NEMO Moonlite Reclining Trail Chair Review

NEMO Moonlite Reclining Chair Review

The NEMO Moonlite Reclining Chair is a portable trail chair that’s a bit heavier but far more robust than the other leading trail chairs available today such as the Helinox Chair Zero or the REI Flexlite. It has a comfortable mesh seat that contours around your back and buttocks and comes with adjustable reclining straps so you can adjust the amount of backward lean or get an assist when standing up. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for a single chair that can be used for backpacking, car camping, outdoor concerts, or just hanging out in your backyard.

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight without carrying case: 1 lb 14 oz
  • Weight with carrying case:  2 lbs 1 oz
  • Seat height: 10.5″
  • Seat width: 17″
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs
  • Colors: Red, grey, or blue
  • Seat material: Polyester
  • Hubs: 6061 series Aluminum
  • Tubes: 7001 series Aluminum

The NEMO Moonline Reclining Chair is a portable version of the NEMO’s popular Stargaze Luxury Reclining Chair but downsized to be lighter weight and much more portable so you can be used for camping and backpacking. While it is heavier than the lightest weight portable trail chairs, it’s also engineered to be more comfortable and confidence-inspiring with burlier hubs and thicker tubing. These provide a noticeably more robust and solid sitting experience, that makes it possible to lean back and stargaze or slouch in a more natural position.

Thicker hubs and aluminum tubing provides a solid sitting experience
Thicker hubs and aluminum tubing provide a more solid and confident sitting experience. The polyester seat is seamless and is comfortable for different body shapes.

The Moonlite’s seat is made with a polyester mesh that has a bit of stretch under load conforming to the curves of your body in a natural manner without any lateral pressure on your butt or thighs. The seat corners snap onto the frame with a ball-and-socket style attachment producing an audible sound so you know that the chair is properly assembled and safe to sit on.

Side arms are adjustable so you can adjust the angle of the backward lean or raise it for an assist when standing up
The side arms are adjustable so you can increase the angle of the backward lean or raise it for an assist when standing up.

The side arms are adjustable in length and control that seat angle so you can lean back for stargazing or sit more upright. This can make it much easier to get out of the chair without having to practice deep knee bends at home. Still, the adjustment mechanism isn’t strictly necessary, because you can also just slide down in the seat or rock back on the rear legs to gaze upward.

While the chair feet are wider, they stil sink into the ground at soft campsites.
While the chair feet are wider than on other trail chairs, they still sink into the ground at soft campsites. I’ve had a few unexpected backflips this way!

The chair feet are also much larger than found on other chairs and are somewhat more resistant to sinking in soft ground. But given the right conditions, they do still bury themselves in soft soil or sand…like every other trail chair we’ve tested this year including the Helinox Chair Zero and the REI Flexlite Air. You can prevent this by sitting on solid rock or a heavily compacted tent site, but out in the woods, finding solid ground can be a lot more challenging.

Portable Trail Chair Comparison

Make / ModelWeightSeat HeightWeight Capacity
Helinox Chair Zero Chair17 oz11.5"265 lbs
REI Flexlite Air Chair16 oz11"250 lbs
NEMO Moonlite Chair30 oz10.5"300 lbs
Helinox Ground Chair23 oz4"265 lbs
Big Agnes Skyline UL Chair28 oz15"276 lbs

Recommendation

The Nemo Moonlite Reclining Chair is a no-brainer for car camping and base camping. It’s by far the most solid, comfortable, lightweight, and portable trail chair that we’ve tested this year. The question really comes down to whether you’re willing to carry it on day hikes or for backpacking when it weighs close to an extra pound more than other popular lightweight trail chairs.

For me, the answer is Yes and No. While I’m willing to carry the Moonlite on day hikes when I know there’s a view and I want to linger, I’m not keen on carrying it on backpacking trips although I have done so. It’s just more extra weight than I want to carry for days at a time for a chair that I might use for an hour or two each day. If it were a pound lighter weight and I expected to spend significant time in camp with friends, then I might reconsider.

But your priorities may differ considerably from mine, if you’re looking for a sturdy trail chair that can be safely used by anyone in your family, young and old, for big and tall folks, or ones who are more fragile, the NEMO Moonlite Chair is as good as it gets.

Disclosure: NEMO provided the author with a chair for review.

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9 comments

  1. With the larger feet, I assume the Chair Buddies do not fit?

  2. The chair is indeed among the most comfortable of its class. There is a part of me that would want to remove the straps to lighten itt, although it is doubtful that the modified weight would approach that of the REI FlexLite Air or Helinox Chair Zero.

  3. Helinox sells a sort of “footprint” for their Chair Zero called the Ground Sheet. It captures the four legs and keeps them from spreading out or sinking into soft sand or soil.

    I wish I had bought one.

    I was quietly sitting in my Chair Zero about 2 weeks ago on a forest floor that had a thick layer of decomposed pine and cedar needles. The feet sunk slowly sunk into the soil until one of the hubs suddenly cracked and I found myself lying on the ground. Now I’m searching for a receipt so I can see if I’m eligible for a warranty repair. :-(

  4. Helinox Ground Chair is almost as light as Chair Zero but lacks the sinking legs so you can use it on sand or other soft ground without sinking and breaking a leg.

  5. Glad to see that slouching is part of the evaluation criteria.

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