If you are looking to engage in a multi-day backpacking trip, then your backpack checklist will be a little more extended than with a light hiking trip. Among other things, you will want to include items for sleep, relaxation, and rest.
Today, we’d like to help you with picking specifically the best lightweight backpacking chair.
When choosing a chair for a backpacking trip, lightness and compactness are a must. While these two criteria allow you to toss out hundreds of options, you will still have to look through a good chunk of chairs. For the newbie buyer, this process can be intimidating.
Here is where our guide comes in. The purpose of this post is to suggest 10 great options to you, as well as to guide you towards the right backpacking chair.
Quick Comparison Table
|Coleman Portable Camping Quad Chair||• Fabric: Polyester|
• Frame material: Steel
• Weight: 8.82 pounds
|Kijaro Dual Lock Portable Camping Chair||• Fabric: Ripstop polyester + mesh|
• Frame material: Steel
• Weight: 9.5 pounds
|AmazonBasics Portable Camping Chair||• Fabric: Nylon + mesh|
• Frame material: Steel
• Weight: 6.1 pounds
|Tommy Bahama Classic Lay Flat Beach Chair||• Fabric: Polyester|
• Frame material: Aluminum
• Weight: 7 pounds
|Quik Portable Folding Chair||• Fabric: Polyester|
• Frame material: Steel
• Weight: 6 pounds
|Nice C Low Beach/Camping Folding Chair||• Fabric: Oxford fabric|
• Frame material: Steel
• Weight: 6.2 pounds
|GCI Folding Rocking Chair||• Fabric: Advertised as leather, but nylon-like fabric in reality|
• Frame material: Powder-coated steel
• Weight: 12.1 pounds
|Quik Folding Chair W/ Canopy||• Fabric: Polyester|
• Frame material: Steel
• Weight: 9 pounds
|Cascade Mountain Tech Folding Camp Chair||• Fabric: Polyester|
• Frame material: Steel and aluminum
• Weight: 6.55 pounds
|Rio Portable Folding Backpack/Beach Lounge Chair||• Non-skid base|
• 4-inch thick solid memory foam
• Multiple colors
10 Best Lightweight Backpacking Chairs Reviewed
Let’s start our buyer’s guide with our 10 reviews!
We’ve had to select our top 10 picks from dozens and dozens of available options. When shortlisting lightweight backpacking chairs, we’ve tried to keep our list more versatile to meet the needs of as many people as we can.
With that in mind, below, you will find light chairs with both steep and pocket-friendly price tags. The feature sets of our picks are rather unique as well, so each chair will be able to satisfy slightly different needs.
1. Coleman Portable Camping Quad Chair
Up first on our top is the Quad Chair from Coleman.
The highlight of the Quad Chair is the rich set of pockets. Aside from traditional armrest cupholders, you are also getting a mesh pocket and a cooler bag to the sides. The cooler bag is pretty thin and probably won’t keep your food items cool for long, but it should be fine for a couple of hours.
For added comfort, the Quad Chair allows you to adjust the height of the armrests. Additionally, the folding chair has a good amount of cushion in the back and seat. The seat is big and deep too, so it should work for tall users.
The Quad Chair is quite finely built as well. Most importantly, the steel frame is strong enough to withstand up to 325 pounds. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have any rust protection, so you’ll have to be careful with moisture.
2. Kijaro Dual Lock Portable Camping Chair
This portable camping chair from Kijaro offers improved breathability and cooling performance thanks to its back design. Most of it is mesh, so you should stay relatively sweat-free on hot days.
The rest of the fabric is also remarkable – made of ripstop polyester, it should be able to easily withstand tears, rips, and heavy users.
Speaking of heavy, the steel frame of this chair supports up to 300 pounds, which should be enough for most buyers. But like in the Coleman chair, keep in mind that you don’t get rust protection.
In terms of conveniences, the Kijaro folding chair has a pair of mesh cupholders, plus a side mesh organizer (like in the Coleman chair, but smaller). For added security and stability, this chair also boasts a locking frame.
We also like the appearance of the Kijaro chair – it looks cleaner and better-built than most of our other picks. With that said, note that though the construction of the chair is pretty sturdy, it has a few weak points like plastic components or undersized tubing connectors.
Weighing at 9.5 pounds, this folding chair is on the heavier side too, so it should be carried by fitter backpackers.
3. AmazonBasics Portable Camping Chair
The AmazonBasics portable camping chair is an excellent choice if you want something very lightweight. At only about 6.1 pounds, this is one of the lightest camping chairs on this list.
However, keep in mind that such lightness comes at a cost – more precisely, structural strength. This camping chair is only rated up to 225 pounds, which is probably fine for most people, but it’s way lower than in many of our other picks.
Aside from that, the chair variant we based this review on is only about 20 inches wide, so it won’t comfortably accommodate large users. But there is a wider 24-inch version, so taller hikers could choose it instead.
Still, the AmazonBasics chair offers a number of nice features for convenience. Like the Coleman chair reviewed at the beginning, it has a cooler bag along with a mesh cupholder and organizer pocket. The backrest has a little mesh for breathability too.
