Every year, I search for a chair that I'd be willing to bring and every year I give up. I know that sooner or later I'm going to need something with back support if I'm going to continue to enjoy lugging myself and my gear up a mountain.
I keep going back to just tossing a sit-pad into the pack because it's so light and multi-use. It's hard for me to justify spending the money on a fragile single-use frame, at this point. I want one, I just don't want one enough, yet. I'm sure I'll look again next year.
Before I became more concerned about weight, I always used a Thermarest Trekker Chair. (They once made a few versions, including one which wrapped all the way around the pad - and weighed more than the pad.)
The one they have now is a nice design - you can let the top and bottom of the pad extend out beyond the pad, essentially giving you the ability to never have to dis-assemble the chair/pad combo.
Personally, I believe the chairs work better with the Prolite/Prolite Plus or other self-inflating pads than they do with inflatable air mattresses like the XTherm or Uberlite pads. The self-inflators seem a bit stiffer, which helps with chair stability.
Kind of miss my old chair kit - but it's too heavy and not rigid enough for the trips I do now.
I agree with Glenn; those chair kits worked better with self inflating pads than the current popular "self...inflate this pad!" I find the chair kits weigh about the same as the Helinox Zero, are less comfortable, and are more of a pain to put together and take apart (and... you have to do it every night to use your pad).
That is the nice thing about the current Thermarest Trekker chair: the ends are both open, so you don't have to fold the pad (and can let it extend through the "bottom" opening and support your legs, like a "lounger" version) - and it allows you to leave the kit on the chair full-time, so you don't have the setup/teardown every day.
I continue to be a big fan of the Helinox Ground chair. Yup, it's heavy. Don't care. It's very comfortable, and I find it more stable than other Helinox chairs with the four legs. I carry it on almost all my backpacking trips.
I used the Helinox Zero - once - on an overnight backpack. I found it comfortable, stable, easy to assemble and disassemble, and reasonably easy to get in and out of. It was just more weight than I was willing to carry. "Than I" is the critical part there: at about a pound and a quarter with the mat that keeps the legs from sinking into soft ground (i.e., everywhere I camp), it's not objectively heavy - just more than I wanted to carry. It's a good product, if you are OK with the weight. (Kind of like the Svea stove - a great product, IF you are OK with the weight. Strictly personal decision.)
I'm also experimenting with using my pack as a chair back. My Osprey Levity 45 (like the Exos it's a cousin to) is actually an external frame pack (yes: perimeter suspension with a tight backband, just like my 1980 Camp Trails Adjustable II. However, it uses arrow shafts instead of electric conduit, and a sleeve instead of grommets and clevis pins - huge improvements!) I used to use my external frame pack, propped up by my hiking staff, as a chair to lean against. I'm trying to figure out whether the Levity can take the weight applied "against the grain" (so to speak) without bending. (Electric conduit worked great!) My first trials found it to be a bit tippy; I'll let you know if I get it figured out. By the way, I can't claim credit for the idea: yep, Colin Fletcher, in the original Complete Walker (1968 or thereabouts.)
Loc: The Southwestern Deserts
We,settled on the Helinox Ground chair years ago after using the Slinglight and Helinox Chair One for many years prior. The Helinox Ground chair is super stable, comfy and cozy, legs don’t sink much. It really turns a campsite into my living space.
For hiking we simply take closed cell foam pads and lean back on our packs against a rock or bank. When going ul we will take this setup on longer hauls when carrying lots of water. The Ground Chair is far more comfy though.
I gave in and bought an Exped chair kit. On sale. It completely covers my sleep mat, so I'm telling myself that it's multi-use: chair, pad protector and fitted sheet. It's right around a pound without the stuff sack. It felt really good, sitting on the living room floor. We'll see if I'm still willing to carry it when the time comes.
Well, I said the Helinox Zero was just more than I was willing to carry in my last post above, so I gave it to my niece. That was about six months ago. A couple of weeks ago, I went out for a couple of nights; the two fellows I was with both had Helinox chairs. I was still using my pack+pad=chair arrangement, which proved way too tippy and hard to set up - but the collapses and my rolling backward when it did provided a significant amount of evening entertainment it camp.
Anyhow, it definitively proved that rocks, logs and other improvisations are not compatible for a 71-year-old me. At lunch, on the drive home, I ordered another Helinox Zero chair, having decided that it has crossed the line from luxury to necessity.
Loc: Portland, OR
This has been a conversation I've been following with interest from the start, two years ago. I've been leaning against my pack, which is leaned against a tree, and using a closed-cell foam sit pad that weighs about 1.5 oz. for at least a decade now. It's always been quite adequate, but decreasingly so. I think I'm ready to start experimenting with other approaches on day hikes, where it is easier to justify the weight.
Anyway, if anyone has further thoughts to share on this burning subject, I promise to read them with great interest.
Loc: The Southwestern Deserts
The terrain here is pretty rugged and we are trying to keep the pack weight reasonable so still using a closed cell foam pad of less than an ounce. If the ground is sandy we can hollow out a bit and the pad is more comfortable especially if you have a good back rest. Here is our current setup taken this month. I did change my pack from the Flash 18 to the Cadillac of daypacks an Osprey Talon 22” took it for its first foray yesterday and it is sweet, a real hip belt and perfect fit. The Flash 18 is in this image.
So we look for good back rest boulders with good ground beneath. Inflatable sit pads are more comfy but they also weigh much more but I might take that option at times too. The Helinox ground chair is still the most sublime comfort there is.
There used to be a big debate between 2 legs or 4 legs that I thought was overblown. It was a great sales technique at REI to say, "this chair has 4 legs! That chair you need to use your two feet as two of the legs which some people don't like at the end of a long day." It was a persuasive argument but I found it specious. Whether your chair has two legs or four, both your feet will be resting on the ground. The two legs of the two-legged chair took most of the weight. I actually liked that the two-legged chair allowed you to rock a bit.
I think the Helinox Zero (4 legs) settled most of the debate because it is lighter than the Alight Butterfly (2 legs). I like to be able to rock but I don't like paying a weight penalty for it. Combine that with the better sales pitch of the four-legged chair, means most people who cary a chair seem to have settled on the Helinox Zero.
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