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10 Best Backpacking Chairs [2022] BikeHikeSafari


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This is a gear review about the best backpacking chair to take hiking and backpacking in 2022.

These ultralight camping chairs are designed to be taken on hiking trips and set up for use at camp.

The latest models of hiking chairs are lighter, fold down smaller, and offer more support than ever. And if that still seems too much, the humble sit pad is here to at least ensure you never sit directly on the muddy ground again.

Best Backpacking Chair for 2022

The Best Backpacking Chair for 2022:

Best Lightweight Backpacking Chair 2022

Helinox Chair Zero

Helinox Chair zero lightweight backpacking chair

Weight: 17.2oz / 490g
Seat Height: 11.5 inches / 29 cm
Pros:
> Incredibly ultralight backpacking chair, no problems carrying.
> A sturdy chair that can carry 265lb / 120kg
> The internal bungee cords make set up quick and easy to store
Cons:
> Low to the ground, can be difficult for some people to get up and out of

The Helinox chair zero weighs in at just 17.2oz / 490g and packing down to the size of a water bottle, the Helinox is one of the most portable backpacking chairs around. The aluminum frame is incredibly lightweight but still feels stable as you sit, with a minimum wobble.

One of the real selling points of the Helinox Chair Zero is the scoop back which gives good back support. This provides extra support to the spine, for comfortable sitting. The only drawback of the shape is that you can slide forward, and those with longer legs may not feel as well-supported.

Overall, the Helinox Chair Zero is the best lightweight backpacking chair for 2022.

Best Hiking Seat Pad 2022

Therm-a-rest Z-Seat

Therm-a-Rest Z rest seat pad chair

Weight: 2oz / 57grams
Seat Height: ground level
Pros:
> So lightweight, you’ll almost forget it’s in your pack.
> Durable, even on rough terrain. Sure to last for many trips.
> Drawstring closure to keep the seat folded tight in your pack with the drawstring closure.
Cons:
> No back support.
> As comfortable as the Z-seat is, you’re still sitting on the ground.

Even backpackers who like to pack as light as possible will be tempted by the Therm-a-rest Z-seat. Not technically a seat but a seating pad, this durable cushion is soft, comfortable, and long-lasting. All that, and it weighs only 2 ounces.

The Therm-a-Rest Z-seat doesn’t just provide something to sit on, it can also work as a cushion, and be used for additional length if your sleeping pad is too short. Made of puncture-proof closed-cell foam, the Z-seat has strength built into the fabric. Use it on any terrain, and give yourself a comfortable seating solution.

Overall, the Therm-a-Rest Z-seat is one of the best sit pads for backpacking.

Best Sleeping Pad Chair 2022

Therm-a-rest Trekker Chair

Therm-a-Rest Trekker Chair sleeping pad chair

Weight: 10oz / 284grams
Seat Height: ground level
Pros:
> Use your sleeping pad to transform it into a camp chair.
> Good back support.
> Weighs less than the average camping chair (before adding the mattress).
Cons:
> The kit doesn’t give the mattress legs, so you are sitting close to the ground.

This design was the one that started the lightweight camp chair market and I first used these for my old Therm-a-rest Prolight Mattress well over 20 years ago. Things have changed since then and have improved significantly. You can use this turn a sleeping pad into a chair.

The Therm-a-rest Trekker Chair is designed for backpackers and campers that like to keep equipment to a minimum. The innovative design works with most Trekker mattresses to transform your sleeping pad into a comfortable chair. And it does a very good job.

Carrying chairs and mattresses can really take the joy out of backpacking. With the Trekker Chair, you no longer need separate items. The simple kit can easily turn your lightweight mattress into a seat that provides back support. Perfect if a night on the ground has left you a little tender.

These are a perfect solution for lightweight bikepackers and bicycle tourers as well as hikers and backpackers. If you are already carrying an inflatable sleeping pad then this is the best and lightest option for a camp chair.

Overall, this is one of the best camping chairs for backpacking and bicycle touring. This is the perfect option to spend a rainy day in the tent reading.

