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Tip out spurs quest for a new chair

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Float Plan

My buddy Steve and I hit a local stretch of the Patuxent to while away a January afternoon. We like to take the OT Tripper down that woody section and know it well. It's only a seven-mile stretch, so to add duration to the trip, we often pick up trash along the way, mostly offensive floating objects. It stretches the trip and it's fun because we get to exercise boat control and interaction with strainers.

Tip Out

We sashayed into a river-right strainer, bow pointed right, and parked with the current holding us there to collect some bottles, cans, balls, and styrofoam. We backed out. Just downriver were a couple of logs sticking up at angles from the river bottom. I guess we could of pivoted, but just thought we'd float around backwards, split the uprights, then spin 180 and proceed downriver. Easy peezy. About 140 into the 180, we struck something underwater, and it threw us out on the left.

Yikes. The water was chilly, as in ice on the tribs. We rolled the boat up and got it over to the side, but not without struggle. The Tripper had been caught on something underwater and didn't want to roll up. It took a chest-deep wade to get her off of that snag.

I've swum with ice blocks before, and had the same thought this time as always. I knew the water was cold, but I felt okay. Then I have the second thought: well, they say your judgement is the first thing to go.

Enough on that. I ended up loosing several items that were not tied in. Bailer and chair. And Steve lost his sponge. Nothing too critical.

Damn loosing that chair. It was way past the end of its expected life span. But I haven't been able to buy chairs like that for years. They were from the early years of metal-frame, fabric chairs. It was armless and when folded measured 4.5" by 28." It cost about $5. But there were $8 chairs that had armrests and cup holders. Only $3 bucks more. So, everybody bought deluxe $8 chairs and the no-arms chair is no longer stocked. It's not a big deal to canoeists, but the chairs with arms are bigger, and they won't fit in my kayak! And, I need a chair that fits inside the hatch. I extended the life of my old chair by scavenging riverside-trashed chairs and harvesting the spare parts. Well, my old chair lies at the bottom of the Patuxent, so now I'm chair shopping, and I seek your help.

Chair criteria

Folded, it should fit in the kayak, so somewhere around 5x28 inches, or less.
To reduce sinking on soft surfaces, the feet of the chair should be 1.5" round or greater.
Four-legged chair preferred.
I like a seat pan that is 15" or higher from the chair feet.
I need a back rest.
Strong enough to hold people that might come along and sit in the chair, say 250 lbs.

What are you sitting on at camp?
 
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I use a knock-off Helinox, less than half the price of the real/original branded version. Soft ground issues can be solved with tennis balls or a friend that drilled holes in golf balls and then epoxy'd to the feet. Of course you can buy a fancy aftermarket thingy from Helinox that does the same thing at 10 times the price.

Two things with that style of chair, not really suitable for heavyweights and one needs to use some sort of care to avoid putting your full weight on one leg when getting up/down-in/out.

This style of chair is quite light, packs small and with a bit of care, mine has over 200 camp nights and it still pretty much as new (except for a couple of pin hole burns from sloppy smoking).

Every version of these chairs is slightly different, some are "flatter" some are a bit "deeper".

ganka-06-1002_green__01.jpg?quality=80&bg-color=255,255,255&fit=bounds&height=&width=&canvas=:.jpg
 
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I have the REI Flexlite MACRO with optional underquilt. Love it. Regular Flexlite too low and small for me.
 
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Glad you are OK Chip. Been there .. Flipped on Lake Superior at the outflow of the Dog River. The chair sank taking my hated coated nylon drysuit with it. I have had the Helinox Chair One for several years.
But I do go with buy the most expensive and well built as I regard this stuff as an investment. Others have different buying approaches.

That little flip led to my purchase of a Gore Tex drysuit when Ken Fink was still selling at cost ( Kokotat put the kibosh on that later)
 
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My buddy Steve and I hit a local stretch of the Patuxent to while away a January afternoon. We like to take the OT Tripper down that woody section and know it well. It's only a seven-mile stretch
Tip Out. I ended up loosing several items that were not tied in. Bailer and chair. And Steve lost his sponge

Did the chair sink? I’m thinking that one of those little UL folders would probably float in a custom-sized dry bag. I haven’t tried, but I think even the mega camp chair I use would still float in its no-struggle sized to slip in easily heat sealable dry bag (a boon at rainy bedtimes). Just sayin’

I can’t help with a recommendation for a tiny folding or some-assembly-required chair with a four big no-sink feet, a minimum 15” high seat with backrest designed to hold 250 lbs. Sounds pricey.

