10 Best Backpacking Chairs of 2024

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A backpacker relaxing in the Helinox Chair Zero in an alpine meadow view a view of a snowy mountain
Helinox Chair Zero – Photo credit: Casey Handley (CleverHiker.com)

Tired of sitting in the dirt? Elevate your next backpacking trip with a minimalist seat that makes break time and chilling in camp more comfortable. We rounded up the best sit-pad and chair options on the market and tested them thoroughly (by kicking back in beautiful places) to make it easy for you to choose the option that’s right for you. As usual with backpacking, it’s critical to keep weight and bulk to a minimum so we only considered chairs that weigh 2 pounds or less. We hope this guide helps make your next adventure more relaxing and enjoyable than ever before.

If you are all about in-camp creature comforts while backpacking, then we definitely recommend taking a look at our picks for the best backpacking and camping pillows. For those who need a hot drink to complement their chair time, it never hurts to have a top-tier coffee maker. And if car camping is more your speed, we suggest going all in on a camping chair instead.

Quick Picks for Backpacking Chairs

Check out this quick list of the best backpacking and camping chairs, or continue scrolling to see our full list of favorites with in-depth reviews.

Best backpacking sit pad: Therm-a-Rest Z-Seat ($33)

Best ultralight backpacking chair: Helinox Chair Zero ($150)

Ultralight, affordable & versatile foam pad: Gossamer Gear Thinlight ($22)

Best value backpacking chairs: REI Flexlite Air & REI Flexlite ($100 / $70)

Supportive chair with an exceptionally stable build: Big Agnes Skyline UL ($150)

stock photo of the therm-a-rest z-seat pad on a white background

Therm-a-Rest Z-Seat Pad

Best backpacking sit pad

Price: MSRP: $33

Weight: 2 oz.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Ultralight
  • Compact
  • Convenient
  • Versatile

Cons

  • No back support

Though it’s super basic, the Therm-a-Rest Z-Seat Pad is an all-time favorite seat among ultralight backpackers and thru-hikers. It doesn’t provide any back support, but it does add a layer of softness and insulation between you and the ground, which is really important on cold and wet days. You’ll also vastly improve the appearance of and extend the life of your pants or shorts by sitting on a pad instead of the ground. The Z-Seat is extremely lightweight and super convenient to deploy and pack away for quick trail breaks, which makes it ideal for use throughout the day. Whether you’re backpacking or day-hiking, the Z-Seat is a must-have in our opinion.

Light grey curved camping chair with bright yellow/green metal frame supports

Helinox Zero Chair

Best ultralight backpacking chair

Price: $150

Weight: 1 lb

Pros

  • Comfortable (back support)
  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Durable
  • Off the ground

Cons

  • Expensive
  • A bit heavy/bulky
  • Takes a minute to set up/pack away

Prefer a “real” chair that gets you up off the ground? The Helinox Chair Zero is one of the best luxury backpacking chairs on the market. The Chair Zero sits 8.5 inches off the ground on its strong, but lightweight aluminum frame. A deep, nylon scoop-seat attaches at the corners to suspend your body and support your back in a comfortable, slightly reclining position. If you plan to spend a significant amount of time resting, relaxing, and taking in the sights and sounds in camp, a full chair, like the Chair Zero, may be well-worth the extra weight for the comfort it provides. It’s also excellently portable for concerts, festivals, the beach, and other day trips. This is one of our all-time favorite portable chairs.

Gossamer Gear Thinlight Foam Pad

Ultralight, affordable & versatile foam pad

Price: MSRP: $22

Weight: 2.7 oz.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Ultralight
  • Compact
  • Convenient
  • Versatile

Cons

  • No back support

The Gossamer Gear Thinlight is a great chair solution for hikers who want to keep weight to an absolute minimum without foregoing comfort. It not only makes a great sit pad when you fold it up, but you can also use it as insulation with your sleep system, or stretch out on it like a yoga mat. Having a full-size mat to use while taking breaks keeps you out of the dirt so you stay cleaner and more comfortable on multi-day trips. The great thing about the Thinlight Pad is that you can use it for a multitude of things, and you can cut it to any size you need. The Thinlight Pad is one of the lightest, and most versatile options on the market, and one of the most affordable too.

REI Flexlite Air & Flexlite Camp Chair

Best value backpacking chair

Price: MSRP: $100 / $70

Weight: 1 lb. / 1 lb. 11 oz.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Comfortable
  • Back support
  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Off the ground

Cons

  • Flexlite Air is a bit spendy
  • A bit bulky
  • Flexlite Camp Chair is a bit heavy
  • Takes a minute or two to set up/pack away

The REI Flexlite Air Chair is very similar to Helinox’s Chair Zero, but it costs considerably less. While we prefer the Chair Zero for its slight increase in durability/toughness, comfort, and more secure pole structure, the Flexlite Air is just as comfortable and easy to set up. If you don’t mind a little extra weight (11 more ounces to be exact) the popular Flexlite Camp Chair is even more affordable. The Flexlite is a great option for those who prioritize price a bit more than weight savings. It’s comfortable, and still highly portable for day trips, camping, and short backpacking trips on easy terrain.

Big Agnes Skyline UL

Supportive chair with an exceptionally stable build

Price: $150

Weight: 1 lb. 12 oz.

