A backpacking chair isn’t essential backpacking gear. You can certainly get by without a chair altogether. Or you can use a large rock, a log, or even your sleeping pad as a makeshift seat.
But if you’re not a lightweight backpacker, adding a backpacking chair into the mix isn’t as crazy an idea as you might think.
The best backpacking chairs are lightweight, compact, and easy to carry. The lightest versions weigh just over a pound. They’re durable and versatile. Of course, they’re also comfortable to sit in to take in amazing outdoor views.
Here are our picks for the best backpacking chairs, plus all the details you need to know to feel confident in your purchase.
Our Top Picks for Backpacking Chairs
Cascade Mountain Tech Camp Chair
Helinox Chair Zero
The TravelChair Joey might be designed for backpacking – but it’s actually one of our favorite camping chairs, bar none.
The Joey is quite comfortable with a deep seat and tall back. The thick canvas provides extra support, but mesh ventilation areas ensure breathability. This chair offers a comfortable place to kick back after a long outdoor day.
The chair also shines in terms of durability. It’s built with heavy-duty materials, unlike many backpacking chairs that hope to shave every ounce of weight. Even typically high-stress areas, like the spot where the poles and canvas meet, are reinforced and durable enough to withstand all the abuse you can throw at it.
Although it clocks in at 38 ounces, the Joey packs down small for its weight. It’s one of the most compact pole chairs we’ve used. That said, we probably wouldn’t take this TravelChair on a long backpacking trip, although it’s ideal for shorter trips where a little extra weight won’t hurt anyone.
All told, The TravelChair Joey is a great value camping chair. You get a lot of bang for your buck, especially compared to other products in the price range. But the chair is a little too heavy to be one of our ultralight backcountry go-tos.
- Durable materials
- Versatile uses
- Too heavy for long, backcountry camping trips
Cascade Mountain Tech Camp Chair
If you’re looking for a backpacking chair that provides plenty of back support without a high pricetag, then this is the chair you’ll want to know about!
The Cascade Mountain Tech Camp Chair measures 39.5 inches at its highest point, compared to 28 inches of the next-tallest chair, the TravelChair Joey. You’ll be super comfortable relaxing in this durable, sturdy aluminum frame and polyester seat chair.
It has a weight limit of 250 pounds, so it won’t hold especially big campers. The seat is 16 inches from the ground, so petite campers might not find it the best fit either. But if you fall into the “Goldilocks” height and weight range, you’ll look for excuses to spend time in this chair.
While it doesn’t fold down as small as the other chairs on this list, it does weigh less than some of them. At just over two pounds, this is a serious contender for a quality backpacking chair.
- High back provides lots of comfort
- Weighs less than other backpacking chairs
- Doesn’t fold down as small as other chairs
- Not suitable for very large or very small campers
Helinox Chair Zero
The Helinox Chair Zero is by far one of the lightest backpacking chairs on the market.
Clocking in at just 17 ounces, it`s the best choice for those seriously concerned about weight or on the fence about packing a chair along with them.
In addition to its lightweight design, the Chair Zero packs down small. It comes with a lightweight stuff sack that the chair rolls down into. This makes it a no-brainer to throw the chair in with the rest of your backpacking gear before your next trip.
Of course, the lightweight does come with its drawbacks. Namely, comfort. This is one of the most uncomfortable chairs reviewed here due to the shallow seat and low back (although it certainly beats no chair at all). The chair is also relatively unstable, especially on uneven terrain, although we didn`t notice any issues with durability.
If you’re willing to sacrifice a few more ounces, there are far more comfortable, stable, and durable backpacking chairs available at the same price point. That said, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything quite as lightweight.
- Lightweight (17 ounces)
- Folds up small
- Not as durable or stable as other chairs
- Not the most comfortable chair
CLIQ Portable Camping Chair
A camping chair that folds down to the size of a water bottle that can support up to 300 pounds? If that sounds too good to be true, then you’ll love the CLIQ Portable Camping Chair!
Once you’ve practiced setting it up a few times, this sturdy, tip-proof chair is ready to use in about five seconds. The double-seamed nylon seat and aluminum frame and durable enough to provide comfy, relaxing seating on your camping trips for years to come.
