Camping chairs: How to choose the right chair for your tent
See also: Choosing the right gear
Being able to sit comfortably is almost as important as a good night’s sleep when you are camping in a tent.
Your chairs will get plenty of use during camping holidays – you sit on them to eat meals, to relax in the sunshine with a cold drink and to socialise around the campfire in the evening.
So to make sure you buy a camping chair that will suit all your needs, you need to give it lots of thought.
- How much should I spend on a camping chair?
- What will I use it for?
- What size chair should I buy?
- What material should I choose?
The range of camping chairs available is massive with most manufacturers offering a wide variety of products.
It’s always best to get out to a camping shop and see and try the products for yourselves.
That’s when you get to feel what they’re like, for an indication of comfort and quality, as well as how easy they are to set up and pack down.
How much should I spend?
Prices for camping chairs can range from less than £10 for a basic, light model up to more than £100 for a top-of-the-range chair that provides luxurious levels of comfort.
Buying a cheap camping chair is fine if you are trying camping out for the first time or you are just looking for chairs for festival camping.
But the reality is that you get what you pay for, so if you spend £8 on a chair from a supermarket or a motorway service station, you should assume it’s unlikely to last very long.
If you're a regular camper, it's worth increasing your budget and spending more on a quality chair will last longer and provide you with far more comfort.
It will almost certainly turn out to be better value in the long run.
What will I use my camping chair for?
When you are buying a camping chair, it is important to get the right type to complement your camping activities – whether it’s family holidays, backpacking or festival-going.
The next thing to consider is how you're going to use your chairs. Are you going to be sitting at a camping table? Do you want to recline while reading your book? Or, are you spending lazy days sunbathing?
If you spend your evenings playing cards or board games or enjoy having the family sat around the table for dinner, look for a director’s chair or other chair with a more upright seating position so you can more comfortably reach the table.
And if you're going to be sunbathing or spending some time in the chair during the day, consider extra features such as whether there's a cup-holder or a side table available for your beer or book
Features designed to improve comfort levels include lumbar support, height adjustable armrests and neck rests.
Camping chairs that double up for use back home in the garden on sunny days are always a bonus.
What size camping chair should I buy?
The size of your camping chair is important for packing away and transportation as well as how much space it takes up inside in your tent.
Before buying, check the dimensions and make sure the chair will fit into your car along with all your other camping gear.
Camping chairs come in a range different folding methods that will also affect the amount of space they take up for transporting.
Most camping chairs either fold flat or ‘umbrella’ style and often come with their own carry bags.
Don’t buy what you can’t transport, not just to your chosen campsite, but maybe also to the beach, park or festival arena.
Lightweight chairs that fold away into tiny packages are perfect for backpackers or if car boot space is at a real premium.
Seat height is another factor worth paying attention to – especially if you want to sit at a table.
Lower chairs are more suited for use in smaller tents (especially where there’s not much standing room).
Specially designed chairs for kids are also worth considering if you are camping with very young children. You could even match the chair up with a kids-sized table.
There’s no polite way to put this, but some of us are a little bigger than others.
It’s something many suppliers have noticed in recent times, bringing out whole ranges that can cope with chunkier bodies.
If that’s you, look out for XL or oversize camping chairs like the Vango Kraken that will offer you more comfort.
Check the manufacturer’s recommended weight limits to make sure the seat’s construction is strong enough - not just the frame, but the fabric you’ll be sitting on, too.
What are the best camping chair materials?
Despite being designed for the outdoors, camping chairs aren’t going to last long if they are left out in the elements for long periods.
If you expect your chairs to be exposed to the weather – both rain and sunshine – for long periods, look for a model made from textaline instead of polyester, which won’t get damaged if left outside.
In general, polyester fabric will be more comfortable, especially if it is padded.
Mesh panels allow breathability and will be welcome when the weather is hot.
But, you might want to add a cover when there are cool breezes or if most of your camping is done out of season.
Generally you have a choice of steel or aluminium frames. Steel is heavier, but tends to be less expensive.
Aluminium is more expensive but is lighter and of course it won’t corrode in the same way.
Chair maintenance is relatively straightforward. Make sure you clean up spills from food and drink as soon as possible. And, as ever, don’t pack your chairs away if they’re wet.
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