James Stanbury

See other accessory reviews written by James Stanbury

We're on a quest to find the most versatile sun loungers for caravan holidays, so read our Outwell Melville Chair and Dauphin Footstool review and verdict

Overview

Sunny days lounging around with a good book beside your caravan await! Don't forget to check your camping accessories and particularly sun loungers, to make sure they're comfortable. Perhaps you already have one reclining chair that's more comfy than the other? If so, avoid fighting for the best chair this year – browse through our latest reclining chair reviews to see if one can tempt you to upgrade!

We've been trying out a selection of popular reclining chairs, from the Westfield Avantgarde Noblesse Chair, £104.99, with Breeze Stool, £34.99, to the Kampa Comfort Tuscany Chair and Stool, £35 plus £19.99 for the stool, and Outwell Melville Chair and Dauphin Footstool, £59.99 plus a further £17.99 for the footstool.

As well as these two-part recliner-plus-footstool sun loungers, we tested the relatively simple and traditional Argos Folding Sun Lounger, £19.99, the well padded Kampa Verona Indulgence Deluxe, £105, the Quest Elite Ragley Sage Stepless Relaxer, £69.99 and the Kampa Opulence Amalfi, £74.99.

So, what are the key things to look for when choosing new reclining camping chairs and sun loungers?

Most reclining chairs are as good as sun loungers for getting a sun tan; in fact, the contoured shape of a fully reclined relaxer chair can be more comfortable than a traditional sun lounger. On top of that, it's easier to get on and off reclining chairs, because you can first put them into their most upright mode.

What of the other types of outdoor chairs – the reclining chairs with a clip-on stool, such as the Outwell Melville Chair and Dauphin Stool reviewed here? You have the option of buying and using each piece separately, or together. In an upright position the Melville Chair makes a comfortable camping chair that will allow you to sit at a table. Then there's the Dauphin Stool, for when you want to put hour feet up.

Traditional sun loungers are terrific for sunbathing but they aren't much good at mealtimes. They tend not to go upright enough to aid digestion and are too bulky to fit under most camping tables.

So, what were we looking for during these product tests? The first part of our sun lounger testing criteria was to see how versatile each product actually was. Could it be used for dining, would it recline back far enough for maximum relaxation, and could you lie flat on it? In fact, could you lie flat on your front on it, for reading or tanning your back – a traditional strength of sunbeds?

Weights and measures always play a crucial role in our outdoor accessories reviews. We appraised the overall comfort of each chair’s various modes, and checked the maximum load weights. Generally this tends to be between 100kg and 120kg (roughly 15.5 stone to almost 19 stone), but some models support up to 150kg (almost 24 stone). You may be skinny enough not to worry about such weight limits, but it's wise to buy camping chairs that won't collapse if your heavier friend pays a visit. 

Talking of weight, we also had a weigh-in for each chair – or chair-and-stool combination. Storage is scarce in many caravans, so we favoured sun loungers that pack down neatly in transit. With chair-and-stool combos, we tried to fit the two components together in their most compact form before measuring the space that they required.

In our reclining chair tests we considered sitting down and lying down heights, arm supports, and whether you could sit straight down, or had to sit and slide into position – or even stride around obstructions!

Once in place, we also sampled what luxuries each product had to offer. The more positions that a chair can be set into, the better. Adjustable headrests are always welcome, and somewhere to put a cup, glass, or even a book is another big bonus. And, for sheer indulgence, how about an adjustable shade to guard your eyes from the glare of the sun?

Finally, we factored all of our test results against the price of each product to gauge value for money. For two-part products, we added the two prices together, because all of our tests tended to use the components together.

In this review we'll focus on the Outwell Melville Chair and Dauphin Stool, costing £59.99 for the chair and £17.99 for the footstool. This chair-and-stool combo, from Outwell, fits neatly between the Kampa and Westfield versions in terms of both price and features.

The Outwell Melville Chair and Dauphin Footstool combo is the lightest of the trio, at 4.6kg, and it packs down more compactly than its two rivals, to 58cm x 15cm x 103cm. It will hold people up to 125kg (19 stone 9lbs). 

Comfort-wise it doesn’t have the gloriously cosseting feel of the Westfield, but a few twists and curves engineered into the frame take care of the lack of lumbar support felt on the Kampa. They also do a good job of supporting your neck and shoulders when the chair’s fully reclined — even if the Kampa and Westfield’s padded headrests are slightly missed when the chair is used fully upright.

Technical specs

Chair size58cm x 80cm x 118cm
Chair packed down size58cm x 15cm x 103cm
Chair's max load125kg (19 stone 9lbs approx)
Chair seat height45cm
Chair frame materialsAluminium
Chair fabricTextiline, woven polyester, coated
Melville Chair reclining positons7
Outwell Dauphin Footrest weight1.1kg
Dauphin Footrest materialsAluminium frame, Textiline fabric
Dauphin Footrest fitsOutwell Melville, Milton, Ontario and Columbia chairs

Verdict

Outwell has an excellent reputation for making good camping accessories, and the Outwell Melville Chair and Dauphin Footstool combine to form a comfortable sun lounger and versatile recliner or upright chair. It may not be as well upholstered as some of its rivals, but it's robust and packs down smaller. We've awarded the Outwell Melville Chair and Dauphin Footstool a three-star rating.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Medium price for a two-part sun lounger
  • Packs down smaller than rivals
  • Well designed
  • Maximum load 125kg (19 stone 9lbs) is pretty good

Cons

  • Less padded than rival two-part sun loungers
  • No padded headrest
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