An updated version of TravelChair’s longtime bestseller, this chair is a durable version of those cheap store-brand camping chairs you have to replace every year. Its wide feet means it won’t wobble so much on uneven surfaces, and it’s a breeze to set up. At 9 pounds, it’s not exactly light, but chances are you’re not going to be taking it anywhere without the help of a car, and for the trip from the parking lot there’s a carry bag with strap. Weight capacity is officially 300 pounds, although the manufacturer claims it can hold up to 1,000 pounds—not that you’d want to test, but reassuring in case you’d like to offer your seat to a sasquatch. It also has adjustable armrests with some strategic padding for your hands, and a cup holder.
$38 on Amazon (limited quantity); $50 at REI
A good budget option if you’re in the market for a light quad chair for your backyard or car camping, REI’s Camp Compact Chair is under 6 pounds, relatively compact, and sturdy enough to hold 250 pounds. True, it’s not quite as light or packable as REI’s Camp Stowaway Low Chair (see below), and it has no bells and whistles (apart from a cup holder), but what you get is an affordable place to sit that won’t take up as much space in your trunk as our more luxurious selections, and is guaranteed by REI. Not bad.
$24.50 at REI
Lugging a 10-pound camping chair into the backcountry isn’t really an option for backpackers, so the folks at Therm-A-Rest came up with a pretty ingenious solution: lightweight kits to turn your inflatable sleeping pad into a seat. The Compack (top right) is the lightest of the bunch, weighing in at only 7 or 9 ounces (depending on the size) and works with the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir mattress line—or really, any self-inflating pad with the same dimensions. The Trekker (bottom right) is a bit heavier at 9.5 or 13 ounces. The Trekker Lounge (left) covers the entire pad, so it can function as a protective cover and never has to be taken off, and it allows for either a lounge chair or upright configuration. See also the Cyclone SL and Big Easy chair kits by Big Agnes for use with I-beam pads.
On sale for $18-$60 at Campmor
Let the name be your guide: the King Kong Chair is for campers who shop in the big and tall department. The durable fabric and steel frame make this easy-open quad chair good for up to 800 pounds—a fact that’s guaranteed by ALPS Mountaineering, and vouched for by many happy reviewers. At 13 pounds, the King Kong is also the heaviest chair on our list, but at least its carry bag has two straps for carrying like a backpack. Padding, two cupholders and hanging pockets make it a great buy for those interested in comfort and convenience.
$48 on Amazon
A backpacker-friendly improvement on Crazy Creek’s long-running line of minimalist chairs, the HEX 2.0 is only 1 pound, 5 ounces and rolls up into an easily stowable or clipable package. It’s very simple in concept: a foam pad with an outer shell and adjustable webbing straps to get the seat-back angle right. But it can be a small slice of luxury when you’re sitting in the bleachers, on a picnic blanket, or simply tired of perching on rocks, logs and the damp ground. Crazy Creek claims it can also be used as a minimal sleeping pad, but it’s 33 unfolded inches aren’t really enough to cushion your entire body. If the price scares you, Crazy Creek makes a budget version, simply called “The Chair,” for $25.
$40 at Campmor
You can’t bring your recliner to your campsite, but you can bring this chair. This sturdy steel-framed quad chair has three recline positions, adjustable armrests and plenty of padding. Completing the luxurious package are two adjustable cup holders—so you can have both water bottle and double IPA at the ready after a long day of hiking—and a bottle opener. Weighs 10 pounds and has a carry bag with strap.
$75 at Backcountry.com
At 5 pounds, 9 ounces, REI’s Stowaway chair is light for a quad chair, and packs down to a cylinder about 8 inches in diameter by 28 inches long—in short, a more compact alternative to the other quad chairs on this list. (It’s also more than a pound lighter than the virtually identical ALPS Mountaineering Rendezvous Folding Camp Chair, and has REI’s lifetime guarantee.) If you’re tall or feel uncomfortable sitting close to the ground, though, you might want to avoid this one: the seat is only 5 inches high. Mesh allows for ventilation on those sweaty summer days and makes for quick drying if it gets left in the rain.
$44.50 at REI
Alite’s new Mayfly camping chair is a hybrid of its ultralight, two-legged Monarch—a recent favorite among backpackers—and the more stable, four-legged Mantis. Like those other two designs, the chair assembles like a tent, with a hammock-like sling attaching to an aluminum-pole frame. Also like them, it’s incredibly light and portable: it’s 1.4 pounds and packs down the size of a coffee can. However, with a detachable third leg it offers the best of both predecessors: in two-legged mode you can balance on slopes or uneven terrain, using your feet as the stabilizer; and on flat ground you can use the extra support and let your tired dogs relax.
$100 on AliteDesigns.com
Coleman may be considered a budget brand by hardcore outdoor enthusiasts, but there’s a reason it’s also one of the most popular ones around. Case in point: this chair. With a MSRP of only $30, the Oversize Quad Chair is a great value. Wide and high to the ground, it has ample padding, plenty of storage and—a nice touch—a mini cooler on one armrest. It supports over 300 pounds, but weighs nearly eleven and, folded, it’s over 3 feet long with a 6-plus-inch diameter. It ain’t small, but it’ll fit in your trunk. Buyer beware: some reviewers reported that one of the chair’s arms broke on first or second use.
$25 on Amazon
Similar to the Alite Mantis, the Helinox Chair One (sold by Big Agnes in the U.S.) is a lightweight, aluminum-pole-based chair that packs down to the size of a large shoe and can be stashed in your pack or your car without a second’s thought. It won the award for best camping accessory at this year’s ISPO, Europe’s largest gear tradeshow. With a MSRP that’s about $30 cheaper than the Mantis, the Helinox is also good deal in its class: although it’s about 4 ounces heavier than the Mantis (a big deal for backpackers), it packs down slightly smaller and can support up to 320 pounds. For an even cheaper version, albeit with fewer design touches for comfort and portability, there’s the REI Flex Lite ($70).
On sale for $80 at Campmor
Forget weight. Forget packing size. This chair is all about comfort. The only one on our list that allows you to lean back and rest your head, the Curvy High Back Chair is for kicking back by the campfire or dozing off in your backyard. The construction is sturdy (At 12 pounds, it ought to be!) and well-placed padding, breathability and lumbar support make sitting in it for extended periods of time comfortable, say reviewers. However, users complain that the cupholder is useless for drinks and that setting it up incorrectly can cause it to collapse, so be warned.
$70 at SunnySports.com
There are other collapsible tripod stools on the market—the most popular being Travelchair Slacker Chair and the GCI Outdoor PackSeat—but none are as light as these two. The ultralight Pack Stool (14 ounces) and its larger sibling, the Roll-A-Stool (1 pound 7 ounces), are cheap, portable solutions for those times when you need to park yourself on the fly: think fishing, waiting in line, preparing a camp meal or hiking (there’s not always a good rock available when you need a break). They’re also remarkably sturdy for their weight, supporting up to 250 pounds, and durable for their low cost.
Both $30 at Campmor