Camping chairs are a must for those who like a little bit of comfort when enjoying the great outdoors. That’s all very well when you have the convenience of a vehicle to transport your chair right to where you want to sit on it. But what about the times when said vehicle is entirely inappropriate for your carrying convenience? These times account for the majority of outdoor adventures, which is why a portable and lightweight camping chair is a must for outdoorsy folk.
We’ve got a bunch of regular camping chairs kicking around. But since we’ve been lucky enough to try out the famous Helinox Chair One, we’ve been revelling in comfort and luxury in the most unexpected places. Places we’d certainly not consider taking a regular camping chair. Like bird watching on the cliffs, or on an evening paddle board outing. It’s also made us linger longer in those places.
Life has slowed down and we spend more time sitting back and enjoying what’s around us, instead of moving onto the next thing or place or activity.
But the best bit is how much comfort the Chair One has added to otherwise uncomfortable scenarios. Not so much for my own comfort. But for Rob’s, our designer. You see, he lives in a closed body. Or rather, he has zero flexibility! And being akin to a domestic cat, he avoids discomfort at all costs, always favouring the cosy option. Sitting upright during a picnic becomes a torturous yoga routine, for example. Add a highly comfortable chair to the picnic and suddenly the world is a happier place, for both of us!
Helinox Chair One: stats and features
|Weight:||2.12lbs / 964g|
|Weight capacity:||320lbs / 145kg|
|Pack size:||13.5 x 4.5 x 3.5 in / 34 x 12 x 10cm|
|Construction time:||39 seconds!|
|Main fabric:||600-denier polyester weave that is durable, soft and supportive|
|Mesh panels:||High-strength polyester that is breathable, packable, and lightweight|
|Poles:||DAC aluminum alloy that is ultra-lightweight and strong|
|Carry pack:||Zip up with a webbing ladder and carry loops|
The Helinox Chair One in action
We’ve only had the Chair One for a couple of months. But already it’s rocking our world. Along with the promise of a hot cup of tea in the thermos, it’s making Rob much more likely to agree to spending prolonged amounts of time sitting outside. Whether that’s at the beach, round the campfire, on a picnic or just hanging out at camp, the comfier he is, the better. And because it’s so lightweight and packable, I make darn sure it’s the first thing that gets packed when preparing for an outing.
It can be set up in a jiffy, fits into the side pocket of a backpack and it one tough little cookie of a camping chair. Somehow, it also manages to settle in a flat and even position, even when the ground is all over the place.
Its mega convenient functionality, portability, comfort and durability make it ideal for use in a variety of scenarios.
Here’s where the Helinox Chair One has come into its own so far…
01Camp cookingWe do a lot of camp cooking at ground level which often requires you to sit in one position for the duration of cooking. This is fine if you find sitting on the floor comfortable. However, for the likes of Rob, camp cooking fast becomes a challenging process, especially when cooking on a wood burning stove which tends to take longer than on gas. But because the Chair One is nice and low to the ground, cooking can be done in comfort. You can even switch between being an attentive chef and sitting back to relax with a cool beer in between stirs. Camp cooking just got fun again!
Backpacking and comfort don’t always go hand in hand. And because Rob is especially partial to staying cosy, taking along the Chair One has been a game changer. Firstly, it elongates the evening as he’s not desperate to get into bed where there’s a much more comfortable setup waiting for him! And secondly it means he’s happier to take longer routes knowing that he can fully relax once we’re at camp. Though it doesn’t weigh much, it’s well worth carrying the little extra weight to increase overall enjoyment of a trip.
In the years BCO (Before Chair One), picnics were something of a challenge for Rob. His inability to sit on a blanket in any kind of comfortable position meant that he ended up reclining on his side to eat, like a Roman. This meant that any food preparation involved had to be done by me. Plus, with a limited two-foot reach from his settled position, he also became incapable of serving himself unless it was all placed at his fingertips. The Chair One has eliminated this kind of lazy lounging at meal times and instead encourages upright digestion, provides comfort, and allows for self-service. As a result, picnics have become more enjoyable for both of us!
04Camping board games
Camping isn’t camping in our household without at least 3 hours spent during a hazy afternoon playing board games or card games. Traditionally, this involves Romanesque reclining on a rug on the ground. Mostly this works out OK. But for the games when we need to organise cards in our hands, it can become problematic. Hop into the Chair One, however, and we can peruse the cards at our leisure, safe in the knowledge that we won’t go numb below the waist if we spend too long making the next move. And then when the move finally comes, it’s a simple lean in, strike, and lean back manoeuvre!
05Bird and nature watching
The thing about spying on birds and animals in their natural habitat is that you need to stay still for long periods of time to get the best out of it. But when sitting on the floor makes one feel almost instantly uncomfortable, enjoyment goes out the window very quickly, and success is limited. Queue the Chair One! Not only does it provide a comfortable sitting position that can be maintained without fidgeting too much, but it also keeps your backside off the cold damp ground. It gets shoved in the backpack with our binoculars every time we head to the cliffs for a spot of twitching.
One of the main reasons to have a campfire (aside from providing warmth and a heat source to cook on!) is to create a relaxing ambiance to wind down to at the end of the day. A comfortable chair is essential to get the full effect of the calming crackles and flickering flames. But not all chairs are suited to sitting around a campfire. We’ve found the Chair One is low enough to the ground to be able to feed the fire easily without getting out of the chair at all. And it also keeps us close to the fire, which is good when the fire is small and contained. Chair One wins again!
07Paddle boarding and canoe camping
The beauty of paddle-powered camping trips is that you can take heavier stuff than when backpacking. To a degree, you can also take slightly bulkier stuff too. However, packing a regular camping chair was out of the question in the years BCO. Not anymore! This little beauty sits neatly packed alongside our dry bags full of gear at the front of the board. And boy is it a welcome treat to collapse into after a day of battling against the wind!
The Chair One is ideal for days at the beach. Firstly, it’s small and lightweight enough to pack with all your other beach games and essentials for an active day on the sand… you don’t need to bring a 50 litre backpack to fit everything in! We fit ours inside a day pack or when we’re really overloaded with BBQ food and cooking equipment, we attach it to the outside of a pack. No more shoving it underneath your ‘spare’ arm and desperately trying to stop it from slipping out as you scurry across the sand in a bid to get the best spot on the beach before you drop all your stuff everywhere! The chair also sits in the sand securely without sinking too much. Plus, it keeps you low to the ground out of the wind and lets you stretch your legs forward for an optimal tanning angle.
Yes, we took our Chair One across Europe on our bikes! It was securely strapped to the top of the pannier rack of Rob’s bike and was absolutely invaluable. At the end of a long day on the road, putting it up was the first thing we did. This was usually followed by collapsing into it with a cool beer in hand. However, we also used it for trailside pic-nics and lunch stops. It made everything so much more comfortable and pleasant and was a “luxury” item that we’ll now never tour without.
A versatile camping chair
Sure, it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles (mug holder, storage pocket etc) of more traditional camping chairs. But if lightweight portability is your priority then the Helinox Chair One is a must. Its solid construction and durable materials make it worth the high price tag. But most of all, this portable camping chair enables you to enjoy luxury and comfort in places where you would never consider taking a regular camping chair. More time and enjoyment in the great outdoors… you just can’t put a price tag on that.
Find the latest price at:
Helinox | REI
Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.