Given the vast range of backpacking chair styles, it can be difficult to decide what kind of chair will be most suitable for your needs.
First, decide if bringing along a backpacking chair is in your best interests.
If you are going on a short backpacking trip, you will be taking a car along on your journey, or you highly value a comfortable place to sit after a long day’s trek, then by all means bring along a chair.
However, if you are keen to hike long-distance, then you’ll want your pack to be as light as possible. Think about if you’d be okay using a versatile hammock, or pack of clothes as a chair instead. If not, or if you fall into the aforementioned class of backpackers, then read on.
How to choose the perfect backpacking chair:
Weight & Size
Like with everything in your pack, whether or not you bring along your backpacking chair will depend on how compact it can be, as well as its weight.
If you are bringing your chair in a car, then considering size and weight won’t so much apply to you. But if you are hiking with nothing but you, your pack, and the open wilderness, then every ounce counts. Make sure your chair is a respectable weight, and that it won’t take up too much precious room in your pack.
Before you purchase a chair, think about what kind of conditions through which you will be backpacking. For example, if you will be backpacking through winter conditions, you will need a sturdier material than if you are planning a short jaunt in the springtime.
A good base for material is to make sure it is waterproof, washable, resistant to tears, and flame-retardant.
When it comes to the skeleton material, consider buying a chair made with a strong metal, such as aluminum, opposed to something flimsy such as plastic.
When you decide to park and camp after a long day of hiking, you don’t want to spend too much time wrestling with a hard-to-setup chair, you will want something relatively quick and easy.
Before purchasing, ask the store clerk about setup times and effort.
If you have decided to bring along a backpacking chair on your trip, then obviously comfort is of great importance to you.
If possible, try out a few chairs in your local Outdoor Gear store before purchasing so you know what qualities you find comfortable. Think about qualities such as:
- Height of the chair – Is the chair easy to climb in and out of?
- Size – Can you comfortably fit in the chair?
- Material – Do you find the material pleasant?
- Structure – Do you require a full back to the chair or are you comfortable carrying around more of a stool-type chair.
- Posture – Do you feel like you could sit in the chair for long periods of time without feeling sore?
Bells & Whistles
Think about any special features you want your backpacking chair to have and whether they are more important than having a slim, lightweight pack.
Think about qualities such as a cup holder, a reclining feature, pockets, chair leg grips, cushions, padding, a headrest, etc.
Consider the terrain on which you will be taking your backpacking chair. If you will be using it on rocks, or the sides of hills, you will need greater maneuverability, durability, and stability features than you will if you plan on taking it on flat terrain.
The more versatile your terrain, the more stability you will need. When it comes to stability, think about durability. The stronger the skeleton of the chair, the more durable the chair, and thus more stable.
If you plan on backpacking over rough terrain, then try to purchase a chair with adjustable leg lengths. Your chair will cease to be comfortable at all if it keeps falling over.