The 10 Best Super-Portable Camp Chairs

James Lynch
Photo credit: Staff

From Popular Mechanics

When you're camping, tailgating, or grilling in the backyard, your mission is clear: maximum relaxation. To fulfill that goal, you need a good chair. To help you find one, we tested 10 portable, inexpensive, and surprisingly comfortable options. See our top five options below then scroll deeper for longer reviews of those an other great chairs, and helpful buying advice.

Find the Right Chair

If you’ll be getting to your campsite under your own power, either by hiking, biking, or paddling, weight is is one of the most important factors. Its hard to justify a tool for relaxation if bringing it along makes the rest of your trip much tougher. Some chairs, like the Leki reviewed below, weight less than 1kg and fit into a backpack.

Larger (and heavier) chairs give you some nice features: Larger sitting spaces, adjustable arm rests, even the ability to recline. If you're car camping, tail gating, or packing for the RV park go with the largest you can fits your needs and the space you have.

Also consider this: Some of the packable camp chairs sit very low to the ground. That can make them difficult to sit down in, and even harder to get out of. If that's an issue for you, look instead for chairs like the Kelty Deluxe or CGI Roudtrip that have seats around 18 or 19 inches high.

Once you've settled on the size and style, look for the features you want-from cup holders to integrated coolers to padded armrests and legs that rock, there are a ton to choose from. At least one of the chairs we reviewed below will have exactly what you need.

How We Tested

Across three states and a team of testers, we tested these chairs to determine their comfort, ease of set up, stability, level of construction, and weighed that against their intended use. We also evaluated their price, weight, size, and features to determine which were the best values. We tried them in campgrounds, parks, on the porch, on a backpacking trip, at a soccer game, watching a bike race, and during an all-day BBQ. We fit them in loaded cars and carried them over our shoulders to determine how easy they were to transport. We put in the hard work of hardly working, to find the best chairs for kicking back and relaxing.

-Best Overall-

GSI Roadtrip Rocker Chair

Unfolded dimensions: 39.8 x 26 x 24.8 inches | Folded dimensions: 43.5 x 8.7 x 8.1 inches | Seat height: 19.7 inches | Weight: 13 lbs 3 oz. | Weight limit: 250 pounds.

This is our favorite chair for its versatility and comfort. The construction is durable with thick metal legs and tough PVC-backed polyester fabric. The arm rests are a good height and our testers found their shoulders fit between the chair's back without being squeezed or poked. The chair folds and unfolds easily, and although it is not the smallest, lightest, or most portable of the chairs we tested, it more than makes up for it with comfort. The greatest feature of the chair is that it rocks-two pistons compress and push back to give you a smooth, confident, and stable rocking motion. It takes a bit more effort to start going than in a normal rocking chair, but you can sway smoothly even when the surface beneath you isn't; we rocked on gravel, grass, pavement, and dirt. The quality is as high as on some other chairs that cost much more, making this one a great value, too.

-Best Value-

Coleman Portable Quad

Folded dimensions: 7.5 x 7.7 x 27 inches | Seat height: 18.1 inches | Weight: 8 pounds | Weight limit: 325 pounds.

For an exceptionally low price, Coleman delivers a comfortable chair with a steel frame and durable padded fabric that sets up and breaks down easily. The Portable Quad is just what you need, and not too much more, at a great price. This chair even comes with a built in cooler. It's not very insulated-so you can't leave your cooler at home-but it's a nice waterproof spot to stash a can or two and pack with some ice to keep them cooler longer. If you're looking for a simple, comfy option, this one is hard to beat.

-Best Ultralight-

Mountainsmith Slingback Chair

Unfolded dimensions: 40 x 14.75 inches | Folded dimensions: N/A Seat height: N/A | Weight: 4.75 oz. Weight limit: N/A

Here's one for the minimalists. This chair is not much more than a single piece of durable cloth, but when you attach it to two hiking poles (which presumably you already have with you), you get a simple, flyweight, and seriously comfy seat. We were impressed with how light it is, so even ounce counters can justify it. Set up the chair by sticking your poles in the ground, and then tucking the handles into pouches on the back of the chair sleeve. It takes a while to get used to the low, reclining position, but once you do, you have a backcountry camp chair that weighs almost nothing.

-Best for Lounging-

Kelty Deluxe Lounge Chair

Unfolded dimensions: 24.5 x 39.5 x 25 inches | Folded dimensions: 39.5 x 9 x 9 inches |Seat height: 19 inches | Weight: 10 lbs 5 oz. | Weight limit: 325 pounds.

Another favorite among our testers, the Deluxe has a wide and broad sitting area that doesn't pinch or press into your hammies, shoulders, or hips. The steel supports are also large and the feet are widely spaced, giving the entire chair a stable, confident feel. This really allowed our testers to use the recline feature confidently and lounge in the chair at just about any angle. The adjustable cupholders hold anything from a soda can to a beer growler (yes, you can have up to 64 ounces of beer in your cupholder). It's so comfortable that one tester remarked, "My wife, who is six months pregnant, was happy to spend half a day at a bike race as long as she got to use the chair." That La-Z-Boy level of comfort makes it an excellent option for car camping and RV use.

