Are you looking for the best ultralight camping chair for your adventures? Many of you are looking for ways to cut weight and space in your camping gear so you are wondering if it is really possible to get a quality lightweight camp chair. Since it is time to replace our camp chairs, I wondered exactly that and started to do the research. To save you time I’m sharing what I found below. I’m sure you’ll find my discoveries very useful as you hone in on ultra light camping chairs for yourself.
The best ultralight camping chair is one that not only is lightweight and compact but provides comfort and support when you are camping. There’s no sense in hauling around a chair that you don’t want to use, right? In the list below we’ve included our tested top selection of camping chairs. Each fits a slightly different need in camping styles. As always, I’ve included links to where you can purchase these chairs to make it easier for you. Most of the links are affiliate links which means I might earn a small commission if you make a purchase even though you don’t pay anything extra.
How Do I Choose a Camp Chair?
Consider the weight, the pack size, the capacity and the seat height when choosing a camp chair. The best way to choose a chair for camping is first to determine how you are going to use the chair or what type of camping you do. Then your body build should be considered, what is going to fit you most comfortably? In the end, comfort is your goal. So here’s why these factors are important to selecting the best Ultralight Camp Chair.
- Weight is probably the most obvious factor in deciding which is the best ultralight camping chair. But don’t be too quick to make it your only factor. You want to be comfortable and sit in a sturdy chair. Here are generally looking at chairs around 2 pounds. Although, you might want to take a look at the Helinox Chair Zero in the reviews below to get down to almost a pound if you are going to be carrying that chair a long time on the trail.
- Pack size is just as important. Most of these chairs are about the size of a 2-liter bottle of soda which is approx. 240 cu inches. We included the dimensions so you can easily compare them.
- Capacity means how much weight the chair can hold. We eliminated any chairs that couldn’t hold at least 225 pounds, and really looked for even better results because there’s often more than your body in the chair. You don’t want your chair collapsing under you when you pick up your 30-pound backpack or pick up your child and suddenly exceed the weight it can handle.
- Seat Height can be important. A traditional kitchen chair has a seat height of 18 inches. If your knees and legs are tired from a lot of hiking, you might not want to have to get up from a very low chair. Of course, to save weight and pack size seat height is usually lower than a kitchen chair. But usually, seats in the 13-15 inch range are still comfortable. If you want a full-height but still very lightweight camping chair, check out the G4Free Camp Chair review below as it sits at a full 18 inches – super comfy.
- Price is always important. For our overall best camping chair, we focused on chairs that were in the $25 to $50 range.
Best Uses for Ultralight Camp Chairs
It’s really important to understand how you will be using your ultralight camping chair before you make a final decision. Here are all the ways we were considering in our decision process:
- General Car Camping where space is often limited. That probably applies to a lot of you in camper vans and small RVs too.
- Fly and Car Camp. We do this a lot! All our camping gear must fit in one 40 pound checked duffel bag so weight and size are really critical. Historically we have purchased cheap chairs upon arrival and then gifted them to fellow campers on our last day. But now we just bring our own ultralight camping chairs in our packed bag.
- Canoe Trips. Weight is really important for those portages. We skipped taking chairs on our boundary water trip because of this, but wow it would have been a much pleasanter trip with a few chairs around the campfire.
- Back Country Camping. I’d definitely consider a little extra weight in my pack for a trip where we planned to relax at lakes (you can read that as fishing) and camp as much as we hiked. If you are doing extended or long-distance backpacking we found the best and lightest chair to be the Helinox Chair Zero.
- And as I’m writing this Brad just came back from his annual guys fishing trip and instantly honed in on the test chairs. He wants to take our new chairs with him next year to keep on the boat for their shore lunches. (I’m a little afraid I will never see these chairs again!)
Types of Camping Chairs that are Ultralight
The best lightweight camp chairs are made with an aluminum pole system, similar to how tent poles are put together. The stretch cord is woven into the poles so when you open the package all the poles just pop into place. All you have to do is snug the connections and stretch the cover over. It’s super simple. The aircraft-grade aluminum gives great strength while keeping the weight way down.
There are a handful of padded trail seats that are shaped similar to stadium seats plus a selection of sit pads without the back. These sit right on the ground, providing an insulation layer that’s wonderful on cold nights. Some have a backrest that folds out. I also use one in my kayak because of the extra padding and back support. Although a real chair is always more comfortable, we’ve included one of each in this list of ultralight camping chairs because they really drop the weight while providing a layer of protection and comfort.