Best Ultralight Backpacking Chair 2022

REI Flexlite Air Chair

REI Flexlite Air Chair Review for ultralight backpacking chairs

Weight: 16oz / 453grams
Seat Height: 11 inches / 28 cm
Pros:
> Ultralight, with an aluminum frame that feels flexible.
> Easy to use – The REI flexlite can be set up quickly.
> Comfortable for an ultralight camping chair.
Cons:
> Feels shaky as you sit, difficult to stretch the legs out.
> Chairs that weigh more than this are more comfortable

REI Co-Op works with experts to craft camping and backpacking gear that really fills a need. The REI Co-Op Flexlite air chair is designed for the ounce counters, the backpackers who ensure there’s nothing in their pack that doesn’t need to be there.

Weighing just 1 pound, the REI Co-Op Flexlite air chair is light enough that even serious space-savers might make an exception. It is even lighter than the Helinox Chair Zero and cheaper.

Constructed with an aluminum frame and ripstop nylon, the REI Flexlite air chair is designed to be easily constructed and packed away. The 4-legs provide some needed stability, while the scoop seat design is most comfortable for smaller folk. This is a chair for people who aren’t convinced they need a chair.

Overall, the REI Flexlite Air Chair is one of the best backpacking chairs for backpackers on a budget and want to carry an ultralight folding camp chair.

More Lightweight Hiking Chairs

Big Agnes Skyline UL

Big Agnes Skyline UL Hiking Chair review

Weight: 28oz / 793grams
Seat Height: 15 inches / 38 cm
Pros:
> Aircraft-grade aluminum – A frame that provides both stability and support.
> Color-coded assembly – Puts together easily with an intuitive color-coding.
> Bent leg design provides a wider base, for a more comfortable chair.
Cons:
> Heavy, compared to other ultralight backpacking chairs.

The Big Agnes Skyline UL Chair is one of the best backpacking chairs for comfort with the best back support. The patented frame is incredibly sturdy, and the ergonomic design is comfortable and supportive.

A frame made of aircraft-grade aluminum holds a wide and deep seat that can keep the spine and legs supported. Unlike other backpacking chairs, which often feel like just a way to stay off the ground, the Big Agnes Skyline UL is a chair you look forward to using.

Unfortunately, the strong frame has its downside. Weighing just under 2 lbs, the Big Agnes Skyline UL is bulky compared to other ultralight chairs. Still, for many, the sacrifice will feel more than worth it.

Overall, the Big Agnes Skyline UL chair is a very strong camping chair for backpacking.

REI Co-op Flash Sit Pad

REI Co-op Flash Sit Pad Review

Weight: 3oz / 85grams
Seat Height: ground level
Pros:
> Weld-through construction – Seams are often considered the weak point, but a welded construction makes them stronger.
> Super lightweight for any backpack.
> Multiuse – Roll and snap into place to turn your sit pad into a pillow.
Cons:
> Puncture risk – Even with durable materials, the sit pad risks a puncture.

Sometimes all you really need is something to protect your behind from a less than pleasant terrain. Whether it’s damp, rocky, or just too cold for comfort, all you need is a simple cushion to keep you protected.

The REI Flash sit pad is an inflatable cushion that can be bent over to form a thick pillow, or lain flat as a simple mat. A weld-through construction strengthens the seams, and the polyester and Mylar insulation keeps the sit pad insulated. Inflate in no time at all with the bottom valve, and enjoy the soft padding.

Overall, this is one of the best inflatable sit pads for backpacking that can also be used as a pillow.

Crazy Creek Hex 2.0

Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 Hiking Chair

Weight: 20.8 oz / 590 grams
Seat Height: ground level
Pros:

> Compact size
> Easy to use
> Comfortable
> Carbon Fiber poles
Cons:
> Could be lighter

The Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 is one of the most popular backcountry chairs. They are quite comfortable and one of the easiest to use. Just open it up and sit down.

The Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 is simple to use and allows you to recline a little when sitting but this is something the Therm-a-Rest Trekker or Sea to Summit Air Chair can do and are much lighter. But unlike them, you will not puncture your sleeping pad if sitting on sharp objects. And this uses carbon fiber poles.

Overall, the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 is the perfect day hiking chair for those wanting comfort and simplicity.

Moon Lence Outdoor Ultralight Portable Folding Chair

Moon Lence Outdoor ultralight chair

Weight: 32oz / 907grams
Seat Height: 9 inches / 23 cm
Pros:
> Budget chair that doesn’t feel cheap.
> Comfortable and breathable
> Sculpted to your body shape
> Feels secure as you sit.
Cons:
> At 2lb the Moon Lence is a heavier backpacking chair, but it’s hard to complain at this price.

