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Lightweight Backpacking Chair Kits

The Sea-to-Summit Air Chair Kit lets you repurpose your sleeping pad to create a chair
The Sea-to-Summit Air Chair Kit lets you repurpose your sleeping pad to create a comfy camp chair.

I’m not a minimalist and while I believe in the value of lightweight backpacking gear, there’s something to be said for bringing a few creature comforts along on my trips once in a while. There are times when you want to be like Andrew Skurka’s “ultimate hiker” and times when you want to be the “ultimate camping hiker”, if you follow my drift.

While sitting on the ground builds character, it does get a bit old when the ground is cold and the nights are long, something I picked up this year from congenial hammockers who like to put out a guest chair so friends can stop by for a visit at group hangs. It’s also nice to have a chair when I camp alone, so I can sit up and read more comfortably, something I have trouble with when lying down.

NameWeight (ounces)FunctionalityMSRP ($USD)
Big Agnes Big Easy Chair Kit 20"14Requires Inflatable Pad, Universal Compatibility44.95
Big Agnes Big Easy Chair Kit 25"19.5Requires Inflatable Pad, Universal Compatibility49.95
Big Agnes Cyclone SL Chair Kit6Requires Inflatable Pad, Universal Compatibility64.95
Crazy Creek Air Chair Compact26Inflatable, Included79.95
Crazy Creek Air Chair Plus45Inflatable, Included124.50
Crazy Creek HEX 2.0 Original Chair21.9No Pad Required51.50
Crazy Creek HEX 2.0 Longback Chair24.9No Pad Required59.00
Crazy Creek Original Chair26No Pad Required48.50
Exped Chair Kit (Small)18.3Requires Inflatable Pad, Universal Compatibility60.00
Exped Chair Kit (Medium)14.8Requires Inflatable Pad, Universal Compatibility65.00
Exped Chair Kit (Medium-Wide)16.2Requires Inflatable Pad, Universal Compatibility70.00
Exped Chair Kit (Long-Wide)16.6Requires Inflatable Pad, Universal Compatibility70.00
EMS Mountain Chair24No Pad Required35.00
Grand Trunk Collapsible Micro Stool10Not a Chair Kit, but Superlight as stools go29.95
REI Trail Chair23No Pad Required24.50
Sea to Summit Air Chair (Regular)8Requires Inflatable Sea-to-Summit Pad49.95
Sea to Summit Air Chair (Large)10Requires Inflatable Sea-to-Summit Pad59.95
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Jemba Seat Kit Deluxe7Requires Inflatable NeoAir Pad49.95
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Jembe Seat Kit3.7Requires Inflatable NeoAir Pad39.95
Therm-a-Rest Trekker Chair Kit 209.5Requires Inflatable Pad, Universal Compatibility34.95
Therm-a-Rest Trekker Chair Kit 25"13Requires Inflatable Pad, Universal Compatibility49.95
Therm-a-Rest Trekker Lounge Kit 20"16Requires Inflatable Pad, Universal Compatibility49.95
Therm-a-Rest Trekker Lounge Kit 25"24Requires Inflatable Pad, Universal Compatibility59.95
Therm-a-Rest Compact Chair Kit 20"7Requires Inflatable Pad, Universal Compatibility49.95
Therm-a-Rest Compact Chair Kit 25"9Requires Inflatable Pad, Universal Compatibility59.95

A Chair Kit Primer

There are two kinds of camping chairs available today: portable chairs which weigh between 1-3 pounds and are intended for car camping, and lightweight chair kits designed for backpacking that incorporate an inflatable sleeping pad to create a simple camp chair, so you can sit upright.

The Big Agnes Cyclone SL Chair kit weighs just 6 ounces and is universally compatible with other inflatable sleeping pads
The Big Agnes Cyclone SL Chair kit weighs just 6 ounces and is universally compatible with other inflatable sleeping pads

Some old-school chair kits are still available, like those from Crazy Creek, that don’t require a sleeping pad, but they’re pretty heavy, weighing well over a pound. If you’re trying to keep your gear weight as low as possible and you already sleep with an inflatable sleeping pad, you’re best bet is to use one of the lightweight chair kits from Big Agnes or Therm-a-Rest listed above which weigh less than 8 ounces.

These chair kits work with 20″ and 25″ sleeping pads that have a mummy or rectangular shape, regardless of manufacturer in case you have an inflatable pad that’s not made by Big Agnes or Therm-a-Rest.

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  1. I know it’s probably because I haven’t felt like spending more money on a 2nd chair, but I’ve had my Crazy Creek Hex 2 for 5+ years and I love it. I know it’s 10 oz more than most of the sleeping pad chairs, but my satisfaction has negated the weight cost. I guess I keep using it because I’ve been on trips with people who have the chair kits and they’re only useful in camp for sitting. The Hex is waterproof and a good pad for kneeling when doing cooking and other chores. Plus I attach it externally to my packs so it is quickly deployed at any lunch spot. My 3rd use which is very handy in group camps is to carry firewood with it, just keep the straps attached and load up.

  2. I used to just fold my Pad in half and sit on it, and if one was around lean the other half up against a tree or boulder, thereby avoiding any extra weight. I too gave in to some needed comfort and now occasionally carry a folding three legged stool made by Coleman which fits into a neat little 2 inch by 12 inch zippered case. It great for sitting around a Campfire and just being off the wet ground or avoiding rocks and such and saving the pad from punctures….Heavy duty lightweight Aluminum and a sturdy canvas seat material, weighs about a pound.. Found it at the Coleman Outlet Store in Georgia when I passed through there one time. Also found a light weight table there too…

  3. Chair kits using a pad still leave you sitting on the ground. I lug around a Coleman camp stool like the Grand Trunk listed above but larger. It’s around 1.5 pounds, but worth it to me so that I don’t make so many old-man noises sitting down and getting up.

