Planning to hit the trails but don’t want to sacrifice comfort at camp? A lightweight, packable backpacking chair might be just what you’re looking for.
No matter how cool or comfy a camp chair is, it’s not a backpacking chair unless you can carry it. For this review, we looked for chairs that offer a good balance of support and durability, are packable, and weigh under 4 pounds.
To choose the best backpacking chairs, we researched and ranked more than 10 chairs from eight brands. We evaluated chairs based on their features, price, feedback from our testing, and the volume of positive reviews.
If you need help determining your unique needs, check out our Buyer’s Guide and FAQ. Otherwise, scroll through our picks for the best backpacking chairs of 2022 or jump to a category below:
- Best Overall Backpacking Chair
- Best Budget Backpacking Chair
- Most Sustainable Backpacking Chair
- Best Chair for Ultralight Backpacking
- Best of the Rest
The Best Backpacking Chairs of 2023
Best Overall Backpacking Chair: REI Flexlite Air Chair
At only a pound, the Flexlite Air Chair ($100) from REI offers the perfect balance of comfort, stability, and price. In testing, it checked all our boxes: a very light-packed weight, easy setup, and comfort while sitting. The chair has a four-leg aluminum pole design with a ripstop nylon and mesh chair seat cover.
This has a great design and isn’t too pricey. If you’re looking to invest in a chair that offers back support and doesn’t add too much weight to your pack, the Flexlite Air Chair is a great option. We think it’s the best backpacking chair available.
- Weight: 1 lb.
- Weight Limit: 250 lbs.
Best Budget Backpacking Chair: Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 Chair
For those looking for an even more packable, ultralight option, you can’t beat Crazy Creek ($65). These camp seats are super versatile — think day hike picnics, soccer games in the park, and, of course, camping and backpacking.
The seat doesn’t have any legs, poles, or setup required (making it great for uneven surfaces and easier packing). Simply unfold and tighten to your desired reclining angle. The side straps adjust to provide tension and support when you lean your weight back.
The Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 is also an improvement on the brand’s original chair — it has 8mm high-density EVA closed-cell foam for better insulation, reinforced connection points for the straps, and a durable outer 210-denier shell. This one’s great if packability, versatility, and price are most important.
- Weight: 21.9 oz.
- Weight Limit: 250 lbs.
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Runner-Up Best Backpacking Chair: Helinox Ground Chair
Helinox redesigned its popular ground chair, and we loved testing it. Under 1.5 pounds, the new Ground Chair ($120) is slightly lighter than the previous model.
The Ground Chair has DAC aluminum-alloy poles and a 240-pound weight capacity. And, of course, its hallmark square-base design provides a little more stability on surfaces like sand, slopes, and snow.
One note: Make sure to read the instructions before use on the quickest way to connect and fold up the legs to assemble the base.
We liked testing the Ground Chair while both car camping and backpacking in Colorado. It packs down to a great size, and Helinox’s durable materials should make the price point worth it. However, larger folks and those with longer legs might find this chair a bit uncomfortable.
If you don’t mind spending a bit more for a sturdier and more durable option, this is one of the best backpacking chairs you’ll find.
- Weight: 1 lb. 4.8 oz.
- Weight Limit: 240 lbs.
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Most Sustainable Backpacking Chair: Big Agnes Mica Chair
We scoured the internet for chairs made with recycled materials or that were USA-made, and … couldn’t find many. And the ones we did find weren’t designed for backpacking. However, one chair does fit the bill — the Big Agnes Mica Chair ($150).
Big Agnes built its Mica with a hubless joint design, meaning there’s just aluminum (infinitely recyclable) and no plastic in the structure. It also uses high-tenacity yarn for increased durability while keeping weight low. And this chair doesn’t use any EVA foam, which can release harmful VOCs into the environment.
Big Agnes is also incorporating a giveback component with this chair, donating a portion of the proceeds from its new prints back to the Continental Divide Trail Coalition and the Yampa River Fund.
At over 2 pounds, this chair is by no means ultralight. While you could use it for backpacking, it would be a little on the bulky side, but it won a spot in the review for its high sustainability score.
Its thoughtful components and contributions to stellar organizations mean you know you’re giving back when using this thing (if you purchase certain colorways). It may, however, be better best suited for car camping or shorter backpacking/overnight trips where weight isn’t a huge concern.
