Buying new sun loungers, relaxer chairs or sun beds to take on tour can be a little confusing. After all, if you want to lie out horizontally, most reclining chairs will do the job as well as a sun bed; in fact, many of us have found that the profiled shape of a fully reclined relaxer is more comfortable. And sitting on a relaxer in upright mode, before reclining it backwards, is definitely an easier way of lying flat out than getting on (or off ) a ground-hugging sun bed, or a rug on a groundsheet.

But now there’s an extra chair type to consider: reclining chairs with a clip-on stool, such as the Westfield Avantgarde Noblesse Chair with Breeze Stool, reviewed here. In principle these represent the utmost in versatility. Without the stool, and set upright, they’re comfortable camping chairs that will allow you to sit at a table; and that’s where traditional relaxers aren’t so good – they tend not to go upright enough, and have too much mechanism to easily fit under the table. Also, recline a chair-and-stool combo back, with the stool in place, and it becomes the perfect place to relax. So, does that mean you can now take just one unit away instead of two?

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, costing £35 for the camping chair and £19.99 for the stool. Our third chair-and-stool combo was the 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 simple 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 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 the unit be used as a sit-at-the-table chair, would it recline back fully as a relaxer, and could you lie flat on it? More importantly, could you lie flat on your front on it, for reading or tanning your back – a traditional strength of sunbeds? Moving on, 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 19 stone), but some models support up to 150kg (almost 24 stone). Although you might buy a chair to suit your own weight, having a bit of extra capacity is always recommended.

Talking of weight, we also checked how much each chair – or chair-and-stool combination – tipped the scales. And, as usual, pack-down size was also noted. 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.

Because none of us is as agile as we once were, ease of getting into – or out of – the chairs is another important factor. We considered sitting/lying height, arm support, 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. With chair-and-stool combos we used the sum of both prices, because all of our tests tended to use the components together.

Westfield Avantgarde Noblesse 101-101 Chair with Breeze Stool is two products in one, so the reclining chair costs £104.99 and the foot-stool costs £34.99. With its Germanic sturdiness and impressively high-quality finish, we could perhaps dub this the ‘ultimate sitting machine’. It is certainly a superb all-rounder, whether it’s used minus the clip-on stool as a sit-up-straight chair, or — with the stool in position and the back fully reclined — as an all-out relaxer.

The contoured shape, nicely padded Duragore 3D fabric and integral headrest mean that comfort is up there with the best — in both roles.

But then there’s that price. Given the quality of design and materials, the 150kg weight limit and the five-year warranty, we can’t say that the products aren’t worth the money; but plenty of units in this test work just as well for considerably less cash.