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Gear Test: Camp Chairs


We’ve put together a selection of some of the best mid-priced camp chairs on the market today, based on value, quality and comfort. We’ve also given them a safety rating for when you’ve had one – or three – drinks too many…

Supreme luxury: Kaufmann Sofa Chair

Undoubtedly the most supremely comfortable chair on this list, Kaufmann’s Sofa Chair is thickly-padded and would be just as at home in your lounge as around the campfire. It trades portability for luxury, but it’s still pretty easy to lug around in its oversized bag. If you’re not short on space and want to spoil your backside, this is the one. The cupholder isn’t secure for a glass, but you’ll be too busy snoozing to use it anyway.

After 7 rum & cokes: Ready for impact, but don’t expect to get back up.

Material: 600D polyester

Frame: Powder-coated steel

Cupholder: Yes

Max. weight: 150kg

Price: R999

Sun lounger: Meerkat by Bushtec Gravity Chair

The name says it all – this recliner uses your weight to flatten out into what’s essentially a camp stretcher. Despite the absence of padding, it’s still quite comfy, thanks to the bungy cord wrappings that keep the fabric stretched tight against the chair’s frame (rather like a trampoline). The adjustable cushion doubles as lumbar support, and the locks underneath both armrests ensure you don’t let gravity get the better of you. We like that it can double as patio furniture. It is no lightweight and doesn’t fit into a bag, but it does fold flat, making it relatively portable.

After 7 rum & cokes: We call this one the ‘pass-out chair’. You’ll see why.

Material: 600D polyester

Frame: Steel

Cupholder: No

Max. weight: 150kg

Price: R815 (excl. VAT)

Cut-price recliner: Afritrail Oribi

Although we love the Bushtec Gravity Chair, some campers will be looking for a more compact, affordable option. Afritrail’s Oribi doesn’t have a leg rest, but it does recline quite far and can lock in place with a very simple 5-stage mechanism located under the armrests. It also folds up, albeit into a smaller size, but the price drop comes with a noticeable reduction in frame quality and maximum capacity. Even so, it’s a great chair for the price, and is actually very comfortable.

After 7 rum & cokes: A safe fall, so long as you don’t grab the armrests as you drop.

Material: 600D polyester

Frame: Steel

Cupholder: No

Max. weight: 110kg

Price: R699.99

The pipsqueak: Front Runner Expander

Here’s where the hardcore overlanders get excited. The Expander completely forsakes comfort in the name of portability, and, in all honesty, it’s a brilliant design. It folds up into a 6x44x42cm rectangle that hardly takes up any space at all, and weighs just 4kg. It’s a bit pricey, and it’s not wildly comfortable, but after a long day, it’ll do just fine. Andrew Middleton recently spent 3 weeks on a cross-Africa trip with this specific one, and trust us when we say that if it can handle that, it can handle anything.

After 7 rum & cokes: You might miss the chair completely. That’s if you even manage to get it open.

Material: 600D polyester

Frame: Powder-coated steel

Cupholder: Yes + pockets

Max. weight: 115kg

Price: R1 099

Budget bucket: OzTrail Sovereign Jumbo Cooler

What’s in a name? Well, this OzTrail takes conventional cupholders and wipes the floor with them. It has its own coolerbag stitched into the left arm, so that your next brew is ice cold by the time you’re done with your first. It’s the cheapest chair on this list, and that comes with its trade-offs, but it’s big and reasonably comfortable thanks to padding in the headrest. It also has extra-wide armrests, but don’t lean on them too hard, or the coolerbag’s Velcro will give up.

After 7 rum & cokes: There is no after. You were in this chair the whole time.

Material: 600D polyester

Frame: Steel

Cupholder: Yes + coolerbag

Max. weight: 130kg

Price: R499.99

Larger leisure: Tentco Big Boy Chair

Tentco is a brand synonymous with extremely tough canvas products that last a lifetime. We like the Big Boy because it’s an oversized seat that’ll handle the larger campers among us without bruising your thighs. It has a standard spider chair design, but it’s rugged and durable and will probably be the last chair you buy for many years to come.

After 7 rum & cokes: No problem flopping back into this Big Boy when you get up for the Round 8 refill. Bombs away.

Material: Nylon ripstop

Frame: Steel

Cupholder: Yes, x2

Max. weight: 130kg

Price: R695

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