When thinking about camping and the furniture most people miss the point. The majority of people only think about comfort and mobility. Yet, many more aspects must be taken into consideration. Camping is one of the most important activities globally.
How you pick your chair can be quite the difference. It's the choice between dealing with a rickety piece of metal and something that lasts. It's obvious that cost plays an important factor. Camping chairs are necessary investments for enjoying most outdoor experiences.
The adage “you get what you pay for” applies. Chairs made with cheap nylon material wear and got destroyed by weather after only a few uses. Some gain mold or hide bed bugs, spiders, and other creatures that hitch rides back with you from the grass.
Camping chairs are meant for more than camping. Their convenient ways to sit and relax wherever you may be by bringing one along with you. How well they work depends on a few factors.
How much each factor matters comes down to what you will be using the chair for. For some, materials and weight might matter over price and comfortability. For others, durability and price are going to be everything.
Each has their unique set of challenges to consider because they tend to be correlated. Material cost and comfort tend to factor into the price automatically. For some price isn't a factor. Those that are looking for something that is small and transportable shouldn't worry.
Before exploring each factor, it first helps to go over what kind of camping chairs are useful. Every trip is different, and the type of seat that would work for one wouldn’t work for the others.
- Short Camping Trips
- Hiking/Camping Trips
- Backpacking Trips
- Outdoor Events
Whether it’s a weekend or a day trip, short camping trips need some level of comfort. What resources you have at your disposal and your preference is everything. Either comfort or utility will play a large part in deciding what chair is right for you.
In the case of shorter trips, you can afford to have a somewhat heavier chair with more amenities. These amenities can vary from cupholders to a more comfortable backrest. Some chairs even have an integrated cooler for your drinks.
For short camping trips, weight and portability are usually less of an issue. You can afford to add some weight for more robust creature comforts.
Are you hoping to camp for a longer duration? Do you think you’ll find yourself hiking with your equipment during the journey?
If so, the weight comes at more of a premium. Lugging around a 20-pound camping chair while hiking will get tiring. Plus it's not worth a few extra bells and whistles. You’d be better off with a smaller campfire chair.
These kinds of trips are the trickiest ones. Chances are you will want a chair that is somewhat lightweight, yet still comfortable. As you can see, choosing the ideal chairs for camping consists of striking the right balance. Consider the options between portability and creature comforts.
For backpacking trips, you will be leaning towards the lightweight, spartan models of camping chairs. It’s also integral to cut the bulk of the seat, so it doesn’t take up too much space in your backpack.
These chairs will necessarily be smaller than those in other categories. That doesn’t mean you’ll have to sacrifice comfort. Collapsible backpacking chairs can still provide excellent back support and comfort minimally. Just don’t expect an overabundance of cup holders, storage pockets and other features. Those are usually reserved for larger models
Tailgating demands the least portability. This means you can afford to focus on comfort, durability, and accessories. Worrying over weight and bulk won't be as big. If you’re simply going to carry your chair out of the car, there’s no need for a lightweight build. It's a short distance so it's not as important to have a small collapsed size.
Chairs used for tailgating need features such as cup holders and reclining backrests. Comfort is key in tailgating chairs, so you’ll want to find a chair with a padded backrest. It should be made of higher quality nylon or canvas. Durability is also important. You wouldn’t want your chair collapsing on you if the tailgating party gets a little rowdy.
For outdoor events, you will want to focus on durability, and you’ll want your chair to weather the elements.
An essential pre-requisite would be a sturdy aluminum frame. The chair should also be waterproof. This is so it doesn’t become uncomfortable in the unfortunate outcome of rain or during a trip to the beach.
You will also want your chair to have legs that are more suited for outdoor environments. After all, you wouldn’t want your chair to become unstable when mired in dirt, sand or mud. The issue of weight depends on your method of transportation.
If you find yourself driving to the event, you can afford to bring along a heavier chair. If you’re walking or taking public transportation, you should settle for a compact design.
Materials play an important part in how your chair feels. It can affect how well it works and how long it lasts.
For a slight and unnoticeable trade in durability, aluminum provides a light construction, and does not need anti-rust treatment or anything of the sort. Most camping chairs are made of aluminum, and for a good reason. They’re lightweight, cheap and strong enough to handle most situations. It can handle camping in the wilderness or tailgating at the big game.
Aluminum is also resistant to rust, so you won’t have to worry about rain or snow. Its low density makes for a very easily portable, compact camping chair. Finally, aluminum is common and plentiful. This means your chair will be cheap in addition to being light and strong.
- Lightweight and less dense than other metals
- Relatively strong for its weight
- Not overly expensive
- Resistant to corrosion
Less common is steel construction for frames. Steel construction is geared more towards those seeking durability over portability. Steel is being phased out for aluminum for most folding outdoor chairs. It's a matter of price and use flexibility. For heavy duty folding chairs in which strength is paramount; it is more common.
