How to Pick the Best Camp Chair for You

There are many types of camping chairs on the market, so how do you find the perfect camp chair for you? We’ll make it simple in this camping chair review and buying guide. Learn about what to keep in mind as you shop no matter what the different uses you have for your chairs. 

Whether it’s car camping chairs vs backpacking chairs, multi-use soccer mom chairs vs beach chairs, or camping rockers vs suspended camp chairs, we’ll give you the lowdown on what features to look for.

Types of camping chairs

1. Classic camp chair

These affordable, no-nonsense camp chairs have 4 legs to keep them stable on uneven ground and include both a seat and a back for comfort. They sit high enough off the ground to let you get out of them easily. You can read more about them in our article on Best Camp Chairs for Every Use.

Our all-around pick for the best classic camping chair is the Coleman Camping Chair with Built-in 4 Can Cooler, with its low price and quality construction.

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2. Low camp chair

Low camp chairs make it harder to stand up, but are great for rough terrain and sandy spots. They are great for open-air concerts, too, since many venues have a height limit on chairs so you don’t block views for others. The winner (in our opinion) in this category is the KingCamp Low Sling Beach Chair for Camping.

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3. Rocker or glider camp chairs

Camp rocking chairs come in two styles. Either they have rocking rails (also called runners) or a glider mechanism. Camp chairs with rocker rails do best on very flat, level ground like concrete. If you want a rocking chair for uneven surfaces, try a camp glider chair instead. These have a set of legs that sit securely on the ground with a suspended glider rail to move the chair back and forth. Our favorite (and a great example) is the GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker Portable Folding Rocking Chair.

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4. Suspended camp chair

This new design tends to be a bit more pricey than other styles, but what you get is camping luxury. The seat hangs from the frame so you can swing a bit, but it’s more stable on uneven ground than a camp rocking chair. Our pick is the Nemo Equipment Stargaze Recliner Luxury Camp Chair.

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5. Scoop camp chair

Reclining camp chairs where the back morphs into the seat without a distinct difference are called scoop camping chairs. They are comfortable and tend to be lighter than classic camp chairs since there is less material in the frame and seat. Since they have 4 legs, they still tend to be fairly stable even on rough terrain. One great example is the YIZI GO Portable Camping Chair.

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6. Camp stool

Light and easy to stow, these are the best camp chairs for backpacking. When you don’t want to sit on the ground (or a rock), but need a lightweight camp chair, this is your huckleberry. Try out the Hillsound BTR Ultralight Camping Stool.

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7. Three-legged camp chair

Basically a camp stool with a back, these camping chair stools are lighter than their 4-legged cousins and more comfy than their backless brothers. Try the GCI Outdoor Quik-E-Seat.

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8. Two-legged camp chair

For a real campsite balancing act, try a 2-legged chair. Generally light and low to the ground, these chairs use your feet as the other 2 legs. They are a little tricky to get the hang of, but many ultralight backpackers and campers swear by them. Check out the Alite Designs Monarch Chair.

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9. Folded camp pad as a camp chair

One way to keep your backpack light and your backside off the ground is with your sleeping pad repurposed as a chair. You can release the side buckles to use your chair as your sleep pad when it’s time to hit the hay. One example is the Crazy Creek Original Chair.

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Features of camp chairs

Camp chair material

  • Usually aluminum frame with fabric seat and back
  • Titanium camp chairs are lighter and stronger but also more expensive
  • Steel is cheaper and stronger but makes for a heavy camp chair

Camp chair capacity

  • Weight and size limits may be a factor for kids and heavy adults so check specs

Camp chair height

  • Low camp chairs are best for sandy ground and rocky or uneven terrain
  • High camp chairs are easier to get out of but weigh more since they have more material in the build

Camp chair extras

These extras make hanging out around camp more comfortable and convenient. Look for:

  • Cupholder
  • Carry strap or bag
  • Cooler and side table
  • Footrest
  • Head and lumbar pads and support
  • Breathable mesh panels for hot weather camping

Best uses for camp chair types

1. Backpacking camp chair

Weight and size are key features to pay attention to specs when you shop. Ultimately, a camp chair for backpackers is a luxury item. One popular option is the Big Agnes Skyline UL Chair.

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2. Car camping camp chair

If you are car camping, then you only need to carry your chair from the trunk to the fire pit. You can pick a bigger, heavier, more comfortable chair for your outdoor adventure. Pick any chair on our list. One we like is the ONIVA Picnic Time Brand Portable Folding Sports Chair with convenient pockets and a table, too.

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3. Concert and beach camp chairs

Use your camp chair as your concert chair as long as it has a low back or take it to the beach for sitting by the surf. Then when it’s time to head to the mountains, load up the same great chairs. The HITORHIKE Low Sling Beach Camping Concert Folding Chair is a great option.

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4. Outdoor event camp chairs like kids sporting events & picnics

Your camp chair can double as your go-to seating to watch the kids play soccer or host a picnic in the park. We like a shaded option for this overlap since kids play rain or shine. Try the ALPHA CAMP Heavy Duty Canopy Lounge Chair with Sunshade.

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Special use cases for camp chairs

5. Camp chairs for heavy people

With weight capacity over 300 lbs, a good plus-size camping chair will make camping more fun and comfortable for big people. Look for strength, durability, and above all comfort. Our favorite is the ALPS OutdoorZ King Kong Chair. See our article on the Best Camp Chair for Heavy People for more options.

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6. Camp chairs for babies

The most important thing for a baby camping chair is to keep them contained and unable to eat dirt. Look for a 3-point harness and a tray table, too. Stability is vital so even the most active baby can’t tip themselves over on uneven ground. Our suggestion is the hiccapop Omniboost Travel Booster Seat with Tray for Baby.

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7. Camp chairs for kids

Kids are rambunctious, wiggly, and into everything. For the best children’s camping chair, you want one that will hold up under their constant movement, be comfortable, and look appealing so they don’t steal your chair. Try the Coleman Kids Quad Chair. They’ll love it!

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8. Camp chairs for bad backs

Adjustability is your friend if you are camping with a bad back. Look for lumbar support, adjustable headrest, and tilt options to sit confidently even if your back hurts. Our pick? The Earth Ultimate 4-Position Outdoor Chair for its versatility and comfort.

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9. Camp chairs for seniors

With their increased risk of injury from falls, the best camping chair for older adults needs not only a stable base while sitting on uneven ground, but strong armrests to help them stand without overbalancing and tipping the chair. Add in the convenient side table and the ALPHA CAMP Director Chair Folding Camping Chair with Side Table makes a great camping chair for senior citizens.

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10. ADA-compliant camp chairs

Getting out in the wilderness can present lots of obstacles for the disabled. Specifically, finding an ADA-compliant camping chair can be a challenge since manufacturers don’t list this in their sales material (at least not in our experience). 

To help make sure your trip is both fun and safe, look for stability and ease of setup in your camping chair for the disabled. Our pick is not listed as ADA-compliant, but it’s the best option we’ve found for campers with mobility issues since it provides plenty of sturdy support. Try the ALPHA CAMP Oversized Camping Folding Heavy Duty Chair for outdoor seating for the mobility challenged.

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Summing it all up

Choosing the best camping chair doesn’t have to be a crapshoot. Keep in mind the uses you want for your chair as you shop and prioritize the features that will make your next camping trip your most comfortable one yet. Since everyone has their own must-have list, we hope our roundup of all the kinds of camping chairs out there will help you get the one that fits you (and your backside) best.

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