Let’s face it: Logs aren’t as fun to sit on as they look. A set of chairs will help complete your camping setup (once you’ve picked out your tent and sleeping bag), as well as make it more comfortable. While bulkier quad chairs will always be a reliable option, these days it’s also possible to find more minimalist designs that can be thrown into a daypack or beach tote. No longer considered a car-camping luxury, collapsible chairs are becoming something of a backcountry fixture these days, too. Here, we’ve rounded up the best chairs for all styles of camping, RVing, van-living, and hiking — as well as park picnics closer to home.
Best overall | Best slingback | Best adjustable slingback | Best (less-expensive) slingback | Best rocker | Best for back issues | Best for RVs | Best sturdy | Best table-height | Best seat pad| Best vintage-inspired | Best two-seater
What we’re looking for
Size and weight: Because camping chairs are by definition portable, you’ll want yours to be relatively compact. How small and light you go will depend on your mode of transport, how much storage space you have at home, and the style of camping you’re intending to do. It will also depend on your budget. Brian Rottman and Bryant Jimenez, both master’s students at the University of Oregon’s sports product-design program, advise that more money will buy a lighter and more collapsible chair. Yet “spending a lot on a camping chair is a little bit more of a luxury than some people really need,” says Rottman. If you do plan on having an especially outdoorsy summer, Julian Bialowas, head of brand design at Hipcamp, suggests investing in something more minimalist that’s “small enough to fit in the trunk of your hatchback, or ideally in your bike bag.”
Frame style: Camping chairs can range from simple foam seat pads to reclining loungers, and there’s a lot of in-between. You’ll find recommendations here for sturdy quad chairs that collapse inward, lawn chairs that fold flat, and two-piece slingback chairs with a fabric seat that stretches over a shock-cord pole structure. All of the chairs we’ve listed are designed for durability and have a weight capacity of at least 250 pounds.
Comfort: If you’re going to lug a chair to your campsite, it should be comfortable and sturdy. We looked for chairs with additional back support and padding, as well as chairs that incorporate cup holders, phone holders, storage pockets, and even coolers into their designs. We also found options for minimalists who’re simply trying to keep their butts off the ground when eating lunch on the trail. For many, how much space a chair takes up in your bag or trunk is also a comfort consideration.
Best overall camping chair
8.4 lbs | Quad frame | Padded seat and back, drink holder, storage sleeve, cooler
A staple of weekend trips, quad chairs are reliably cheap, surprisingly durable, and conveniently beer-can friendly. You know the drill: They’re slouchy to sit in and simple to set up, though a little annoying to get in and out of the bag. While many quad chairs are created equal, Coleman’s chair stands out in the big-box store for being larger in size and padded for comfort, while still plenty affordable. There’s an insulated cooler attached to the left armrest, plus a handy side pocket that means you won’t have to leave your phone and wallet in the dirt. Coleman’s quad chairs were referenced as classics by several of our camping-chair experts, including van lifers Megan Hogate and Ciara Ladroma, who describe this one’s comfort level as “chef’s kiss.” Travel journalists and photographers Emily and Berty Mandagie, the husband-and-wife duo behind the outdoors-focused website the Mandagies, have also recommended this chair to us in the past. Over 25,000 five-star Amazon reviews glow with praise: As one happy customer writes, “There’s plenty of room in the seat. I can sit crisscross applesauce in it, and it’s sturdy enough for my kids to sit in my lap without feeling it will tip, dip, or break.” You can’t go wrong with a couple of these and a cooler.
Best slingback chair
1.9 lbs | Slingback | Optional accessories
Rottman and Jimenez tell us that Korean brand Helinox has been at the forefront of ultralight camping-chair tech since the early 2010s. While this particular chair may still be too heavy for weight-conscious backpackers, its tiny packed-down size (equivalent to about one and a half Nalgenes) means it’s super convenient for just about everybody else. You assemble the Helinox one like a tent: There’s a collapsible aluminum-pole frame that’s held together with shock cords, then a sling seat made from nylon and mesh that slips over it. As Rottman explains, it’s just about “the most efficient design for a camping chair that exists.” The chair’s carrier bag attaches to its frame and can be used as a storage compartment; the brand also sells a clip-on cup holder, optional rocking feet, and a ground cover sheet.
Best adjustable slingback chair
1.14 lbs | Slingback | Reclining
The Nemo Moonlight has a similarly lightweight and collapsible-pole structure to the Helinox One, but with straps that adjust so you can recline backwards if desired. The chair comes recommended to us by Bialowas — he uses his to watch the stars when camping in the Cuyama Valley. As well as its adjustability, Bialowas likes the chair’s weight, packability, and ease of setup. “No one enjoys lugging a bunch of gear out to the beach or to their campsite or having to make multiple trips,” he explains. “A chair that is small and light enough to fit in your tote is the way to go. Especially if you don’t have to sacrifice comfort.”
Best (less-expensive) slingback chair
1.11 lbs | Slingback | Wide seat
Bialowas also pointed us to this REI dupe that’s rather similar to the Helinox One but features a wide, ripstop polyester sling seat instead of a lightweight mesh one. We have to admit that the colorways — olive green, blueberry, and copper — are actually way more appealing.
Best rocker chair
11.13 lbs | Quad frame | Rocker feet, drink holder
On the comfier side of things is this outdoor rocking chair that’ll be the envy of every camper who walks past your site. The Dyrt co-founder Sarah Smith finds herself recommending the GCI Rocker to “anyone who will listen,” adding that it’s both “super comfortable and slightly decadent.” Strategist contributor and experienced camper Steven John is also a fan of this surprisingly lightweight chair, which he says is as essential to his camping kit as a stove.