-Best for Backpacking-

Leki Sub 1 Folding Chair

Unpacked dimensions: 19.3 x 17.3 x 27.2 inches | Packed dimensions: 13 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches | Seat height: 11.75 inches | Weight: 2 pounds | Weight limit: 320 pounds

This chair uses lightweight, collapsible, tent-style poles and a comfortable cloth sling to save weight-it packs small and weighs just over a pound. Setting the chair up is a breeze as leg pieces pop together easily before sliding into slings in the cloth chair piece. Even on uneven ground, the Sub 1 felt reasonably stable. While a minimalist chair, this one still has some cool featurs. You get a relatively wide seating area, cup holder, and the carrying case attaches to the chair and works like a stash pocket where you can store snacks, books, a camp light, or anything else. It's a great backpacking and canoeing pack, or a nice option to keep stashed in your car so you're never without a seat.

-Best Lightweight Setup-

Alps Ready Lite Low Chair

Unpacked dimensions: 22 x 26 x 12 inches | Packed dimensions: 7 x 15 x 4 inches | Weight: 2 lbs. 6 oz., Weight limit: 250 pounds

The setup is simple and intuitive. Rather than having poles that connect to each other, the Lite Low has a single plastic base that all of the legs stick into to create the structure of the chair. Then the chair fabric goes over by putting the poles into small individual sleeves at the corners of the fabric. The chair is light, but it feels sturdy. The natural position is a pretty exaggerated lean back, better for playing a guitar than cutting a steak-it'd be perfect around a campfire. On flat, hard ground the chair is comfy and stable, but it wobbles and sinks or uneven or soft terrain.

-Best Director's Style Chair-

Crazy Creek Leisure Chair

Unpacked dimensions: 32 x 19 x 13 inches | Seat height: 18 inches | Weight: 8 lbs 5 oz | Weight limit: 325 pounds.

This was our favorite director's style chair. Unfolding it is as easy as spreading the arms out, but because of this, the chair does not pack down well. It does get relatively flat, but length and width will be about the same as when unpacked. Because of this, the Leisure Chair is best in the trunk of a car or an RV. The canvas is comfortable to sit on, and even though it has a square cut, it contoured to our testers' bodies well. The side table is easy to deploy and supremely useful, as is the cloth organizer that hangs over the edge. It is also a great option for those with limited mobility; the seat height and sturdy arms made getting in and out easy.

-Best on Rough Terrain-

REI Flexlite Air Chair

Unpacked dimensions: 19 x 22 x 22 inches | Packed dimensions: 5 x 16 inches | Seat height: 11 inches | Weight: 1 pound | Weight limit: 250 pounds.

Another great backpacking option, the Flexlite uses tent-pole-style legs that are easy to assemble and disassemble. The elastic bands inside the poles mean that the chair nearly assembles itself. While on hard flat ground this one didn't feel as stable as other backpacking chairs, it shines on soft wet ground. The legs can twist and pivot to help you find the best position and then the DWR nylon seat hangs from the poles to give a comfortable stable seat. Its easy to throw your legs forward and your head back. The weight is light, so you won't worry about throwing it in your pack, canoe, or car.

-Best Hardcase Chair-

Therm-a-rest Uno

Unpacked dimensions: 18 x 28 x 21 inches | Packed dimensions: 12 x 2 inches | Seat height: 8 inches | Weight: 2 lbs 3 oz | Weight limit: 250 pounds.

This is a clever option, and the only one that you transport in a hard case. While this doesn't make it great for backpacking, it's a nice option for in a boat, the back of your car, or the RV-any place that it might get banged around, or have things thrown on top of it. That hard carrying case becomes the base of the chair. It works well on flat ground but our testers felt wobbly on uneven surfaces. The chair itself is a bit small, but even our largest testers were able to squeeze in. If you are looking for an expansive seat, this is not it. One nice bonus to consider: The Uno can be turned into a table instead of a chair, giving it a level of versatility others lack.

-Most Comfortable-

Eureka Curvy High-back Chair

Unpacked dimensions: 26 x 45 x 32 inches | Packed dimensions: 49 in x 9 in x 8.5 inches | Seat height: 18 inches | Weight: 11 lbs 3 oz | Weight limit: 3o0 pounds.

This stable and sturdy chair is like bringing your comfiest living room furniture along on an adventure. Our testers loved how much the chair supports your back and butt-after a long day of playing or driving, you'll be able to kick back in comfort. The support even continues all the way up to your head and neck, so you won't have to strain as you lean back. The chair has padded armrests and big cupholders for drinks. All that comfort and stability adds weight, so you're not going to want to carry this one too far from the RV, truck, or garage. But if you're setting up a little base camp, or even just using the chair in the backyard, its the comfiest option we tested.

-Best for Two (or more)-

Kelty Loveseat

Unpacked dimensions: 23.5 x 44 x 39.5 inches | Packed dimensions: 41 x 12 x 12 inches | Seat Height: 19 inches | Weight: 16 lbs 7 oz | Weight limit: 5o0 pounds.

Finally, an option for two. When you don't want to chill at the campsite alone, bring room for your loved one. This behemoth can fit two comfortably, with possibly some room left over for a small child or pup. It's sturdy enough that two people can sit normally, or spread out. And even with that large sitting area, the chair still folds and deploys easily. You won't want to carry this one far, but its extra size can make any campground or backyard feel extra cozy. The seat is lower than on some similar chairs-something to consider if you have longer legs.

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