Lightweight, portable, strong, and easy to use – sound to good to be true? Say hello to the Helinox Chair One. In recent memory, whenever I’ve used a camp chair I always remembered them being disappointing on some level. Most of them are usually clumsy and bulky and you’d be hard pressed to truly call them portable unless you have a vehicle or a mule train to tote them around. That, or they’re super comfy for about two to three hours until the poles or seams start to fail and the chair begins to fall apart.
Our friends at HorNest recently sent us some samples of the Helinox Chair One. Believe me, I was more than skeptical to say the least. The chair packs down to roughly the size of a 32 ounce water bottle and weighs in at (amazingly enough) 32 ounces. At first glance, I was left thinking, “How could this chair hold the weight of my 20o plus pound body for more than a few minutes without giving up the proverbial ghost?
Unpacking and assembling the Helinox Chair One is a rather quick process. For any of you that have put together a modern camping tent, the set up will be fairly intuitive. My initial inspection of the chair and carrying bag showed them to be made of solid construction with both high-quality stitching and durable materials. Aluminum poles from DAC with a composite hub make up the bulk of the frame. The shock corded poles literally snap into position with little or no effort.
The assembly diagram is printed on the chair and is simple to follow and self-explanatory. The seat section of the chair unfolds and the poles are inserted into the pole pockets. Flip the chair upright and onto its feet and that’s it! All of a sudden, you are presented with a place to rest your tired body and enjoy a scenic vista. You can also watch the video from Helinox about assembling the chair:
[vimeo 41929216 w=740&h=400]
The chair is load rated for up to 320 pounds. I am not at the top end of that limit, but let’s say I am 75% of the way there. I have been using this chair in the field for about three months now. There are no signs of stress or wear to either the poles or the seat. The stitching at the pole sockets is intact and other than a little dirt here and there, there are no obvious signs of wear on the Helinox Chair One. Breathable mesh on the sides and back of the chair allow airflow that helps to cool you down and keep you comfortable while seated.
The chair we received from Hornest was the “tactical” version made by Helinox. The colors on this model are more muted than the standard versions. There is a ribbon of loop webbing on the transit bag to attach it to a pack. There is also a handy loop panel on the back of chair to help identify the chair with a unit patch or morale patch of your choice. To date, I have found myself leaving this chair in my every day bag and setting it up for a quick break more often than not. Is this the Holy Grail of camp chairs? No, but it is a great option for a lightweight and packable chair for frequent use. Should you get one? My response would be, “Why don’t you have one already?”