Sick of a numb bum and ready for comfort? For 9 years, we've bought and tested 33+ camping chairs to now bring you the best 14 models of 2021. Our team of lounging experts and relaxation enthusiasts spent months rigorously testing each model side-by-side. Comfort scores weighed the heaviest in our assessments, but we also considered other factors like ease of setup and use. We packed them into cars, carried them to family reunions, and napped in them on the beach. Whether you're on the hunt for a nap chair or sideline seat, we've found the right chair for your needs and wallet.Related: Best Backpacking Chair of 2021
Best Camping Chair of 2021
Top 14 Products
Best Overall Camping Chair
ALPS Mountaineering King Kong
The ALPS Mountaineering King Kong is our favorite chair and the one we deem the most comfortable. The King Kong is consistently the first chair snagged whenever our test team gathers around a campfire. The slightly padded fabric makes the chair ideal for long lounging sessions. The seat itself is exceptionally roomy — if a bit slouchy — and the frame is incredibly stable. The listed weight capacity is 800 pounds, and as a result, its reinforced fabric is very durable. Testers appreciated all of the functional storage features, including two cup holders, two side pockets, and an additional small pocket behind the headrest. The setup of this chair is super simple and only takes a matter of seconds.
All that comfort and added reinforcement do come at a cost. With extra features come several extra pounds, making the King Kong one of the heaviest, single-person models that we tested. It also lacks a headrest, so it's not the ideal chair for an afternoon snooze. On the other hand, for camping, tailgating, fishing, you name it — we think this model will stand up to all of your needs. If you are simply in need of a comfy chair or use a camping-specific chair regularly and don't mind a bit of bulk, we highly recommend the King Kong.
Read review: ALPS Mountaineering King Kong
Best Bang for Your Buck
REI Co-op Camp X
Despite what we would describe as a somewhat uninspiring appearance, the REI Co-op Camp X is a surprisingly versatile chair. Though it sits slightly lower and has a shorter back than similar models, this geometry doesn't detract much from its overall comfort. Height adjustable armrests and extremely breathable mesh help make this chair an excellent experience for whoever sits in it. The Camp X is also more durable than it looks, with strategic reinforcements that support the body without creating awkward pressure points. It quickly sets up and packs up with a simple accordion fold and slides relatively painlessly back into a durable carry bag that can be carried over your shoulder or with the hand strap.
While we like fitting a big 1-liter Nalgene water bottle into the cup holder, these pockets are not the most secure for smaller drink containers like a 12-oz glass bottle or can. Its odd shape can also get easily caught when putting the chair back into its carry bag. The seating platform also sits a bit lower than some others, which could be an issue for taller folks. It's also not the most supportive chair, with a typical seat slouch but an upright back. Overall, we think this is an impressively versatile, comfortable, portable chair that also happens to be one of the most affordable options we tested.
Read review: REI Co-op Camp X
Best on a Tight Budget
GCI Outdoor Comfort Pro
The GCI Outdoor Comfort Pro is a simple chair that offers solid performance for less than you might expect. It has a fairly tall seat and back to match widely-splayed arms that offer plenty of space to sit high above the ground. It's not the most supportive seat we tested, but it's above average among its competition, leaving slouchy folding sports chairs in the dust when it comes to supporting your full weight. The angled back continues that level of support without making you feel like you're collapsing in on yourself the longer you sit. A mesh panel helps keep air flowing across your spine even on a hot day while a single cup holder perfectly fits your favorite refreshing 12-ounce canned beverage.
If you have an oversized tumbler you like to drink from, there's nowhere to stash it on the Comfort Pro with you. Additionally, there are no large pockets for snacks, books, or magazines — just a single small pocket that's sized to hold your smartphone. With full-length crossed steel bars running the entire diagonals of the back of the chair, it becomes a rather long package, made slightly more awkward by its carry strap's lack of adjustability. And for those with shorter legs, the 20-inch high front edge may lead to dangling feet. But if you're taller, larger, or older and want a supportive seat that's easy to get out of and simple to use, this budget-friendly option easily fits the bill.