The main advantage to using steel is its inherent strength. Other materials such as aluminum are not necessarily weak. Steel is still stronger and less susceptible to damage. A disadvantage to steel camping chairs is that they are denser.
This means they are heavier than aluminum chairs. It's important make sure you have a safe method of transportation at your disposal. Steel construction is more ideal for extreme conditions. If you want your portable chair to support a heavier load than aluminum, pick steel.
- More durable and less prone to bending or deformation
- Cheaper than aluminum pound-for-pound
- Denser and heavier than aluminum
- Lacks integral rust resistance, must either be treated or made of stainless steel
Alloys are rarer in the construction of portable chairs. Its usually found only in higher-end models. They are a blend of many materials. It's made to exploit the strengths and negate the weaknesses of the materials.
If the price is no object, alloys are far and away the best choice for your camping chair. They encompass the raw strength of steel. At the same time, they have the light weight and easy transportability of aluminum. The best of both worlds, the major downside to an alloy frame is the price. It's price is higher due to a more complex manufacturing process than.
As newer manufacturing techniques are developed, alloys are becoming more common. As the processes become better, they become cheaper. But they have a long way to go before they supersede aluminum as the preferred common material. Take note that there are many alloys available. Some manufacturers having their proprietary alloys. This means that quality and price will vary from chair to chair.
- Highly resistant to corrosion
- Lightweight and portable
- Unyielding construction, minimizing brittleness and resistant to warping
This is one of the more common materials used for outdoor seating. Nylon is incredibly versatile and rather common. It is resistant to water, so it will not soak through immediately in the case of unexpected rain. There are other materials which are more resistant to water.
Coated Nylon is durable. The coated nylon used in outdoor folding chairs resists ripping and tearing. This is so you won’t have to worry about your chair getting caught on an unseen branch and being damaged. The most favorable aspects of nylon are its flexibility and price.
It is decently comfortable. Though, you may find yourself needing additional padding if you don’t like the texture of nylon. You’ll find that nylon is common and moderately priced. It is fit to handle most non-specialized uses, from a portable lawn chair to a picnic chair.
- Decently water-resistant
- Very resistant to ripping and tearing
- Useful for a wide variety applications
- Reasonably priced
- Moderately comfortable
Closed cell foam is ideal if you’re looking for a comfortable and highly waterproof beach chair. Foam backrests provide substantially more padding than basic nylon. This leads to a resulting chair which is slightly bulkier but also cozier.
An advantage of closed cell foam construction is that it is resistant to water absorption. This makes it perfect for those long days at the beach. For rainy camping trips, it prevents the seat from becoming heavy and soggy.
Foam is also less resistant to damage than nylon. It lacks nylon’s rip-resistant characteristics due to the fiber threading.
As far as price goes, it’s more or less equivalent to coated fiber. The choice only depends on if you valued durability and versatility (nylon). The alternative is comfort and increased water-resistance (foam).
- Does not absorb water
- Quite comfortable
- Not as durable as coated nylon
- Padding is a bit bulkier than other materials
Canvas chairs are more common than the previous two categories. Their main advantage is a low price. Canvas is not as durable as nylon. It's also less comfortable than foam padding and less water-resistant than either.
This isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong with canvas outdoor folding chairs. They’re suitable for most activities. After all, you don’t need to bring a $80 folding lounge chair to the family picnic.
For day-to-day outdoor activities which don’t involve harsh conditions canvas works. If you don’t expect your chair to get ever get wet, a canvas chair is a perfect choice. The primary reasons being its cheap, reliable and very easy to find in stores.
- Very affordable
- Easy to find
- Not very water-resistant
- Susceptible to tearing
- Lacking regarding comfort
This is what most people picture when they imagine a camping chair. Traditional folding chairs have armrests and a backrest. they are usually on the larger end of the size scale. These are designed with more common applications in mind. This can include weekend camping, trips to the beach, picnics and outdoor events.
The traditional seat tends to be the most comfortable type of outdoor chair. This is due to the well-supported backrest and the inclusion of armrests. They are not uniformly large. There are traditional style camping chairs which are smaller. The issue is that due to the addition of armrests, the seat can’t be too narrow. Otherwise, you can’t fit in it.
If you are taller, you may wish to opt for a taller backrest simply due to comfort. The same holds true for older customers. Taller backrest makes it easier to sit down or get up out of the chair.
The armrests on traditional chairs also provide a place for pockets and cupholders. Traditional chairs are arguably the most versatile of all chair types. They are available in lightweight, sparsely accessorized form. They are also available in thick and brimming with add-ons and amenities. For example, there are folding chairs with canopies. There are also camp chairs with footrests and lounging camp chairs which recline, to name a few.
