Gear: Take a load off with two chairs to consider for outdoor lounging
For The Aspen Times Weekly
Due to some unexpected homeowner nightmares this summer, my house has been under reconstruction. Because of this, all my furniture was packed up in June and sent to live in a storage unit somewhere in Vail. It’s still there. Although this situation has created headaches of unmeasurable proportions, it has allowed me the opportunity to test various camp furniture for long periods of time. While I close my eyes and dream of sitting on my couch, here are two chairs that I’ve been sitting in every day since June.
1. Nemo Equipment Stargazer Reclining Camp Chair
Easily my favorite chair on this list, the Stargazer is quite a feat of engineering. Using a low center of gravity, the chair securely swings from two locking clip-in points, where an auto-reclining mechanism can be activated just by leaning back. The frame is unique in that it can be used on any surface, including rocky, sandy, or uneven ground. It’s made of aircraft-grade aluminum that is designed to move with you as you swing.
When I first looked at this chair I was skeptical. I have found that many reclining camp chairs can feel a little wobbly when fully engaged, but I can still confidently swing when in the deep-lounge position. Indeed, it’s perfect for stargazing.
Additional features include an adjustable headrest, a no-spill cup holder, and a stash pocket perfect for your phone. Surprisingly, all this packs into its own little zippered carrying pouch that is smaller than your standard camp chair. At 7 pounds, 2 ounces, it’s conveniently portable, but you won’t be taking this backpacking. For such a whimsical looking chair, Nemo claims it can hold up to a burly 300 pounds.
I set this up in about one minute without reading any instructions — it’s pretty intuitive. One complaint is that the entire seat and back is a mesh material. That’s great for hot summer festivals, but chilly for mountain camping. I wish they had a thicker fabric solution or an insulating under-attachment like they make for hammocks. My tush tends to get cold when I’m sitting in it. There’s no denying this chair is an investment. The price will make your eyes water, but it’s by far the most comfortable camp chair I’ve ever owned. $250. nemoequipment.com. You can also find the Stargazer at the Ute Mountaineer in Aspen.
2. Helinox Savanna Chair
Helinox has been impressing the outdoor world with its svelte portable furniture for some time now. Known to be sleek and lightweight, it’s hard to go wrong with its line-up. I’ve recently been trying out the Savanna chair. It’s not as showy as the Nemo chair, but, at 4 pounds, 3 ounces, it’s about 3 pounds lighter.
One of the ways Helinox saves weight on its chairs is by eliminating arm rests and adding wings instead. They’re minimalistic to be sure, but they surprisingly provide some support for your elbows.
The Savanna is Helinox’s most deluxe model. It has a taller back and a deeper, wider seat. It’s comfortable, but you don’t sink into it like other camp chairs. This one supports your posture a bit better, but I find myself wishing for a bit of a deeper seat.
An innovative head rest with a padded crossbar is included for extra support. You can add more cushion by inserting a small pillow or blanket under the Velcro strap. Additional features include two cup holders, durable seat fabric, high-tech aluminum alloy supports, and high-strength frame hubs.
The Savanna is wonderfully portable. It’s easy to set up and fits nicely into a small zippered bag. With its light weight, it amazingly supports up to 320 pounds. Although, with it’s small footprint I have a hard time imagining a 320-pound person being comfortable in this chair.
Although I enjoy this chair, I think it might be better suited for someone with longer limbs. At 5 feet 4 inches, I don’t need this tall of a back. However, I love the weight and portability. It would be easy to keep this stored in the car for unexpected uses. $220. helinox.com. You can also find the Helinox products at Bristlecone Mountain Sports in Willits.
Meg Simon is an Aspen-based freelance writer, graphic designer and founder of Simon Finch Creative. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.