Read review: GCI Outdoor Comfort Pro
Best Two-Person Seating
Kelty Low Loveseat
The Kelty Low Loveseat amazes us with its incredibly comfortable two-person design. This model was very stable, with a lower seating height than most traditional camping chairs. While the feet of our shorter testers rested comfortably on the ground, Kelty also makes a version that's several inches taller. Made of durable materials, we found this chair could stand up to the trials of seating multiple people and even dogs for extended periods. After three straight years of regular use and some severe sun exposure, it's fading a bit but is still as comfortable as the first day we got it. This chair has grown on our lead tester the longer she has owned it, crediting its impressive longevity and comfort over time.
Aside from the overall size and weight, our biggest complaint was how popular it is with our friends, leaving us less time to enjoy its outstanding attributes. As a padded chair, it's less breathable on a hot day, but with light colors, we hardly noticed. For its comfort and durability, as well as its ability to seat a couple of friends, we think the Kelty is worth considering.
Read review: Kelty Low Loveseat
Best Beach Day Option
Helinox Beach Chair
Big Agnes impresses us with this worthwhile member of their Helinox chair line. With a surprising level of portability for a chair of its size, the Helinox Beach Chair combines impressive comfort and durability. We loved that the storage sack can be easily stuffed and attached as a pillow for whatever height you need, or simply stuck on the back to not get lost. The flat legs keep you well above the sand to enjoy your beach day and make fond, comfortable memories.
This chair sits relatively low to the ground, which may pose a challenge for some taller folks. It also is a bit of a challenge to put together, which involves a little bit of a learning curve. The price tag is also hefty, and you can expect to pay even more if you want the all-mesh version. If you're on the hunt for the ideal beach chair, though, we think that this model is the best choice for your days spent on the sand.
Read review: Helinox Beach Chair
Best Seat Support
Kijaro Dual Lock Folding Chair
For anyone sick of that sports chair slouch, the Kijaro is the model you've been waiting for. By locking open, the frame holds the seat and back fabric taut to give a firm foundation and one of the tallest seat heights that we tested. A comfortably angled back panel helps this chair retain a cozy feeling rather than a severe rigid feel. All this added support and height make it among the most natural chairs to get back out. And feel free to leave the annoying carry bag at home. This chair has an adjustable shoulder carry strap attached to the back. Once locked closed, it's a simple matter to hoist it up and head out without the need to carry an additional storage bag.
This interesting design makes the folded package exceptionally long - just shy of four feet. This length makes it less ideal for stuffing in the trunk, though probably not a deal-breaker. It's also not remarkably durable. We had issues with a broken lock mechanism and a gradual loosening of the frame of poles. That combined with some sloppy seams, oddly pliable frame joints, and a readiness to stain at the slightest hint of dirt, we're not sure this chair is up to the task of time. But it does offer some excellent support and might be precisely the type of comfort you've been missing on your outdoor excursions.
Read review: Kijaro Dual Lock Folding Chair
Notable Mention for Rocking Comfort
GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker
A rocking chair that doesn't make you feel every stick, rock, and bump in the ground? Yes, it's true, the GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker can be set up on just about any reasonably level outdoor surface and still give a smooth, gliding ride with its spring-loaded rockers. Furthermore, it's a wide, stable chair that testers of all sizes found comfortable, stable, and easy to get in and out. Set it up in the shade, or take this chair with you to your next hangout spot with a single, natural motion and a simple carry handle attached to the frame. This model also features a cup holder on the front of the frame and mesh backing to help keep you cool. And the relatively low price for this comfortable rocking chair doesn't hurt either.
If you're in the market for a slouchy chair to melt into on a hot day, this isn't it, as the seat and back are both a bit stiff and relatively upright. We don't recommend leaving this chair outside in direct sunlight for long periods, as our model received substantial sun damage throughout a summer sitting outdoors. You can also expect to add the occasional oil to the rockers to keep it gliding smoothly and without noisy complaining. However, the GCI Freestyle Rocker is a suitable option if you've been dying to have a rocking chair outside.
