On almost every camping trip I’ve ever been on there always seems to be more people than places to sit. Every night around the camp fire there is a high stakes game of musical chairs which leaves one unlucky fellow sitting on a wobbly rock, the cooler lid (Hey can you stand up I need another beer?) or worse. Giving up they dejectedly they sit in the dirt with the creepy crawlies and rodents. So unless you are an ultralight backpacker, a chair is a pretty important piece of gear for all.
Most chairs are either large and heavy, take up a lot of space like a beach chair or they are so minimalist they don’t provide a comfortable resting place which is key after a day hiking, bouldering or surfing. Luckily Helinox comes to the rescue with the Chair One, which satisfies all of the needs of being light, compact, comfortable and sturdy.
Weiging in at just under two pounds the Helinox Chair One is lighter than a full 32 ounce water bottle and packs down almost as small. It’s robust design and light weight materials can support over 300 pounds.
Set up of the chair is a snap as there are really only two main components- the frame and the nylon seat. The poles are all connected by bungees and fit just like tent poles. And that is no coincidence as odds are your tent poles were also made by DAC (Dongah Aluminum Co) of Korea who make the best poles in the industry and they just so happen to be more environmentally to boot. Rounding out the package is a carrying pouch which has loops to attach to the chair while in use and daisy chain webbing to lash it to your pack.
This particular model of the Chair One is the “Tactical” editions which features a velcro panel on the chair back and two pocket on each side of the seat. These pockets are a perfect place to stash a flashlight, bottle opener or your favorite beer coozie. Once seated you will notice the great back support and comfort of the design which is a cross between a mid-century butterfly chair and bucket seats. The chair is more than strong enough to lean back on two legs and handles uneven ground well.
One comment that comes up about the Chair One is that the chair legs will sink into damp earth or sand. Helinox sells a separate foot print that remedies this issue are you can solve it yourself with a few DIY methods. One way is to put slits in either tennis or racket balls and place them over the feet. Another is to cut PVC pipe to length and make two sets of rails for the legs to sit in. You can also just dig a small hole and place flat stones in the bottom and the chair on top. Whatever the method, the key is to spread the weight out and if you are at the beach simply put the chair on your towel.
The Helinox Chair One might at first glance look like a luxury item and with a retail price just under $100 it may seem an indulgence. In reality the Chair One is a great value and has “dual use” as it can be used for more than just camping trips. I use mine at the beach, sitting on the sidelines of soccer games and its great for BBQ’s and Picnics. Once you have it you will really appreciate how versatile it really is and how much space it saves when packing for any of your outdoor endeavors.