Gear Review: Big Agnes Big Easy chair kit

Big Agnes Big Easy chair kit
Big Agnes Big Easy chair kit.

Backcountry Camp Chair
Big Agnes Big Easy chair kit
$40-$45, 1 lb. 1 oz. (20-inch-wide model, including mesh stuff sack).
Sizes: 20 and 25 inches wide

I am loath to carry any superfluous weight backpacking, but this is one piece of non-essential gear I virtually never backpack without: The pound it adds to my pack is well worth the comfort and rest I gain in camp. Just this year, I’ve used it on backpacking trips in Utah’s Coyote Gulch, Idaho’s White Clouds Mountains, Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks, but I’ve also brought it on innumerable past backpacking trips.

The chair kit assembles easily and works with every air mattress I’ve tried it with, including air mats from manufacturers other than Big Agnes. The chair kit comes in two widths; get the one appropriate for the width of your air mattress. I find that the chair gets comfortably rigid by inflating an air mattress a little more than halfway. I’ve never punctured an air mat using the chair kit in camp—the chair’s nylon fabric offers reasonable protection—but I’m careful about avoiding sharp rocks or thorns. I’ve also used the Big Agnes Cyclone SL chair kit ($45, fits only 20-inch pads), which weighs a scant six ounces; but I eventually blew out a pole seam on that chair it, and I weigh under 160 pounds. It’s definitely more delicate.

My wife informed me after a recent trip that she wants a Big Easy chair kit. So the only real downside of getting a Big Easy chair kit is that you might find yourself getting two of them.

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NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.

—Michael Lanza

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4 thoughts on “Gear Review: Big Agnes Big Easy chair kit”

  1. Hello –

    Thank you for reviewing this product! I’m considering getting a chair kit to take backpacking with me, because being able to sit with my back supported at the end of a day’s hike would definitely be worth the weight. I do have one question, though: do you know if this chair kit is compatible with the Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite (or whatever combination of capital and lowercase letters is the correct one)? That’s the sleeping pad I have, and although Therm-a-rest make chair kits to fit them, this one looks like it might provide more protection for the sleeping pad, which I’m always a little afraid I’m going to pop.

    • Hi Julia, I’ve used this chair kit with a variety of air mattresses, I’m pretty sure including the NeoAir XLite. The key measurement is the width: You want the air mat to have the same width as the chair kit, which is 20 inches; the air mat’s length doesn’t matter as much, it only determines how much you have to fold the air mat to insert it into the chair kit (the air mat should be only partly inflated, not fully, to fold it). Many regular and short air mats come in a standard, 20-inch width, and will fit in this and many other chair kits. If your air mat is 20 inches wide, it will probably fit in this and other chair kits.