THERM-A-REST COMPACK CHAIR KIT REVIEW
Nature rarely provides cushy seating options. That’s one of the most common complaints I hear from my readers. Finding a comfortable place to rest after a long day on the trail can be quite a challenge. Simple foam pads are a great solution for butt padding, but solid back support is much tougher to find.
Camp chairs are a good solution, but most of them are far too heavy and bulky to consider for backpacking. Enter the Therm-a-rest Compack Chair Kit. At only 7oz, the Compack is light enough to pack deep into the backcountry and comfortable enough to make all your buddies jealous while sitting around the campfire.
All backpacking chairs should be considered optional. That’s why I don’t hike with them when I’m traveling ultralight and looking to crank out mileage. But the Compack Chair Kit strikes an excellent balance between weight and comfort. If your pack is already light, a 7oz luxury item won’t break your back. And a cushy chair with solid back support is just the type of luxury item that’s well worth the weight for many backpackers.
COMPACK CHAIR KIT SPECS
PRICE - I think the Compack Chair Kit is fairly priced. It’s not the least expensive camp chair on the market, but it’s far lighter than most other chairs. I think its value is well worth the price, especially once you kick back in it on the trail. Current prices can be found here on REI and Amazon.
WEIGHT - The 20-inch chair kit is 7 ounces (198g) and the 25-inch chair kit is 9oz (255g). Both are among the lightest backpacking chair options on the market.
DESIGN - To set up the Compack, simply fold your air pad (sold separately) and slide it into the chair kit. Blow up your mattress, clip the side straps, and cinch them down for your optimal angle of back support. The Compack has four metal rods sewn in that help provide stability. Both the top and bottom of the chair are open, which means it will fit almost any air pad in a variety of different arrangements.
SIZES - The Compack Chair Kit comes in two sizes: The 20-inch size will fit air pads with a standard 20in width and the 25-inch size will fit wider 25in pads. I assume both sizes have the same length, but I only reviewed the 20in chair kit. I paired the Compack with my size regular NeoAir XLite, which is one of my all-time favorite backpacking products.
PACKED SIZE - The Compack Chair Kit packs up nice and small. The four pole supports cannot be removed, so it’s best to fold the chair in half and then roll it up. Once it’s packed, it will easily strap to the outside of your pack just like your tent poles. It also comes with a small mesh carrying pouch for storage.
BACK SUPPORT - The back support of this pad is its main selling point. I wouldn’t recommend trying to rock back in it or anything, but it’s quite sturdy. Much sturdier that I would have thought before testing it. It’s quite rare to find adjustable back support like this when you’re on the trail, so I’m quite impressed.
STYLE - This chair kit only comes in one color: daybreak orange. Orange isn’t my favorite color, but this shade isn’t too bad. In the end, I think the functionality of the Compack is more important than its color.
PAD PROTECTION - One of my other worries with the Compack was that it would make my pad vulnerable to punctures. The last thing I want to do is pop my sleeping pad in the wilderness while using it as a seat. So far I’ve had zero issues at all, and I don’t foresee any problems. The bottom nylon of the Compack is tough enough to stop any easy punctures and I’m always careful of where I place my chair to avoid sharp rocks and sticks. As long as you’re aware of your surroundings you should be good to go. NOTE: If you use an air pad, you should always carry a patch kit, even if you don’t plan to use your pad with a chair kit. Tenacious Tape is excellent for pad pops, and lots of other gear repairs.
PAD FIT - When I first started using this chair I found that it looked a bit uneven and frumpy at times. It took me a little practice and testing with different setups before I was really able to dial in the fit. Once I got it down, I was good to go. Just know it’ll probably take a little practice at first before you get it right.
SETUP TIME - Another slight downside of the Compack is that it takes a little time to set up and take down. It really only takes a couple of minutes, but it’s not as simple as throwing down a foam pad. I think the added comfort is well with the effort, especially if you’ve got some time to chill in camp. But if you’re the type that hikes long hours and crashes quickly in camp, a chair kit might not be what you’re looking for.
DURABILITY - Durability is one of the most difficult qualities for any reviewer to accurately assess. In order to really know a product's true limitations, you have to use it for months and years until it eventually breaks down. From all of my product testing and research, I expect this chair to be quite durable and last a long time. It’s built well and has reinforced seams at all of the critical pressure points. I plan to treat my Compack with care and I expect to last for many years.
SUMMARY OF PROS
- Fair price
- Lightweight - 7oz
- Very comfortable
- Great back support
- Packs up small
- Well built with strong seams
SUMMARY OF CONS
- Some practice required to dial in fit
- Takes a little time to set up and take down
- Only available in one color
If you like the idea of kicking back in a comfortable chair after a long day on the trail, you’ll love the Therm-a-Rest Compack Chair Kit. At only 7oz, the Compack is one of the lightest chair kits on the market, and keeping weight down is critical for enjoying hiking trips. When you get down to it, all backpacking chairs should be considered optional. The Compack is just one of the few chairs where the payoff is actually worth the weight. So if you think this chair would fit with your backpacking style, I highly recommend giving it a try.
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