Amidst all the gear and survival supplies you might carry with you when camping or bugging out, you could be forgiven for forgetting all about a place to sit.
Even in the midst of a long trek into the wilderness or real-life SHTF problem, you should not underestimate the value of a comfortable place to park it around camp when you need rest or just time to think. That’s right, I’m talking about chairs, stools and seats, specifically of the backpack-able variety.
Backpacking chairs are collapsible and lightweight, able to be lashed, stowed or otherwise hauled with you on your journey away from home. Long the favorite of explorers, hunters and campers, these ingenious space-saving gadgets have serious merit for preppers getting ready to bug out at a moment’s notice.
In this article on Survival Sullivan, we’ll be listing the top 10 backpacking chairs that merit room in your pack. So kick back, put your feet up and read on to see the top 10 backpacking chairs!
The Top 10 Best Backpacking Chairs
Not just any chair will do for backpacking, if you are camping or bugging out. You should choose a backpack chair based on your needs, capability and expected route and terrain.
No matter what style you choose, your chair should be as durable and as reliable as any other piece of equipment you carry. Anything in your pack that breaks or is so flimsy that it cannot do the job you packed it in for in the first place is a double waste of space!
To make your search a little easier, we have assembled a list of the ten best backpacking chairs for your hard earned dollars. No matter who you are or where you plan on making camp one of these chairs will surely fit the bill. Well, unless you are heading to Mars or Mount Everest, and even if you are there are probably a couple that would work fine!
All of the following chairs and seats are presented in no particular order. While each of us have our favorites for various reasons, all of the ones on this list are quality products that can serve you well. Pick the one that will work best for your anticipated conditions.
1. ALPS Mountaineering Weekender Seat
ALPS Mountaineering is well known for offering good outdoor kit at modest prices and much of what they make is lightweight and streamlined. Nowhere in their product line is this design ethic more on display than their Weekender seat, a minimalist taco-style folding seat with straps on the sides to adjust the angle of the back and another pair on the bottom for securing to a canoe bench or similar bench seat.
The Weekender features a mesh pocket on the back suitable for storing slim items, but considering that you are not likely to be deploying the seat until you need to take a rest it will probably not see much use considering it is not very secure. This folding unit weighs in at a feathery 21oz., and can be had in a variety of colors, including highly visible orange and classic olive drab.
Get the ALPS Mountaineering Weekender on Amazon.
2. ALPS Mountaineering Tri-Leg Stool
A classic design made better by unbeatable price, the Tri-Leg stool is an ideal solution if all you need and want is something to reliably keep your butt off the unforgiving ground. Individually jointed feet compensate for somewhat uneven surfaces while a steel frame and 600D polyester fabric promise a long service life.
Just a few inches over a foot tall, extremely slim when collapsed and a cinch to set up, this 2 lb. wonder is a natural choice for riding in the outer utility sleeve pockets found on so many bags and packs.
The lack of a back rest is typically endemic to this type of chair, but if you need more support than what it offers you might consider looking at another design.
Light, portable, and perfect for tending a fire or taking a quick breather.
Check out ALPS Mountaineering Tri-Leg Stool’s price on Amazon here.
3. Mountainsmith Slingback Chair
One of the most minimalist designs on this list, Mountainsmith’s Slingback is an incredibly compact roll up unit that is almost like a lounger in its arrangement.
The trick is you have to set this unique chair up with your own hiking poles that nestle into special pockets on the back of the unit to form both its back support and legs. Made from 610D Cordura and weighing a barely-there 5 ½ oz., this is an easy include if you use trekking poles.
It is a little fiddly (not something you want to be attempting for the first time in a live event!) but with just a little practice you can whip this one out and have you seat set up in a jiffy.
It is not without its warts, though: if you get up you are likely to need to reset the entire apparatus and like all seat-type chairs this one is not the greatest on wet or cold ground. Still, for maximum weight savings this is a good choice.
Get the Mountainsmith Slingback Chair here.
