The Helinox Chair Zero is a lightweight portable backpacking chair that weighs 17 oz and packs up surprisingly small. Before I bought it, I never thought I’d use it on a backpacking trip because I didn’t want to carry the extra weight. But it’s nice to bring on trips that I know have awesome viewpoints (like the one above) and it’s really grown on me. While a chair is definitely not an essential piece of backpacking gear, it’s nice to be able to kick back on a summit, when you’re cooking dinner, or to relax in camp with friends when you want to enjoy yourself.
Specs at a Glance
- Weight: 17 oz
- Seat Height: 9 inches
- Seat Width: 18.5 inches
- Weight Capacity: 265 lbs
- Frame: Aluminum
- Seat Material: Ripstop polyester
- Folded dimensions: 13.8 x 3.9 x 3.9 inches (about the size of a 1L Smartwater bottle)
- Warranty: 5 years from Helinox
There’s really not much to the Helinox Chair Zero. It has two components: a sling-style seat and a multi-segment, multi-hub aluminum pole, similar to those used for tents. It also comes with a stuff sack, which is handy to keep everything together although not essential. To pack it, you just collapse the pole structure, roll it up in the seat, and fit the stiff sack over it. The entire package is about the size of a 1L Smartwater bottle and can easily fit horizontally or vertically in most multi-day backpacks. For example, I carry mine horizontally in the HMG 3400 pack I use for most of my personal trips.
The seat has four reinforced corners that fit over the ends of the poles and “this end up” is printed on one side of the seat so you can orient it properly when attaching it to the frame. You’d think that printing “this side up” would be an obvious thing to do for a chair like this, but apparently, it’s not. I also own an REI Flexlite Air Chair and a NEMO Moonlite, and neither of them has this important self-documenting feature (you’d be surprised how stupid you can be after backpacking all day in the hot sun.)
There are a few things you need to understand about the Chair Zero and similar chairs. The seat is pretty low to the ground (9″) so it can take a little effort to stand up from one if you’re not used to doing squats. If you’re sitting on anything except rock, the legs will sink into the ground even though they’re capped at the end with fittings designed to prevent this. I’ve heard the solution is to cut holes in practice golf balls (looks like a wiffle ball) and fit it over the leg ends to prevent them from sinking but I have yet to try this.
On the plus side, the Chair Zero is wide enough (18.5″) to accommodate most butts, which is not always the case with such lightweight chairs. You’ll also notice that the seat has two vertical slits cut into it, which let it expand even further width-wise to gently cup your cheeks.
The Helinox Chair Zero is a portable and collapsible backpacking chair that weighs 17 oz and is easy to fit into a multi-day backpack. While it is a luxury item, there’s a good chance you’ll come to see it as an essential after a few trips: it’s that comfortable and lightweight. With a weight capacity of 265 lbs, it can fit most backpackers regardless of their height or their width, especially the part that you sit on!
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