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Tip out spurs quest for a new chair

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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.

I love the quality of Kermit Chair. The design is great and they are made in the US...and I am still saving up for them.

A few years ago we bought 4 of the Moon Lence for around $120 (for all 4 of them). I was skeptical as to quality, but I have to say that after many camping and canoeing trips, they have held up quite well. I was 225# and never broke one of the chairs. They are also super light and pack very small. The biggest downside, they are pretty low to the ground. Getting in and out is not the easiest. Well, one other down side, sandy ground can present some fun moments.
 
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The UPS man brought me an ALPS chair today. That thing is comfortable, but beastly. And the cup holder? Really, does that work? Packed, it's huge 9" x 7" x 36, taking up more than twice the space as my old cheapo collapsable. But comfortable and solid. I won't have to worry about somebody's carelessly placed butt busting my chair! I'm declaring it a keeper, and I'm ordering a Camp Time Roll-a-Chair for use where pack size (and weight) matter.

But, I do have a question. Why is ALPS building a robust chair on such small feet? If I know my pi-R-squared, the ALPS feet provide 1.53 square inches of pad on each leg. My old el cheapo provided 2.76 square inches of foot pad, and even that would sink a bit in sand.

Here's a comparison, foot photo. ALPS feet are about an inch wide by 1.5 inch ovals. El cheapo feet are 1.75 inch round. One is partially busted. The one with the hole in it was replacement hip connector. Note, replacement 1/4" bolt. That el cheapo was resurrected a number of times and only recently declared dead.
Chair feet.jpg
 
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Because I have a hate relationship with my sewing machine I sprang for a Helinox ground sheet. If you like your machine sew some elastic at each corner of a piece of packcloth that is the same size as the leg spread. Slip one foot into each loop. Voila you will not sink in sand. You may not sit on water though.
This way you can have the weight savings benefit of tiny feet and the cloth spreads your weight over a large area with virtually no weight of its own.
 
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I went shopping today. We have a daughter's wedding to look forward to this summer, and my wife conspired with her to ignore the wish list suggestions altogether, so I was sent on a fool's errand swearing to search for one more copper pot or pan to complete an antique collection. I found a nice lidded copper casserole pan, perfect; and while perusing the antiques came across a nice piece of pottery for my wife, a pretty little berry colander, she'll love it. That's just the kind of guy I am. Later after confirming I'd succeeded beyond her wildest dreams (why did she ever doubt I would?) she gave me an early Valentine's Day gift. ( I wasn't aware we were doing the Valentine's Day thing. Isn't there some kind of cooling off period after 40 years of marriage?) Anyway, she presented me with a long cardboard box. "Nice wrapping!" I said, and opened it. Nice indeed!!
https://www.amazon.ca/NiceC-Ultralig...s%2C185&sr=8-6
I set it up in the kitchen and we both took turns sitting in it. Fairly light and fairly comfortable, and < $50.
 
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Why is ALPS building a robust chair on such small feet? If I know my pi-R-squared, the ALPS feet provide 1.53 square inches of pad on each leg. My old el cheapo provided 2.76 square inches of foot pad, and even that would sink a bit in sand.

ALPS could easily have put bigger feet on it, at 13lbs what’s a couple more ounces.

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.

If the legs were tubular it would be easier to find larger feet, crutch tips or etc, or even drill something out, instead of using slit tennis balls or sewn fabric platforms.

I think that the rectangular steel (not tubular aluminum) construction adds to the rigidity of the frame; when I have used our ALPS on sand they has sunk kind of evenly, unlike some X-frame camp chairs where the frame bends as one leg sinks and another leg is left waggling in the air.

If you come up with an idea for foot pad extenders please let me know. For now I think I’ll slice four tennis balls to drop in the bottom of the dry bag just in case. Or three more, I already carry one slit tennis ball as a weightable arborist’s throw.

The cup holder works best if you suck down half of a canned beer before sticking it in that tilted receptacle. That has not been much of an issue for me to overcome so far.

Kinda dicey even with the sippy lid on the coffee mug, so I use the minicel console on the ground beside the chair and reserve that holder for less spillable things. I’ve thought about removing it so the chair slides into the oversized dry bag easier.

Willie’s 4-legged Roll-a-Chair does look better than the tripod stools I’ve tried, although that same forward facing vee under my nuts has reminded me not to lean forward too far. DOHHH, somebody else lean over and chuck a log on the fire.

Very easy to slide your feet back to get under you as you stand.

Feet back under body mass to stand upright is a definite advantage in that design. Most of the damage done to our saggy seat folding big box camp chairs has been from someone, often me, levering themselves upright using the arms, enough to get feet under body and stand erect. Those X-frame chairs with cheap pop rivets are especially vulnerable.

I’m also leery of the UL designs that are some-assembly-required, with tubes and spider connectors and fabric to stretch over (wait, which orientation for the fabric ?) and attach. Can I have a chair to sit down in while I think about assembling the parts of this chair?
 
