Choosing a camping chair


Whether you’re warming yourself by a campfire, admiring a sunset over the sea or settling in to watch the stars come out, a camping chair is great for sitting back, switching off and enjoying those simple moments. With so much choice available, we’ve worked with our team of camping pros to bring you this run-down of what to look for when buying a camping chair.

Wake up and smell the coffee (Amy Spielmaker / Pixabay)

What to consider when buying a camping chair

All camping chairs are different, and none will be perfect for all situations. Consider the factors below when looking for the best chair for you.

  • Weight – Most of the time, having a lightweight chair will be better for when the chair is being transported, but ultra-lightweight materials such as titanium come at a higher price. Having a heavier chair is also a bonus in windy conditions, with lighter chairs being more likely to be blown away when not in use.

  • Size – You will want a chair that is easily portable in case the wind changes direction at the beach and sand starts blowing into your face – the same is also true of smoke around a campfire. However, bear in mind that larger chairs have room for more padding, support and extra features, which means they may be more comfortable. 

  • Comfort – Some people will not mind being near the ground, while others will find that low-slung chairs put a strain on their back and legs. Classic upright camping chairs are probably the most comfortable for most people, and it’s possible to buy ergonomic models that provide extra support for your arms and spine if needed. 

  • Material – When it comes to the back of the chair, mesh will typically be more breathable, but it may be less durable than other fabrics. It’s also important to consider what the frame is made of, as this will determine how long-lasting the chair is and how much weight it can hold. If in doubt, look at online reviews – do users report fraying seams, sagging materials or problems with the folding mechanism? 

  • Extra features – Want a cup holder, footrest, swivel function or a built-in coolbox? Check whether it’s possible to buy the model you’re interested in with any of these extra features.

Types of camping chair

Classic camping chairs

With four legs and a back that’s perpendicular to the armrests and seat, these classic chairs are sturdy and dependable, and sit high enough above the ground that getting up isn’t too difficult. They may also come with a cup holder.

One disadvantage, though, is that classic camping chairs are not the lightest or the smallest of all the options available, so think about whether there’ll be room for all your other camping kit in your car boot before you head out and buy one. Because of their size, classic chairs may be better suited to motorhome or caravan holidays than tent camping (unless you have a large car).

A classic camping chair on the beach (Brigitta Schneiter / Unsplash)

Camping stools

Folding camping stools are among the most compact and simple camping chairs. There are two designs available: three-legged tripod-like stools and four-legged stools with two sets of two legs that cross over in an x shape. Generally, these stools will not have any back or arm support.

As long as you’re sitting up straight, they’ll provide enough stability for a short break from being on your feet. However, these stools are typically quite close to the ground, so sitting down and getting up may put strain on your back and legs.

Scoop chairs

Scoop chairs are seats that don't have a clear division between the seat and the back. Typically designed without armrests, scoop chairs are a great compromise between camping stools and the classic camping chair. Lightweight and minimalist in design like a camping stool, they also give greater back support and mean that you won’t have to sit up straight at all times like on a camping stool.

It’s possible to buy these chairs in ultra-lightweight materials like titanium and mesh or to find scoop chairs with added extras like a swivel function, allowing you to reach for your dinner, drinks, binoculars or book without having to get up.

A scoop camping chair in the mountains (Patrick Hendry / Unsplash)

Camping chair FAQs

What is the best camping chair for a bad back?

For extra back support, keep an eye out for ergonomic classic camping chairs.

Which camping chair is best for backpacking?

The best camping chair for backpacking is probably a backless camping stool because it is the most compact. However, it’s also possible to find ultra-lightweight scoop chairs.

How do I put up a camping chair?

Most camping chairs simply fold away, but some lightweight models will require you to attach and remove the fabric back and seat each time. 

How much do camping chairs cost?

Camping chairs range from a few pounds for basic styles to over £100 for ergonomic or ultra-lightweight models.

How much weight can camping chairs hold?

Most camping chairs have a capacity of between 90 and 180 kilos.