You know that feeling when you go through your caravan holiday checklist and suddenly remember that you broke your sun loungers last year? Whether the fabric ripped or the cushions were left out in the rain, now’s the time to buy new reclining chairs and sunbeds to make the most of all your caravan holidays this year!

We’ve tested a selection of sun loungers and recliners to find the most comfortable sunbeds. A recent trend has been for recliners with matching and sometimes detachable footstools. We’ve compared the Westfield Avantgarde Noblesse Chair, £104.99, with Breeze Stool, £34.99, to the Kampa Comfort Tuscany Chair and Stool, £19.99 and the Outwell Melville Chair and Dauphin Footstool, £59.99.

No group test of sun loungers would be complete without traditional styles such as the Argos Folding Sun Lounger, £19.99, which we review here. For comparison, you could also consider 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 should you look for when choosing new camping chairs and sun loungers?

If you love sunbathing on holiday, you may prefer the soft padding and the contoured shape of a fully reclined relaxer chair to a simple sun lounger. Another thing to look out for are chairs with multiple backrest positions, because it’s so easy to get in and out of them when they’re upright. 

Two-part reclining chairs with clip-on footstools offer lots of versatility, as you’ll see in our Outwell Melville Chair and Dauphin Footstool review. You can buy and use each piece separately, or together.

Traditional sun loungers are terrific for sunbathing and snacking, but too laid-back for you to reach most camping tables to eat a full meal al-fresco. So, we looked for reclining chairs that you could use for dining as well as for sunbathing and holiday relaxation.

We tested each chair for comfort in all positions 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 super-slim, but your visitors may not, so it’s a great idea to get chairs that just about anyone can use.

Caravan storage and payloads are always on our minds during product tests, and we favoured sun loungers that are a good compromise between strength and comfort, light weight and compact packing ability.

Height matters too, so we checked the seated and lying down heights of each chair, arm supports, and whether you could sit straight down, or had to sit and slide into position – or even stride around the footstool! Nothing could be less glamorous than struggling to park your rear on a chair seat while not tripping over a firmly attached footstool. If you’re not careful you could be a YouTube sensation for all the wrong reasons.

If any chairs had extra luxuries we checked them out. 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, how about chairs with built-in eyeshades?

Value for money is another major factor in purchasing decisions, so we compared the prices to what you get to decide best value for money. For two-part products, we added the two prices together.

The Argos Folding Sun Lounger looks like great value, because it costs just £19.99, so what’s it like? We found that this sunbed’s fabric is so uncompromisingly taut that you could literally beat out a tune on it. This characteristic of the design is poor from a comfort point of view and makes us wonder about the product’s long-term durability.

And, while we like the low 3.88kg weight and very compact pack-down size, both seem a little academic, because this is a sunbed which is so hard that a sandy beach or poolside paving are probably more comfortable.

Also, it seemed that no maximum loading was specified. We can vouch for a figure up to 100kg, but wouldn’t really want to push it any further. The Argos customer service team have been more optimistic, giving an estimated maximum load of 110kg (17 stone 4 lbs).

On the plus side, it has five reclining positions and you can wash those sticky ice-cream spillages off with a sponge and soapy water, then dry it off with a towel or clean, dry cloth.