While you’ll love how little space the chair takes up while you’re on the move, the weight might make it unsuitable for backpacking trips with long hikes to your site. At 3.87 pounds, this isn’t a lightweight camping chair.
But this is the chair you’ll want to consider bringing along for shorter hike backpacking trips.
- Stable, tip-proof design
- Too heavy for long-hike backpacking trips
REI Co-op Flexlite Air
The REI Co-op Flexlite AIR doesn’t stick out in any particular category, but it’s a solid workhorse through and through.
It boasts a durable and rugged construction without sacrificing weight. It’s still lightweight enough for short backpacking trips, although those extra concerned with weight should look elsewhere (or not take a chair at all!).
This REI backpacking chair is particularly good in hot weather. The mesh panels in the back of the chair offer excellent breathability to keep your back cool while lounging at the campsite.
The Flexlite Air isn’t exactly cheap, but it is affordable compared to other options. Its overall comfort and versatility make it a good choice for those that go backpacking on occasion, but also want a chair that doubles as a quality camping chair for car camping, picnics, and other activities.
The only downside to this REI backpacking chair is its legs. Short legs and small feet make for a relatively unstable sit. The chair is particularly wobbly on uneven terrain, including sand, although we feel this isn’t reason enough to exclude it from your list.
- Fairly Lightweight
- Unstable leg and feet design
Crazy Creek Hex Original Chair
Here’s a bonus pick we just had to mention!
Another crazy light backpacking chair, the Crazy Creek Hex weighs in at just 22 ounces. Utilizing a folding, L-shaped design, this Crazy Creek chair does without legs to further shave off weight and sits directly on the ground.
For this type of chair, the Hex is very comfortable. Even though it’s thin, the high back (16.5 inches) and deep seat make for a comfortable place to sit. It also comes in a Longback version that provides another 4.5 inches of back height. If you upgrade to the Power Lounger version, the bottom of the seat extends to full-leg length to keep your legs from touching the ground.
Better yet, this backpacking chair isn’t just light — it folds down small as well. Throw it in your pack, and you’ll barely notice it’s there (unless you’re seriously concerned about shedding every ounce). The Power Lounger can even double as a sleeping pad, although it’s not nearly as comfortable to sleep on as the best sleeping pads on the market.
While it has a fairly high price tag for what it is — a simple, folding backpacking chair — there’s very little to complain about when it comes to the Crazy Creek Hex chair.
- Packs down small
- Biggest version doubles as a sleeping pad
- You sit on the ground
- Pricey for what you get
Backpacking Chairs Buyer’s Guide
Most backpacking chairs are fairly simple – but don`t let that deceive you. There’s actually a whole lot of different features that set the best backpacking chairs apart from the pack. Keep these in mind to find the right one for your needs.
Here’s what you need to know to buy the best backpacking chair:
There are two main types of backpacking chairs. These are “L-shaped” and “pole.” Here`s a bit more about each style:
- L-Shaped – An L-shaped chair is a folding chair with a simple L-shape. Most use the basic design of the classic Crazy Creek Original Chair. They sit directly on the ground. Sometimes these are called “taco-style” chairs.
- Pole Style – A pole-style chair (for lack of a better name) consists of a fabric seat and leg poles. The two are separated from transport and reattached at camp. Most sit around a foot above the ground. Due to their superior comfort, they are quickly becoming the most popular type of backpacking chair around.
Both types of backpacking chairs have their pros and cons. L-shaped chairs are lightweight and quicker to set up. However, they are typically not as comfortable since they minor require muscle engagement to sit in comfortably.
Pole chairs, on the other hand, are usually slightly heavier (since they require poles) but are far more stable and comfortable to sit on. Another downside is a higher price tag.
Weight and Packed Size
For backpackers, weight is one of the most important features of a backpacking chair.
The lighter the chair, the better. Luckily, the top chairs reviewed above are all lightweight chairs. It’s not difficult to find a chair around the one-pound mark if you’re seriously concerned about saving weight.
Almost as important as weight is packed size. As a backpacker, you need a chair that folds down as small as possible for easy transportation. All of the models above pack down relatively small and can easily be stowed in or on your backpack with the rest of your equipment.
