The Best Camping Chairs of 2023: Tested

Play hard, relax harder.

Lily Krass|Updated June 9, 2023

2 reviews with an average rating of 4.0 out of 5 stars
Four campers recline in chairs near a campfire.

Overview

A great camp chair can make the outdoors feel kind of like your living room — just with a lot more trees. Outdoor camping chairs are not created equal, and with so many options available, finding the right one may get confusing. Some prioritize beverage holders and back support; some simply protect your bottom from the dirt. Some pack up beautifully for hauling all your gear on your back, while others are better to stash in your trunk for lugging out during tailgates.

Our team of 15 testers set out to evaluate the best camp chairs sold at the co-op. They considered a range of factors including comfort, stability and features like cup holders; they tried each chair during car-camping trips, overnight backpacking adventures, backyard naps and everything in between. So whether you’re planning a long trek through the woods or an easy night around a campfire, chances are good we’ve found just the throne you’re looking for. All that’s left to do now is kick back.

Our Top Picks
Check out the results of our field test here or scroll down for in-depth reviews.
Best Chair for Car Camping
NEMO Stargaze Reclining Camp Chair
Best Double Chair
Kelty Low Loveseat
Best Chair for Backpacking
Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 Original Chair
Best Chair for Picnics & Festivals
REI Co-op Outward Low Lawn Chair

Test Results

Best Chair for Car Camping

Test Results: The NEMO Stargaze Reclining Camp Chair is the champion of car-camping chairs, boasting superior comfort, rock-solid stability and easy setup. The recently updated hammock-style seat makes for comfy lounging and helps eliminate pressure points—the perfect perch to kick back in and spot constellations after the sun dips below the horizon. Auto-reclining hardware lets you lean back and stretch out tired legs, while the supportive headrest (which got a thumbs up from taller testers) allows for hours of stargazing without giving you a crick in your neck. The redesigned Stargaze seat also has a slightly wider fit and more elbow room than past models, a subtle change that allowed testers to curl up comfortably after a day on their feet. “This is the kind of chair that I could spend an entire evening in,” said one Wyoming tester after a spring trip to the desert. “Bring me my dinner right here and I’ll rest happy.” 

Unlike rocking chairs, which inherently feel unstable on dirt or sand, the Stargaze features a low center of gravity and four legs that can be adjusted to match a variety of uneven surfaces, so you can gently swing (or not) without worrying about tipping over. One PNW tester set it up on a rocky shore along the Snoqualmie River and felt glued to the ground. Details like an internal stash pocket, an easy-access cupholder and breathable mesh fabric are each a cherry on top of this already feature-packed chair.   

For all that, the NEMO Stargaze is surprisingly packable. At just under 8 pounds, it slides cleanly into a padded carrying case. It’s not our top choice for hauling into a backcountry site, but it’s easy to nestle it into a packed trunk or truck bed. 

Bottom Line: Bottom Line: A thronelike car-camping chair packed with user-friendly features and a spaciously redesigned seat, the NEMO Stargaze will be the envy of any and all nearby campers, day or night.

Testing Stats: 

  • Sitting hours: 33 

  • Testing states: Idaho, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

  • Best testing story: One tester was the last person in the parking lot in Grand Teton National Park after cozying up for an extended après session following a long spring ski mission.  

Best Double Chair

Test Results: Not everyone loves to share. But for those who do, the Kelty Low Loveseat provides a cozy space to snuggle. The low double chair is a seriously luxurious spot to sink into after a long day on the trails, with enough room for two people to huddle close to the fire (and space for a furry friend in between). “I thought I wouldn’t like the low design, but I actually felt like it was more comfortable than a taller chair since I could really stretch my legs out in front of me,” said one Wyoming-based tester. The low height also makes the Loveseat outdoor-concert friendly, an added bonus for live music lovers.  

Double chairs inherently have some heft to them, and the Low Loveseat is no exception. Haul the 15-pound package in the included roll tote, but don’t plan to take it all much farther than the parking lot unless you’re looking for a challenge. Bonus feature: One tester discovered that the padded roll tote can double as a mat for your feet when changing out of wet and muddy clothes at camp.  

