James StanburySee other accessory reviews written by James Stanbury
Each of these camping chairs is rated to at least 120kg, so should suit most caravanners, but which is the best? We've put 12 to the test to find out
When we look at the vintage caravans families used to go away in, the usual question that springs to mind is ‘how?’
And it’s much the same for family saloon cars from the 1960s and ’70s.
What was once considered the height of luxury and spaciousness then, hardly compares with a modern supermini now.
Weight is especially an issue, because the old standard maximum loading of 80-100kg often cuts it very fine these days.
And there’s an argument that if your weight is very close to the chair’s maximum loading limit, it is going to wear out more quickly than a chair that’s able to comfortably support more.
Pushed to breaking point?
Another good reason to go heavy-duty with your chairs is that you never know who may use them.
If you make friends with someone on your travels and they’re a little heavier than average, you enter a difficult dilemma.
Do you insist they only sit on certain chairs, or do you risk the chair collapsing beneath them – knowing full well that it wasn’t designed for your new mate’s weight?
The good news is that many higher-rated camping chairs are now available and they’re extremely affordable.
Next time you update your caravanning kit, it’s well worth going heavy-duty.
How we’ve tested the camping chairs
In this test, we’ve defined 120kg as the low end of heavy-duty, and the full weight that each chair can support is a big part of the judging criteria.
But we’ve also factored in comfort and versatility. Naturally, any chair should be comfortable, but the very best-designed models are good at being comfortable both for sitting up at the table for dinner, and when adopting a much more relaxed posture.
For some, getting out of these chairs can be difficult. So we’ve looked at this, too, taking into consideration seat-base height, firmness, and whether there are solid arms to push up against.
Finally, we evaluate how portable each model is, by examining the fold-down size, shape and weight – essential when packing for your caravan holidays.
Coleman Bungee – four stars
- Price: £40
This is one of the fiercest challengers to Outwell’s Spring Hills. In the all-important maximum load stakes, it marginally beats the Spring Hills, catering for up to 136kg.
And it’s certainly just as comfortable, thanks to a clever dual-angle seat base: flat at the front for sitting up straight, but heavily raked at the rear for very comfortable lounging.
But good, and snazzy-looking, as the Bungee chair is, its all-steel frame pushes up the weight to 5kg.
And that dual-raked seat mechanism increases the size when folded up significantly, as well, to 32cm x 22cm x 110cm.
Kampa Easy In/Easy Out – four stars
- Price: £29.99
Kampa’s Easy In/Easy Out chair is an older rival of the Spring Hills, and it’s still well worth considering.
Although its maximum load is 120kg – right down at the lower end of our heavy-duty classification – the model isn’t without its advantages.
At 88cm x 13cm x 20cm, it compacts down further than the Outwell – and, at 4.2kg, it’s fractionally lighter, too.
But the model simply doesn’t master dual functionality as well as its key rivals.
For lounging away an afternoon it’s really very good, but it feels a little compromised when used in sit-up-straight mode at mealtimes.
Outwell Spring Hills – five stars
Practical Caravan Editor's Choice
- Price: £29.99
We’ve already mentioned it and here it is, our group test winner.
The winner last time we put folding camping chairs under the spotlight and still the best all-rounder, though the competition is getting ever tougher.
We love this chair’s simplicity and effectiveness. Weighing in at 4.3kg, and collapsing into a 93cm x 22cm x 18cm bag, it’s easy to store and move around.
Erecting it is simply a case of pulling it open, and its clever seating angle makes it equally suitable for relaxing or sitting up straight.
With a maximum load of 130kg, it’s tougher than most similar rivals, too, if not a full-on heavyweight.
Kampa Firenze Comfort Chair – four stars
- Price: £59.99
Although it’s twice the cost of most chairs-in-a-bag, Kampa’s keen pricing means this fully featured reclining chair is well worth considering as an alternative.
On the loading front, this revamped model can take up to a very impressive 150kg, yet the camping chair weighs in at just 5.2kg – only 200g more than the Coleman Bungee.
Naturally, it’s not such a compact chair to store or transport. But this has to be weighed up against the versatility of a model that can be fully upright, or fully reclined.
And, if you buy Kampa’s optional footstool, it can even double up as a fully fledged sunlounger.
Robens Pilgrim – four stars
- Price: £59.99
Helinox kicked off this style of super-compact chair, but its approach was mainly focused on producing the smallest and lightest pack size. Robens’ direction is subtly different.
At 47cm x 12cm x 11cm collapsed, and weighing just 2.2kg, this is still small enough to go in a big backpack.
Granted, the pack size is almost twice that of the Helinox, but this chair is much more usable.
