Review: The Best Camping Chair, the Helinox Sunset Chair
Helinox Sunset Chair
$150, 3 lbs. 8 oz. (in its stuff sack, included)
I’m picky about camp chairs. That’s partly because I’m prone to lower back pain that can get uncomfortable when I sit for any length of time, but mostly because I camp a lot and appreciate being able to sit comfortably for the hours that I spend in camp. And well before the end of a long weekend camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve, I decided that the Sunset Chair is the most comfortable I’ve ever used—as well as being very lightweight and compact for a chair made for car camping.
The single-shock-cord, DAC aluminum-alloy pole structure makes the Sunset Chair very easy to assemble in about a minute, with the seat fabric sliding into place over the four top points of the frame. Unlike many basic camp chairs, in which you sink into a seat whose fabric sags because the frame lacks the strength to resist an average person’s body weight, the Sunset’s frame retains its shape, which translates to some actual lumbar support while sitting.
In fact, it’s even sturdy enough to support a big person: My friend Fred, an over-six-foot-tall, 200-pounder, found it super comfortable and not at all tippy. Helinox rates the chair to hold 320 pounds.
The seat is a plush 23 inches wide with a generous back height of 38.5 inches—tall enough to rest your head back on the light padding in place for that purpose, and tilted back at a slight reclining angle—whereas many camp chairs (including heavier, bulkier models) have straight backs that are not tall enough to rest your head. The 17.5-inch seat height (off the ground) means you don’t have to be a gymnast to get into or out of it, and it allows a more natural seated body position with the options of leaving legs bent or extended.
The ventilated, 600 weave polyester seat fabric doesn’t feel at all sticky. It dissembles and packs easily into its stuff sack—which converts to a pillow—reducing to a very portable 4.5×5.5×18.5 inches. At three-and-a-half pounds, it compares in bulk and weight to some backpacking tents, so it’s strictly for car camping, not backpacking.
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Light and packable, the Helinox Sunset Chair may be, pound-for-pound, the most comfortable car-camping chair available today.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by purchasing a Helinox Sunset Chair at Moosejaw.com, rei.com, or campsaver.com, or any of the various Helinox camp chair models available at Moosejaw.com.
Looking for a camp chair that’s light and compact enough for backpacking? See the Helinox Chair Zero in my “Gear Review: 22 Essential Backpacking Gear Accessories” (scroll down nearly to the bottom of that review), or at moosejaw.com or rei.com.
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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See my Gear Reviews page at The Big Outside for categorized menus of all of my reviews and my expert buying tips.