And last we included a camp stool for those of you who just prefer the comfort of a stool. These camping stools are super lightweight. You’ll love them for meal prep, fishing, or just sitting around the campfire.
The Results: Top Choices for Best Camping Chair
We had to put these chairs to the test. After a lifetime of sitting in bulky bag chairs, it was a bit of an adjustment to trust that these lightweight, folding camp chairs could do the job. But wow, Brad and I were amazed at the sturdiness and comfort. And our youngest daughter joined in for the chair hopping experience to round out the results. Then we took them on real camping trips. Not every chair is showing up in our list because some were just plain garbage. Here are the chairs we loved and our notes on the testing:
✅ Best Overall Lightweight Camping Chair – Trekology Yizi Go
OUR REVIEW OF TREKOLOGY YIZI GO
After several years of camping with the Trekology Yizi Go, I continue to be surprised by how comfortable it is. We have hauled it on airplanes, in boats, to concerts and it keeps on holding up.
Compactness: With one of the shortest storage packages at only 11″ long, the Yizi Go packs easily, taking up very little space. Including the storage bag, it comes in at about 2 lbs. So easy to tuck into your trunk, your luggage or even your backpack.
Sturdiness: When we tested butts in seats, the Trekology Yizi felt the sturdiest. That has been proven over and over in our campsites. Designed with the same high-strength aluminum alloys used by aircraft manufacturers you’ll find this a very strong chair. We particularly love that it will hold up to a 300-pound person. That means when your child climbs into your lap, you won’t have to worry about collapsing.
Easy to Assemble: It takes seconds to pop together. The tent pole-like structure is pre-connected by a strong stretch cord so all the pieces pop right into the correct places once you take it out of the bag. This particular chair has a pull tab on the seat fabric to make it easier to attach the seat to the frame. You might not think that is a big deal, but we found that a simple pull tab when stretching the fabric definitely improved the assembly experience.
Comfort: At 15.4″ seat height it sits a little higher than any of the other finalists. That little bit of extra lift added to the comfort for knees. Plus the 28″ back is one of the most supportive. The Trekology has 2 nice-sized storage pockets. A place for your phone and one for your water bottle just make my day!
WHAT WE LOVE MOST: It’s often the little things that make a difference and the deciding factor was the pull tabs that help you open up the pockets on the top where you insert the support poles. Without those little pull tabs, it was challenging to get the seat cover stretched properly for assembly.
CONCERNS: There is no shoulder strap on the carrying bag, although if you are just popping over to the beach for a break it is easy to grasp the bag without the strap. Brad felt like he was falling back when he sat in the Trekology. In contrast, I think the relaxed angle of the back was part of what I really liked about this chair.
✅ Best Camp Chair for Sand or Soft Ground – MARCHWAY Camping Chair with Anti-Sinking Wide Feet
OUR REVIEW OF MARCHWAY CAMP CHAIR WITH ANTI-SINKING FEET
If you want to use your chair in sandy places often, take a look at the Anti-Sinking Feet on the Marchway Camp Chair. We have one folding camp chair with these feet and fight for it every time we are at the beach. As you can imagine the others tend to sink. This is not our top choice for general camping because it is a little smaller while still packing a couple of extra ounces, but if the beach is your home this is the chair for you.
Compactness: Even though this chair weighs a couple more ounces than the Trekology camp chair, we are still in the 2-liter bottle of soda size when packed. You really can’t go wrong with tucking one of these into your camping gear. The space-saving is amazing.
Sturdiness: The anti-sinking feet really do work like a charm on soft surfaces keeping your chair legs from sinking into the ground. When we tested the Marchway chair it felt super sturdy on any surface so you can’t go wrong with it for a multi-use compact camping chair.
Easy to Assemble: The Marchway Chairs all utilize foldable aluminum poles with a shock-cord structure that makes them super easy to pop together. Then slip on the seat cover and you are ready to go.
Comfort: It was a little harder to rate the comfort factor on this chair. Since the seat is smaller it is really comfortable for smaller people, but large folks are going to feel squished in this chair. However, the wider feet will make you feel more secure when sitting so that might raise your personal comfort level. Because there were so many personal variables in this Marchway chair we felt it should only get a 3.0 rating even though it might match exactly what you need as an individual.