For many backpackers, even the smallest chair feels unnecessary. Something extra to carry, when the whole purpose of the day is to keep moving. It doesn’t help that even reasonably priced backpacking chairs might set you back $100 or more.

Moon Lence is a budget option, with a bargain price tag and a decent level of comfort. It’s a good chair to sit on, even if it might take you some time to set up. In terms of comfort, you really won’t get anything better for the price.

Overall, this is one of the best budget camping chair for backpacking.

Gossamer Gear Thinlight

Gossamer Gear Thinlight sit pad backpacking seat

Weight: 3oz / 85grams
Seat Height: ground level
Pros:
> Not just a seat, the Gossamer Gear Thinlight can be used for trail yoga or as a sleeping mat.
> Ultralight, and easy to fold.
> Closed cell foam
> Doesn’t absorb water, so can be used on even damp ground.
Cons:
> Very Thin
> Laid flat, it provides less support than other seating pads.

The Thinlight sleep pad from Gossamer Gear is a seat pad or sleeping mat which many uses. Long enough to slip under a sleeping bag, anchor a mattress, or act as a mattress itself, it also works as a versatile backpacking seat. Fold it up and the Gossamer Gear Thinlight becomes thick, or leave it loose and enjoy the chance to stretch out.

Weighing under 3 ounces, the Gossamer Gear pad is hardly noticeable in a backpack. The thin material (just ⅛”) can be easily rolled and folded, to fit into the smallest spaces.

If you’re an ultralight thru-hiker who likes to spend the night in the wild and rise with the sun, the thinlight is a great choice.

Overall, this is a very thin sit pad that doubles as an ultralight mat for yoga or sleeping. Best suited to ultralight thru-hikers who want to carry the lightest possible weight on their back.

Trekology Yizi LITE Backpacking Chair

Trekology Yizi Lite Backpacking Chair

Weight: 26oz / 748grams
Seat Height: 9.8 inches / 25 cm
Pros:
> Folds down very small, and light
> Side pockets – Keep the items you need on hand as you relax.
> Sand cover – Stop the legs from sinking into soft ground.
Cons:
> Low to the ground and the scoop back offers little support.

Even though they are both part of the Trekology Yizi range, there’s a world of difference between the GO and the LITE. While the GO prioritizes convenience, the LITE is all about dropping as much weight as possible.

Weighing just 1.65 lbs, you can definitely feel the difference on your back. Unfortunately, you can feel it on your bum as well. The LITE lacks the stability of the GO.

That said, the LITE does have some fantastic features. The aero-grade aluminum frame is strong and supportive, mesh fabric adds breathability, and the side pockets and loop set-up of the GO are still there.

Overall, this is a good budget hiking chair.


More Lightweight Backpacking Chairs

Here are some more of the best backpacking chairs to consider:

  • REI Trail Stool: The REI Trail Stool is a good lightweight backpacking stool for those who want something compact. Just be aware it is not as comfortable.
  • Sea to Summit Air Chair: The Sea to Summit Air chair is a good alternative to the Therm-a-Rest Trekker Chair. It will fit most sleep pads and is light and offers good support.
  • Nemo Moonlite: The Nemo Moonlite is a good option but a bit heavy.
Best Lightweight Camping chair in use while Bicycle Touring

Buyer’s Guide

When trying to choose the best backpacking chair for backpacking and hiking, you’re likely to prioritize one feature over everything else — the weight. And while weight is important when it comes to choosing a chair, it’s only one factor. 


Types of Backpacking Chairs

The are a couple of different types of backpacking chairs

Foldable Backpacking Chair

The foldable backpacking chair is arguably the most comfortable. They use lightweight fabric and poles that the usually made from aluminum. The foldable poles reduce the bulk. These types of chairs raise you from the ground to a more normal sitting position.

Backpacking Stool

The backpacking stool is compact, lightweight, and budget-friendly but not the most comfortable.

Sit Pads

Sit Pads are usually made from foam and are the simplest of all the seats in this review. Simply lay out the mat on the ground and you are set up. they lack the comfort of the rest of the styles in this review but are well priced and do a good enough job of keeping you off the ground.

Sleeping Pad Mats

I started using a sleeping pad mat over 20 years ago when Therm-a-Rest bought their version to the market. I have loved them ever since. They are light, compact, and work with almost any type of inflatable sleeping pad that you are probably already carrying with you. Use these to turn your sleeping pad into a camp chair.