  4. I’ve always said that chairs are what I miss most when camping in the backcountry, especially if I’m reading. But I wonder if using your sleeping pad in a chair increases chances of a puncture or leak. Philip?

    • Don’t use it as a trampoline and take your keys out of your pockets first. You don’t weigh any more sitting down than lying down and the chair protects the pad from the ground. I don’t worry about it myself.

  5. Have you ever considered making yourself a chair like the “A Simple Sling chair”? Its a DIY but still IMO more comfortable than sitting on a stool or only a couple inches off the ground. Reference a thread on another forum : http://hikinghq.net/forum/showthread.php?7264-A-Simple-Sling-chair that shows the evolution of the design. The main restrictions are one generally needs a tree to tie it to and collapsible trekking poles to push the sling out away from the tree.

    Disclaimer – I came up with the design but I have no desire to market it so anyone who wants to make them or sell them is welcome to do so as they wish.

  6. I use an Exped Schnozzle as both a pack liner and to inflate my Large NeoAir. If you inflate the NeoAir about 1/4, roll it up and put it inside the Schnozzle, you have something functionally identical to the Jembe. It works great and is 0 oz additional weight.

  7. I know it’s not a chair kit and not “quite” as light, but I LOVE my REI flexlite chair. It weighs alot (26oz after removing tags and the bag) but it’s worth it to me. It’s my one splurge. After a long day of hiking, I love being able to get off the ground completely and lean back with my feet up by the fire or even under my tarp away from the rain. At night it doubles as a place to keep my pack (without smellables) off the ground from mice and at arms reach from the hammock. I have taken a few trips without it but I always miss it despite the extra weight.

    • I do the same thing with our REI Flexlite! Plenty of people think we’re crazy for carrying so much weight for a chair, but the comfort it provides after a long day is worth it to us (and my aching back). Also, we always hike as a couple and only bring one chair, so we just share it instead of carrying twice the weight.

  8. I’ve used one of the Therm-a-Rest sling-style chair kits without a pad for years and it is very comfortable. If I am carrying a foam sit-pad, I’ll put that in the bottom sleeve of the chair. I still get the benefit of being able to relax my back with a good lean into the chair without having my sleeping gear in the cooking area, potentially picking up odors, or risking punctures.

  9. Chair One by Helinox, which I believe is a Big Agnes brand as well. I haven’t taken it on any long backpacks, and I use a hammock to sleep in which is a great place to sit, but when I have that Helinox, it is the envy of anyone sitting on stumps or the cold hard ground. I used to use the Thermarest chair kit, like the BA one pictured, and it’s better than nothing, but still very low and doesn’t have the back support I wanted – acts more lock a rocker unless you are sitting in front of something.

  10. I found the Jembe to be very difficult to get right with my NeoAir, and also rather unstable to sit upon. I lean towards a 1 lb stool (aluminum, REI) for comfort, or a sit pad plus a tree, but neither is perfect. I’ll have to give some of these a look.

  11. Anyone here have any exp with the Alite brand of chairs?

    • I tried the A-lite’s and they were pretty good, although more expensive than the comparable REI Flexlite and Helinox Chair One. The biggest difference was that the A-Lites are lower to the ground that the others I mentioned and can be harder to get in and out of even for a younger person.

      Sorry for hijacking your comment section Phillip. I always thought that these chairs were way to heavy for anything but car camping but after sitting in one, I am convinced it’s worth the weight.

  12. I have a Helinox Chair 1 which ways about a pound. It is a lifesaver in winter conditions to save warmth of one’s body and it is as useful in warmer times when ticks and fleas are out.

  13. Thanks Philip! Your gear reviews and the feedback from other backpackers are something we come back to repeatedly while we are rounding out our backpacking gear :)

  14. My favorite method, in the old days, was just to plop down on my closed cell foam pad – simple and (mostly) idiot proof. Now, the old bones won’t let me sleep on closed-cell foam, and I’m not carrying two pads.
    So, nowadays I prefer the chair kit like the Air Chair or Thermarest Compack chair. They’re light, and they put you down at ground level (but not on the cold hard ground.) I actually like being at ground level because that’s where my stove is – it’s very convenient to sit comfortably with easy access to my stove. But that’s just me.

  15. Closed cell foam pad, on stump or rock if available. A trimmed gardeners’ kneeling pad goes with me on almost all day hikes and many overnight trips – I do a lot of photography including macro photography, and want a dry place to kneel on the ground as well as something to sit on. Sourced from Home Depot, $5.00 to $8.00, printed on one side (so I know which side gets dirty, and sit on the other side!), trimmed to fit the bladder slot in my daypack (I use bottles for water), readily stuck onto the outside of the camping pack (lashed down next to the 1.2 kg tripod). I am pretty flexible

    For car-camping and birdwatching from blinds, I have the “Walk-Stool”, a very sturdy (and more expensive and probably a bit heavier) version of the less comfortable and flimsy folding 3-legged stool with nylon fabric seat sold everywhere. ~750 grams, in carry bag.

  16. My wife and i have rei flex-lite packable chairs. they are 26oz each and pack in an approx 4×15″ bag. They are laid back and luxuriously comfortable. So well worth packing em into the backcountry!

  17. My wife and I have this: https://www.rei.com/product/882237/mountain-summit-gear-stadium-seat. 17.5 ounces if you cut off the extra webbing. At $20, i think its a great deal.

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