But on a 7 mile outing, paddling in an OT Tripper with an 1100 lb capacity - unless Steve has gained 600 lbs since I last saw him - I think you could probably manage to squeeze in a full size camp chair and save the dainty $100 Helinox type chairs for kayak trips where compact hatch sizing volume and weight come into play.

Maybe buy two different chairs.

What are you sitting on at camp?

A veritable throne, an ALPS Leisure Chair (AKA now “Happy Hour” chair). It sure isn’t fitting in a kayak hatch, and it weighs a no-portage 13 lbs, but it is speced to hold 300 lbs and is the most comfortable, durably constructed and fail-resistant designed camp chair I have ever used. Even at a folded size of 7” x 45” you have room in the Tripper.

Other camp chair discussion here, including pros and cons and failures:

http://www.canoetripping.net/forums...l-discussion/80895-futile-camp-chair-question

Last Glamper trip three out of six guys were sitting in ALPS Leisure chairs. And two of them are skinny little guys who weight a buck and a half soaking wet. One out of six guys was sitting (or falling over/needing help to get out) in a Helinox-type chair, and wished he wasn’t. It wasn’t the entirely the capacity or durability or normal seated height, it was the comfort.

PA050055 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

It looks like ALPS is now calling it the “Leisure Chair/Happy Hour chair”. I’ll drink to that.
$30 at Steep and Cheap

https://www.steepandcheap.com/alps-...MIh76e0fOU2wIViVuGCh0rDwPpEAQYAyABEgJYdfD_BwE

$10 more than a POS big-box camp chair, which a year later will have torn stitching, busted pop rivets and a saggy ass nylon fabric seat.

Shop customization quotes for DIY dry bag, high-rise wind block back accessory, Ridgerest insulation or sunbrella attachment upon request.

PA070123 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

PA070109 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr
 
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Camptime Roll a Chair. Packs down to 4x4x27. Same company that makes the roll a table. Been my companion for 15 years or so. My favorite feature is the seat height - standard chair height so very easy to stand up from. 4 legs and a seat back which folds down.
 

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Those Helinox chairs and knock offs seem to be kayaker standard. It's always funny, to me, to be out with a bunch of kayakers sitting in their Helinox chairs. It's only a matter of time, usually minutes, until somebody falls over. The question is who will it be and what will they spill. On a 2013 trip out west I forgot my chair and picked up a Helinox which I used on the trip. I fell out. But I just retrieved that chair from the camping armoir and it is a nice, hatchable, 5"x14", which is, I guess, why they are kayaker standard. The seat pan, if you can call it that, is too low for my comfort. The beach version Cruiser is using may help with the sinking feet, but that chair is low!

I've seen Will sitting in the camp time roll a chair, but never realized how compactly it packs. 4x27 is hatchable! I wish I had taken advantage of Will's to try sitting in it. The 45-degree offset of the seat pan is weird looking, though I like the 19" seat-pan height.

And those Alps chairs look good, too. Steep and Cheap is a little skimpy with details like pack size, but looks fairly small in photos. It looks to provide more back support than the roll a chair. What about the feet, Mike? They look small. No sinking issues?

I've never dry bagged my chair, and it usually packs near the bottom to the boat. Yes, I've sat in it when the seat is wet. Dry bagging them is a good idea, and, even the 13 pounder will likely float if it is dry bagged.
 
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I've seen Will sitting in the camp time roll a chair, but never realized how compactly it packs. 4x27 is hatchable! I wish I had taken advantage of Will's to try sitting in it. The 45-degree offset of the seat pan is weird looking, though I like the 19" seat-pan height.
.

Admittedly the seat looks strange with seat rectangle rotated so a corner is what is in front. However, I think this design also helps in ease of standing as your legs rest over the backward angular sweep of the cloth. Very easy to slide your feet back to get under you as you stand. I find the seat itself very comfortable. I've even been able to lightly nap while leaning against the back, lightly is the key word as a deep sleep would probably have me pitch out to one side or another.

A very sturdy chair, supports 250 lbs. Available in 3 seat heights, regular 19", short 16", tall 22". The 19 inch one is standard chair height
 
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Certainly what chair appeals will be a function of the camping you are doing. That Helinox chair comes in at just over 3 pounds (rated to 320 pounds) and i would dare anyone to try and fall over or out of it ... you just would really have to work at it. Granted ... there are also other models (which I didn't consider) that you would be hard pressed to stay in once the ground gets soft.

