7 reasons you need a camping chair: from the yard to the mountains

reasons you need a camping chair: relaxing in chairs
A comfy seat to recline in is golden once you arrive at camp (Image credit: Getty Images)

Few things in life beat kicking back in a camping chair and watching nature do its thing. An essential comfort item for any camping trip, a camping chair gives you a place to relax once the day's adventures are done. Whether you’re sitting down for a bite to eat, sharing tales around the campfire or gazing at the Milky Way, sitting in a chair is easily preferable to perching on the ground.

There are myriad reasons you need a camping chair and they go way beyond camping use too. A portable, lightweight throne has all kinds of applications and it's this versatility that makes the humble camping chair such a sound investment.

Of course, the best camping chairs come in all shapes and sizes. Some burlier options, often massive recliners that are worthy of your living room, are better suited to car camping and aren’t hugely portable. Meanwhile, others are designed to be light and small enough when packed down to slot comfortably into your hiking backpack.

In this feature, our camping experts reveal 7 reasons you need a camping chair for your backcountry adventures and beyond.

Meet the experts

Highlander Serenity 450 Mummy Sleeping Bag: wild camp
Alex Foxfield

Mountain leader Alex is no stranger to camping expeditions and knows the value of a quality camping chair for putting his feet up at the end of a long day in the mountains. From festivals and car camping trips to stargazing nights and garden parties, he gets plenty of use out of his camping chairs.

Sian Lewis
Sian Lewis

Sian loves camping in all its forms, from a minimalist mountain wild camp to a luxurious glamping experience with hot tubs and a wood-burning stoves. She's tested countless tents, sleeping bags and camping chairs in her time and knows what makes a quality seat for backcountry adventures.

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What is a camping chair?

  • A camping chair is a chair that folds away small for easy transportation
  • They feature steel frames and fabric seats

best camping chair

Take your lightweight chairs on a short hike and sit back to enjoy those views (Image credit: Getty)

A camping chair is a chair that folds away small for easy transportation, making it highly usable in outdoor settings. They tend to feature foldable steel frames and a fabric seat. A chair made with tough nylon is best, as it’ll be easy to wipe clean and won’t mind occasionally getting rained on. Most come with their own carry bags for storage and portability.

Some chairs come with extra bells and whistles such as comfy removable headrests and cup holders (we’d argue that the latter is nigh-on essential if you fancy an evening brewsky or two around the campfire). You can even get two-person ‘loveseat’ camping chairs such as the Kelty Low Loveseat, which easily takes the weight of two people looking to get close and cozy around the campfire.

1. Comfort around the campsite

  • Camping chairs keep you off the ground and are much more comfortable
  • Their lightweight qualities mean that it’s easy to move them around the camping area

reasons you need a camping chair: at camp

Far preferable to sitting on the ground (Image credit: Getty Images)

A good camping chair will keep your derrière off the cold, wet ground, whether you’re playing cards, cooking or telling tales around the campfire. Even if the earth below is dry, the difference in comfort between reclining in a supportive chair and perching on the ground is huge. Your back will undoubtedly thank you for your choice.

If you’ve got one of the best family tents, you can even set up something of a living space in the communal area. Set up a table and a few chairs and you’ve got yourself a dining area. Get electric hook-up and a mirror and you’ve got a dressing table where you can dry and straighten your hair, if you’re that way inclined. Simply put, camping chairs are an enabler of at least some home comforts. As they’re so lightweight, it’s easy to transfer them from the tent to the outside when it comes to watching the sunset or enjoying the campfire.

2. Festival bliss

  • A lightweight camping chair works brilliantly at music festivals
  • You can relax around the campsite or take it with you into the main arena

reasons you need a camping chair: festival

A camping chair is a great ally at a music festival (Image credit: Getty Images)

A camping chair is a great ally at a music festival. Whether you’re chilling with friends in the camping area or watching bands from afar during the afternoon in the main arena, a camping chair adds a new dimension of comfort. It’s worth getting a lightweight chair, which makes lugging it over from the car park to your pitch with the rest of your kit less of an ordeal.

Of course, when the time comes to get stuck in and get right to the front of your favorite band’s performance, you’ll be leaving your chair back with your tent. However, when the next day rolls around and you fancy kicking back a bit, you’ll be glad you brought your chair once again, especially if the ground has started to become a little muddy in places.

3. A good option for the yard

  • A camping chair is a cool option for the garden on hot summer days
  • They work well for garden parties and barbecues

reasons you need a camping chair: garden party

Camping chairs work just as well for garden gatherings as they do for the campsite (Image credit: Getty Images)

You may or may not have your own garden furniture, but it’s fair to say that, if a camping chair works well in the backcountry, it also works well in your yard. The minimal nature of camping chairs also means they’re cool to recline in on hot summer days, easily preferable to more padded garden furniture when its warm.

