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Pick The Right Camping Chair For Overland Or Car Camping

Overland Chair Debate Best Camp SeatPhoto credit: Bryon Dorr
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Searching for the perfect seat around the campfire? From classic soccer game sideline camp chairs to luxurious wooden thrones, we give the low-down on the great camp chair debate.

Overland Chair Best Camp Seat
At any overland gathering, you’ll find a WIDE array of different camp chairs. Here is the Northwest Overland Rally. Photo via Bryon Dorr

Cost, weight, comfort, materials, packability: There are countless factors when choosing the best chair to bring with you on your next overland adventure.

When vehicle camping, the options open considerably over backpacking or bike packing. Size and weight are of less importance with trunk space.

With the huge variety of chairs on the market, the following are the main categories to consider when searching for some campfire comfort.

Overland Chair Best Camp Seat
Is it possible to have too many friends around the camp fire? Not at the Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival. Photo via Bryon Dorr

The Basic Camping Chair ($6-$55)

Basic camp chairs are the bulky folding camp chairs available at big box stores, grocery stores, and sometimes-even convenience stores.

They are usually poor quality and last a short period of time. Although, they’re cheap, so as long as you’re okay with filling up the landfill, they can be a good value.

These chairs are usually made of a polyester fabric, extruded steel, and have plastic joints. Some common options are Ozark, Coleman, Dick’s, and Cabela’s.


Basic best camp chair
$11.99 from Dick’s Sporting Goods

The Deluxe Basic Camping Chair ($50-$120)

An upgraded iteration of the basic camp chair, the deluxe basic camp chair offers better construction, higher-grade materials, and a better overall fit.

They also usually add a few nice comfort items, like an integrated pillow, durable cup holder, and gear pockets. These chairs also tend to be the bulkiest category.

While heavy, they are decently made and offer higher load capacities than other categories. Options include ARB, OZ Tent, Kelty, and more.

deluxe basic camp chair
The King Kokoda Chair, from OZ Tent costs $120

The Metal Collapsible Camping Chair ($55-$150)

This category of camp chair packs down extremely small and securely. They tend to weigh around 9 lbs, which is great for car-based adventures, but not much else.

These chairs are also known to hold up quite well, but occasionally fail if sand and dirt get into the collapsing mechanism. Pico and Front Runner make collapsible options.

The PICO Arm Chair costs $100

The Classic Wooden Camping Chair ($100-$320)

This category of chair harkens back to the pioneer days and African safaris. Classic wooden camp chairs combine wood structures, metal joints, and heavy-duty canvas seats.

While not inexpensive, these chairs can last a lifetime, and elevate your campsite style. Comfort is very subjective, but in this category you’ll find a wide range of seating styles, which you’ll have to evaluate yourself.

Chair packability also varies widely within in this category, from the super compact Kermit to the bulky American Camp Chair.

Kermit, Snowpeak, American Camp Chair, and Blue Ridge Chair Works are some of the options.

wooden camp chair
From $160 at Kermit Chair Company

The Compact Collapsible Camping Chair ($80-$130)

This category covers a wide range of camp chairs that all collapse super small. Compact collapsible camp chairs are easy to store and transport.

Most chairs in this category are constructed of high-quality aluminum tubing, similar to tent poles, with rip-stop nylon seating material. In this category are compact and lightweight options, in addition to full-featured, bigger options. Even the bulky chairs are relatively light.

The advantage of these chairs is that most are great to use in a wide variety of adventures, even modest backpacking where weight isn’t a priority. Helinox, Travel Chair, and Leki all make nice, compact collapsible camp chairs.

The ‘Couch’

There aren’t a ton of options in this category, but it’s worth mentioning thanks to the Kelty Low Loveseat and Loveseat. These chairs (one high, one low) are fit for two. They pack down small enough to reasonably consider in a car camping kit, but are really nice if you’d like a little extra snuggle around the campfire.They’re complete with two drink holders, one on each side.

The Camping Chair Debate

As with most gear, every option is a compromise. You need to decide what features best fit your needs, within your budget.  The main things to consider in the camp chair debate are weight, packed size, load capacity, durability, features, comfort and seat height.

I’m a bit of a minimalist and like to have less, but higher quality gear. I like to have one camp chair that will work well for large vehicle-based travels, adventure motorcycle travel, self-support whitewater kayaking, and short hikes.

My personal choices: My go to overland chair is the ENO Lounger DL, so comfortable! For a more traditional camp chair I’d go with the Travel Chair Joey Chair. If I could only have one chair for all my variety of travel styles it would have to be the Helinox Chair Zero, as it is super light, compact and pretty comfortable.

Choose wisely and you’ll enjoy those moments around the fire, under the stars, and with friends more comfortably.

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