All of my trips include portaging, so weight is an issue, if you aren't going to have to carry the chair, that changes a lot of the selection criteria ... but if I am looking at 8-10 pounds versus 3 pounds for a comfy chair, I will pick the 3 pounder and learn to push myself up a bit to get out.
 
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Bought a Helinox Sunset last year. No complaints. Very high back and high seat height. High weight rating too.
 
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Marten, the Sunset looks pretty good. I looked at it on a couple different sites, because I was sure the price must have been a mistake. But, it is pretty consistently, high priced on many sites. The feet look like they'd sink. There's a knock off by KingCamp that looks very similar (that's the way with knockoffs) but that has a circular ring on the feet that is sure to work better (if it doesn't break off) than the Helinox feet. And it costs about a third of the price.

It's a wonder Helinox doesn't add similar "foot-broadeners." They must be aware that their chairs are treacherous on soft surfaces. The Sunset-style chairs look to have a higher seat height than my 2013 Helinox. Looks like a good chair, but pricey!

Cruiser, when I portaged, I carried a crazy-creek style chair. Chair is too strong a word--seat. I just weighed the knock off I've used--22 ounces. And it never tips over!

Meanwhile, I started a chat with MarlaB over at Backcountry.com. I wanted to find out the packed dimensions of the ALPS chair, which I couldn't find listed at any on-line sources. MarlaB couldn't find it either, but suggested they ship me one and in case it doesn't fit in the hatch, they preapproved me for a no-shipping-cost return. So, we'll see what happens there. MarlaB should be in sales!
 
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And those Alps chairs look good, too. Steep and Cheap is a little skimpy with details like pack size, but looks fairly small in photos. It looks to provide more back support than the roll a chair. What about the feet, Mike? They look small. No sinking issues?

Meanwhile, I started a chat with MarlaB over at Backcountry.com. I wanted to find out the packed dimensions of the ALPS chair, which I couldn't find listed at any on-line sources. MarlaB couldn't find it either, but suggested they ship me one and in case it doesn't fit in the hatch, they preapproved me for a no-shipping-cost return. So, we'll see what happens there. MarlaB should be in sales!

Uh, which ALPS chair are we talking about? The ALPS Leisure is not a small chair; it is both bigger and heavier than most folding camp chairs, but worth it. Much sturdier too; mid-trip chair failure sucks, a lesson I learned several times.

We do have some (surviving) chairs that are smaller and lighter, and when weight and volume matter they are a more sensible choice. But for a car camper, a day trip, a base camp no portage trip or Glamper, hell yeah, I’ll take a big, sturdy, oh-so-comfortable chair every time.

Answering questions and specs.The feet are just ok, 1” x 1 ½” wide; could be bigger and I might add slit tennis balls for soft sugar sand. When the feet do soft sand sink the sheer rigidity of the frame keeps it unbent and fairly even.

ALPS Leisure Chair specs:
600D Polyester Fabric (double or triple stitch reinforced at stress points)
Coated steel Frame (so far so good on saltwater)
13 lb weight (yeah, it is twice as heavy as some planned obsolescence folding big-box chairs)
Packed size 7” x 45” (yeah, it is huge, I’m not Twiggy myself)


The seat pan and backrest fabric are polyester, not sagging nylon, and are attached to the frame differently. Instead of using corner grommets and plastic reinforcements, which eventually elongate or fail, the seat fabric is sleeved around rigid steel frame side rails, so the seat pan stays firm and doesn’t droop down. That eventual seat droop is my personal beef with most folding fabric camp chair designs; the seat pan get saggier and saggier with use, until I feel like I’m encased in a bean bag chair and need to use the arms to lever myself out even when sober. That armrest levering action is eventual chair death.

On most folding camp chair designs the armrests immediately become the X frame in front, with no additional vertical support. So when a friend who abandoned his teeny milking stool scarffs your vacated seat and then leverages his way out by pushing on the armrests, bad things happen, especially to the single 3/16” pop rivet holding the frame together. I drilled those inadequate pop rivets after a few bent, or failed catastrophically, and replaced them with ¼” machine screws – those never failed, although the rest of the chair’s grommet corners and cheap stitching eventually went south.

Lots of back support. Nice tall, wide back support. We had, still have, some cheap folding camp chairs on which the backrest was too short and worse, too damned narrow, so my shoulder blades were resting on the frame if I leaned back. Not a comfortable recline poking rigid at my back.

