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’ve tested dozens of 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 armrests, even the ability to recline. If you're car camping, tailgating, or packing for the RV park, go with the largest you can that 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.
GCI Outdoor Kickback Rocker
Unfolded dimensions: 27.2 x 32.5 x 31.7 in. | Folded dimensions: 7.9 x 5.9 x 39 in. | Seat height: 17.1 in. | Weight: 10 lb. 10 oz. | Weight limit: 250 lb.
GCI has staked its claim as the king of camp comfort with its Rocker line of chairs. And the Kickback is our current favorite. Its pistons on the back legs help with the rocking motion, and we found the resistance stiff enough that we wouldn’t accidentally tip the chair over backward but not so aggressive that it felt like the Kickback was pitching us forward. Both our 6-foot-2 and 5-foot-5 testers liked the height of the seat and had no problems sitting down and standing up from the chair. And it’s got the usual cup holder and phone pocket on the armrests. Despite it being a little unwieldy when carried over the shoulder and not folding down very small (keep this to milder activities like car camping, backyard use, and picnics), the strap didn’t dig in. Some padding in the seat and backrest would have been nice, but the fabric isn’t pulled so taut when the chair’s deployed that it’s uncomfortable. Finally, be sure to pick a relatively flat spot to plop the Kickback down; the long back feet could lead to some wobbling on uneven or gravely ground.
Coleman Portable Quad
Folded dimensions: 7.5 x 7.7 x 27 in. | Seat height: 18.1 in. | Weight: 8 lb. | Weight limit: 325 lb.
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 dedicated 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.
Mountainsmith SlingBack Chair
Unfolded dimensions: 40 x 14.8 in. | Folded dimensions: N/A | Seat height: N/A | Weight: 4.8 oz. | Weight limit: N/A
Here’s one for the minimalists. This chair isn’t 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 if you’re using the SlingBack), you get a simple, featherweight, and seriously comfy seat. We were impressed with how light it is, so even ounce counters can justify the luxury of bringing a chair along. Set it up by sticking your poles in the ground and then tucking the handles into pouches on the back of the chair. 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 in. | Folded dimensions: 39.5 x 9 x 9 in. | Seat height: 19 in. | Weight: 10 lb. 5 oz. | Weight limit: 325 lb.
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 reclining back confidently and lounge in the chair at just about any angle. The adjustable cupholders accommodate 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 this an excellent option for car camping and RV use.
—BEST FOR BACKPACKING—
Leki Sub 1
Unfolded dimensions: 19.3 x 17.3 x 27.2 in. | Folded dimensions: 13 x 5.5 x 5.5 in. | Seat height: 11.8 in. | Weight: 2 lb. | Weight limit: 320 lb.
The Sub 1 uses lightweight, collapsible, tent-style poles and a comfortable cloth sling to save weight—the chair packs small and weighs just over a pound. Setting it up is a breeze, as the leg pieces pop together easily before sliding into slings in the cloth chair. Even on uneven ground, the Sub 1 felt reasonably stable. While minimalist, this one still has some cool features. 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 place to rest.
—BEST HIGH-BACK CHAIR—
Unfolded dimensions: 38.5 x 23 x 28.5 in. | Folded dimensions: 4.5 x 18.5 x 5.5 in. | Seat height: 17.5 in. | Weight: 3 lb. 4 oz. | Weight limit: 320 lb.
Setting up the Sunset’s frame, which is similar to a one-piece tent pole system with legs and support for the backrest splaying out from two hubs, was a breeze. (In fact, Helinox uses aluminum alloy DAC poles, the same as you’ll find in many lightweight backpacking tents.) Muscling the chair fabric onto that frame, however, took some effort. But once we sat down, we were able to relax and comfortably lean into the chair’s backrest—the only one in the test that our tallest tester didn’t have to slip down in the chair to rest his head against. And though the frame is so lightweight and minimalist, it’s capable of holding up to 320 pounds and props the sitter high enough off the ground that that same tall tester had no trouble standing up out of the chair. We found pleasantly similar reinforcement from the 600-denier polyester fabric, which, when stretched taut over the frame, supported our lower back and pushed us upright. No slouching in this chair. Also no armrests or cupholders. But if you’re willing to do without those, you get a stuff sack that attaches to the headrest and converts into a pillow and airy mesh panels in the body that should boost the comfort on hot and muggy nights.
—BEST DIRECTOR’S-STYLE CHAIR—
Crazy Creek Crazy Legs Leisure
Unfolded dimensions: 32 x 19 x 13 in. | Seat height: 18 in. | Weight: 8 lb. 5 oz. | Weight limit: 325 lb.
Unfolding the Leisure Chair is as easy as spreading the arms out. But because of this, it doesn’t pack down well. It does get relatively flat, but length and width will be about the same as when unpacked, making it best kept 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’s also a great option for those with limited mobility; the seat height and sturdy arms made getting in and out easy.
—BEST ON UNEVEN TERRAIN—
REI Flexlite Air
Unfolded dimensions: 19 x 22 x 22 in. | Folded dimensions: 5 x 16 in. | Seat height: 11 in. | Weight: 1 lb. | Weight limit: 250 lb.
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 erects itself. While on hard flat ground this one didn’t feel as stable as other backpacking chairs, it shines on soft wet turf. 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. It’s easy to throw your legs forward and your head back. It weighs very little, so you won’t worry about tossing it in your pack, canoe, or car.
—BEST HARD-CASE CHAIR—
Unfolded dimensions: 18 x 28 x 21 in. | Folded dimensions: 12 x 2 in. | Seat height: 8 in. | Weight: 2 lb. 3 oz. | Weight limit: 250 lb.
This is a clever camp chair, 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 to bring 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.
—BEST FOR RECLINING—
Unfolded dimensions: 26 x 36 x 31 in. | Folded dimensions: 21 x 6.5 in. | Seat height: 12.6 in. | Weight: 6 lb. 2 oz. | Weight limit: 3o0 lb.
As the name implies, the Stargaze is meant for sitting back and looking up at the sky. Because of its suspended, swing-like design, we were able to rock and further recline the backrest to get close to horizontal. It was exceptionally comfortable once we positioned ourselves in it—positioning is key because, if we were slouching or didn’t sit back far enough in the chair, controlling the rock and tilt was harder, leading to more forward lean than we liked. To account for that swinging, the frame is burly, made of heavy aluminum with a low center of gravity and feet set wide for stability. On a flat, even surface, the chair never felt wobbly. The backrest was a bit low for our 6-foot-2 tester, but the clearly labeled armrests (“Hold here to sit and stand”) facilitated getting in and out. Another gripe: The cup holder was in a weird spot, built into the side of the seat where it took up some of the available room for our left leg.
—BEST FOR TWO—
Unfolded dimensions: 23.5 x 44 x 39.5 in. | Folded dimensions: 41 x 12 x 12 in. | Seat height: 19 in. | Weight: 16 lb. 7 oz. | Weight limit: 5o0 lb..
When you don’t want to chill at the campsite alone, bring room for your loved one. This behemoth can fit two people comfortably, with possibly some room left over for a small child or pup. It’s sturdy enough that two people can sit close 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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