If you’re looking for a lightweight chair with a lighter footprint, the Mica Chair is the answer.
- Weight: 2 lbs. 3 oz.
- Weight Limit: 300 lbs.
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Best Chair for Ultralight Backpacking: Therm-a-Rest Z Seat
The Z Seat by Therm-a-Rest ($25) doesn’t look like much. It is, after all, a single piece of molded closed-cell foam like you would find in a sleeping pad, in a foldable, 13×16-inch, 2-ounce package. But its simplicity is what makes this camping seat so great.
At a basically imperceptible 2 ounces, it’s the best seat for the ultralight backpacker who is going fast and light through the mountains and can’t afford any extra weight slowing them down. Throw this small pad down on rocky ground to make a comfy seat and provide warmth through its closed-cell insulation.
It can also be used to extend a sleeping pad, provide wind shelter for a cooking set-up, become a waterproof platform to change out of wet socks after getting caught in the rain, and the list goes on. Not only is this a no-brainer option for any backpacker, but it is also one of the most versatile options in our lineup.
If you’re looking for something ultra-lightweight and versatile and don’t mind not having a backrest, this seat is a great choice.
- Weight: 2 oz.
- Weight Limit: None
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Best of the Rest
Hillsound Equipment BTR Stool
We’ve loved testing and using this camp stool ($74) since we received a sample at Outdoor Retailer two years ago. While it isn’t a traditional chair (no back support) it is lightweight, super packable, and a great budget-friendly option.
We’ve packed it in a dry bag on long-mileage paddle days, strapped it to our bikes for a much-needed resting perch on an 80-mile gravel ride, and more. It is always worth carrying, and sometimes we forget it’s even in our packs.
There’s no assembling poles or fiddling with chair covers — all you have to do is extend the legs and you’re set. The BTR (“better than a rock”) Stool weighs only 12.2 ounces and comes in two sizes. Pick this thing up if simplicity is the goal.
- Weight: 12.2 oz.
- Weight Limit: 240 lbs.
Helinox Chair One
The Helinox Chair One ($110) is wildly popular and for good reason — it’s comfortable and serves its purpose well outdoors. Made with lightweight materials, it’s less than 14 inches tall when packed.
However, the Chair One has legs and thicker fabric, putting it on the heavier side. (There’s a pretty big weight difference between this and the ground chair, but it all comes down to which shape and style you prefer.)
Consider this chair if you’re looking for a more traditional chair style (higher off the ground with a back), want a sturdier weight capacity, and don’t care too much about weight.
- Weight: 2 lbs.
- Weight Limit: 320 lbs.
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Helinox Chair Zero
Weighing in at only 17 ounces, the Helinox Chair Zero ($130) is a whole pound lighter than the Chair One, making it a great choice for the weight-conscious backpacker.
The Chair Zero also packs down a bit smaller than the Chair One, making it an overall better chair to consider bringing on a longer backpacking trip. It is also lower to the ground than the Chair Zero by 3 inches, which might be a deciding factor for you depending on how high off the ground you may prefer to be.
But like the Chair One, the Chair Zero is undeniably comfortable, has a setup that is a breeze, and is made of high-quality, durable materials.
This is a great choice for those looking for a lighter option for longer backpacking trips, without sacrificing comfort and support. It’s one of the best backpacking chairs for a wide range of uses.
- Weight: 1 lbs. 2 oz. (packed)
- Weight Limit: 265 lbs.
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Therm-a-Rest Trekker Chair
This newer chair ($50-60) from camp and sleeping pad brand Therm-a-Rest deserved a spot on our list simply for the weight. At just 10 ounces, it’s the lightest “chair” out there. Similar to a flat-folding chair seat, the Trekker relies on your sleeping pad for comfort and structure. Its tension straps adjust to your preferred reclining angle.
It’s definitely a great option if you already have a Therm-a-Rest and don’t want to invest more than $100 in a lightweight camp chair, but it does have some limitations.
If you’re looking for a camp chair you can throw in your kit without adding much weight, the Trekker is a great option. It’s designed for use with Therm-a-Rest’s NeoAir sleeping pads only, although several online reviewers have rigged it to work with other brands’ pads as well.
- Weight: 10 oz.