I got an ALPS Leisure Chair out and measured. The (still unsaggy) seat pan is 18” high, 16” deep and a big-butt 21” wide. The backrest measures 20” wide between the steel backrest frame (my shoulders fit nicely) and 26” tall, taller and wider than many camp chairs, but that backrest still leaves my head and neck wind-exposed.

The wind block extension brings the backrest up to 40” high, well above my head and shoulders. Having a personal, easily movable/repositioned wind shelter makes a huge difference on off-season trips, think winter Assateague or etc windy open. I’m almost smart enough to move the chair angle when the wind shifts. “Why is my neck cold?” Oh, yeah, pivot 30 degrees.

Or, desert traveler Chip, in hot weather. The high backrest alone provides some shade, I like having a spacious golf umbrella along. On the hot weather side the use of reflective UV sunbrelllas yard tested considerably cooler seated in the chair under a summer day’s sun. (Think mid-day on a overhead hot desert sun, desperately waiting for some canyon wall shade)

While I had that Leisure chair out I had myself a sit to see if I could find anything I didn’t like about it. OK, the angle of the backrest could be a bit more vertical, but it is still the most comfortable camp chair I’ve ever used.

Beyond the appreciated comfort the design durability is impressive. The folding mechanisms are all much sturdier and better designed than on a standard camp chair, so the frame is very rigid. The 13lb weight is in the coated steel frame, beefier construction and more durable folding “hinge” pivots. Not a single cheesy soon-to-fail vinyl “grommet to be seen.

FWIW ALPS has a “Big Cat” chair, listed at 500 lb capacity. We have one and I don’t believe that weight limit; the “Big Cat” has the same folding construction design as a big-box chair, same gonna eventually elongate plastic seat pan grommets, same fabric arms with a back grommet that likewise wears out so the arms won’t stay up. Oh, yeah, the “Big Cat” isn’t actually big; the backrest frame, once again, digs at my shoulder blades. Fits my beanpole son perfectly though, and if it really has a 500lb capacity it would hold 3.3 of him.

The Leisure Chair frame design is superior in every way. Almost every way, the Big Cat has slightly wider feet.

Frame design differences

Big Cat (same as most any big-box camp chair)
https://www.backcountry.com/alps-mountaineering-big-c.a.t.-camp-chair

Leisure Chair (more supports and connections, much sturdier)
https://www.camping-gear-outlet.com...MIodrJ6-q_5wIVM4VaBR1XqQR7EAQYASABEgItXfD_BwE

Next time you are up this way come by and have a test sit.
 
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Lots of good choices here, the only thing I would add, get one with the larger disks on the feet. Those REI chairs have a bad habit of sinking wo/them, especially in the spring.
 
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It's a wonder Helinox doesn't add similar "foot-broadeners." They must be aware that their chairs are treacherous on soft surfaces. The Sunset-style chairs look to have a higher seat height than my 2013 Helinox. Looks like a good chair, but pricey!

Helinox haven't missed the opportunity to extract more money from their followers. They have accessories to solve the sinking issue. they now have their own version of the golf/tennis ball DIY solution plus what they call a "ground sheet".

https://helinox.com/collections/chair-accessories
 
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Helinox haven't missed the opportunity to extract more money from their followers. They have accessories to solve the sinking issue. they now have their own version of the golf/tennis ball DIY solution plus what they call a "ground sheet".

https://helinox.com/collections/chair-accessories

HOLY SHEEP DIP

I'll say they haven't. Looks like they had a whole design team on just accessories
 
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They probably have a "whole team" for everything, that's why their chairs are 3 times the price of virtually indistinguishable no-name versions.
 
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Last year you could get the Helinox sunset for 85-90 US dollars if you searched the internet occasionally. Still not cheap but it is a quality chair and the feet issue is easily solved if you are not camping on the Canadian shield like I do.
 
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Bought something called a Moon Lence camping chair last year from Amazon for $40 Canadian (roughly $30 US). It's a Helinox knock-off, rated for 330 pounds but I wouldn't push it quite that far. Weighs almost exactly the same as a Helinox Chair One (1.8 pounds, without the bag) and folds to fit in a small outside pocket on my backpack. And while I've only used it a few times it seems solid and stable (I'm about 180 pounds) , and comes with wide foot attachments. Helinox is very good, and I don't mind spending a fair bit on good outdoor gear where it really matters (like a tent or something) but to me they are now approaching the "screw me over" price point when you consider it is just a dinky chair. That price point is different for everyone of course, but for now I like the odds that I won't need to go through the 3 or so of these chairs required before spending as much as one Helinox.
 
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