It's not surprising that the question of which camping chair to buy is amongst the most common questions asked by campers about camping gear purchases.
Everyone has a folding chair lying around at home just in case they are short, and unless you prefer sitting on the ground, every camper needs one.
Head down to the local camping store though and you will be met with folding chairs of all shapes and sizes.
So, how do you know which camping chair should you buy? Consider the following factors before you buy:
When you are sitting around the campfire in relax mode, you want a comfortable chair - simple as that.
Also important - you want everyone else to be comfortable as well in their chairs so that they don't eye off yours the split second it becomes vacant. That also includes the dog!
The problem is, in my experience, most chairs are comfortable when you first sit in them, because they haven't been subjected to your body weight for any length of time. At that point they are probably as comfortable as they are ever going to be.
The question is how comfortable will they be after continued use and a bit of rain and anything else camping can throw at it.
Quad Folding Chairs
The most common camping chairs would have to be the quad folding chairs, where the four legs join together to form a cylindrical shape. They are definitely the most common chairs you will see around the campsite, but they aren't necessarily the most comfortable (in my humble opinion).
Cheaper quad folding chairs with a canvas type fabric and little support underneath the seat will be the ones most likely to sag over time.
Flat Folding Chairs
Another popular type of chair is the flat folding chair. Being flat when packed up, they appear to be very space efficient, but in actual fact, we have been able to pack quad folding chairs more efficiently than flat folding ones.
Flat folding chairs offer a much greater variety of options in the stores, from simple upright ones to those with several reclining positions and numerous accessories.
Ultralight Backpacking Chairs
A great option for those who are very limited for cargo space, or who enjoy overnight hiking, are the ultralight backpacking or hiking chairs. They are easy to set up, very lightweight for hiking and actually quite comfortable.
They may not be on a par with a good quality quad or flat folding chair, but if you require a lightweight chair and don't want to invest in a second one, then these are a fantastic option.
Kids chairs come in most styles listed above, and are widely available. Unless the chair will get a lot of use, such as if you regularly camp, or it will be handed down, consider whether a good quality adult chair would be appropriate. That way you avoid a further outlay when the child outgrows the chair.
My rule of thumb is if the child can sit in an adult chair at home, then an adult camp chair would be suitable for them.
Some chairs when packed up can be extremely bulky, which will be an issue if you have limited cargo space, especially if you have purchase one for each person in your family or camping party.
You will typically find quad folding chairs are the most space efficient. Flat folding chairs on the other hand will take up a little more space.
Even more space efficient are the camp chairs suitable for hiking and bushwalking as mentioned above.
Likewise, large chairs can be quite heavy, which can be an issue if you are seeking to keep the weight of your load down. So before you buy, consider not only bulk but weight when you are choosing your chair.
Accessories and Extra Features
Chairs come with all kinds of accessories nowadays, from the essential cup or drink holder to others that may not be as necessary, like padded seats, insulated cooler bags, storage pockets, wine glass holders, adjustable headrests, padded headrests, footrests, fold away side tables and adjustable lumbar support. Some even have bottle openers.
Add all of these to your chair and you have one mighty chair that is likely to be expensive, bulky and heavy. If that is your preference, then go for it.
If, however, you are looking to prioritise comfort without the cost, then a good quality and reputable chair with a cup holder is really all you need.
Going for a cheap chair is really only going to end in a sore bottom, and/or back, and landfill (for the chair that is), which is not good for your wallet or the environment.
So, we suggest you select the best quality you can afford, and if cost is an issue, avoid all of the accessories except for the drink holder.
Upright or Reclining Position
Some chairs, such as the quad folding chairs, have quite an upright seating position, which is comfortable for sitting at the table for meals and playing games, but not necessarily for reclining around the campsite.
On the other hand, some chairs have a more reclining seating position better suited to sitting back and relaxing rather than sitting up at the table.
Some chairs have an adjustable back so that you can sit upright but also recline.
Every chair will have a maximum weight capacity which is generally a minimum of 100 kg, which accounts for most people. All chairs should have listed their weight carrying capacity.
As there is plenty of sitting around on camping chairs, they have to be durable. But that's not something you will necessarily know at the outset.
Before you buy your chair, check to see if it is built with a sturdy design and is made of durable materials? Check the quality of the frame, seat fabric, joints and reinforcements at key points for extra strength.