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Ditch the Chair, Pack a Camp Stool: Grand Trunk Compass 360 First Look Review

GearJunkie first encountered Grand Trunk's Compass 360 UC Stool in 2022 — we've been eagerly waiting to get our hands on these nifty packable, lightweight camp stools ever since.
(Photo/Will Brendza)
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Camp chairs come in all kinds of styles, sizes, shapes, and layouts. You’ve got your burly folding single-seaters like Yeti’s Trailhead Camp Chair. Then there are the expanding varieties, like the REI Skyward and Kelty Camp Couches. For the minimalists, Crazy Creek, and seat pads like the NEMO Chipper and Therm-a-Rest’s Z Seat have been popular for decades.

We’ve seen them all and used damn near every one of them.

But when I perused the Outdoor Retailer Summer 2023 show and walked past the Grand Trunk booth, the Compass 360 Stools stopped me in my tracks. I popped a squat, found it comfortable, and took a spin. Sure enough, the stool rotated 360 degrees around.

In a space chock full of similarity, these looked and felt different. At first blush at least, they seemed like a clever and useful new take on camp seating.

Launched this week and available in two sizes — Extra Tall (XT) and the Ultra Compact (UC) — the Compass 360 Stool earned a Best in Show award at the Summer 2023 OR show. This spring, I received early samples of both to take for a spin.

In short: Grand Trunk took a clever, trail-worthy approach to camp seating with its Compass 360 stools. These stools can seat a full-sized human being and swivel 360 degrees. Plus, they are compact enough when broken down to fit into a backpack if you want a stool on the trail — or at a car campsite, a backyard BBQ, the park, or a day at the water.

If you’re shopping for camp or backpacking chairs, compare the Compass 360 Stool with GearJunkie’s Best Backpacking Chairs and Best Camping Chairs.

Grand Trunk Compass 360 UC & XT Stools


  • Weight 1.7 lbs. (XT) / 1.2 lbs. (UC)
  • Seat height 20" (XT) / 15.0" (UC)
  • Pack size 16.5" x 5.0" x 5.0" (XT) / 7.5" x 4.0" x 4.0" (UC)
  • Full size 20.0" x 12.5" x 12.5" (XT) / 15.0" x 12.5" x 12.5" (UC)
  • Capacity 260 lbs.
  • Frame material 7000 series aluminum


  • Lightweight
  • Packable
  • Seating anywhere
  • Full 360 swivel


  • Not the most stable seat ever made

Compass 360 UC & XT Stool Review

grand trunk compass 360 uc & xt stool
(Photo/Will Brendza)

Both of the Grand Trunk Compass 360 Stools come in their own carry bags. That makes it easy to visualize how much more compact the UC ($100) is compared with the XT ($80). Both stools have foldout tripods for the legs and seat. When assembled, they resemble an hourglass shape.

The assembly is slightly different for the two stools. The XT is the more basic of the two. It simply folds out at the top and bottom and locks in place. Then, you attach the seat to the tripod.

It takes a small amount of effort to pull the 450-D polyester seat corners over the ends of the stand, but Grand Trunk included a pull tab on one of the corners to make it easier. Once that’s on, you’ve got a stool and can get to sitting.

grand trunk compass 360 uc & xt stool
(Photo/Will Brendza)

The UC has an even craftier design. Unlike the XT, the UC stool legs are bisected in the middle and connected with elastic cords, like tent poles. The seat is attached to the top tripod, which folds down all the way, enveloping the stool’s legs in a compact package.

The top tripod then folds up and outward, and each arm extends telescopically, tensioning the seat and locking it in place with a button.

grand trunk compass 360 uc & xt stool
(Photo/Will Brendza)

The weight difference between the two stools is not significant — the UC weighs 1.2 pounds and the XT is 1.7 pounds — but the size difference is more notable.

When packed, the UC measures 7.5 x 4 x 4 inches, while the XT spans 16.5 x 5 x 5 inches. When assembled, the UC is 15 x 12.5 x 12.5 inches, and the XT stands a full 5 inches taller (20 x 12.5 x 12.5 inches).

The only other notable difference between the two stools is the mesh storage feature on the XT beneath the seat. The UC Stool does not have any storage options. This pocket is large enough to hold a book, some electronics, a fly kit, or other small items you might want to keep off the ground.

Grand Trunk Compass 360 Stools: In the Field

(Photo/Will Brendza)

When I go camping, I tend to sit on coolers, bundles of firewood, and logs if I can find a good one — or not at all. My partner and I share a Kelty camp couch, but in reality, the other seat is occupied by our dog more often than me.

I move around a lot; I get up and sit down frequently. I like to lean forward on my elbows. And low riders like the Kelty or comfort camp chairs like the Yeti Trailhead make me feel too laid back.

The Compass 360 Stools, though, are exactly the kind of seat I actually use at a campsite. I can grab it with one hand and move it easily. I’m sitting in a more active posture. And as an added bonus, I can turn to face people and look in different directions, which neither coolers nor logs offer. The swivel action is smooth and noiseless.

(Photo/Will Brendza)

For car camping, you’ll barely notice the room these stools take up among your gear. For backpacking, they’re both feasibly packable, but the UC would fit better and it weighs a little bit less.

Backpacking season is only just getting started in Colorado, so I haven’t packed the Grand Trunk Compass 360 Stools into the backcountry yet. But I brought them on an early-season car camping trip and used them in my yard and at my house. At the campsite, I enjoyed these stools around the fire. While I sat on the XT, my partner used the UC as a footstool from the Kelty Couch. Both of us were very comfortable.

I can see these stools getting a lot of use this summer. They’ll be perfect for flyfishing days by the water when I need to sit down and untangle lines, or tie new flies on. They’ll add modest but welcome weight on the backpacking trail, paying dividends when I arrive at my site and have a comfortable place to sit.

I’ll probably keep one of them in my car at all times — just in case I need a backup seat.

Grand Trunk Compass 360 Stools: Who Are They For?

(Photo/Will Brendza)

Backpackers and campers will immediately see the utility of Grand Trunk’s Compass 360 Stools. The 360 swivel feature, simple packability, and light weight make them ideal for any campsite — whether you drive or hike there.

I’m grateful I finally found my preferred alternative to logs and coolers. Now, when my friends and I set up around a fire ring and everyone’s got their fancy camp chairs, I can bust these stools out with pride.

Other people seem to enjoy them as well. I noticed how much use they got around camp. People used them as often and easily as the other chairs around camp. Although, we did muse that a built-in koozie could be a nice addition.

I’m a fan of Grand Trunk’s latest take on camp seating. I’m excited to use them all summer long. If you’re looking for a compact camp chair or backpacking chair, I recommend giving these camp stools a serious look.

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