When it comes to camping chairs you can get all sorts. People regularly have a preference. As our family has grown I consider them a significant space waster and add to your overall weight. This is more important when you’re storing them up on your roof.
If you’re like us, you don’t go camping to eat food out of a can and take photos of trying to sit on a makeshift bush seat. You want to be comfortable right! After all you’re on holiday.
Prior to having kids all our gear used to get dumped under the false floor in the back of the Troopy. Space and weight were an after thought.
However, since having kids half of this space has been lost. Apparently you can’t stack all that stuff in where the kids sit – for reasons other than the kids complaining. So now we put items like chairs up on the roof rack. For two reasons
- They are bulky (some larger than others)
- They are light for their size
My aluminium rack weighs in at 38 Kg (Including the ladder). That leaves 62 Kg to put on the roof. This assumes your vehicle can carry 100Kg on the roof – some 4WD’s can only have 35Kg’s in total.
Most adult camping chairs weigh in between 4-7 Kg. If you’ve got a family of four that’s 16 – 28 Kg’s just for chairs. To use our specific scenario, the two adult chairs we had weighed in at 5 and 5.5 Kgs. The two kids ones weighed in at 4 Kg each. (18.5 Kg in total).
We’ve used these chairs for years and didn’t want to part with them while they were still in good nick. Through use they started to fail and as our kids grow the items we bring away are starting to get bigger making it difficult to fit all of it “safely” into the roof top bags. So we started researching options. As always it was difficult to find a solution that delivered without compromising. Our criteria, in order were;
- Easy to assemble / disassemble
- Space saving
- Light weight
So we went to all the major camping stores looking for options only to find chairs that were very similar to what we had or bigger (for people that must only take chairs camping). 🙂 Retail stores were useless. Quality items were big and heavy. So called light weight options were poor quality knock offs.
So I hit the Internet. You Tube in particular was fantastic. I found a number of videos describing hiking chairs. Makes sense, if you’re going to carry it all day it would have to be light. In particular, there were a lot of videos describing the Helinox Chair One. I even found some videos comparing this chair to a classic camping chair and directors chair and coming out on top in these reviews. Sounded really good but they looked a little low to the ground to replace a standard, folding chair.
I was unable to find these chairs in any of the camping / hiking retail outlets in order to try before buying. This made we question why they weren’t available and whether there was a quality issue. However, all the online reviews were outstanding with little or no criticism.
When I went to the Helinox website (there is an Australian Distributor), I realised that thier’s actually quite a number of different chair options available other than Chair One. I rang Helinox to talk to them and discussed quality, purchases and returns. All answers were excellent so we decided to go ahead and buy two Sunset Chairs. They arrived within 2 days (stock was available – apparently during periods of high demand there can be a delay).
These chairs are fantastic. Easy to assemble and pack back down again. Quicker than some folding chairrs. For a compact chair I believe they support you more than a traditional camping chair. The carry bag also has a secondary role. Grab a large beach towel or jumper and pack it into the bag. Then expose the velcroe and stick it to the back of the chair to make a head rest. They also have an impressive weight rating of 150 Kg’s. This is due to the aircraft grade aluminium that they are made out of. Weighing in at just 1.2Kg’s each, that saves us 13.5 Kg’s on our roof with improved comfort and less packing space.
They tick all the criteria except one – affordability. They were $174 ea. But in my opinion, if you’ve made do with old school chairs for years and looking to make a good investment then it is worth it. They more than tick all the other criteria.
We highly recommend these chairs to anyone that spends a lot of time camping or going to sporting / social outings.
The cons (small)
- They don’t have arm rests
- They don’t have a cup holder
You can buy a cheap screw on attachment from a retailer and attach it. Alternatively you could start drinking Bundy then you won’t be putting your drink down all the time.
Helinox also have a table which has two cup holders. We’ve ordered one for this reason. You can put some nibbles and drinks on it while sitting round the fire. It adds another 1 Kg. (We had to wait for 2 months for this due to high demand).
- Feet sink into the ground
Some of the You Tube reviews indicated the feet can sink into soft ground. I haven’t tried them at the beach yet, but the same video indicated using 4 tennis balls. Put a small slice into each ball just big enough to slip on the leg. In their demo on soft ground it solved the problem and this person was large. The best part is you don’t have to remove the balls. When the chair is folded up it still fits into the existing packing without adding to the size.
This is an independent view of these camping chairs. I am in no way associated with any organisation mentioned here and I don’t receive any payments from them.