Camping is a great way to experience the outdoors, but it involves doing so without many of the modern comforts we’ve come to know and love in our lives at home. However, camping doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. In fact, with the right camping chair, you can enjoy your time outside and relax at the end of a long day on the trail.
When sitting around the campfire or cooking away on my stove in the mountains, camping chairs have personally made a big difference in my overall comfort level during backpacking trips. Once I discovered that there was more to camping than just sitting on a thin foam pad, my outdoor adventures became so much more enjoyable.
So, to help you find the perfect lightweight backpacking or camping chair for your needs, here are our reviews of the 8 best options on the market today. We’ve even included a quick guide to selecting the right model for all your future trips. A good lightweight camping chair can be hard to come by because there are just so many different options. I hope the reviews below can help you narrow your search.
The 8 lightest camping chairs:
1. Helinox Chair Zero (1lb 2oz)
The Helinox Chair Zero is a cutting edge, ultralight fully-featured folding camp chair. It has a durable 4-legged base for added comfort and can pack down to the size of a 1L Nalgene water bottle.
This chair lets you sit 11″ (28cm) off the ground using its durable anodized DAC aluminum poles and ripstop polyester seat fabric. It can also support up to 265lbs (120kg) of weight. The Chair Zero is super easy to set up with its single shock-corded pole structure, which can be deployed in seconds.
Weight: 1lb 2oz (510g)
- Very light for a folding chair
- Highly packable
- Four-legged structure for durability and stability
2. REI Flexlite Air Chair (1lb)
The Flexlite Air Chair is REI’s answer to uncomfortable sit pads. This chair offers the same comfort that you’d find in other lightweight folding chairs at a slightly lower price
It weighs just 1lb (453g) and packs down into a small stuff sack, which can easily fit in the water bottle side pocket of a backpack. Plus, it’s made with bluesign approved ripstop nylon fabric, so only non-toxic chemicals were used in the production of the Flex Air Chair.
What makes this model different is that it has a unique pole configuration. This design helps to reduce the overall weight and bulk of the chair but has been known to make it less stable on sloping terrain.
Weight: 1lb (453g)
- Bluesign approved fabric
- Expensive (though less so than other similar options)
- Less stable than other folding chairs
3. Kelty Camp Chair (1lb)
The Kelty Camp Chair is a simple and affordable solution for backpackers that crave comfort. It weighs just 1lb (453g) and is made from durable closed-cell foam padding.
This chair has a 600D polyester fabric shell, which is robust enough for frequent use. The angle on this chair can be adjusted with its two side buckles for added comfort. It’s fairly easy to transport the Kelty Camp Chair, too, as it can be quickly strapped to the side of a pack.
Weight: 1lb (453g)
- Bulky packed size must be strapped to the outside of your pack
4. Helinox Chair One (2lb 2oz)
The Helinox Chair One is a more affordable alternative to the ultralight Helinox Chair Zero. In addition to its lower price point, the Chair One can accommodate hikers up to 320lbs (145kg) so it’s a good choice for a wider range of backpackers.
It also sits slightly higher off the ground (13.8 inches/35cm) than most other models, making it a great option for taller hikers and those with larger frames. The Chair One is made with ultra-durable DAC aluminum poles that provide ample stability on uneven surfaces.
Additionally, the chair has breathable mesh panels along the back and sides for added ventilation on warm days. Finally, it sets up in just seconds thanks to its single shock-corded pole structure.
Weight: 2lb 2oz (963g)
- Higher weight capacity (320lbs/145kg)
- Sits higher off the ground than most other models
- Durable poles and breathable fabric
- Slightly heavier than other similar options
5. Thermarest Trekker Chair (8oz)
If you want a comfortable place to sit at night without having to pack an extra piece of equipment on your next trip, the Thermarest Trekker Chair might be a great option. This chair acts as a conversion kit for an inflatable sleeping pad for added convenience without extra bulky gear.
