When you’re out in the backcountry, you often have to hike, paddle or bikes miles upon miles to get there.
When you’ve reached your destination, you’re tired, sore and ready to relax.
The only problem, you don’t have a comfortable spot to sit down and take a rest. All your camp chairs were too heavy to bring along.
This is a problem that the REI Flexlite Air is solving. It’s lightweight and compact design allow you to bring comfort to places you never thought you’d bring a camping chair.
|Ease of Setup||★★★★★|
- Our Opinions of the REI Flexlite Air Camping Chair
- REI Flexlite Air Specs
- Who is the REI Flexlite Air For
- Final Thoughts
Our Opinions of the REI Flexlite Air
The first thing that you notice when picking up the REI Flexlite Air is how incredibly light this chair is. Coming in at only one pound, it is one of the lightest camping and backpacking chairs on the market.
There are not many chairs that I would consider putting into my pack but at one pound, this chair makes the cut on all but my lightest of trips.
Camping chairs may seem like an unnecessary luxury but they are absolutely wonderful if you can afford to take one with you. A chair is great for relaxing, cooking your meals, and generally saving your knees and butt from crouching or sitting on the hard ground.
Whenever you’re looking at ultralight gear, you have to sacrifice something to get the weight down. The Flexlite Air is no exception. Compared to the REI Flexlite, which weighs in at 1 lb. 12 oz, the Flexlite Air is noticeably less comfortable and less stable.
The Flexlite Air is also $20 more expensive. You’re paying to shed those 12 oz compared to the regular Flexlite.
I’ve taken my Flexlite Air on two separate trips now, a 4 day and 3 day, and have spent many hours lounging and cooking with my chair.
Overall the comfort is there. It has good back support and allows me to get off my feet and knees and butt while camping.
The backrest doesn’t come up as far as the regular Flexlite or other chairs such as the Helinox, but rather to your mid-back. I considered this an acceptable sacrifice to get the weight down to 1 lb. though.
The seat height of the chair is roughly 11 inches off the ground which is ok for me at 6′ 1″ tall. I personally don’t like my chairs any lower and prefer them higher, but this really wasn’t an issue for me.
Where the chair does lack is in its stability. The lightweight design has a more narrow footprint and definitely has some wobble to it. The feet are also quite small and sink into the dirt or sand if you are on a softer surface.
Overall, the stability and feet sinking into the ground didn’t really affect my comfort or enjoyment of the chair.
Portability & Weight
The REI Flexlite Air has a packed size of 5″ x 16″ and weighs in at 1 lb. This makes it slightly bigger when packed than the Helinox Chair Zero, which is the only other camping chair to weigh in at 1 lb. that I’ve used.
As far as packed size goes, the Helinox Chair Zero definitely has some benefit. The Chair Zero has a packed size of roughly 4″ x 14″. While it isn’t much, it is something. But, again, weight is the same and the Flexlite Air is $20 cheaper than the Chair Zero.
Larger heavier chairs are definitely more comfortable, but they also pack bigger and weigh more. The REI Flexlite Air is one of the few chairs that I would take on lightweight trips. For trips where I can afford heavier gear, it would not be my first choice. I would definitely go for more comfort if space and weight can be afforded.
I’ve already thrown around my Flexlite Air quite a bit. While in my pack, my pack was used as a seat for my son on our four-day trip for roughly 6-8 hours of canoeing per day.
At the campsite, the chair was used by four different people weighing from 60 lbs to 250 lbs.
The construction of the Flexlite Air has held up perfectly and given me no concern for future issues so far.
The ripstop nylon and aluminum frame should support a 250 lb. load (which it did for us) and hold up to the weather with no rust or decay.
Ease of Setup
Setup is where most of these bungee cord and aluminum frame chairs shine. From pulling the chair out of the bag to the time that you are sitting in the chair is less than one minute.
The 8 poles (10 sections) are all held together with bungee cord and it almost puts its self together. My 7 year old son had the chair set up in little over one minute with no instruction. The only part he had trouble with was pulling the fabric seat over the poles.
REI brand gear has found a great niche of just under the price point of most high-end gear. The Flexlite Air camping chair is no exception.
For $99.95 you get an incredibly light camp chair that packs small enough for many types of camping trips. With the durability and reputation from REI, you should have a camp chair that lasts for many years and joins you on many adventures.
Compared to other camping chairs, the Flexlite Air is $20 cheaper than the Helinox Chair Zero, but it is also $20 more than the regular Flexlite.
If you’re really on a budget, Walmart offers it’s a version of this chair, the Ozark Trail Himont Lite for $24.95, which is a pretty great deal considering it comes in at under 2 lbs. I am currently testing out this chair and will let you know how this $25 chair compares soon.
REI Flexlite Air Specs
|Folded Dimensions||5 x 16 inches|
|Seat Height||11 inches|
|Weight Capacity (lbs)||250 pounds|
|Seat Material(s)||Ripstop nylon (bluesign® approved)|
Is The REI Flexlite Air Camping Chair Right For You?
However, if your main style of camping is drive-in sites where you can load down the car or you’re a big RVer, then there are chairs better suited to your style of camping.
If you do a lot of canoe camping like I do, such as my trips to the BWCA, then this could be the right chair for you. I prefer to go as light as possible and cover a lot of distance. If you’re more of a double portage person, then a heavier chair would be fine.
If you’re a lightweight backpacker and you’re looking to add in the luxury of a camp chair, then the Flexlite Air is a great choice.
Finally, for bikepacking, I would only bring this chair if I really had a lot of extra packing space on my bike. Many bike camping trips can’t afford luxuries like camp chairs, but if you can, it sure is nice!
The REI Flexlite Air is a great camping chair that has pros and cons versus other chairs on the market.
If you’re looking for something lightweight, packs small and doesn’t make too many sacrifices on comfort in the name of lightweight, then this is a great chair.
I personally really enjoy my Flexlite Air and will continue to use it as often as possible.
- About the Author
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Hey there, I’m Ryan, the face behind Beyond The Tent.
With decades of camping experiences, my journey into the wilderness began on the rustic trails of a farm in southern Minnesota, where my childhood was filled with explorations and camping by a picturesque river.
My family’s adventures across the United States, from the majestic Colorado mountains to the serene national parks and the pristine Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Northern Minnesota have given me a broad perspective. With each journey, whether in state parks or private encampments, and through the homely comfort of our camping trailers, we’ve amassed a trove of stories, experiences, and invaluable camping wisdom.