The best beach chair

Ana Sanchez

Who doesn't love a trip to the beach? For some beachgoers, however, lying on a towel in the sand isn't exactly comfortable. Whether you're a parent wanting to keep a watchful eye on your children in the water or someone who likes to read at the beach, a beach chair is a worthy investment. A beach chair should be lightweight so it's easy to carry, feature corrosive-resistant parts, and be built to last for years -- not just one summer.

We've put together this brief shopping guide to help you make an informed choice when purchasing a beach chair. We've also included our top recommendations at the end of this article, including Tommy Bahama's backpack cooler chair, which comes with padded straps so you can easily carry it on your back.

Considerations when choosing beach chairs

Types of beach chairs to consider

High-profile beach chairs allow you to sit off the ground somewhat, making them similar to camping chairs. These chairs are easy to get in and out of, but they tend to be heavier and bulkier to carry.

Low-profile beach chairs are lower to the ground, or on the ground, due to short legs or no legs at all. These are a lightweight and compact option. But they are more difficult to get in and out of than high-profile chairs, especially if you have limited mobility.

Inflatable beach chairs are filled with air, either through a foot pump or an innovative technique by which you open one end and swing the material around until it catches the air. These are extremely comfortable chairs but not always easy to set up. They can also puncture. 

Beach loungers are full-bodied beach chairs that allow you to recline and kick up your feet on a footrest. If you like laying out, but don't like getting sandy, this is a great option. They aren't as portable as the other types, however, so take that into consideration if you have a long trek by foot to the beach.

Kids' beach chairs are simply smaller chairs that fit a child's body. Due to their diminutive size, they are super lightweight and compact. They may come in fun colors and designs and feature canopies to protect fragile skin from the sun.


Frame material: If you want a frame that won't corrode or rust, choose aluminum, which is also very lightweight. Steel frames are heavier but also more durable; this material is featured in more heavy-duty chairs. Wood looks nice but will erode over time from exposure to moisture, and it's also heavy. Plastic is used in cheaper chairs and isn't very durable.

Seat Material: As long as the seat material of your beach chair is thick -- look for a denier strength between 420D and 600D -- it doesn't matter as much what material it is. Typically, beach chairs are made from nylon, polyester, cotton, or marine-grade canvas. Be aware that if you buy a cheaper chair, where the seat material attaches to the frame is the first place you'll start to see wear and tear.

Storage features: Whether you like to chill on the beach and sip a beer or read a romance novel, it's handy to have a beach chair with a cup holder -- or two! -- or pockets to stash anything from sunscreen to magazines. Some beach chairs also feature a hang-down pouch, where you can place your phone, wallet, or snacks you want to keep close by.

Beach chair prices

Beach chairs can cost as little as $20 for a high- or low-profile chair to upward of $100 for a beach lounger. We don't recommend spending less than $40 if you want a quality chair that lasts. Inflatable and kids' beach chairs go for a little less.


Q. Are there any extra features that come with beach chairs?

A. Some extras that are compatible with some beach chairs are umbrellas and umbrella mounts, detachable canopies, and side tables. These accessories come at an extra price.

Q. Is there a weight limit to beach chairs?

A. All beach chairs carry a maximum weight limit, which can be anywhere between 250 and 500 pounds. Exceeding a chair's labeled weight limit is not advised and can be unsafe.

Beach chairs we recommend

Best of the best: Tommy Bahama Backpack Cooler Chair 

Our take: The ultimate beach chair with plush cushioning and tons of features.

What we like: Attached cooler and drink holder. Backpack straps for hands-free transport. Sturdy and lightweight. Handy towel bar and cellphone compartment.

What we dislike: When fully reclined, the aluminum frame of the chairback can be felt.

Best bang for your buck: Coleman Oversized Quad Chair With Cooler

Our take: An affordable, beach-friendly chair with attached cooler.

What we like: Comfortable wide seat sits high off the ground. Mesh pouch and cup holder. A variety of colors and styles to choose from.

What we dislike: May be difficult to fold and unfold.

Choice 3: Rio Brands Five-Position Classic Lay Flat

Our take: A classic beach chair with a wide offering of festive patterns and designs.

What we like: No-pinch wooden armrests are sealed to protect from corrosion. Seat material comes in fun array of designs. Can recline in five positions.

What we dislike: Full recline position isn't that comfortable.

Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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