4. Alite Stonefly Chair
An extremely comfortable and durable chair, the Stonefly from Alite is one of the full frame-type chairs, but trades a little weight for best-in-category compactness when broken down. Unlike your typical accordion-style camping chair, the Stonefly breaks down into a compact bundle that will easily fit inside most any backpack or even strap to the outside.
A couple of cupholders complement the deep and comfy bucket seat and generous mesh panels assure airflow to keep your sweaty clothes from getting too swampy.
Check out Alite Stonefly Chair’s price on Amazon.
5. GCI Outdoor Quick E-Seat
Not every tripod stool lacks a back support! Looking something like a diminutive director’s chair the Quick E-Seat features a wide seat and back for maximum comfort and even has a cupholder, wonder of wonders! Painless setup and stowage saves time as with most chairs in this category.
The only downside to this chair is the weight: 4 ½ lbs. is getting plain portly for a backpacking chair is obese for a tripod seat when so many competitors weigh in at 2 ½ lbs. regularly.
Even so, the greater comfort that this compact little wonder promises will endear it to some who are just not willing to go without it. Check out its price on Amazon.
6. REI Flash Sit Pad
For maximum compactness, an inflatable pad is the way to go. You can let the air out and flatten it or roll it up and stash it almost anywhere. Now, when it comes time to drop your keister on it, you’ll of course have to muster the breath to blow it back up, but that is a tradeoff you’ll have to make for the weight and space savings. Thankfully this mighty mite only takes a couple of lungfuls to fully inflate.
The good news is that once it is blown up, REI’s Flash Sit Pad is extremely comfortable and very welcome after a trek of some strain and weariness.
Unlike other on-ground seats the air cushion will help insulate you from cold ground. It even makes a fine pillow thanks to a clip that lets you roll it up, though the quilted pattern would not lead you to think so. At just 3 oz., this is one seat that every single prepper can afford to have in their BOB.
It seems pricey for what it is at around $25.00, but the quality and convenience put this inflatable ahead of the rest.
7. Crazy Creek HEX 2.0 PowerLounger
A sort of ultimate expression of the taco-style seats, the HEX 2.0 PowerLounger features two great features that beat all comers in its class: good foam insulation and an extended lower portion that keeps your legs off the bare ground.
While bulkier and heavier than most in this category at nearly 30 oz. and almost 6” in diameter when rolled, this is still a modest amount of weight and space to dedicate to a nice seat.
The 70D ripstop nylon surfaces are breathable and water resistant, meaning this seat is up to the task of letting your wet and miserable self dry off in relative comfort after a hard day of survival marching.
A lifetime warranty sweetens the deal. Yours from Amazon, and can be had in any color you want so long as it is blue.
8. NiceC Ultralight Backpacking Chair
A surprise contender in the lightweight bucket class, this offering from NiceC is nicer than it has any right to be. Easily supporting a 250lb. adult thanks to a strong aluminum frame this chair still collapses down into a 2lb. package stowed into a nice storage bag. While not necessarily the most compact, plenty of preppers I know will happily trade bulk for weight savings like this.
This chair even features mesh paneling throughout and extended use has shown it to be a durable and well-made chair by any standard. You do give up something in the bargain, in that this chair requires assembly more akin to a classical pole tent than a set-it-up-take-it-down backpacking chair, but if you don’t mind a few extra minutes devoted to setup and takedown you’ll be served well by this comfy and rugged flyweight.
9. Moon Lence Highback Backpacking Chair
Try saying that three times fast. You expect to make sacrifices with any of these backpack-able chairs: they aren’t that comfy. They aren’t that tall. But they are light and they sure as hell beat lugging a Lay-Z-Boy around or sitting on the cold, soggy ground.
But every once in a while you’ll encounter a product that defies convention in a good way. Enter: the Moon Lence Highback chair. Funny name, great piece of kit.
A 4lb. chair that stows into a small bag for easy transport, this chair’s claim to fame is its high, padded back, enough to support the head and neck of an adult unless you are over 6 ½ feet tall, in which case you’ll feel like a Lilliputian in any of the ones on this list.
It does have just a few flaws: while strong and portable, its design is such that you’ll need to assemble its multiple parts as normal for setup and you cannot really recline in it. Without a slight forward bias, you might unbalance the chair and topple over.
