How to Choose Folding and Portable Chairs

On the sidelines, at the campground or at the beach, you want somewhere to sit. We’re breaking down everything you need know to help you choose the perfect chair.

So, you need a portable, folding chair. Just find chairs, grab one and go, right? Sure that might work, but we want you to get the right chair for your activity and one that fits all your needs.

WHERE ARE YOU GOING?

First, you want to decide where you will be using the chair. You may want to purchase multiple chairs for different activities. Sitting on the sidelines, in a friend’s backyard for a fire or at a picnic is vastly different from carrying a chair with you while you’re hiking, camping or even at the beach.

chairs for any occasion

THE BEACH
Speaking of the beach, when it comes to function, you can opt for a lower-style beach chair. The advantage to the lower chair is that you can keep your toes in the surf or even allow the water to wash up over your legs. Beach chairs are typically made of aluminum, are lighter weight and rust resistant. But, if you don’t want to sit so low to the ground, you can go with the more traditional camp-style chair. Of course, the beach tends to get hot, so you might want to consider selecting a chair with a mesh back. This allows increased airflow, which can help you stay cool, and can also easily shake off the sand before it goes in your car. You can also choose a canopy chair to shield the sun or look for a “chairbrella” to attach to your chair.

 camping and beach chair

Chairs with built-in insulated pockets are great for keeping beverages cool, even when the temperatures heat up. You may also want to consider a chair with storage pockets to keep your smaller personal belongings all in one hidden spot while you take a dip. These pockets could also help protect your gear from being covered in sand, which can be a pesky undertaking to get rid of. And don’t forget the convenience of chairs that fold up nicely into a bag or one with carry handles — making transportation a breeze.

THE POOL
If you’re lounging by the pool and looking for convenience, consider a chair that has a cup holder or a canopy over it. You can also choose chairs with recliners or footrests built in. Zero gravity chairs are a great idea for extra comfort and relaxation.

POOL CHAIR

CAMPING
If you’re camping and not carrying your gear too far, you can opt for a chair with more bells and whistles. Recliners, cup holders, storage pockets, and umbrellas or canopies are all great features to have in a camping chair. Side tables can make meal time around the fire more convenient, while padded headrests offer comfort after a long day in the great outdoors.  You may also want to consider an oversized chair or rocking chair for total relaxation. These features may help you unwind, but they could get in the way during other activities.

camping chair

Think about the arm rests as well. Traditional fabric chairs often have fabric arms that give you next to no support when you are trying to get up. Chairs that offer hard arms could give better support when you’re getting in and out of the chair.

ON THE SIDELINES
Sitting on the sidelines? You’re going to want a chair that is functional. If the games you’re attending will be during the day, consider a chair with a canopy that could keep you shaded from the sun. Many people prefer director-style chairs because they fold flat and fit well in the trunk of a car.

Will it be a family affair? Then, look for sideline benches. These essentially are a group of four to six seats that fold up like an accordion to make one bench. This compact option can come in handy when you’re with a larger group and beats lugging enough chairs for your whole family. When you spend endless hours in the stands cheering on your kids or favorite team, stadium seats or bleacher cushions can be your best friend. These padded cushions provide comfort and are a popular, must-have layer between you and that cold, hard seat.

chairs for sideline games

HIKING OR HUNTING
If you’re hiking you’ll want to avoid any unnecessary features that might create added weight in your pack. Instead, opt for something extremely portable and compact, like an ultra-light or packable chair.

hiking and hunting chair

No matter what activity, you’ll want to take size and weight into consideration. When it comes to hiking, this is especially imperative.

SIZE AND WEIGHT

Foldable chairs seem relatively light. That is, until you have to carry them for a few miles. Suddenly, their size and weight start to matter. So, if you know you will be walking and carrying them for a period of time, you may want to choose one of the chairs that has corded legs and collapses to a smaller, more compact size and lighter weight.

Similarly, if you are hiking, hunting or walking a distance to your camp, you may want something even more compact, like a tripod stool. You aren’t going to get as much comfort from a tripod, but you’ll be glad you have a place to sit and rest. And you’ll also be glad that you’re only carrying minimal weight.

WEIGHT CAPACITY

Not all chairs, even some that look similar, can hold the same amount of weight. So, it’s important to check each model’s weight limit.

Some children’s or youth chairs hold as little as 150 pounds or as much as 225 pounds. Some adult chairs are built to hold between 225 pounds and up to 500 pounds. It might seem like more than enough if a chair says it holds 250 pounds, but if you know you’ll have kids sitting on your lap, you may want to take the whole weight into consideration. If you know you want a chair for a larger person, most of the XL chairs not only hold extra weight, but offer extra room and that may make all the difference in terms of comfort.

Before you venture outdoors for some R&R, it’s important to know what options are out there. You have an abundance of choices especially when it comes to style and features, but also with size, weight and materials. Consider your needs, your comfort and your activity to help make an informed decision. Whatever you have planned, there is a chair out there for you.