The Tommy Bahama Classic Lay Flat beach chair is a great purchase if you want something more versatile. Unlike many of our other picks, this foldable chair allows you to adjust the recline (5 positions)! The recline adjustment mechanism is pinch-safe and easy to use.
The overall convenience and comfort of the Tommy Bahama beach chair are very nice as well. This chair includes a plush pillow for added comfort, while the armrests are made of wood and offer better support than the fabric armrests of our other picks.
Storage features in this chair are rich as well – you are getting a towel holder bar along with a side organizer pocket and a cooler bag. The cooler bag is on the back of the chair though, so you’ll have to get up to access your food items.
The Tommy Bahama chair weighs only 7 pounds as well, so it’s one of the lightest beach & camping chairs on this top.
With all that said, the build in the Tommy Bahama chair is not the best. The polyester fabric seems sturdy, and the aluminum frame is rustproof, but the chair doesn’t appear to hold up well, especially under heavy users. Had Tommy Bahama used steel, this chair wouldn’t have received as many complaints as it has.
Still, this chair is highly-rated online, and it should be a good option for lighter and more petite users.
5. Quik Portable Folding Chair
If you want something very cheap, then consider the Quik portable folding chair.
Of course, you shouldn’t expect much for the money – both feature- and durability-wise. The Quik chair probably will only withstand a season of heavy use, but that’s fine if you just need a light camping chair right now.
Additionally, the Quik chair is a nice pick if you are looking for something for kids’ use.
When it comes to features, the Quik chair is nice but limited. Of all the things we’ve seen in our previous picks, this chair only has a mesh cupholder. This chair is not particularly comfy as well due to its relatively small size and lack of padding.
With that said, the Quik camping chair is very light – only 6 pounds. With that, it’s the lightest chair on this list!
6. Nice C Low Beach/Camping Folding Chair
If you want a beach chair that doesn’t dig into the pocket as much as the Tommy Bahama chair, then the Nice C folding chair could be the right choice. Needless to say, this chair doesn’t offer the same feature set as the Tommy Bahama chair, but it doesn’t cost nearly as much.
Like the Quik chair we’ve just reviewed, the Nice C beach/camping chair only has one convenience feature – a single cupholder. With that said, this chair appears to be pretty comfy, and it also weighs only 6.2 pounds.
Build-wise, the Nice C folding chair is pretty good. The steel frame is rated for up to 300 pounds, while the Oxford fabric is tough and also has a mesh area for added breathability. The build quality is not the best, unfortunately, but if you are careful with this chair, it should serve for a good amount of time.
The GCI folding chair has a unique feature that you’ll probably find only in a few camping/backpacking chairs. This chair can actually rock, but not like your classical rocking chair.
The rocking motion in the GCI chair is powered by a pair of springs in the back. When you lean back, the springs contract and then push you back up. Since the springs are actually independent, you can rock on uneven surfaces. However, the flatter the ground, the better the rocking will probably be.
What’s also very nice about the GCI chair is the build. The frame is made of powder-coated steel, so it’s not only durable but also rust-resistant. The weight limit is just 250 pounds, but the rust resistance is a very welcome feature for outdoor use.
The fabric is advertised to be leather, but it’s actually a nylon-like synthetic material. It’s pretty breathable and should be tough enough for heavy use.
In terms of comfort, the GCI folding chair is very nice, though we’d like its back to be less upright.
Note that the GCI chair is rather heavy – a whopping 12.1 pounds. This isn’t heavy per se, but it’s heavy compared to our other camping chair picks.
If you liked the Quik folding chair reviewed earlier but want something more convenient, then perhaps this model will be right for you! This chair offers a similar design and build quality, but it’s way better in the feature department.
The highlight of this Quik chair is the canopy. It’s adjustable and has good coverage, so it should be able to protect you from the sun in most situations. Rain protection is pretty nice in it as well, but if a lot of water accumulates in the canopy, we feel that it will collapse and dump all water onto you.
Aside from the canopy, the Quik chair also features a pair of cupholders and a side organizer pocket. This is comparable with what we’ve already seen in many of our backpacking chair picks.
All in all, the Quik canopy chair is pretty nice and convenient, but it has a few downsides associated mainly with the canopy. The chair is heavier and bulkier than its canopy-less analogs, and the setup is more difficult too. To remove the canopy, you have to use a screwdriver as well, which is not very user-friendly.
What’s also better in this chair is breathability. The mesh area in the fabric is noticeably larger, which should contribute to ventilation quite a bit. The build quality might be a little better in the Cascade chair as well, though its weight limit is 50 pounds lower.
Last but not least, we have this folding lounge chair from Rio. This chair is very different from all our previous picks in design. It has a more traditional beach chair construction that is great for stretching out and relaxing. Thanks to the adjustable back recline, the Rio folding chair is very comfortable too.
What’s also very nice about this folding chair is the build, particularly the frame. Thanks to the powder coating, its steel frame is tough and rust-resistant.
Had this chair had a few convenience features like cup holders or whatnot, it would have been perfect for backpacking. However, since it’s pretty difficult to integrate such things into a beach chair, it’s not a big deal that the Rio chair doesn’t have them.
