The REI Flex Lite Chair
We have always used those big "bag chairs" that were a hit in the 2000's for camping seating. They are great, comfortable... and heavy, huge. The first time we went backpacking, they clearly were left at home, but we got out in the middle of nowhere and realized that we had no place to sit. Lucky for us, we found a rock to hang out on until it was time to crawl into the tent. It didn't take long to realize that some kind of sitting device should exist for backpacking.
A trip to REI, and duh!... little backpacking chairs. The REI Flex Lite chairs are kind of surprising. I looked at one in the store and laughed - no way is that comfy or sturdy. Then I had a seat, somewhat hesitantly, waiting to hit the ground. Nope, it held up, I didn't fall, and it was darn comfy!
We discovered these chairs just as the first version was being phased out, and this new version was hitting the shelves. The difference is the bottom support bar runs side to side on the old version, and front to back on the new version. The sales rep at the store said it improved stability, and they had added some more colors.
These chairs fold down to a tiny size compared to any chair I've ever seen. They fit in the side pocket on my backpack, where a water bottle typically goes! The legs are little tent poles, you assemble by pulling and letting them become straight, and stretching the seat onto the poles. This was a little tough to do at first, but our chairs have relaxed with use and it's easier now. They take less than five minutes to put together, take apart, and pack back up. There is a little stash pocket on the side, a nice spot to stash a flashlight or cell phone.
When you're done, the poles break down just like a tent, the seat folds in half, and it rolls up around the legs and slides right into the bag. Cinch it down, and off you go!
We've used these on solid ground, desert grit, and even at the beach - clearly the legs will sink into the ground when it's beach sand, but not so deep that you can't still sit in the chair. These are great for riding bikes to the beach, since they are small and lightweight. (Under 2 pounds!) The drawback of that light weight, is that these things will blow away if you sneeze at them - we make sure to put something in them when we stand up, or just tip them over and they move less.
While those taller, bigger "bag" chairs have some comfort (and cup holders!), these chairs are still quite comfortable. With the ability to toss them in a backpack, or attach them for an overnight backpacking trip, they couldn't be more convenient. While there are some comparable chairs on the market, the price on the REI Flex Lite Chair is definitely a winning factor.
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