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Best Backpacking Chairs

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Best Backpacking Chairs

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This is a gear review about the best backpacking chairs to take hiking and backpacking. These ultralight camping chairs are designed to be taken on hiking trips and set up for use at camp.

The backpacking chair used to be nothing but an inconvenience, they were so heavy that nobody wanted to carry one when backpacking.

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

Wondering what’s right for you? In this guide, I take a look at all the best ultralight camping chairs on the market. Tested for weight, comfort, stability, and how long they take to put up, my picks can help you find the chair you need.

Best Backpacking Chairs 2022

The Best Backpacking Chairs 2022 are:


Best Ultralight Backpacking Chair 2022

Helinox Chair Zero

Weight: 17.2oz / 490g
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 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 minimum wobble.

One of the real selling points of the Helinox Chair Zero is the scoop back. This provides extra support to the spine, for a comfortable sit. 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 ultralight backpacking chair on the market in 2022.

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Best Sit Pad For Backpacking 2022

Therm-a-rest Z-Seat

Weight: 2oz / 57grams
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 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.

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Best Ultralight Sit Pad For Backpacking

Gossamer Gear Thinlight

Weight: 3oz / 85grams
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, to anchor a mattress, or to 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 carry the lightest possible weight on their back.

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Best Therm-a-Rest Backpacking Chair 2022

Therm-a-rest Trekker Chair

Weight: 10oz / 284grams
Pros:
> Convertible kit – Rather than buying a separate chair, use the kit to transform your Trekker mattress.
> Good back support – Give the spine some stability.
> 0.64 lbs – Weighs less than the average camping chair (before adding the mattress).

Cons:
> Low to ground – The kit doesn’t give the mattress legs, so you are sat 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. Thing have changed since then and have improved significantly.

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.

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Moosejaw

Best Ultralight Budget Backpacking Chair 2022

REI Flexlite Air Chair

Weight: 16oz / 453grams
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 weight more than this are more comfortable

REI works with experts to craft camping and backpacking gear that really fills a need. This 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 flexlite air chair is light enough that even serious space-savers might make an exception. It is comparable to the Helinox but cheaper.

Constructed with an aluminum frame and ripstop nylon, the REI flexlite 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, this one of the best backpacking chair for backpackers on a budget and want to carry an ultralight folding camp chair.

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REI

More of the Best Hiking Chair

Moon Lence Outdoor Ultralight Portable Folding Chair

Weight: 32oz / 907grams
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.

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Big Agnes Skyline UL

Weight: 28oz / 793grams
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 is one of the best backpacking chairs you will ever sit on. 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 is bulky compared to other ultralight chairs. Still, for many the sacrifice will feel more than worth it.

Overall, this is a very strong camping camping chair for backpacking.

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REI Co-op Flash Sit Pad

Weight: 3oz / 85grams
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 the 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.

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REI

Trekology Yizi GO

Weight: 33.6oz / 952grams
Pros:
> 39 cm chair leg height – Keeps the user elevated.
> Price – A bargain price for a clever chair.
> Loop system set-up – Puts together quickly.
Cons:
> The heaviest chair on the list at 2.1lb, although still fairly lightweight.

The Yizi GO by Trekology is a backpacking chair that’s all about convenience. Able to fold down to the size of a bottle, it can be packed away and forgotten on even rough trails.

When unfolded, the side pockets, breathable mesh, and deep seat show how well considered the design is. A quick set up with a simple loop system has the chair ready in no time. Supporting up to 300 lbs, this is a chair anyone can use.

The only real downside is the weight. At just over 2 pounds (2.1 lbs, to be precise), the Trekology Yizi GO isn’t the easiest to carry. 

Overall, this is a solid budget camp chair for hiking and backpacking

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Trekology Yizi LITE Backpacking Chair

Weight: 26oz / 748grams
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 – The scoop back offers little support, and keeps you low to the ground.

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.

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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. 


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. Ground pads may lack support, but the cushioned comfort is better than that of a backpacking chair.


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.


Packing size

The weight is important for portability, but packing 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. 


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 in 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

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

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

Seat pads and cushions tend to be the cheapest option, as well as 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.


Another one of the Best Hiking Gear Reviews from BikeHikeSafari.

Best Backpacking Chairs for Backpacking

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Sydney, Australia.

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