Sit back, relax, and prepare to be amused by the saga of finding the perfect camp chair. It was a four year saga before I found my “goldilocks” chair in 2020. I offer this equipment review of camp chairs in hopes it might save save you some time or money in looking for your own perfect camping chair.
Chair #1: The Padded One
I started out with this club chair that I picked up at Camping World. With all that padding, it was comfortable and it was warm when the weather got cold. Since much of my first few months was cold and damp, this wokred out pretty well.
But… it was also bulky for folding up and stowing in the back of the Subaru. And when the hotter temperatures showed up the next spring, it was like baking in an oven. Suddenly, all that padding wasn’t the driver it had been.
Chair #2: The Lightweight One
I saw this slightly padded Moon chair on another vagabond’s website and decided to give it a try. It was definitely lighter-weight so it folded up smaller and it also wasn’t nearly as hot to sit in.
But… that round shape meant the bottom, where my legs stuck out, cut into the back of my thighs. Not so comfortable after an hour or so, trust me. Great if you’re small enough to curl up in it like a cat, but my knees didn’t think much of that idea.
Chair #3: The Swinging One
The Nemo Stargaze Recliner chair was definitely an improvement in a couple of ways. It was very lightweight, being mesh, so when it rained, it dried quickly. And in the south, it rains a lot, so a quick drying chair can be a big asset. Yes, I have an awning, but when I don’t put it up and forget to stow the chair before I leave for that hike, the afternoon rain comes along and then the chair is wet.
But… it didn’t feel that stable as a chair and my back craved more lumbar support. I did like the fact that I could swing in it, though, so I made a mental note that a rocking chair would be nice to have at some point. (The newer model looks like it a much stronger frame, especially the lower crossbar.)
Chair #4: The Back Support One
At a hardware store in Boulder, CO, I picked up this Strongback camping chair. They have two sizes, and the smaller one was just perfect for my frame. It’s got the best back support of any chair so far, which is a big win after a day of towing or hiking. I use a small camp stool as a footstool and that works out pretty well.
I can also use this chair inside as a desk chair, which is awesome because back support means I can work longer without getting all stiff and sore. So far, chair #3 is a keeper.
Chair #5: The Soft Rocker One
My current favorite chair, the GCI MaxRelax Pod Rocker. In January, I pulled my right piriformis muscle, which meant sitting on anything for longer than 30 minutes had me reaching for painkillers and a box of tissues to wipe away the tears. While waiting for my car to get serviced in Tucson, I wandered into the nearby REI and sat down in this chair. OMG. It was the first time I’d been able to sit without pain in a few weeks. I bought the chair on the spot.
The bonus is that it rocks. Literally. It’s got little pistons and it rocks back and forth. Ah…
Chair #6: The LaFuma Recliner
Now that I have more space to carry stuff around (thanks, Ridgeline!), I own a really comfortable LaFuma Zero Gravity recliner, one of those big hulking monsters that you can stretch out on. I tried one in Boulder at the same time I bought the Strongback and finally got a good price at Amazon for one. I’ve had this model for over 2 years now and it’s been great. My back likes it, my butt likes it, and at night, I can easily enjoy the night sky by pushing all the way back to full reclining position. Best camping chair ever, in my experience.
If you enjoyed this equipment review, check out my recommendations for camping equipment outside the trailer
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If it’s the right chair, it doesn’t take too long to get comfortable in it.