The Gear Junkie: Crazy Creek HexaLite camp chairs
By STEPHEN REGENOLD
Backpackers are famous for trading comfort at night in camp for speed and efficiency during the day on the trail. As such, sleeping pads are trimmed to save weight, freeze-dried food stands in for fresh, and sawed-off logs often serve as ‘round-the-campfire seating in evening while the stars poke up in the sky.
But Crazy Creek has a new campfire seating option for backpackers. By employing hexagonal-cored closed cell foam and polyester mesh, the foldable, rollable HexaLite chairs provide the clamshell comfort and back support the company is known for but in a more minimal package.
Crazy Creek (www.crazycreek.com) sells two HexaLite models, the HexaLite Original and the larger HexaLite LongBack, which weigh in at 14.8 ounces and 18.5 ounces respectively.
I first tried out the HexaLite Original model and was impressed with its feathery weight and pack-ability. Fold it in half, roll it up and cinch it with the seat straps to create an unobtrusive package that straps on the outside of a backpack.
You do sacrifice comfort in the name of weight savings, though: The HexaLite Original has a narrow seat. My rear end fit snug, and I am by no means blessed abnormally on the backside.
The company quotes the seat width at 15 inches. But while sitting in the chair the sides squeeze in, making it feel smaller.
In addition, metal rods added for rigidity in the seatback can press in and rub to an annoying effect if you’re leaning back with some weight for a long period. (Note that I’m being nitpicky here. In the woods, around a fire, this chair will seem as comfortable as a Laz-E-Boy.)
The HexaLite LongBack model—which weighs just a couple ounces more—has extra width (18 inches) in the seat and a higher back height. It was more comfortable in my test than the Original model.
The larger iteration also doubles as an ad hoc sleeping pad for backpackers, as it measures 38 inches long when laying flat.
The HexaLite chairs are available now for $33 (Original) and $44 (LongBack).
For both models, the weight savings and thinner padding equals an experience that is not as comfortable as other Crazy Creek models I have tried. But for the back woods these chairs, despite minor flaws, outperform any sawed-off log you can find.
(Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eleven U.S. newspapers; see www.THEGEARJUNKIE.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog, and an archive of Regenold’s work.)