What is the best way to taking a load off after a long day of hiking in the forest? Lightweight and foldable camping chairs seem to have risen in popularity lately, but is it really the best option for your coffee breaks?
We’re already carrying quite a bit on our backs in backpacks and lugging around an extra chair might not be for everyone, while for some the extra comfort is worth all the weight. Today, there are many lightweight options to chose from
Comfortable camping chairs might the ultimate form of luxury when out in the woods. Being able to sit comfortably while eating, carving a spoon or reading a book should not be underestimated. Just a few years ago camping chairs was pretty much all made for car camping or cabin living, but with the introduction of glamping and similar more luxurious styles of camping we’ve seen a come back fro the camping chair. A lot of companies now produce lightweight and easily foldable camping chairs specifically suited for hiking.
One such chair is the Helinox Chair One, featured in one of Luke’s review videos. It folds up nice and easy, weighing in at less than one kg. Nowadays, there are numerous brands that sell their own version of this chair.
I’ve tried these chairs and they are really comfortable, but I’m not sure they’re actually worth the extra weight. Depends a lot on the trip and company!
It was not until recently the hammocks caught my eye for daytrips and just resting during short stops. I’ve had my Hennessy hammock for years and really like it for overnighters, but it can be a chore to set up sometimes. It’s quite bulky (for a day hike) and the original tarp doesn’t cover enough to be useful for anything but sleeping. Then I got an Urberg hammock in birthday rpesent from my family. Since then my life have never been the same!
The hammock packs into its own side pocket (about 15x10x10) and weighs almost nothing. It’s incredibly easy to set up due to the carabiners and pre-knotted lines. Now, the Urberg model is not by any means the only one, there are hundreds of similar hammocks on the outdoor market today, take your pick!
I can’t really stress how nice it is to be able to set it up in less than a minute, take off your shoes and lie down after a long hike. Letting the light breeze nudge you from side to side while lying there looking up at the tree tops. Twice I’ve fallen asleep when I was only supposed to take a shorter break!
Then there’s the added benefit of the hammock being able to host more than one person at a time!
Sleeping pads and foam mattresses
This is probably the most common way to rest while out hiking. While it’s not the most comfortable it does have some great advantages.
If you’re out on an overnighter or multi-day hike, odds are you’re already carrying a sleeping mattress. Probably even a foam one. While they are not the most comfortable to sleep- or rest on, they are incredibly resilient and reliable. They are pretty much unable to break unless you’re actively trying. They work in every situation and insulates you from the ground in all weathers.
On day hikes they’re also great to carry outside the backpack and just roll out when needed. They’re long enough to host both you and your backpack while letting you change socks comfortably.
In the military we used to take our personal tarp and roll it up together with the foam mattress, thus having a complete shelter easily accessible whenever needed. The foam mattress also protects the tarp from tearing when moving in the brush.
In the Finnish military they’ve added a ground sheet with flaps to their foam mattresses. They protect even better against moisture from underneath.
Nothing, I sit on the ground like a true bushcrafter
Unless your steel balls are stainless they will eventually rust from sitting on the ground too much!
Generally nothing good can come from sitting directly on the ground. The possibilities of contracting diseases in your nether region are a lot greater when sitting directly on the ground. So are the risks of getting ticks and other insects crawling around where they’re not supposed to.
However, if you’ve been blessed with a Dalmation Hip, odds are you’re never going to need to spend an öre (1/100 of a Swedish Krona) on any type of camping chair again. With shallow hip sockets like that you’re going to be comfortable squatting in every type of terrain!
Otherwise, if you’re really serious about not bringing any type of comfort for your behind, there are still ways to mitigate some of the above mentioned risks.
- Never sit in an anthill. It might look comfy and warm with all that free insulation, but the ants might not see it the same way.
- Avoid sitting directly on rocks. Rocks are cold and hard which is not true for your behind.
- Don’t sit in moss. Moss might look like a nice cushion after a long day’s hike. However, moss can hold a significant amount of water…
- Sitting in those soft comfy leaves? Don’t, there’s a lot of bugs crawling around in there, ticks among them.
So, where do I sit if I haven’t brought something to sit on?
- A fallen log. As long as the log hasn’t decomposed too much, it’s a great place to rest.
- Tree stump. Same goes for a tree stump, which is a great seat for the weary traveler.
- Your backpack. It’s really a great seat, as long as you remove any valuables that might break.
- Rain jacket or any other type of semi water-proofed garment. Place on the ground and sit.
- Rain cover for backpack. It’s water proof and like sitting in a boat!
No, I build my own camping chairs
Any resourceful bushcrafter will tell you this and that is not actually needed when practicing bushcraft.
“You can always build your own shelter from fallen branches, twigs and some leaves.”
“Why don’t you just cover yourself with leaves instead of bringing a bulky sleeping bag?!”
Okay, I haven’t actually heard anyone say those things before, but the fact remains that bushcrafting generally is about bringing less items and use what you find in the forest. This also applies to camping chairs, where it’s very much possible to build yourself a comfortable chair from a few sticks and some kind of fabric, preferably a heavy-duty tarp or similar.
One very popular way to craft ones own chair that also rhymes well with the leave no trace-motto is to simply build a tripod-chair. It’s generally made up of a sturdy tripod of three 4-6cm diameter sticks about 2 meters long. Or even two sticks that you lean against a tree. Tie them up like the american indians did for their iconic tipi tents.
I hope you found something in this article worthy of sitting on/in and that your next outdoor adventure will be a comfortable one! My favorite type of seating arrangement differs from time to time, but if I can I will bring a hammock to the outdoors. I actually haven’t gotten one of those lightweight camping chairs myself so I’ll have to take Luke’s word for it. This seems to be a piece of gear to bring on trips, especially the ones where you’ll spend more than one night at the same place and want to be comfortable. Or when out with the wifey, sitting by the campfire sharing a bottle of wine and stargazing.
Disclaimer: If you bring your kids and/or wife and bring ONE hammock…suit yourself. You have been warned.