So long as you aren’t planning on really stretching out in this chair, it is one of the most comfortable you can get. Find out more details and pricing here.
10. Grand Trunk Micro Camp Stool
Sturdy. Foolproof. Small. Low. Light. This sums up the Micro Camp stool to a T. Perfect for instant deployment after a long hike and ideal for keeping your behind off wet ground, this is a sturdy fabric stool that is plenty comfortable for sitting around the fire cooking or eating for a couple of hours before you turn in.
An ingenious cabled connection keeps all parts together and assembles and disassembles in seconds with no tools at all. Quick, easy, done.
Capable of supporting over 250lbs. but weighing only 10 ½ oz. itself this is one of the best performance to weight products on this list. An equally tiny mesh pouch beneath the seat lets you keep small items close at hand and off the ground while you sit.
When it is time to go to bed, it is the perfect size for a camp nightstand. When broken down this gem measures just 12”x6”.
My pick for no-frills convenience at a good price.
The Ground Out There is Not Your Lawn
When camping, you could ditch your pack and sit on the ground, but the ground out in the world, wherever it is you are or are heading, is not the comparatively plush, manicured lawn you left behind at home. Sure, it will hold you up, but it might also cost you.
Out in the world, especially deep woods or urban areas, the ground might be just another hazard or simply annoying. It can be wet, muddy, contaminated, swarming with insects, hot, cold or hiding debris. Some of those things can seriously hurt you. Others will just sap your morale and slow you down or keep you from getting meaningful rest.
A wet butt and thighs is a drag, but in cooler weather it could lead to drastically more heat loss, not to mention misery. Mud gets heavy fast no matter what you are doing, and dirty clothes mean you’ll need to change more often, or strip down to get them clean, lest you come down with a nasty skin ailment.
All kinds of insects can express their displeasure at squatting on their turf with teeth and stingers. Ticks and biting ants will have a much easier time reaching you when you are sitting directly on the ground above all others.
A good backpacking chair of any variety can eliminate or reduce all of these negative possibilities while helping you get better rest, even some much needed relaxation. You can even use them to get your gear up off the ground for the same reasons.
The opposite is true in very cold climates and either way once night falls the ground will strip heat out of your body at a prodigious rate. Ask any survival instructor what you should do to stay warm and they’ll tell you it is to get something between you and the ground as soon as you can, right after you build a fire and get out of wet clothes.
Lastly, there could be sharp rocks, thorns, thistles, glass, debris and more hiding just below the ground cover or beneath the ground itself.
Carelessly, innocently sitting in the wrong place could turn into an injury if you are unlucky. A good backpacking chair of any variety can eliminate or reduce all of these negative possibilities while helping you get better rest, even some much needed relaxation. You can even use them to get your gear up off the ground for the same reasons.
A Chair? For Prepping? Really?!
You are probably thinking I have munched on one too many old MRE’s over here and subsequently lost my marbles, but I promise if you’ll hear me out you will at least see the value in a light, handy backpacking chair for your potential SHTF scenario.
No matter how disaster strikes, no matter how you deal with it or how you plan to escape from it, some things about your life just won’t change. You’ll still need rest, for one. You’ll need to take care of your feet, during a crisis more than any normal day, for sure. You’ll still need to relax or remove distractions so you can focus intently on an important task. A chair will help with all of those things.
A chair, even a stripped down lightweight backpacker model, will let you get off your feet and rest muscles in your legs, core and back. Sitting down will immediately improve your mood when you are fatigued and tired.
Sitting, as opposed to leaning against something, lying down or just standing is far more recuperative and also more productive when you are on watch for movement or focusing on a repetitive, boring job.
Similarly you should choose a backpack chair based on your needs, capability and expected route and terrain.
A good backpacking chair can mean the difference between a comfortable respite and just another couple of hours of discomfort and misery. By paying close attention to weight and bulk, you can easily fit one of these lightweight conveniences in your BOB without blowing your weight budget.
Assess what type would serve your purposes and pick one out that fits your budget.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.