If you’re having a barbecue or a garden party, you’ll probably have need of extra seating anyway. Having a few camping chairs to whip out for friends and family makes you a better host. Plus, when the shoe’s on the other foot and you’re invited to a neighbors’ garden party, you can bring your easily portable camping chair along too.

4. Beach life

  • Sitting in a camping chair is preferable to lying on a towel on the sand
  • The transportable nature of camping chair makes it easy to get into position

reasons you need a camping chair: beach

A portable camping chair is great for the beach  (Image credit: Getty Images)

Just as sitting on the bare earth at a campground is much less comfortable than reclining in a camping chair, so too is sat on the sand or pebbles at a beach, when you could be kicking back and listening to the sound of the waves in a quality chair. Thanks to their carry cases and lightweight qualities, many camping chairs are suitable for fetching down to the beach.

Even the bulkier ones aren’t too much of a stress to carry into position if you’re able to park nearby. Admittedly, you might struggle a little if you’re also lugging the camping cooler over to your chosen spot, though you can always do two trips. Once set up, you’re bound to be in the envy of everyone else on the beach, as they try to make do, squirming to get comfortable while lying on a towel on the sand.

5. Backpacking missions

  • Some camping chairs are so light and packable that they’re suitable for wild camping

reasons you need a camping chair: wild camp

If the chairs are light and packable enough, you can take them on your wild camping trips (Image credit: Getty Images)

You can also buy super light and packable chairs and stools that bring much-needed comfort to wild-camping and fastpacking adventures without taking up much space in your daypack. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to take the weight off tired hiking legs, or to have somewhere to perch while you boil up a brew in the morning. Mountain sunrises never felt this comfortable.

We’d recommend the Helinox Chair Zero or the Helinox Chair One for backpackers. For example, the Zero weighs just 510g and folds down into a package that’s small enough to slot into a mesh water bottle pocket on the side of a standard backpack. Yet, despite this impressive portability, it still feels strong, sturdy and solid to sit in.

6. For stargazing nights

  • The portability of camping chairs makes them ideal for remote stargazing locations
  • You can use the cup holder to store your hot beverage

reasons you need a camping chair: stargazing

Enjoying the celestial light show from the comfort of a camping chair (Image credit: Getty Images)

The thing about stargazing is that it’s best done where there’s very little or no light pollution, which means seeking out somewhere relatively remote. Whether you’re already on a backpacking trip or you’ve taken a drive to enjoy the cosmos on a clear night, having a camping chair allows you to enjoy the wonders of the Northern Hemisphere night sky in comfort, while their easily transportable nature makes them ideal for these kind of remote missions.

Anorher thing about stargazing is that it’s best done on clear, winter nights, when the air is crisp and the Milky Way is as vivid as can be. Such nights have a habit of being a little on the nippy side, particularly if you’re hunting the Aurora Borealis in the Arctic Circle. A hiking flask or insulated mug full of coffee, hot chocolate, or perhaps something stronger, is therefore the order of the day. Many camping chairs come with an integrated drinks holder, so you can pop your hot beverage to the side while you train your binoculars or telescope on the heavenly wonders.

7. It’ll last – if you invest wisely

  • Going cheap will mean you end up buying twice
  • Invest in a quality chair that will last for many years of camping adventures

camping chairs

Being able to sit off the ground helps you to stay warm when camping in the colder seasons  (Image credit: Getty)

Going cheap and cheerful can be a false economy when you’re shopping around for camping chairs. You’ll find plenty of flimsy but seemingly functional chairs available for under $10/£10 from supermarkets, gas stations and the like, but they won’t last long and tend to be heavy and unwieldy to erect. Choose one of these and it’ll likely end up in a landfill after a couple of uses, and that’s no good for anyone. 

Spend a little more on a chair made with tougher fabric and better quality steel frames, and your packable pew is likely to last you for years of camping adventures.

Whether you go for small and packable or huge and luxurious, quality camping chairs are top of our checklist of the camping essentials that you might think you can do without – until you try them.

Alex Foxfield

Alex is a freelance adventure writer and mountain leader with an insatiable passion for the mountains. A Cumbrian born and bred, his native English Lake District has a special place in his heart, though he is at least equally happy in North Wales, the Scottish Highlands or the European Alps. Through his hiking, mountaineering, climbing and trail running adventures, Alex aims to inspire others to get outdoors. He's the former President of the London Mountaineering Club, is training to become a winter mountain leader, looking to finally finish bagging all the Wainwright fells of the Lake District and is always keen to head to the 4,000-meter peaks of the Alps. www.alexfoxfield.com

With contributions from