Weight

Carrying a lightweight chair around when you’re backpacking isn’t comfortable, so they need to be lightweight. The heaviest chair on our list is 2.1 lbs, and you really shouldn’t go too much higher than that, in fact, lighter than 1lb is best. There’s a surprising difference between 1 and 2 pounds, and it’s something you’ll really feel on your back.

That said, the lightest chair isn’t always the best. Ultralight chairs tend to sacrifice stability and can feel shaky.


Comfort

If you’re looking for a backpacking chair, it’s because you want something more comfortable than sitting on the ground. Don’t ignore comfort to focus on ounces, or you’ll never use the chair at all. 

Breathable fabrics are always useful for a backpacking chair because they stop the back from getting too sweaty. Look at the shape of the chair as well. A good option will support the spine and legs.

Back support is important for camp chairs. Most of the chairs provide good back support which is one of the most important things that contribute to comfort. Ground pads may lack back support, but the cushioned comfort is generally better than that of a backpacking chair.

The weight capacity of the hiking chairs on the list is quite similar and enough for the average backpacker. With a weight capacity of between 250 lb and 300 lb being normal. The foam sit pads will have an unlimited weight capacity and but the inflatable ones will usually be around the same as the seats.

I did not mention the trail stool or backpacking stool in this review as they are generally not very comfortable.


Ease of use

No one wants to be fighting with their chair after a long hike. These chairs are meant to be comfortable, and that comfort should extend all the way to the set-up. Because the chairs fold down so small, unfolding and refolding can be difficult. Either choose a design that goes up easily or practice before you head out.


Packed size

The weight is important for portability, but the packed size plays its part as well. This refers to how small the chair can fold down when you pack it away. The chair should be able to either fit in your backpack or strap to the outside. Inflatable pads have the best packed size.


Height and ground elevation

Wanting to avoid that struggle up from the floor is the reason many of us consider a backpacking chair. The elevation is how high off the ground the chair seat is. A higher elevation is better on wet ground, supports the legs, and is easier to get in and out of. However, the higher chairs tend to be heavier.

For use inside a tent, the sit pads are good but the Therm-a-rest Trekker Chair is far and away the best for this purpose.


Stability

Stability in a backpacking chair tends to be a mixture of design and materials. Aluminum is the most common material for the frame, as it’s strong but lightweight. 

Chairs with four legs, spread wide across the base, offer a stable design.

Stability is, unfortunately, closely linked to weight. The chairs with the best stability are often the heaviest because they use more durable materials for the frame.


Price

The best backpacking chair is likely to cost between $50 and $200, although there are cheaper options available (and more expensive). Pricier options tend to have a better build, without adding too much weight. Some of the budget backpacking chairs can be light but lack stability.

Consider how often you intend to use the chair when deciding on a budget, and what features you value most.

Seat pads and cushions tend to be a good budget backpacking chair option, as well as being the lightest.


Conclusion

Here are the Best Hiking Chairs for 2022:


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a backpacking chair?

A backpacking chair is a lightweight seat that can be folded down and kept in a backpack. When camping and hiking, the chair can be bought out whenever you need to stop, for an instant place to rest. 

Are backpacking chairs worth the weight?

Backpacking chairs provide comfort, which is often much-needed after a long day out. They also keep you elevated, providing a barrier between an unsuspecting backpacker and a muddy ground.
Modern ultralight backpacking chairs often weigh less than 2 pounds, and fold down small enough to fit in a bag. For the comfort and support they give, they’re worth the weight.

What is the lightest backpacking chair?

The Helinox Chair Zero and the REI Flexlite Air Chair are two of the lightest foldable backpacking chairs available for sale. Both chairs weigh close to just 1 pound, and can be folded down to fit in a backpack.

What is a seat pad for backpacking?

A seat pad is a cushioned mat that can be used when backpacking as a seat/ground cover. Often very thin and portable, the seat pad is a great alternative to a chair for those who like to keep the weight down. 
Longer seat pads are also available, to be used as mattresses. These make good chairs as well, because they can be folded up to provide a thicker cushion.

How do you choose a backpacking chair?

Although weight may appear to be the most important consideration of a backpacking chair, it’s important to think of comfort, stability, ease of use, and price. The best backpacking chairs meet all your comfort needs, without weighing you down.


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