Read review: GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker
Why You Should Trust Us
Teaming up to bring you this review is Senior Review Editor Maggie Brandenburg and her laidback gang of testers. She is a seasoned multi-sport athlete and appreciates gear that makes for high-quality downtime when it's time to kick back for a while in camp or the backyard. Maggie has taught workshops and guided extensively worldwide and on topics as diverse as snow camping and expedition kayaking. She has spent extended amounts of time living out of backpacks and her teardrop trailer, arrangements where packable comfort items go a long way. Maggie pulls in the help of friends and family to test and judge chairs. This crowd includes children, numerous people over 6 feet tall, several dogs, a dozen senior citizens, and a flock of Girl Scouts, spanning ages 12 to 80 years old.
During our neverending search for the very best camping chairs, we've researched and considered more than 80 different models. We purchase every chair and use them to hang out with our friends for months of use. We cart them on weekend camping trips, set them up at family reunions, spend late nights around the fire pit, watch sporting events, and hang out at all-day backyard barbecues. We pay attention to details that matter in a camp chair, like how well the cup holders and pockets work. If left out in a rainstorm, does the chair drain or become an unappealing birdbath? We weighed and measured them, carried them for several blocks, and jumped into them to see what they can handle. What follows is a comprehensive discussion of our in-depth findings from nearly a decade of lounging.
Related: How We Tested Camping Chairs
Analysis and Test Results
Camping chairs are a useful luxury item that can be used while camping and as additional seating for a barbecue, hanging out at the sidelines of a soccer game, on the beach, or tailgating and enjoying outdoor concerts. However, not all chairs are made for the same style of use or comfort. We evaluated each model across myriad tests in four mutually exclusive, thorough metrics. How each one performs in every test then determines its score for that metric. Here we break down their performances by metric to get down to the specifics of which ones perform best.
Related: Buying Advice for Camping Chairs
Though some gear seems to display a fairly linear correlation between price and performance, we don't find this to be the case for camping chairs. Some of the best-performing models have moderate price tags, while some of the most expensive options didn't score as well as anticipated. Contenders that exemplify the highest value for the buck in this review are the REI Co-op Camp X and GCI Comfort Pro. Both of these chairs provide above-average comfort for a below-average price. We think the REI Camp X is the better deal for shorter individuals, and the GCI Comfort Pro has more appeal for taller folks. The ALPS Mountaineering King Kong is also worth noting. Though it costs more, it's an investment that pays off in its serious comfort and exceptional durability.
Comfort is our most highly weighted metric, accounting for nearly half of the overall score. After all, deciding to buy a chair instead of sitting on a log or the ground means you probably value comfort. So don't waste your money on a chair that isn't comfortable. Factors we considered when evaluating comfort were armrests, lumbar support, a headrest, back ventilation, and the overall design of the chair.
There are several chairs that we think are exceptionally comfortable, namely the King Kong. The King Kong is roomy, slightly padded, and has large armrests. It's cozy in that slouchy kind of way while offering pretty good support in a tall, spacious seat. Similarly, the Kelty Low Loveseat is comfortable with large padded seats but is much lower to the ground and fits two people instead of just one.
If you prefer a less slouchy, flatter, more supportive seat, the Kijaro Dual Lock actually locks into place, stopping the seat from sagging. The GCI Comfort Pro has a similar shape and design, but it lacks the locking mechanism of the Kijaro, and so is slightly less supportive because of it. Still, it offers more support than most in this category, which makes it easier to get in and get out of. We also think the Helinox Beach Chair is surprisingly comfortable, offering a high back and cozy shape that makes lounging at the beach a whole new experience.
This metric is the second most important rating criteria that we evaluated, accounting for a quarter of the product's overall score. Given the variety of ways you can use your chair, it is mandatory to choose a product you won't mind moving and transporting. Factors that affected a chair's portability are its packed size, weight, its carry bag, and overall transporting experience.
The Helinox Beach Chair is the clear winner in this category, breaking down and folding into a surprisingly small bag. Despite having a high back and being impressively durable, this model weighs just 3.3 pounds and is the lightest chair we tested. If that's not enough, its carrying case can also double as a pillow for lakeside napping.