The Loveseat’s durable steel frame stands its ground in high winds and keeps the chair feeling rock solid. Its 600-denier polyester seat fabric withstood weeks of red dirt, mucky paws, rainstorms and rolling around in the back of a pickup truck without so much as a scratch. And two insulated, adjustable drink holders mean there’s really no need to get up once you’ve plopped down. 

Bottom Line: The Kelty Low Loveseat is a cozy and sturdy double chair for snuggling up with loved ones, kids and furry friends.

Testing stats: 

  • Sitting hours: 23 

  • Testing states: Idaho, Utah, Wyoming 

  • Best testing story: One Jackson Hole–based tester brought the Loveseat inside her living room, using it for a few weeks while waiting on a new couch. The couch came, but the Loveseat still holds its ground in the living room.  

Best Chair for Backpacking

Test Results: The ultraclassic Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 Original Chair won't provide the same luxury as a full-size camp chair, but it weighs next to nothing and provides a comfort insurance policy for wherever you end up. It rolls up snugly to just 4 inches in diameter, with an attached roll-up strap that cinches the chair down and a built-in hanging loop to clip it to any part of your backpack. “There’s just no reason not to bring it,” one tester concluded after a three-day hike in the Utah desert. “Skimp on other camp luxuries, but not this one.”

Deploying the Hex 2.0 is easy: Unroll and unfold it, then plop down before pulling or loosening the side straps until the chair cradles you. (Your feet and butt are the points of contact with the ground.) Constructed with 8 mm EVA closed-cell foam—the material used to insulate sleeping pads—the Hex 2.0 packs a warm punch despite its svelte design. It will keep you cozy while you nestle around a fall campfire, or can provide an extra layer of comfort and insulation to a car-camping chair. When overnight lows dropped into the 30s, one tester in Moab found the Hex 2.0 to be a warm addition to a standard folding camp chair that could keep her butt warm while she played charades well into the night.

A high-denier-coated and water-resistant ripstop nylon fabric encases the Hex 2.0, combining elements to create a seemingly indestructible design that testers reported getting roughed up on rocks and dirt without any signs of wear. The Hex 2.0 will never be as comfortable as a seat with legs, but if you’re the sort of fast-and-light backpacker who pooh-poohs hard-to-carry luxuries, this may be the one to convert you to a life (slightly) off the ground.

Bottom Line: The portability of the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 Original Chair makes it an invaluable asset for comfort seekers on longer backpacking trips.

Testing Stats:

  • Sitting hours: 36
  • Testing states: Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming
  • Best testing story: On a three-day backpacking trip in Moab, a fellow hiker was so envious of the obvious comfort and convenience of the Hex 2.0 Original Chair that he offered to pay the tester to let him use it for the rest of the trip. The tester declined.

Best Chair for Picnics & Festivals

Test Results: “Sitting in this low-seater [reminds me of] eating a PB&J on the beach as a 10-year-old,” one tester wrote about this classic bifolding chair. But unlike the plasticky lawn chairs of one's youth, the REI Co-op Outward Low is a vision fit for Instagram, with updated materials couched in a retro style.

At the campground, the Outward Low scored high marks for comfort, thanks to the biggest dimensions of any other single-occupancy chair in our round-robin test (it’s about 2 feet wide and 10 inches off the ground). “I thought I wouldn’t like how low it is, but the design lets you extend your legs more comfortably than in taller chairs,” one tester said after sitting for four hours around a campfire in Idaho.

The Outward Low has a super-sturdy ripstop nylon seat that provides plenty of support during long sessions with your feet up. On a chilly evening in the Tetons, one tester also noticed that the seat’s double layer of fabric feels significantly warmer than traditional single-paneled camp chairs. Other features that prove the Outward Low’s credentials include backpack straps that allow for hands-free carrying and wooden armrests for ergonomic comfort. (No cup holders, though.) With its bifold design, the lawn chair flattens easily for storage.

Bottom Line: The REI Co-op Outward Low Lawn Chair has a classic feel and aesthetic, but it’s super comfortable and surprisingly portable for outdoor lounging.

Testing Stats:

  • Sitting hours: 19
  • Testing states: Idaho, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
  • Best testing story: During a short hike along Washington's Middle Fork Snoqualmie River to picnic and watch the sunset, one tester discovered he could tote beverages, a blanket and a few snacks in the fold of the chair while carrying it hooked together on his back.