WHAT WE LOVE MOST: The pop on anti-sink feet are amazing. In the right conditions, you won’t find a better choice for your folding camping chair.
CONCERNS: The slightly smaller size and capacity won’t work well for larger folks.
✅ Best Ultralight Backpacking Chair (for serious hikers) – Helinox Chair Zero
OUR REVIEW OF HELINOX CHAIR ZERO ULTRALIGHT
It’s hard to believe a chair this lightweight could be so good and absolutely perfect for backpacking. However, the Helinox Chair Zero has won numerous awards and the manufacturer stands behind their extremely lightweight backpacking chair with a 5-year warranty. It’s our top choice if you plan to carry your camping chair on your back all day.
Compact Storage: You are not going to find any other ultralight backpacking chairs this small and light that you still trust under your bum. It packs down to the size of a 1/2 liter soda and weighs only 1 pound.
Sturdiness: Most of the size and weight reduction comes from the shorter legs (not reduced quality), which means you sit closer to the ground. Many find sitting closer to the ground to feel even sturdier than the taller chairs we mention above.
Easy to Assemble: Yes, in just seconds the corded aircraft-grade aluminum legs just pop right together. The seat cover of this lightest chair stretches over the legs with a little bit of tugging.
Comfort: Just as they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, comfort is in the bum of the hiker. After a long day on the trail, you’ll think this is the most comfortable chair you have ever sat in. However for testing purposes, if you compare traditional camping as we did you will likely find other chairs slightly more comfortable due to the extra height.
WHAT WE LOVE MOST: This is a high-quality, well-tested backpacking chair that will be a delight to unfold at the end of a long hike. It’s incredibly lightweight and comfy.
CONCERNS: With higher performance expectations comes a little higher price. While the top choice for backpacking, if you are car or RV camping and can afford a little more weight you might prefer the taller seats found in the other compact camp chairs.
✅ Best Adjustable Chair for Concerts and Star Gazing – Boundary Life Camp Chair
OUR REVIEW OF BOUNDARY LIFE CAMP CHAIR
Am I the only one who didn’t understand why chairs would have adjustable legs? I kept looking at them with complete confusion as to why an engineer would do that much design work. Now I’m totally embarrassed because it makes so much sense. You know when you are at a concert with seats on the hill and you keep sliding out of your chair? Just adjust the back legs lower and magically you are level and snug. Even better when stargazing while camping in a dark night campground have you ever hurt your neck leaning back to see the stars? Just lower the back legs and you are at the perfect angle. Don’t you just love it!
Compact Storage: Although this is one of the heavier chairs we are recommending for camping, the extra weight is due to the mechanisms in the legs that allow you to adjust leg height. It is not a bulkier chair.
Sturdiness: This is a well-made, sturdy chair that will serve up to a 300-pound person. Although I’m not an engineer, we felt the extra materials in the legs for the adjustment mechanism might also be giving this chair a bit more stability.
Easy to Assemble: The stretch corded supports will easily pop together just as in the other aluminum pole system chairs. We found the press buttons to adjust the leg height easy to use but could see that someone with arthritis might find them challenging.
Comfort: The ability to adjust to different levels makes this chair super comfortable. You’ll also love the high 28″ back that provides extra support. this chair has 2 large pockets, perfect for storing beverages or gear off the ground.
WHAT WE LOVE MOST: Those easy-to-use adjustable legs!
CONCERNS: I would be nice to have some additional colors. And if the adjustable legs aren’t a key point for you and weight is critical this might not be the right chair for you.
✅ Best High Back Camp Chair – G4Free Portable Camp Chair
OUR REVIEW OF G4FREE PORTABLE CAMP CHAIR
If you are looking for true comfort, then you probably want a high-back lightweight camp chair. The G4Free Camp Chairs sit a lot higher with a 40 inch back, 18.5 in seat and have a lot more back support. The drawback is you add almost a pound for the extra comfort. Still at almost 3 pounds if you aren’t carrying these chairs backcountry in your backpack these would fit the bill for pretty much any other use where size matters.
Compact Storage: Compared to the other Aluminum Pole System lightweight chairs, this one takes up almost twice the space in your pack. For car camping and RVs, it might be worth the extra space to have the taller chair.