Best chair for back issues
10.5 lbs | Quad frame | Lumbar support, drink holders
If you’re after a quad chair that’s more supportive than the Coleman pick above, Marc and Julie Bennett of RVLove are fans of this one. “It’s great for people with back issues, or those who want to avoid them,” say the couple. “You have to sit in one to appreciate the difference.” The durable Guru has a 300-pound capacity and comes with a two-year warranty, which is unusual for a quad-style camping chair.
Best chair for RVs
33 lbs | Lounger | Cushioning, drink holder, side caddy
Another favorite among the RV set? These super-comfy recliners that adjust to whatever angle you please. Steve Johnson of Boondocker’s Bible says that Zero Gravity’s lounge chair is “effectively a folding chaise lounge, but much more comfortable.” RVBlogger’s Mike Scarpignato agrees, admitting it’s the only lounger he’s ever fallen asleep in. Frank and Grainne Foley of the Roving Foleys, also big fans, prefer their zero-gravity chairs with side caddies — ideal for holding drinks and cell phones.
Best sturdy camping chair
11.5 lbs | Quad frame | Bottle openers, drink holders
This sleek True Places camping chair has everything, and then some: solid plastic arms, a cup holder, optional clip-on phone holder, two bottle openers, and a clever carrier bag that can be worn as a backpack. The brand sent me one to try, and here’s the feature I like most: an unusually sturdy frame. Most camping chairs wobble and topple if you don’t have your two feet planted to balance them out, but this one stays grounded. As a trade-off, the chair is on the larger and heavier side, making it a little inconvenient for apartment storage and definitely out of the question for hiking and walk-in campsites. I’d say it’s optimum for backyard and park hangs, especially if you value both comfort and aesthetics.
Best table-height chair
10.1 lbs | Recliner | Cushioning, seven positions
Balancing a plastic plate of food on your knees when sitting around the campfire isn’t much fun. Campendium co-founder Leigh Wetzel recommends this chair as another assuredly sturdy pick that’s great for eating dinner on — and also has a seven-position reclining feature for chilling out afterwards. “It provides lots of support, and is table height so you can use it for dining as well as socializing,” she explains. The chair’s seat and back are constructed from super-comfy padded mesh, and the brand also offers an optional footrest for really blissing out. One note: This chair doesn’t have drink holders, so you probably will want to pair it with a camping table.
Best hiking seat pad
2 oz | Seat pad | Warmth-boosting reflective foam
Affordable, lightweight, and stashable, foam seat pads are really the only seating choice for a multiday hike. “They only weigh a couple ounces, so you’re not adding a lot of your pack,” as REI’s virtual-outfitting team lead Forrest Jarvi explains. Therm-a-Rest’s Z-Seat is a classic of the genre that’s both affordable and hard-wearing. Jimmy the Hiking Nerd has been using his for years — and not just for keeping his hiking pants clean: “Out in the backcountry, this Z-Seat has been my makeshift pillow, a windscreen for my stove, a fan to get the campfire going, and a barrier against the snow.”
Best vintage-inspired chair
13 lbs | Lawn chair | Low-profile, cord seat
Chelsea Rizzo and Allison Levy, co-founders of women’s outdoor-gear brand and New York City–based hiking club Hikerkind, also like taking foam seat pads out on the trail. But for car camping, the design-conscious duo pointed us to these delightfully retro picnic chairs from Ita, the first-ever Black-owned outdoor-furniture brand. “I never thought I’d love a camping chair, but I’m definitely infatuated with this one,” says Rizzo of Ita’s leisure chair, which collapses into a stackable square and can be popped into position in less than one minute. She says the chairs are thoughtfully crafted and designed to last: “I’ve made the bad decision before by buying the cheaper, heavier thing — what we love to promote is buying intentionally with a purpose and then using it forever.”
16.4 lbs | Double quad | Insulated drink holders, padded seat
For couples and well-acquainted friends, Kelty’s 400-pound-capacity loveseat is a classic. Instantly recognizable, you’ll see these blue-and-orange traveling couches are a popular choice amongst van-lifers. Hogate and Ladroma are obsessed with theirs, calling it “one of the best purchases” they’ve made for their van. They love sitting in it together (“It’s romantic — that’s the reason we got it”) or with their furry travel companion, Chaco. “One of the things I miss on the road is sitting on the couch with my dog, so this is a way to do that,” Ladroma explains. Though the chair is obviously rather large, it collapses neatly for storage, fitting into a bag that has a useful backpack-style carry strap. It’s durable, too. “We’ve seen people on the road who’ve had it for quite a while,” Megan adds. “The brand is known for creating things that last.”
• Julian Bialowas, head of brand design at Hipcamp
• Frank and Grainne Foley, founders, the Roving Foleys
• Forrest Jarvi, virtual-outfitting team lead, REI
• Brian Rottman and Bryant Jimenez, master’s students, University of Oregon sports-product design
• Steve Johnson, co-founder, Boondocker’s Bible
• Megan Hogate and Ciara Ladroma, photographers and van-lifers
• Emily and Berty Mandagie, founders, the Mandagies
• Allison Levy and Chelsea Rizzo, co-founders, Hikerkind
• Mike Scarpignato, writer, RVBlogger
• Sarah Smith, co-founder, the Dyrt
• Leigh Wetzel, co-founder, Campendium
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