What could be more relaxing than reading a book and listening to the birds singing outside your caravan in the heart of the English countryside? Of course we’re picturing you with your feet up, nestled comfortably in a reclining chair or sun lounger. So, how comfy is your current set of relaxer chairs? Could it be time to invest in some new sun loungers to make the most of this year’s caravan holidays?

To find the best reclining chairs on the market, we collected products from well-known rival outdoor accessory brands for testing.

So, what should you look for when shopping for new sun loungers? The more we tested, the more we decided that comfy recliners with multiple positions are the best sun loungers for most occasions on a campsite. They’re great used in semi-reclined positions for reading and sunbathing, as well as lying flat out, whether you face the sky or the ground.

Now that some of us are no longer quite as supple and agile as children, we find it helpful to put recliner chairs into upright positions before getting into them and off again. And after country walks and sightseeing, how lovely it would be to come home to the caravan and then sink into a recliner with plenty of comfy padding and contours that suit our backs. 

What are we to make of the new trend for two-part recliner chair and footstool products? Sold separately, these items mean that you can get both an upright camping chair and a recliner for sunbathing and snoozing – with a footstool for when you need to put your feet up.

To find out what they’re actually like, we tested the Westfield Avantgarde Noblesse Chair, £104.99, with its Breeze Stool, £34.99, and compared it to the Kampa Comfort Tuscany Chair, £35, and matching stool £19.99 as well as the Outwell Melville Chair and Dauphin Footstool, costing £59.99 for the chair plus £17.99 for the stool.

But of course we also tested more traditional sun loungers and recliners. We tried the timeless Argos Folding Sun Lounger, £19.99, which looks the same as sun loungers have done for the last 50 years or more.

Yearning for more padded comfort, we also tried the Kampa Verona Indulgence Deluxe, £105, the Quest Elite Ragley Sage Stepless Relaxer, £69.99 and the Kampa Opulence Amalfi, £74.99.

Every product we tested was checked against the same criteria. We looked at chair comfort, trying each one in all its various modes, and checked the maximum load weights. Most reclining camping chairs can hold people up to 100kg to 120kg (15 stone 7lbs to 19 stone) as a maximum weight limit. Some go further, supporting heavier people, up to 150kg (almost 24 stone). It’s a good indication of the chair’s strength, even if you and your partner together are so slim that you don’t add up to the maximum load stated.

Bearing caravan storage space and the overall payload available for your camping gear, we checked each chair’s total weight and folded size and shape. Chairs with aluminium frames tended to come in lighter than the powder-coated steel-framed sun loungers.

The shape of the armrests can make quite a difference to your comfort and we also loved spotting extra features like headrests, lumbar support padding and somewhere to put a mug of tea or a pint of beer. 

Value for money is the final measuring stick we applied to all our sun lounger tests.

In this review we’ll focus on Kampa’s Verona Indulgence Deluxe. This is the most comfortable product in the group, and one of the best looking thanks to its plush yet contemporary Verona-patterned fabric. And, while the bungee-cord joint between material and frame allows the fabric to mould to your body shape, the material itself has just the right amount of give and padding to enhance your comfort.

Another factor is the step-less recline mechanism: you can simply lie the chair back until you find the perfect position, then twist the lock levers to hold it in place.

While the price is somewhat premium, the peerless level of pampering, the 150kg max weight, the side table and cupholder, and the relatively compact pack-down size all help to justify it.