Sturdiness: The main compartment of the Osprey Skimmer is bucket style with a large wide mouth. The zipper opens almost 2/3rds of the way so you can easily load and access the contents. This ease of use is a big plus for the Skimmer.
Easy to Assemble: Surprisingly, the extra support pole lengths don’t impact the ease of assembly at all. This chair clicks together just as easily as the rest of the chairs in this list.
Comfort: If we could give this chair 6 hearts for comfort, we would. If you struggle with knee issues when sitting low, or back pain without the extra support in the height of the chair back then this lightweight chair will be a lifesaver. The head area is padded with a pillow for additional support. And you’ll appreciate the generous side pocket.
WHAT WE LOVE MOST: The extra height makes this sit as comfortable as any traditional camp chair at 1/2 of the weight.
CONCERNS: At 3 pounds we are really getting beyond the scope of the Best Ultralight Camping Chairs. However, because of the benefits, we felt it needed to be included.
✅ Best Trail Seat – REI Co-op Flash Trail Seat
OUR REVIEW OF REI Co-op FLASH TRAIL SEAT
For a very comfortable ground pad, the REI Co-op Flash Trail Seat fits the bill. The thick closed-cell foam provide a really nice insulation layer under your bottom.
Compact Storage: This seat folds up accordion-style and can easily hang below your backpack. You drop about 1/2 pound in weight from most of the pole chairs by moving to the ground-style seating. However, the overall storage size is about the same as those chairs because the insulated padding adds volume.
Sturdiness: The adjustable straps connecting the back provide some back support.
Easy to Use: To roll up and unroll, it’s as simple as releasing the clips and reconnecting them.
WHAT WE LOVE MOST: Although this is not what we’d recommend for most campers, there are situations where we think a ground seat is a great option. For example if you are canoeing and camping, this seat can double as a padded seat in the canoe and around your campfire. When thinking about saving weight when camping it’s helpful if you think about “how else can I use this item” and get double or triple duty out of all your gear. Some
CONCERNS: You will find similar seats at a lower price, but what we like about the REI Co-op Trail Seat is the insulation. Nothing results in a chill faster than sitting on the cold ground.
✅ Best Sit Pad – Therm-a-Rest Lite Seat Ultralight Inflatable Seat Cushion
OUR REVIEW OF Therm-a-Rest Lite Seat Ultralight Inflatable Seat Cushion
For the best backpacking chairs, a sit pad is likely just what you need. They take up very little space while giving you a cushy place to sit at the end of the day.
Compact Storage: The Therm-a-Rest sit pad rolls up to about the size of a “tall-boy” beverage can. That makes this lightweight backpacking chair super easy to slip down into your backpack.
Sturdiness: It opens to 1.5 inches providing a firm insulation layer. This sit pad is incredibly durable and will last you for years to come.
Easy to Use: The sit pad is self-inflating, just open the valve and it will start filling. To roll back up, put a little pressure on the pad as you roll to let the air escape. So simple!
WHAT WE LOVE MOST: It’s so tempting when backpacking to skip taking something to sit on. But then on a cold night when you are sitting on the cold ground, you are going to wish you had an insulation layer under your bottom. Your tired bones will thank you too!
CONCERNS: The Therm-a-Rest Lite Seat is a bit pricier than others. However in this case it is worth it for the extra durability you get with the quality sit pad.
✅ Best Backpacking Camp Stool – TravelChair Slacker
OUR REVIEW OF TRAVEL-CHAIR SLACKER COMPACT CAMP STOOL
We really like this camp stool for backpacking. The Travel-Chair Slacker Camp Stool will attach to the back of your pack just like hiking poles which keeps it out of the way when not needed. It would also be pretty easy to stack several of these in your trunk or RV for last-minute camping guests.
Compact Storage: The 3 legs of the stool just fold together and wrap the hook and loop strap around them to secure. The package is longer than any of the other chairs we recommend, but it is super slim so the total space it takes up is significantly less than any other ultralight camping chair.
Sturdiness: Designed to support up to 275 pounds, this chair is meant to last. Travel Chair is a US-owned company that has been designing chairs to last since 1984 and it shows in the workmanship of this stool.
Easy to Use: There is no assembly, just release the strap and you have a stool in a flash.
Comfort: Sitting at 20 inches high, it’s really a comfortable stool. The fabric is stretch and abrasion-resistant to give you the most support.