The small version of the Trekker Chair weighs just 8oz (290g), making it one of the lightest options on the market today. It can be set up in seconds and is wide enough to fit most sleeping pads.
Unlike other sleeping pad converter kits, the Trekker Chair also has built-in fiberglass poles for added structure and support. To top it all off, its 75D ripstop polyester helps protect your sleeping pad from punctures on rough ground.
Weight: 8oz (290g)
- Very lightweight and compact
- Fiberglass poles for added stability
- Protective 75D ripstop polyester fabric
- Takes longer to set up than a folding chair
6. Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 LongBack Chair (1lb 8.8oz)
Crazy Creek has been an industry leader in camping chairs since 1987 and the Hex 2.0 LongBack is just a continuation of their decades of creating high-performing gear. What makes this chair unique is that it has a longer back, which is more comfortable than other similar foam options.
This chair rolls up compactly to a 4″ (10cm) diameter, so it’s easier to strap on the side of your pack. It’s made from a very durable 210D coated ripstop nylon and includes an 8mm high-density cored EVA closed-cell foam for added insulation and padding.
Weight: 1lb 8.8oz (703g)
- Longer back adds a lot of comfort
- Very durable materials
- Rolls to a compact size
- More expensive than other foam options
- Slightly heavier than some foam chairs
7. Exped Chair Kit (1lb 4.6oz)
The Exped Chair Kit is a way to quickly convert your sleeping pad into a place to lounge while backpacking. Unlike other similar options, the Chair Kit is designed to fully cover your sleeping pad, so you don’t have to spend time setting it up when you want to sit down.
In fact, the Chair Kit allows you to convert your sleeping pad into a lounger without standing up. Although it weighs slightly more than some other options, one of the benefits of this kit is that it provides another layer of protection for your sleeping pad against the sharp ground.
It also allows you to insert tent poles or trekking pole segments into three strategically placed openings for added stiffness and support while lounging in camp. Plus, it packs down into a small stuff sack for easy storage and transport.
Weight: 1lb 4.6oz (580g)
- Allows you to convert a sleeping pad to a chair without standing up
- Provides added protection for an inflatable sleeping pad
- Can adjust the stiffness of the chair for more support
- Slightly heavier than other options
8. DIY Options
For an affordable, lightweight camping chair, you can always make your own. Logs and boulders always make for a good on-the-go seating option if you’re looking to completely minimize the amount of gear you carry.
Alternatively, Gossamer Gear’s Thinlight Foam Pad is a good ultralight and multi-purpose piece of equipment that can easily be converted into a camp chair. Since it’s so thin, it’s best to fold it in half and use it as protection from the wet ground. Then, lean back against a tree, rock, or even your backpack for a bit of lumbar support in the outdoors.
If you’re feeling really creative, you can sew your own ultralight Crazy Creek-style camping chair. You’ll need the following:
- Foam sleeping pad (Gossamer Gear’s Thinlight Pad is a good option)
- Ripstop nylon (generally available at fabric or crafts stores)
- Nylon webbing and plastic buckles (often sold in packs at crafts stores)
- Sewing machine with tacking capabilities
To create the chair, do the following:
- Cut out two rectangular pieces of foam to about 2 feet (0.6m) each from the Thinlight pad.
- Then, lay both pieces of foam down on your ripstop nylon.
- Fold the nylon over the foam pads so that it completely covers them. Measure and trim the fabric accordingly, keeping at least 1in (2.5cm) of extra space on each edge for a seam allowance.
- Remove the foam inserts and pin the nylon together so it is in the correct shape for sewing.
- Sew one of the short edges of the two pieces of fabric together.
- Sew one long edge of the fabric, stopping after 1 foot of sewing.
- Then, sew the end one of the nylon webbing pieces into the fabric using a bar tack. This nylon will form one of the adjustable straps for your chair.
- Continue sewing the rest of the long edge until you’re 1 foot from the end. Repeat the process in steps 6-7 to sew in another piece of nylon webbing. Then, continue to sew to the rest of the long edge of the fabric.