Pros

  • Supportive
  • Easier to get out of than other compact chairs
  • Packable
  • Stable

Cons

  • A little heavy for backpacking
  • Expensive
  • Takes a minute or two to set up/pack away

Big Agnes is known as “the mother of comfort” and the Skyline UL Chair certainly lives up to that reputation. This chair is very similar in design to the REI Flexlite and Helinox Chair Zero, but it’s much more supportive and sits at a more comfortable height. At nearly two pounds, the Skyline is a little heavy for backpacking, but it’s very compact and is a nice luxury to carry on shorter trips.

Therm-a-Rest Trekker

Uses an inflatable sleeping pad for cushion & back support

Price: MSRP (20 in.): $65

Weight: (20 in.): 10 oz.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Comfortable (back support)

Cons

  • Slightly cumbersome to set up
  • Requires inflatable sleeping pad

The Therm-a-Rest Trekker Chair is comfortable and provides good back support while being lightweight and compact. To use the Trekker Chair, you’ll need a NeoAir or comparable sleeping pad, which is sold separately. It takes a few minutes to inflate the sleeping pad and slip it into the elastic sleeves, so it’s probably not something you’d be able to quickly whip out for short trail breaks. But it makes a luxurious resting place in camp when you need it most. We recommend using a small ground cloth underneath the Trekker Chair to ensure its safety when outside the tent since your sleeping pad is really important and inflatables run the risk of being punctured.

Moon Lence Portable Chair

Budget-friendly backpacking chair for short trips

Price: MSRP: $34

Weight: 2 lb.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Comfortable (back support)
  • Off the ground

Cons

  • Heavy/bulky
  • Takes a minute or two to set up/pack away

The Moon Lence Portable Folding Chair is an affordable crossover chair with a design similar to other luxury chairs on this list. It’s well-made, comfortable, and off the ground, but at 2 lbs. it weighs the maximum amount we’d consider reasonable for backpacking. That said, the Moon Lence is still a good option for short trips and front-country activities due to its budget-friendly price tag.

Crazy Creek Hex 2.0

Durable & convenient backpacking chair with back support

Price: MSRP: $65

Weight: 1 lb. 4.8 oz.

Pros

  • Convenient
  • Durable
  • Back support

Cons

  • Heavy/bulky
  • A bit expensive

The Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 provides a clean dry surface to sit on and offers back support, unlike a basic sit pad. It isn’t the lightest or most compact option available, but it’s great for those who prioritize durability and convenience. The Hex 2.0 is pretty versatile in the frontcountry as well – we’ve used ours to make bench seating at events more comfortable, and we’ve even taken it out on our paddleboard to recline. Before buying, you may also want to consider the LongBack, which is taller and wider or the Power Lounger, which has more coverage under the legs.

REI Trail Stool

Compact folding stool that sits higher

Price: MSRP: $25

Weight: 1 lb. 2 oz.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Convenient
  • Off the ground

Cons

  • A bit heavy/bulky
  • No back support

The REI Trail Stool is a very affordable option for those who simply want to get off the ground for short hikes and day trips. The Trail Stool is quick and easy to get out/put away on the trail, and certainly beats sitting on the ground for activities like cooking or fishing. Unfortunately the Trail Stool doesn’t provide any back support, which limits its comfort for relaxing around camp. If you have bad knees and simply need a place to perch on trail breaks and in camp, the Trail Stool may be well-worth considering.

Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 Chair – Photo credit: Heather Eldridge (CleverHiker.com)

What’s Most Important to You in a Backpacking Chair?

PRICE

You don’t have to spend a lot to get a great backpacking chair – some of our favorite options are simple and affordable sit pads. That said, we’ve found that it’s often worth it to spend a bit more for a high-quality chair if you’re looking for the best balance of comfort and portability.

Best budget backpacking chairs

Best mid-range backpacking chair

Best luxury backpacking chairs

WEIGHT/PACKED SIZE

Keeping the weight and size of your chair to a minimum is important for backpacking since you’ll be carrying it on your back. We generally opt for ultralight sit pads on longer trips when we’re covering a lot of miles. For shorter, more leisurely trips, a slightly heavier/bulkier chair can be worth carrying for maximum comfort.

Best lightweight/compact chairs for ultralight backpacking

Best portable/comfy chairs for casual backpacking

COMFORT/BACK SUPPORT

Sit pads insulate you from the cold/wet ground and provide some padding, but they don’t offer back support. Chairs that raise you up off the ground are easier to get in and out of (especially for those with bad knees) and are usually more comfortable for extended use.

Most supportive backpacking chairs

Most comfortable backpacking chairs without back support

EASE OF USE

It’s tough to beat the convenience of a sit pad for trail breaks since they’re so quick to deploy and pack up, but they don’t offer quite as much comfort as a chair. Portable chairs with folding frames get you off the ground and are more comfortable, but they take a minute or two to set up and pack away.

Best quick & easy chairs

Chairs that take a minute to set up/break down

CROSSOVER CHAIRS

If you’ll likely be carrying your chair on lots of day trips, it’s wise to keep size and weight to a minimum for maximum portability. Many chairs on the market fold down small enough to be stashed in a day pack. If you hope to use your chair for both backpacking and front-country camping, look for a “crossover” chair with a good balance or weight and comfort. The Helinox Chair Zero, REI Flexlite / Flexlite Air, and Moon Lence Portable chairs are all excellent examples of crossovers that are luxurious for backpacking, but minimal for front-country camping and day trips. Backpacking hammocks can also be a great option for hiking and car camping as well.