- Weight Limit: 300 lbs. (tested with NeoAir sleeping pad)
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ALPS Mountaineering Dash Chair
This lightweight camping chair from ALPS Mountaineering just made the weight cutoff. Although it’s on the heavier side, it still has a great price and construction.
The Dash Chair ($120) — the lightest chair in the brand’s camp furniture lineup — has an aluminum frame and a burly 420-denier ripstop fabric. It also comes with a carry bag.
Its seat back height is on the taller side at 27 inches. We didn’t like the joints and frame configuration as much as other chairs on this list. But once set up, it’s comfy.
The Dash Chair is a good choice if you don’t yet own any camping chairs and want a one-size-fits-all option that works in both the backcountry and front country.
- Weight: 3 lbs. 2 oz.
- Weight Limit: 250 lbs.
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Big Agnes Skyline UL Chair
Another great lightweight camp chair option comes yet again from Big Agnes, with their Skyline UL Chair ($150). Their version of an ultralight camping chair weighs in at 1 pound 12 ounces, packs into a small carry bag, and is made with high-quality materials with a sturdy aluminum leg base.
We liked how the design of these legs made for a wider base, with the slight angle of the back legs giving a feeling of increased stability.
While other lightweight chairs can tend to feel like they’ll topple over with a slight shift in weight, this chair feels supportive despite its ultralight design. It also sits higher than other chairs in our review, with a seat height of 15 inches. This might be a pro for some and a con for others, depending on what you’re looking for.
The Skyline UL Chair is a great choice for those backpackers who are looking for a chair with a stable base that sits higher off the ground.
- Weight: 1 lb. 12 oz.
- Weight Limit: 275 lbs.
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The Best Base Camp Chair
While this didn’t make the cut for backpacking (it doesn’t meet our weight requirement), it’s still one of our favorites from base camp to trailhead and lots of places in between.
Coleman Quad Camping Chair
Just $35 and it comes with a built-in cooler? Yep, this is a bargain hunter’s dream. And to top it off, we found it impressively comfortable.
At 24 inches wide, it provides a roomier seat than the smaller backpacking options we’ve reviewed. It also has a taller seat height and a more upright back.
This is a great option for those who don’t mind more weight and who want more stability. The only con? The steel frame is heavy and can’t be left outdoors during inclement weather.
- Weight: 9 lbs. 4 oz.
- Weight limit: 300 lbs.
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Why You Should Trust Us
Miya Tsudome is one of the primary gear testers on this review. Combining a decade of backpacking experience with years of writing gear reviews, she’s well-suited to help you make the most informed purchasing decision for your backpacking chair needs.
Living in Bishop on the flanks of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Miya spends most of her summers backpacking out to alpine climbing objectives and knows how nice it is to have a comfortable seat to lounge in at the end of a long hiking day.
She and the other testers on this review spent weeks assessing the comfort, stability, ease of setup, packability, and more for all 13 chairs in this lineup. This information will help you wade through the plethora of chairs on the market to find the best backpacking chair for you.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Backpacking Chair
Although you might want a chair that is light and small enough to pack on your backpacking trips, it’s nice to find one that doesn’t skimp on comfort or back support if you’re looking to lounge at the end of a long hiking day.
The REI Flexlite Air Chair provides the perfect amount of comfort and back support along with its light weight, which is why it’s our top pick. With an 11-inch seat height, your back is well supported when you settle into the chair, allowing you to lean back without feeling unstable.
The Helinox Ground Chair, Chair One, and Chair Zero all have similar seat heights and durable, supportive fabrics in their large bucket seats — making them all comfortable models.
Although the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 chair doesn’t have the rigid legs or structure of a typical camping chair, this model is remarkably comfortable. Because you have the ability to adjust the straps, you’re able to configure the angle of the back support just how you like it, and we loved being able to lean back with the full support of the chair cradling our bodies.
Taking the concept of the Crazy Creek even further is the Therm-a-Rest Trekker Chair, which allows you to insert your sleeping pad into the chair design to create the plushest seat out of all the ones we reviewed. The only downside is you must have a compatible sleeping pad in addition to the chair.
Lower on the general comfort list are the chairs without any back support at all. This includes the Therm-a-Rest Z Seat and the Hillsound Equipment BTR Stool. These chairs are made for more practical use instead of long-term lounging, and are also lighter than traditional camp chairs as a result, which may be desirable for some folks.
