backrest on the Westfield Outdoors Diamond chair is wonderfully comfortable. Around £75. Weighs just under 6kg and folds to 112 x 67 x 14cm. Removable cushion too.
We’ve tried a few of the floor chairs (like this Highlander at around £12) that have no legs and use your body weight and two straps to keep the back in place. They won’t suit you if you’re looking for absolute comfort, but they’re extremely lightweight and small.
For an extra bit of cushioning, there are bulkier (and heavier) options like the BonVivo (around £35). This one is nice because, as well as having a few reclining positions, it can be used flat as a padded mat for lying on. It weighs around 3kg, though.