Honorable Mention

Test Results: The soothing rhythm of a rocking chair is enough to make everything feel right in the world. But “portable” and “rocking chair” don’t usually go together, which is why testers were especially excited to bliss out in the GCI Outdoor ComPack Rocker chair for riverside campouts and trailhead tailgates. The GCI Outdoor Torsion Rocking Technology™ places the rocking mechanism at the base of the frame, not in the feet, which allows for a consistent rock as well as a little more stability while setting it up on bumpy terrain. “I love that it lets you rock gently but the legs still feel stable on an uneven riverbed,” said one tester after a weeklong trip to Moab, Utah. “Plus, it doesn’t take up a ton of space, so I can keep it in the back of my truck pretty much all season long.” Car camping is where this 7.5-pound chair excels (testers deemed it heavy enough to leave at home on backpacking trips), but the zippered pouch with both a top handle and a shoulder strap made it easy to haul the ComPack Rocker down a short trail to a scenic creekside picnic. Setup is quick: Snap together the steel and aluminum frame, then stretch the polyester seat over the chair and voilà! You’re ready to recline. 

Honorable Mention

Test Results: If you take lounging seriously, there’s no better seat than the aptly named GCI Outdoor Zero Gravity Chair. What it loses points for in bulk it makes up for in sheer comfort—it’s a chair that lets you trade the burden of the earth’s gravitational forces for a weightlessness that rivals many indoor loungers. “The only problem with this chair is that my friends keep trying to take it from me whenever I get up,” said one Wyoming tester while fiercely guarding his space during a sunny spring tailgate. “The only solution is to get one for everyone.” The foldable lounger adjusts from upright all the way to "zero gravity" mode, an almost-horizontal position that you can lock into place with the pull tabs under the handles. Size and packability are a drawback to this luxurious recliner, so save it for car camping, picnicking or tailgating with friends.

Buying Advice

When looking for a camping chair, consider your use for it first, then its design.

Use

Are you going to take this chair backpacking? If you are, weight and packed size matter. If you’re going to use your chair car camping, picnicking, festivaling and backyarding, then weight and packed size aren’t as important as comfort and stability.

In our lineup, the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 Original Chair is the only chair specifically designed to be light and small enough to sneak into an overnight pack. The NEMO Stargaze Reclining Camp ChairREI Co-op Outward Low Lawn Chair, Kelty Low Loveseat, GCI Outdoor Compack Rocker Chair and GCI Outdoor Zero Gravity Chair are exclusively for frontcountry pursuits.

Design

Next, consider the design of the chair. If space is an issue, either in storage or in the back of your vehicle, you’ll want a chair that packs up into a smaller case like the NEMO Stargaze Reclining Camp Chair. If space isn’t an issue, then consider double chairs like the Kelty Low Loveseat or a recliner like the GCI Outdoor Zero Gravity Chair.

For backpacking, foldable frameless chairs like the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 Original Chair don’t provide the comfort or support of a legged chair, but they’re more versatile.

To learn more, read How To Choose a Camp Chair.

 

Methodology

For the last several years, we've enlisted a team of 15 member-testers to stop moving and start chair testing. They logged a heroic amount of reclining to evaluate the best camp chairs sold at REI.

Our testers camped in the Tetons, picnicked along Washington’s Snoqualmie River, roasted s’mores in Idaho’s Big Holes, hauled their gear through Wyoming’s Gros Ventre Mountains and chilled in their yards. After a season of hard sitting, each tester scored every chair on comfort, stability, portability, ease of use and durability. We averaged their scores to come up with this list of our favorite chairs. The NEMO Stargaze Reclining Camp Chair, Kelty Low LoveseatCrazy Creek Hex 2.0 Original Chair and REI Co-op Outward Low Lawn Chair scored high in all categories, relative to their intended uses (car camping versus backpacking). The GCI Outdoor ComPack Rocker Chair and GCI Outdoor Zero Gravity Chair scored high in most categories.

About the Author

Lily Krass

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Lily Krass is a freelance writer living in Jackson, Wyoming. When she’s not writing, you’ll likely find her out in the Tetons on skis, bike or foot. REI Co-op member since 2005.