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I’m also leery of the UL designs that are some-assembly-required, with tubes and spider connectors and fabric to stretch over (wait, which orientation for the fabric ?) and attach. Can I have a chair to sit down in while I think about assembling the parts of this chair?

If you can set up a tent you can set up a chair, especially as they're usually shockcorded? Undo the hook&loop strap, give the spidery cluster a shake, and it practically sets itself up. I must admit though that my new Nice chair was a struggle at first to wrestle the fabric pocket up and over the last 2 aluminum pole ends. Tight fit.

ps .
My wife likes the chair so much she's ordered one for herself. We're both tired of sitting on the ground in camp.
 
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I'm a fan of the Alps chair after having lower back surgery and needing something that doesn't sag. I'm will to deal with the weight and bulk of it for the comfort it gives, for me anyway. And I'm just too freaking old and sore to climb out of chair that's 2" from the ground. The only time I'd leave it behind would be if a trip had a lot of portages but I'm trying to avoid those as well.
 
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Martin, thanks for the head's up on the sunset chair. Backcountry has two colors at $80. I could not resist.
 
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The Camp Time roll up chair arrived. I set it up in the kitchen for a test sit. It’s not uncomfortable but it feels like a tender canoe. I’m going to have to pay attention when sitting in that chair, and predict a tip out at some point. It was tender on the tile floor, so should be an adventure on soft soil. I see tennis balls in the chairs future. There are essential no pads on the 1” tubular legs.

Still, it’s light and will fit in a kayak hatch. I judge it better than the Helinox style. I’m going to start using it and see how the chairs perform in the field.
 
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The Camp Time roll up chair arrived. I set it up in the kitchen for a test sit. It’s not uncomfortable but it feels like a tender canoe. I’m going to have to pay attention when sitting in that chair, and predict a tip out at some point. It was tender on the tile floor, so should be an adventure on soft soil

Photos or it didn’t happen. Bonus points for video.
 
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It was tender on the tile floor, so should be an adventure on soft soil. I see tennis balls in the chairs future.

I think you'll find it pretty stable in most field conditions. Once seated, the chair legs will settle in slightly agive you support you can't find on a hard, slick tile floor. Even bedrock has some grip to it that tile lacks. Very wet soils or fine sand surfaces may have you need the tennis balls, but more >95% of my use it has been fine with the factory setup. Even soft soils will work as long as the legs sink uniformly and not too deep.
 
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Steve and I were back on the Pax yesterday and took the chairs along for test sitting.

First test was a riverside sand bank: R to L, old cheapo, ALPS, Camp Time.
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In the soft sand-organic matter mix, the el cheep sank least. The ALPS sank about three inches but is still extremely stable, it's just shorter. The Camp Time was a challenge. If you put disproportionate weight on any leg, the leg dives into the sand. The base isn't that wide to begin with, and if a leg dives and you don't correct for it, you are going down. We didn't try it with tennis balls, but neither of us wanted to sit in the CT. You can comfortably sit in the CT, but you better be paying attention!

ALPS feet sink, but gain support as the rigid frame members sink. It was still very comfortable, just shorter.
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The tubular legs on the Camp Time have feet that are just the diameter of the tube. Tennis balls may save the situation, but out of the box, this chair lacked stability.
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Foot pads on the old cheep chair barely sank in the soft sand. Sure wish we could still buy these chairs.
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We performed science, sitting in each chair and comparing.

We stopped on a more gravelly bank and repeated our tests.

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All the chairs performed better on the firmer surface. But, at both locations, when it came time to pick a chair and finish the beer we started (this was science, we had to test the cup holder!), the Camp Time is the chair that came up empty. The CT was way more comfortable when firmly supported, but we still needed to pay attention and stay balanced.

The cup holder on the ALPS deserves special mention. It's kind of stuck on one side and does not hold a can vertical, so better make sure you sip the drink down a bit before putting it in the cup holder. It is in the way and enough of an annoyance when we went to pack the chair that I considered cutting it off, but for now it is staying.


Summarizing our findings:
ALPSCamp TimeOld cheap
Stability+-+
Strength+++-
Weight13 lbs3 lbs8 lbs
Ease of packing-++
Packed size-++
Comfort++0+
Cup holderum, yesnono
 
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I'm thinking from the shadows, I'd say the North side or more correct "river left" not sure of course as I have never been there. I don't even know where on the planet the river is. No snow or ice, so not up north.
My attempt at humor.
I have a Camp Time Chair, a tall one, I only use it for ice fishing, it's not great, but better than a upside down bucket. Easy to get out of, something that can't be said of a soccer mom chair.
For car camping best chair I have is a short wood & canvas director chair like this one from Home Despot.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Casual-...Chair-Black-Solid-Wood-Frame-200-02/202915820

I have never taken a chair on a canoe trip, but I might take one of those Helinox Sunsets and one of their Cots too, on my next trip.
 