Key Things To Look For In The Best Backpacking Chair
Let’s now try to understand what features and specs you should pay attention to when shopping for a light chair for backpacking – starting with chair style.
Backpacking chairs are available in various styles, each with its good and bad sides. These styles are as follows:
- Chair. This is your standard chair with a back and sometimes also armrests. If you want a comfortable place to sit, then a chair is the best option. However, it would only be optimal if you can afford to carry its weight and large size. Backpacking chairs are typically made foldable.
- Stool. A stool is a chair without a backrest. Stools offer little back support, but they are more compact than chairs. Stools can be foldable or inflatable.
- Ground chair. Ground chairs keep you a few inches off the ground or sometimes rest directly on the ground. These chairs typically do not have legs and are therefore very compact. Despite their compactness, they offer decent support and comfort because they have backrests and armrests. However, because you are close to the ground, you will pick up more dust and dirt.
- Seat pads. Seat pads provide a simple layer of cushioning. They sit directly on the ground like some ground chairs, but they provide no back support. Seat pads are the lightest and most compact seating option you will find out there.
Which style would work the best for you? This depends on how much space you have, how heavy you are willing to make your backpack, and what your expectations from the chair are. Once you determine these three, you should be able to easily determine which chair type would be right for you.
Inflatable vs foldable
Although we only had foldable chairs on our list, we should touch upon inflatable chairs as well.
Backpacking chairs should be space-efficient, which is usually achieved via either foldability or inflatability. Note that some backpacking chair types (regular chairs or ground chairs) are usually made foldable, so what we’ll talk about below may not apply to them.
Like it was with chair types, there is no best solution here – foldable chairs are better in some areas, while inflatable chairs excel in others. To make the right choice, you have to understand what these are.
Inflatable chairs by themselves are hugely more space-efficient than foldable chairs. When fully deflated, inflatable chairs fold down very compactly, occupying no more space in your backpack than a T-shirt.
However, such a chair needs to be inflated, meaning that you also need to have an air pump with you. Pumps can be pretty compact, but they still occupy space. Unless you are willing to manually inflate your chairs, you will have to pack a pump too.
Aside from that, inflatable chairs can become unusable if punctured, so they require extra care.
The pros and cons of foldable chairs are the opposite – they aren’t as space-saving, but you don’t need to pack any pumps.
With that, which style to choose?
We think that inflatable chairs would make more sense if you are going to take several chairs with you. Inflatable chairs are very compact when deflated, and since you can inflate several chairs with a single pump, your setup would stay pretty space-efficient.
If you are going to take only one-two chairs, then perhaps foldable chairs would be better. A few foldable chairs may be more compact than inflatable chairs plus a pump.
All in all, the logic here is that you should determine what will take up more space – foldable chairs or inflatable chairs with a pump.
You would probably want your chair to withstand heavy outdoor use, so ideally, your backpacking chair should be made durably.
There are two things to consider here – the frame and the seat fabric.
Frame-wise, the best option would be powder-coated steel. Steel is very strong and withstands abuse very well, while powder coating makes it rust-resistant.
Regular steel would work fine too, but it would rust if unprotected.
A good alternative would be aluminum. It’s cheaper and much lighter than steel, which is great for hiking. Aluminum is rust-resistant as well. However, steel withstands heavy use much better, so if you opt for aluminum, you should be gentle with your backpacking chair.
Ideally, the seat fabric will be made of a fabric that is resistant to rips, abrasion, moisture, and UVs. Quick drying is a desirable feature as well.
Nylon is probably the most optimal fabric for most people’s needs, especially ripstop nylon. Ripstop nylon is puncture- and tear-resistant.
Polyester is a good cheap alternative to nylon, but it’s not as durable or water-resistant.
As you could have noticed from our reviews, camping/backpacking chairs can have a lot of handy features. You don’t necessarily need fancy things, but if you have the budget, try to get yourself a light backpacking chair with a few convenience features like:
- Cooler bags, cupholders, pockets, or organizers.
- Towel or bag hangers.
- Adjustable recline.
- Mesh fabric for breathability.
Chair size & weight
Last but not least, pay attention to chair size and weight.
With size, try to find out how big the chair is both when disassembled/assembled or deflated/inflated. Not every manufacturer provides this info, but if you can, find it out.
Pay attention to the seat size as well, especially if you are a very big or petite hiker.
Your chair should be sized just enough to satisfy your needs while not occupying too much space in your backpack.
The same rule applies to weight – your backpacking chair should be able to meet your demands while weighing as little as possible.
Keep in mind that a very lightweight chair isn’t always a good thing. Lightness has to be achieved at the expense of something – typically, at the expense of durability. All else equal, a lighter chair will likely have weaker, thinner framing.
Picking the best lightweight backpacking chair isn’t too difficult. A chair is much easier to choose than, say, a backpack.
Still, you should be careful with what you are investing your hard-earned money in. No chair is better than a bad chair. Read through our guide one more time, have a better look at our picks, and don’t rush with making a decision.