Gear Review: Ultralight Chairs
Multi-day raft trips are like car camping trips. Just bring it all! So you may not think ultralight camp gear is needed in the whitewater world. That is until you do some sort of expedition trip where weight is key. You may also not think you need a chair for that style of trip. If you are anti-chair just don't even think about sitting in my chair while in camp. A chair is a comfort that in my opinion justifies the extra weight. I can enjoy hanging out in camp and not have to sit in the dirt all evening.
Lets take a look at 3 ultralight chair options from Helinox, Big Agnes, and Nemo Equipment.
Helinox Chair Zero
Coming in at 1lb 2oz the Chair Zero is the smallest and lightest chair of the three. This chair is really easy to set up, takes up very little space, and would be a major upgrade from sitting on the ground.
The biggest con of this chair is how unstable it is. The feet create a pretty small footprint making it really easy to tip backwards. That is really the only real complaint from this chair. However, the weight, size, and ease of set up and take down really make this a great option if you are limited on space and weight.
Big Agnes Skyline UL
A few years back Big Agnes got into the chair and table game. Their Skyline UL comes in at 1lb 11oz, so just a little heavier than the Chair Zero. It its also a few inches long when all packed up.
This chair is a similar construction to the Chair Zero and sets up about the same. However, the footprint is much larger giving it lots of stability. Settling the frame up is similar to putting tent poles together. However, the poles have ridges in them that make it a little awkward setting up the first few times. They help insure you set it up correctly.
The Moonlite is the heaviest at 1lb 14oz but still packs down nice and small. It is a similar size to the Chair Zero.
Of all three chairs this one was the most comfortable. A nice wide footprint make this chair really stable to sit in. You will also notice the sides are open, giving you a little more room for your arms. It is also adjustable so you can really recline after a long day.
This chair was one of the more difficult to set up and take down. The frame of the chair is made up of some different size and shape poles so it took a little getting use to. The chair also snaps to the frame like a ball and socket joint which was a little weird at first.
What Should I Buy?
All three of these chairs were surprisingly comfortable. After setting up and taking down a few times they were a breeze. They are all pretty close in wight and packing size. All are way better than sitting on the ground.
If you are simply looking for the lightest chair go with the Chair Zero. Just warn your friends they might tip over if they want to give it a try.
The Big Agnes Skyline UL seems to be the best middle ground when considering weight, pack size, and comfort. It is really easy to set up, incredibly comfortable, and so stable. It also the tallest of the chairs, making it really easy to get in and out of. I will likely be adding one of these to my self-support kayak gear.
If you are looking for one of the most comfortable camp chairs that also happens to be compact and light you should check out the Nemo Moonlite. After spending a bunch of time sitting in these chairs this one surprised me the most. The reclining back makes it nice and adjustable. Those extra few ounces are just noticeable enough that put this one in second place in my opinion.
Stop sitting on the ground or leaning up against a log or rock. Go get your self an ultralight chair and be extra comfortable after that long grueling day on the river.