Some chairs come with a backrest seat combo which can be removed from the frame and used as a sleeping mat. Some have extended seats which serve to warm your legs during cold nights. The same goes for their construction. You may be able to find a $10 canvas lawn chair in this style for a garden party. Conversely, you may find a $100 coated nylon chair with alloy supports for avid campers.
There are many traditional chairs which are designed to be collapsible and lightweight. Though, of all the outdoor chair categories they are still large and bulky. You’re essentially trading portability for comfort. So these are ideal for activities where you have access to a vehicle.
- Most comfortable of the chair types
- Many accessories available
- Useful for a broad range of circumstances
- Large variety to choose from
- Heavier and more cumbersome than the other chairs
- Usually the most expensive chair category
Stools are the middle ground of the three chair types. They are small, sporting no backrest or armrests and few, if any, amenities such as pockets and the like. Stools elevate off the ground on strong, squat legs. This leads to a load-bearing advantage over traditional chairs.
Stools can hold far more weight. The legs of the stool will be strained less than a regular camping chair. This leads to greater reliability and durability. The reduced stress will go a long way towards extending your camping chair’s lifespan.
Camping stools are perfect for trips when you expect to do a decent amount of hiking or trips where you won’t be using a vehicle to get to the destination. The compromise they provide comfort and portability is ideal. It's best for situations where you want both of these aspects in equal measure.
They are still heavier and take up more space than backpacking chairs. So while they aren’t ideal for backpacking; they’re still usable if you have an large bag.
One of the disadvantages to many models of camping stools is that they are more unstable. This is due to the small base and more slim legs. Despite this, stools are a versatile and popular choice. Due to their size in comparison to traditional camping chairs, they are more affordable.
- Elevated off the ground
- Compact and easy to transport
- Less expensive than full-size chairs
- A good middle-ground between conventional and backpacking chairs
- Reliable for most uses
- Instability problems
- Less comfortable than full-size chairs
- Less specialized than other categories
These chairs are the smallest of the bunch. They trade away comfort for ease of portability. Fitting into most backpacks, they leave you with room for necessities. The vast majority of these seats weigh less than five pounds. Backpacking chairs collapse small enough to fit into a standard-sized backpack.
Backpacking chairs don’t have legs, so they aren’t raised off the ground. This can be a problem in extreme conditions such as heavy snowfall and thick mud. These chairs have fewer supporting structures than stools and traditional seats. They are more reliable and less prone to failure.
Due to the lack of legs, the seat itself has no maximum weight capacity, although the backrest supports do.
Many models have backrests, providing support and comfort for the user. On some of these, the backrest can be folded down to make a sleeping mat. Other models lack backrests and are water-resistant mats that you can sit on instead of dirt or grass.
They’re similar in price to camping stools. A large number of backpacking chairs use good-quality waterproof materials. It must be easy to clean since the chair is in direct contact with the ground as opposed to having legs.
These chairs also aren’t exclusive to backpacking. They’re ideal for short hikes where you don’t want to be weighed down. They can even also be improvised padding for uncomfortable seats at public events.
- Minuscule and easily transportable
- Some may double as sleeping mats
- Manufactured from element-resistant materials
- Can be used as makeshift padding for uncomfortable seats
- Reliable, very few support components to malfunction
- Least comfortable of chair types
- No elevation from the ground
- Some do not have a backrest
- Similarly priced to many stools
Chairs As Part Of Your Overall Setup
The wildly varying types of chairs are suited for a plethora of applications. For example, backpacking chairs are very useful for hikes and trips where you want to stay lightweight.
Beach chairs are made of mesh and feature water-resistant materials and construction. Beach Chairs can be either portable and small or larger and meant to transport by vehicle. Heavy duty folding camping chairs are not easily transportable by hand. They will take up a decent chunk of space in a car. They will also weather the elements better than most other available models. Beach chairs are also superior regarding durability and reliability.
If you find yourself backpacking, you’re going to want a chair that is small enough to fit in your bag. You will also need it to leave enough room for food, water, and emergency supplies. If you’re tailgating, you’ll be better off with large, comfortable chairs with cup holders. It makes sense since you will have access to a vehicle.
Sports folding chairs are convenient for short hikes followed by camping. This is because they are relatively lightweight for a decently sized chair. You mainly want to find a seat which won’t tire you out. Even if it's through uncomfortable posture, or only heavy construction.
The weight and size of the seat must also be balanced with all of your other equipment. You can have four of the most comfortable chairs in the back of your truck before a camping trip. They won’t do you much good if you don’t have enough room for a tent or much else.
Choosing the right chair for the right situation takes a little bit of thought and also must factor in personal preference. Some of us may prefer a bit more comfort and others may prefer a bit more practicality. In the end, there is an abundance of products to choose from, and there’s no reason to buy the first one you see. Like all other products, it takes a little research to purchase the ideal chair for you.