The REI Flexlite Camp Dreamer is similarly lightweight, weighing just a few ounces more and packing away into a case nearly as small. We also appreciate the REI Outward Low Padded. It's fairly lightweight and, though it doesn't fit into a small compact package, it has backpack straps that help you easily carry it hands-free.
The ENO Lounger DL and the Nemo Stargaze Recliner Luxury also score well in this metric because of their similar abilities to be broken down into smaller segments, stuffed into a small carrying case, and toted to the Little League game. At 4.6 and 7.7 pounds respectively, they're also reasonably light. The ALPS Rendezvous, with its low profile, is also a reasonably portable chair.
When it comes to portability, the AmazonBasics is one of the lightest full-sized chairs. It weighs just 6.3 pounds. Weighing in at 8.0 pounds, the REI Camp X is also a somewhat light model. It's also a bit shorter than most traditional chairs, and we always felt that bringing it with us was worth it.
Like most things you spend money on, you want your chair to be durable. To properly test these chairs' ability to stand up to real-life abuse, we stood on them and plopped very heavily into them. We sat in them and bounced violently both up and down and in every direction we could. Some chairs barely moved. Some chairs nearly fell over. And some chairs had some creaky results that made us question how long they would last if consistently treated this way. We also scrutinized every seam, pole joint, and material to see any wear and tear or potential flaws.
It should be no surprise that the only chairs rated to hold over 500 pounds got our best durability scores. After several months of testing, the steel frames and 600-denier nylon fabric construction of the King Kong and the Kelty Loveseat didn't show any wear or tear. Their frames didn't shift or creak under load. And while their high denier fabric is not as breathable as the mesh that some of the other chairs have, it is more durable than most. Since both of these chairs were very popular with our testers, they sustained several ember burns from being around so many campfires. Despite these small melted holes, the fabric showed no other signs of strain or wear.
Though its mesh appears thin and less substantial, the REI Camp X has turned out to be quite durable. It has a 300 lb capacity which is about average for this group, but it feels very solid and stable even when jumping into it. And though we don't recommend leaving your chair out for full seasons of UV exposure, this is one of the few models we've actually done this to. After over a year and a half of sitting outside in a high elevation environment (5000 ft above sea level), the only difference we can see in this chair is a slight fading of the canvas-like material.
Ease of Setup
Ease of setup refers specifically to how hard it is to set up and take down each chair. After all, the odds of you wanting to take a chair with you anywhere are probably lower if it's challenging to put up or take down. Fortunately, most of the chairs we tested were reasonably straightforward. Even the more complex packable chairs were a cinch once you made it through the small learning curve.
Most of the traditional models, like the ALPS King Kong, GCI Comfort Pro, and REI Camp X, only require pulling apart two opposing vertical frame pieces to be set up. The REI Outward Low Padded simply unfolds like an old-school folding chair. The GCI Freestyle Rocker is impressively easy, pulling apart just the two sides away from each other with a large, labeled handle to pull when you're ready to fold it back up again.
The most complex of the conventional models, the Kijaro Dual Lock Chair has a button that must be pressed to assemble and disassemble the chair. The portable models had a more elaborate setup. The Helinox, ENO Lounger, REI Flexlite Camp Dreamer, and Nemo Stargaze all have a separate frame and fabric seat that had to be assembled. Most of them aren't difficult, but it's more involved than assembling any of the traditional chairs.
Two chairs that we specifically wanted to call out in this category are the ENO Lounger DL and Nemo Stargaze Luxury Recliner. These chairs have several poles in an odd configuration that we found overly complicated for a camp chair. It was always a long process to get it all to fit back into their storage bags and never seemed to go how we wanted. These were the chairs we would leave set up and drag around to avoid having to deal with disassembly and reassembly.
The luxury of having a comfortable chair while camping or lounging in your backyard can add a lot to your outdoor experience. In addition to making relaxing, eating, and drinking more comfortable, you can maximize your lounging enjoyment. To find the best overall competitor in our fleet, we rated each one's comfort level, along with size, portability, durability, and ease of use. Whether you're car camping, lounging around the campfire, or sunbathing after a dip in the deep blue, the best model for you will ultimately depend on your lifestyle.
— Maggie Brandenburg
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