There’s no point in buying a backpacking chair if it doesn’t increase your comfort at the campsite.
Although all seven of the best backpacking chairs reviewed above are comfortable in their own ways, we strongly recommend testing them out in person if possible. At the very least, try one L-shaped chair and one pole-style chair to see which is more comfortable for you.
That said, pole-style chairs are most comfortable for the majority of people. They require zero effort to sit in (L-shaped chairs require some muscle engagement). They also sit off the ground giving you more room to stretch out and kick back.
The materials the chair is made out of directly affect its durability.
Taco-style chairs rank the highest for durability. The simple reason is that they have fewer parts. The lack of legs, in particular, makes them more durable.
The legs on some backpacking chairs have the potential to bend, warp, or possibly even break after serious use. The best models are reinforced for extra strength, but it still might be best to choose a legless model, depending on the nature of your trip.
The best backpacking chairs are stable in perfect conditions and on a wide variety of terrain. They should remain stable and comfortable on uneven surfaces, including sand.
Alternatives to Backpacking Chairs
A backpacking chair isn`t the only way to stay comfy in the backcountry. You have a handful of other seating options. As well as a few different ways to construct makeshift seats.
Here are the best alternatives to backpacking chairs:
- Ground – Just sit on the ground if you didn`t bring a chair with you!
- Natural Objects – Rocks, logs, and other objects found outside have been classic seats for backpackers and campers since the beginning of time.
- Sleeping Pad – Fold your sleeping pad in half, and voila! You have a comfortable place to sit. Closed-cell foam pads work best, although inflatable air pads also get the job done.
- Chair Kit – A sleeping pad chair kit, like the Therm-a-Rest Trekker Chair Kit, quickly and easily turns an inflatable sleeping pad into a comfortable chair. They slide over the top of your sleeping pad to create a comfortable, chair-like shape to sit on.
- Sit Pad – A sit pad, like the Therm-a-Rest Z Seat Pad, is a comfortable place to sit on rough terrain. They’re basically just a lightweight mini version of a sleeping pad made just for sitting!
- Jacket – Bunch up your jacket and sit on it to keep your bottom off the cold ground at the campsite.
- Camping Hammock – If you`re backpacking with a hammock instead of a tent, then you can actually use your hammock as a chair in addition to a comfortable place to sleep.
The options for makeshift chairs are just as numerous while car camping. Of course, you can use a traditional camping chair, but camping coolers and bouldering crash pads also work.
Backpacking Chairs for Car Camping
Just because it’s a backpacking chair doesn’t mean that you can’t use it for car camping too.
In fact, backpacking chairs double as a camping chairs for car camping. Despite their lightweight design and small size, they’re nearly as comfortable as favorite camping chairs.
Of course, a good backpacking chair works just as well at other venues. In addition to camping and backpacking, these lightweight, portable chairs work well at the beach, for picnics, and while attending outdoor concerts and festivals.
As expensive as the best backpacking chairs can be, dishing out the additional money is well worth the investment if you think about your new purchase as your go-to chair.
Backpacking Chairs FAQ
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions (with answers) about backpacking chairs:
Q: Do I need a backpacking chair?
A: No, a backpacking chair isntt a necessity. You can easily use rocks, logs, or just the plain old ground. However, lightweight backpacking chairs are light enough for shorter trips. Many backpackers find that the additional comfort at the campsite is well worth the extra weight.
Q: What’s the difference between a backpacking chair and a camping chair?
A: A backpacking chair is much smaller and lighter than a camping chair. Weight and packed size are of concern so these chairs boast minimalist designs. Car camping chairs are generally much larger with less thought going into saving weight.
Q: Are backpacking chairs comfortable?
A: Yes, the best backpacking chairs are very comfortable. The key is finding a model that meshes well with your body type and preferences. L-shaped and taco-style chairs are very different and you might find that you much prefer one style over the other.
Which Backpacking Chair is Right for You?
A backpacking chair can make an already great backpacking trip even better. Each of the selections on our list have something to offer, so there’s sure to be one that’s right for you.
Of course a chair is just item you’ll need for backpacking. Check out our Camping Gear page for more product recommendations!