- Repeat steps 6-8 on the other long edge of the fabric.
- Flip the fabric inside out so the sewn seams are no longer exposed.
- Slide the first foam pad inside the fabric sleeve. Sew a straight line across the fabric just below the foam pad to keep it in place.
- Slide the second foam pad inside the fabric sleeve. Sew the final short edge of the fabric to close the fabric sleeve.
- Finish installing the plastic buckles on the nylon straps. You can choose to use sliding buckles or side-release buckles, whichever you prefer.
- Pack up your camp chair and set off on an adventure!
How To Choose A Lightweight Camping Chair
There are a whole lot of different camping chair options out there so knowing what to look for as you shop is of the utmost importance. Here are some key things to keep in mind:
The number one thing to consider when buying a new camping chair is what you plan to use it for. If you’re mostly interested in car camping, your needs are going to be very different from someone that enjoys long-distance thru-hiking or more remote climbing trips.
So, to start your search, consider what you intended to use your camping chair for. This will help guide your decision making and will make it easier for you to judge the usefulness of different the different models that are available to you.
Most modern camping chairs will be made with lightweight materials, like ripstop nylon, mesh, closed-cell foam, and aluminum. However, it’s always important to keep in mind that lightweight materials are often less durable than their heavier counterparts.
This is particularly true when it comes to folding chairs that use a lot of mesh fabrics. Mesh tends to rip quite easily, so if you opt for one of these models, be sure to store them in their protective stuff sacks to protect them from damage on the trail.
As a consumer, buying from a well-known name brand is a good way to get a quality product without having to spend hours of your valuable time on the internet. Manufacturers like Helinox, REI, Thermarest, and Crazy Creek have been on the market for decades, so they offer a lot in the way of reliability.
Additionally, certain companies will offer comprehensive warranty programs so you can feel confident in your purchase. For example, Helinox offers a 5-year warranty on their products as they sell a wide range of spare parts for DIY repairs. Thermarest also offers a great warranty program and they’re happy to repair your gear for a small fee.
The whole point of a camp chair is to make you more comfortable when you’re outside. That being said, foldable chairs (like the Helinox Zero, REI Flexlite, and the Helinox One) are generally the most comfortable because they mimic chairs that you’d normally sit in at home.
Air chair straps (such as the Thermarest Trekker Chair and the Exped Chair Kit) also provide a good amount of comfort because they utilize the natural padding of a sleeping pad. Ground chairs (e.g. Crazy Creek and Kelty Camp Chair) are quite comfortable, too, but will often cause your feet to fall asleep when used for too long.
For backpackers, the weight of a piece of gear is critical. When you have to carry gear on your back, the lighter the better.
For camping chairs, though, weight savings is often associated with less comfortable chairs. In reality, the lightest options, such as ground chairs and air chair straps, aren’t going to be as comfortable as their slightly heavier folding relatives. So, you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to carry around a few extra ounces of weight for added comfort on the trail.
My closing thoughts and recommendations…
A camping chair is an easy way to maximize your comfort in the outdoors. But, finding the right one is all about balancing weight, durability, and comfort. Overall, the Helinox Chair Zero is our top pick.
If you’re looking for a converter kit for your sleeping pad, the Thermarest Trekker Chair is a solid option for a wide range of sleeping setups. Finally, the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 LongBack is our first choice for a foam ground chair.
Up Next In Camping:
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12 Ways to Get Cheap (and Free) Camping Gear
Camping Alone: What Every Woman Needs to Know
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David Parnell is the founder and lead editor at Trail and Summit, who enjoys writing on a wide range of topics from travel trailers to trail running. He’s an accomplished mountain endurance athlete who has completed over 25 ultra marathon races (follow on Strava). He is most proud of his finish at The Drift 100 – a high elevation, 100 mile winter foot race that zigzags along the Continental Divide in Wyoming. In the future he hopes to compete in the ITI 350 and ultimately the full 1,000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational that follows the same path as the historic dog sled race.
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