It’s a comfortable all rounder, it supports up to 120kg, and the seat height is a better-than-average 46cm.
The chair takes longer to build and collapse than most, but it’s far from complex.
Vango Kraken – four stars
- Price: £34.99
There are two recently launched chair-in-a-bag models that have pushed the limits of maximum loading, and this is one of them.
Vango’s Kraken can support up to a staggering 180kg – over 28 stones in old money – and the model has been sensibly sized for the larger amongst us.
The seat base is just shy of 60cm wide, and almost as deep. With the base at 46cm high, and two tough arms, this is an easy chair to get in and out of, too.
But overall comfort isn’t as good as many here. It’s not bad when sitting upright, but the highly tensioned seat front is very noticeable against the back of the legs when attempting to kick back.
Kampa Stark 180 – three stars
- Price: £49.99
Hot on the heels of Vango’s Kraken is Kampa’s Stark 180.
And the name says it all: here’s another model designed for 28 stone (180kg) of loading.
So why is it so much more expensive than the Kraken? Well, while both models are rated at up to 180kg, this one feels heavier-duty. And this is borne out by its weight: the Kraken is 4.8kg, this is 7.1kg.
Aside from the heavier construction, though, the two models are almost the same. On the bright side, the seat base is 46cm high and a roomy near-60cm wide.
But overall comfort isn’t as good as many here, and pack size is a chunky 93cm x 30cm x 30cm.
Outwell Melville Chair – two stars
- Price: £70.99
This Outwell offering is another recliner than converts to a lounger proper, if the optional stool is attached.
So, again, this is one seriously versatile piece of kit, and it’s actually very well designed.
Although its material is noticeably thinner than its Outwell siblings – never mind its Kampa and Westfield rivals – the frame shape still means that the seat is incredibly comfortable in all modes. You don’t even miss not having a headrest.
Another benefit of the minimalist design is a low 4.6kg weight. But this approach isn’t without its drawbacks, the biggest being the 125kg maximum loading weight, which seems incredibly low for a product at this price level.
Promech Racing Paddock Chair – three stars
- Price: £34.99
If Vango’s Kraken wasn’t available, this would be a very attractive proposition for anybody wanting a heavy-duty camping chair.
But because the Kraken is on the market, and normally for around the same price, the Paddock Chair feels a little dated.
Its maximum loading is 150kg – impressive-sounding until you consider the Kraken’s 180kg top level.
And where the Kraken has been upsized to suit the bigger person, this hasn’t. Not to the same degree, anyway.
It is bigger than the average folding chair, but not Kraken-sized.
Despite this, pack size is a hefty 92cm x 28cm x 24cm, and it weighs 6.3kg.
Robens Colonist – three stars
- Price: £67.95
Nothing compares to a director’s chair for stability and being able to sit up straight. But, traditionally, these chairs have been heavy and cumbersome things to move and store.
Some better folding models hit the market a few years ago, which compact down significantly smaller, but these tended to be less robust, with lower-than-average loading ratings.
So Robens’ Colonist really does tick a lot of boxes. It will support up to 120kg, it folds down to 54cm x 48cm x 15cm, it weighs just 3.3kg, yet opens up to a provide a comfy, wider-than-average seat at 54cm.
As with all directors’ chairs, though, they aren’t suitable for kicking back in and relaxing.
Westfield Avantgarde AVH101 – three stars
- Price: £109.99
There are two ways of looking at this quality, German-designed chair.
Ultimately, it’s an obscenely well-padded and comfortable recliner, which takes sit-up-straight and lie-back-and-relax modes in its stride.
Attach the optional footstool – shown in the picture – and it even doubles up as a full-on lounger.
But looked at purely as a heavy-duty offering, a penny shy of £110 is a lot to pay for a chair that’s rated to a respectable 150kg rather than the class-leading 180kg.
Having said all of that, the 51cm wide and 48cm high seat base is perfectly suited to the larger person.
And its 5.2kg weight is surprisingly low for a chair of this quality construction.
Outwell Grand Canyon – two stars
- Price: £89.99
Although this chair doesn’t add up that well on paper, it’s a pretty impressive piece of kit when viewed and tested.
As its name implies, this is a big beast. With many of the chairs here having seat bases that are close to 60cm wide, it doesn’t sound like a big deal when we say that this one’s is 62cm.
But, in the metal, those couple of centimetres make a surprising difference – the sliding headrest is a nice touch, too.
But unless you really want the extra size, this is a big old chair to store and move, measuring 73cm x 11cm x 100cm and weighing 6kg.
Surprisingly, for such a large chair, the weight limit is 150kg rather than 180kg.