Because these backpacking chairs will likely be used on varying terrain, stability is an important feature to consider when making your purchasing decision. Our runner-up chair, the Helinox Ground Chair, is a great choice in this regard, with its low-to-the-ground, square-shaped base.
This unique design feature distributes weight more evenly across the ground, making it less likely you’ll tip over on uneven terrain. It is also lower to the ground than other backpacking chairs in our lineup, making it even more stable.
Other chairs that rank high in the stability category are the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0, the Therm-a-Rest Z Seat, and the Therm-a-Rest Trekker Chair. Since none of these chairs have legs and all are seats that are placed directly on the ground, there’s little to no chance they will tip over, and they easily can be used in sand, on rocks, on slopes, or snow.
Size and Weight
Backpacking chairs are not really an “essential” backpacking item, but they sure can make your camping experience much more comfortable. Still, size and weight are important things to consider when choosing a chair to purchase. You want to be sure the chair won’t be too bulky to pack and that it’s light enough to justify bringing along.
The Therm-a-Rest Z Seat is without a doubt the lightest and most compact “chair” in our lineup. Weighing in at a mere 2 ounces and folding up accordion-style into a size barely wider than a Nalgene bottle, this seat can easily fit in your pack without adding bulk or weight. It’s definitely the best choice for the ultralight backpackers who aren’t looking for a chair per se but a nice seating pad for keeping your bum warm at camp.
The Hillsound Equipment Stool comes in at a close second, weighing in at 12.2 ounces and also folding up into a compact cylinder that can be stowed easily in one of the outside pockets of your pack.
Both of these chairs are the lightest but also lack back support. If you want a lightweight, packable chair that is actually a proper “chair,” the lightest one is our category winner, the REI Flexlite Air. Weighing in at only a pound and folding up into a small 5×16-inch package, this chair is a great choice for those who are conscious about weight but don’t want to sacrifice back support.
The Helinox Ground Chair and Chair Zero are also good bets, weighing in at 1 pound 4.8 ounces and 1 pound 2 ounces, respectively, and both pack up into a small size.
Lastly, the Crazy Creek is also a great compromise between being lightweight and packable (but without sacrificing back support). It comes in at a lightweight 1 pound 5 ounces and is a more comfortable folding chair overall, making it our preferred choice of chairs in this design category.
Ease of Setup
Every backpacking chair we reviewed has relatively simple setups, allowing you to get from pounding the trail to lounging at camp as quickly and painlessly as possible. Some chairs are noticeably easier to set up than others, however, which we will discuss in this section.
Indisputably the simplest chair in the lineup is the Therm-a-Rest Z Seat. Since it’s just a small, insulated pad, it folds up accordion style and can be dispatched as quickly as removing the attached rubber band holding it together, opening it up, and sitting down.
The second easiest to set up is the Hillsound Equipment BTR Stool. Simply extend and twist the legs open, and the stool is ready to use.
The Crazy Creek is also a breeze to set up but takes a second to adjust. You’ll want to open up these folding seats and sit inside of them while adjusting their side straps for the most comfortable fit and to find your preferred angle.
The rest of the chairs in our review follow the standard camping chair setup: unfold the chair legs and connect them into all their joints to make the frame, then simply stretch the seat fabric and install their corners into the designated chair legs. This takes a minute or two tops.
Backpacking Chair vs. Camping Chair
This comprehensive review specifically covers the best backpacking chairs, which might make some of you wonder what the difference is from camping chairs. This is an important distinction to make.
To qualify as a backpacking chair, these seats must be lightweight, pack down to a relatively small and portable size, and be simple to set up. When going on a backpacking trip, whether it’s overnight or a multi-day trek, space in your pack and weight matter. All of the chairs in our review (besides the Coleman Quad) pack down to a size that will fit into or on the outside of a backpacking pack.
If you do a lot of car camping, however, which means you’re driving up to a campsite and carrying all of your gear in your car, you might want to consider buying a camp chair instead. These types of chairs will typically be bigger and more comfortable, with taller backs for support, and sometimes accessories like cup holders or extra cushioning in the seat or backrest.
The Coleman Quad is a great example and simply folds open and closed, making it a breeze to grab out of the tailgate and pop open by the fire.