WHAT WE LOVE MOST: We love the ease of backpack attachment the most, and with that, you save quite a bit of weight. You’ll also find this stool very reasonable priced
CONCERNS: If you are looking for a chair to chill in, then a stool is probably not your style. However, for a super ultralight way to rest your feet, this camping stool is pretty sweet.
Key Features of Ultralight Camping Chairs
So considering all the ways we plan to use these chairs, here are the features we looked for when selecting our ultralight chair.
Lightweight Camping Chairs:
Ok, that should go without saying. But as I dug into the world of camping chairs I found that lightweight had different meanings for different people. The goal is to go as light as possible while still meeting all your other needs. So I’ve divided our choices into categories for you below.
All these chairs use 7075 Aviation Aluminum Alloy, which is one of the strongest lightweight metals available. Combining that with the use of lightweight fabrics and modern technology has delivered some amazing lightweight camping chairs.
Camp Chair Storage Dimensions:
Interestingly, ultralight chairs of the same weight can vary a lot in how much space they take up. The difference is in the design, how tight the pieces fold together. The space difference is probably not enough that it would matter for car or van camping, but definitely enough if you are going to squeeze it into your backpack.
Sturdiness and Weight Capacity of the Camp Chair:
I’m sure you are just concerned as I was that when you give up so much weight are you swapping out for a really flimsy chair? Surprisingly not! The use of modern lightweight metals and creative construction design has delivered some incredibly sturdy ultralight camp chairs. That said… not every lightweight chair feels sturdy.
And it’s pretty hard to relax if you are worried about your chair tipping over or collapsing so we’d like lightweight chairs that also feel secure. If you are the only one who will sit in your camp chair then setting the top weight capacity just above your weight makes sense because you’ll save a few ounces. But if you think you’ll have camp visitors who might plop into your special chair a minimum capacity of 225 pounds will be safer for the life of your camp chair (not to mention your friend’s behind).
The Comfort of Your Chair when Camping:
The only reason you are bringing a chair is to enjoy the comfort compared to sitting on a rock or log. So maybe comfort should be number one on this requirements list! For that reason, we did not consider any camp chairs that are really stools. We are also looking for chairs that are easy to get out of. Getting “stuck” in your chair when you have your hands full is not a pretty sight.
That means we also split out really low sitting chairs in the 8-12 inch seat height into their own category. Lower chairs are great for concerts and beaches as well as some folks just like to sit low.
Considering that the average dining chair is 18 inches high, we looked at taller camping chairs for everyday camping use. The highest chairs are about 15 inches, so we used the range of 13-15 inch seat height for overall comfort.
I assume no explanation is required about the “need” for this feature. LOL. Sadly, I found very few quality chairs with a true cup holder. However many have a really nice gear pocket that could double as a water bottle holder or a place to tuck a cell phone. You just won’t want to drop an open beverage can into the pocket.
Ease of Assembly in Camp:
Most of the ultralight camping chairs use a shock cord assembly system. No Tools Required! That means all the frame pieces have a stretchy cord running through them so when you unpack you can pretty much just shake them into shape. A little adjusting to make sure all the pieces are locked together and you have a chair. Sound too good to be true? Here’s a short video on how easy it is to pop these chairs together.
Portability is Critical in a Great Ultralight Camp Chair:
You’ll want a sturdy, but lightweight camping chair bag. Remember all those pieces shock-corded together? Well, you don’t want them getting tangled up. A shoulder strap on the bag would be nice to have but right now I can’t imagine a scenario when we won’t have them tucked into a backpack or in the car so for me it’s negotiable. You’ll have to think about how you will use your camp chairs to decide if it’s important to you.
Fast Drying Chairs are Wonderful:
We just got back from a week of car camping where it rained every day. And every morning I said naughty words as I dealt with a wet bottom because our traditional bag chairs just didn’t dry out very fast. Enough said!
You’re sure to find the perfect ultralight camping chair for the activities that keep you busy from this list. Personally, I was delighted by the selection and know we are going to enjoy our new chairs.
How about a lightweight camping side table to go with that new chair? We just reviewed the top camp tables and are pretty excited about the choices. Take a look!
This review was originally posted July 24, 2019. It has been updated as of May 17, 2021 to review new chairs so you have the best choices of ultralight camping chairs for 2021.
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