Different Types of Backpacking Chairs
While they may seem like a relatively simple purchase, backpacking chairs actually come in many different shapes and sizes. The most common type is the two-piece, legs plus fabric bucket seat chair. The REI Flexlite Air, Helinox Ground, Chair One, and Chair Zero, ALPS Mountaineering Dash Chair, and Big Agnes Skyline UL Chair are all of this design, with collapsable legs and a fabric seat that can be rolled up and packed into your backpack.
Other types of chairs you can find for backpacking are stools, like the Hillsound Equipment BTR or foldable chairs like the Crazy Creek. Stools can be great to have on a fishing or river trip, and foldable chairs are a great ultralight option for lounging at camp after a long day of hiking without carrying too much weight or bulk.
The most unique style of backpacking chair we’ve come across is the Therm-a-Rest Trekker Chair, which uses your sleeping pad to make a plush, comfortable camp seat. While it requires you to have a compatible sleeping pad, it utilizes something that’s already in your pack to create a chair, which we really like. Plus you can use it without the pad as a foldable seat, making it a versatile option.
Lastly is the ground pad style seat, like the Therm-a-Rest Z Seat. While it may not look like much, this insulated pad is also versatile and so light it’s hard not to pack. The difference between sitting on the cold ground and having an insulated piece of foam underneath you is night and day, and you can also use it as extra cushioning underneath your sleeping pad or to extend it if you have a three-quarter-length pad.
It’s worth taking a moment to think about how you will most likely utilize your chair before deciding which will be the best backpacking chair for your needs.
Backpacking chairs come in all shapes and sizes and are made with different materials that affect their overall build quality. Helinox is high on the list in terms of the quality of materials in its chairs, with its lightweight, aluminum leg poles and ripstop polyester seats. The REI Flexlite is made with the same materials, ensuring its light weight is met with a high-quality design.
Big Agnes is a company that doesn’t skimp on quality either and is known for top-shelf tents and sleeping bags. The company’s chair game is no different. The Mica Basin and Skyline UL are made with what Big Agnes calls “aircraft aluminum pole systems,” and the proprietary high-tenacity Robic nylon with polyester ripstop ensures durability.
While the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 may look like a simple chair, it’s made with 8mm high-density cored EVA closed-cell foam which provides insulation and has a durable outer shell made with 210D coated ripstop nylon for abrasion-resistance and weatherproofing. The carbon fiber stays within the folded seat are remarkably strong and ensure you’ll have a chair that lasts trip after trip.
What Is the Best Backpacking Chair?
Finding the best backpacking chair has to do with your threshold of comfort and how much you’re willing to carry. If weight isn’t your primary concern and you will only be hiking for a short amount of time, hauling something like the Big Agnes Mica would be a great option, as it packs a lot of comfort into a relatively small package.
If ultralight minimalism is key, however, you may want to stick with the bare-bones, no-frills Therm-a-Rest Z Seat, a simple square of foam that will disappear in your pack. It totally depends on personal preference.
That said, not all backpacking chairs are equal. Some are definitely higher quality than others, and it’s important to consider the durability and dependability of anything you take into the backcountry. Everything in this guide has been tested by adventurers who know what to look for in solid, reliable gear, and you can trust their honest opinion.
What Is a Backpacking Chair?
Backpacking chairs offer the ultimate level of backcountry comfort. There’s nothing quite like sitting in an actual chair around the fire after a grueling hike instead of getting sap all over your shorts and leaning against a knobby tree. Comfort almost always comes at the cost of weight, though, which backpackers are always trying to whittle down.
A backpacking chair should strike an appropriate balance between comfort, weight, and bulk. If you don’t feel comfortable carrying it for miles on your back, it won’t be worth the reward you get at the end of the day.
Backpacking chairs should be able to pack up small enough to fit easily inside, or strap to the outside, of your pack.
What Is the Lightest Backpacking Chair?
While the lightest backpacking “chair” we have on this list is the Therm-a-Rest Z Seat, this really doesn’t offer much support and comfort. The lightest product we’d classify as more of a classic “chair” we reviewed is the REI Flexlite Air Chair, coming in at around a pound.
What Is the Difference Between a Backpacking Chair and a Camping Chair?
Camping chairs, in general, don’t pack down as small and are quite bulky but do offer a good deal of comfort. To qualify for this list, each backpacking chair must be lightweight, pack down to a relatively small and portable size, and be simple to set up.