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River side tests of the CT chair will expose its need for broader feet, like tennis balls. Whether sand or gravel the moisture of the river will leave shoreline soils very moist for some depth from the surface. The farther away from the river you get the firmer the soil and the leg sinking problem improves quite a bit to the point it isn't an issue.

Balancing in the chair improves a lot by actively engaging your body into the back support. When doing that you have 4 points of contact - 2 feet on the ground, butt on the seat, and your torso on the back.

The CT will never become a lounger, but gives you compactness, lightness, and reasonable comfort with back support in return.
 
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alsg--We were near Davidsonville, MD, south of Route 50 and north of Route 214.

Pretty good observation, Boreal. We were on river left, but the Patuxent generally runs north to south, so we were on the east bank. Never canoed with a chair? You need to join Will Derness on a day trip with the Lumber River Club. They quickly set up their chairs anytime the boat touches a bank.

Will--I hear you. Must try with tennis balls.
 
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In the soft sand-organic matter mix, the el cheep sank least. The ALPS sank about three inches but is still extremely stable, it's just shorter. The Camp Time was a challenge. If you put disproportionate weight on any leg, the leg dives into the sand. The base isn't that wide to begin with, and if a leg dives and you don't correct for it, you are going down. We didn't try it with tennis balls, but neither of us wanted to sit in the CT. You can comfortably sit in the CT, but you better be paying attention!

The tubular legs on the Camp Time have feet that are just the diameter of the tube. Tennis balls may save the situation, but out of the box, this chair lacked stability.

Foot pads on the old cheep chair barely sank in the soft sand. Sure wish we could still buy these chairs.

I think Wallyworld still sells those inexpensive X-frame folding chairs with larger foot pads. Starting at $9 for the armless variety; armless seems the preference for friends who play string instruments.

Once you have slit four tennis balls as anti-sink feet they’ll fit either the Camp Time or ALPS. Kinda sorry I got rid of our collection of bent and busted Wallyworld cheapos; I could drill off the rivets holding those circular foot pads in place and epoxy fill/rivet them to the ALPS legs eliminating the need for tennis balls.

I’ll have to remember next time I’m at a State Park dumpster, usually a gold mine of discarded bent/busted big box camp chairs. I’d take a couple home from the dumpster to cut up for parts.

I could use some bigger feet for our APLS chairs, and the high rise extension wind block attachment is simply the seat and back fabric from one of those chairs. That fabric piece already has grommets and sleeves in the right places.

P7201018 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Two bungee balls and two old tent poles, couple short pieces of PVC pipe and I have a portable personal wind block that takes seconds to install.

when it came time to pick a chair and finish the beer we started (this was science, we had to test the cup holder!), the Camp Time is the chair that came up empty.

If no one wanted to sit in it I’m not sure the comparisons were equitable. Someone must suffer for the sake of science.

I have noticed a peculiar phenomenon when camped with friends who were using one of those little three or four legged milking stools; if I got up from my chair to walk up to the tent or down to the water by the time I returned my chair was no longer vacant.



The cup holder on the ALPS deserves special mention. It's kind of stuck on one side and does not hold a can vertical, so better make sure you sip the drink down a bit before putting it in the cup holder. That cup holder is in the way and enough of an annoyance when we went to pack the chair that I considered cutting it off

Yeah, as mentioned earlier that cup holder is poorly designed and tilted at a beverage spilling angle. I use the minicel canoe console set on the ground and have likewise thought about cutting it off, but it is a handy little receptacle to hold my smokeables and lighter, glasses and pen, flashlight, etc.

That cup holder is also the biggest issue with getting the chair back in the OEM bag, which can be lessened by making an oversized DIY dry bag.

P7301071 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Plenty wide enough, even with the wind block extension rolled up between the legs and sunbrella stuffed alongside. For ease or all things ease I made the chair dry bag long enough to fit my little day hammock and straps on top.

P7301069 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Chair slips into the bag at night, along with the hammock and next morning everything is still dry.

Appreciated the chart, but it needs to be an Excel spreadsheet with percentile scoring and macros to total scores for each column. Maybe next time, when you have bigger feet.
 
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I think Wallyworld still sells those inexpensive X-frame folding chairs with larger foot pads. Starting at $9 for the armless variety; armless seems the preference for friends who play string instruments.

Whenever I am in a store that sells chairs, I always look for, and never see the armless variety x-frame. At Wallyworld online, "camp chair" returns 25 pages or results, with 40 chairs per page. Among those thousand chairs, there is, indeed, and armless x-frame: the Stansport Apex deluxe sling-back chair, for about $17. No reviews, but I found the Stansport on Amazon with over 200 reviews. Roughly 1 in 5 reviews can be summarized as "this chair is junk, broke within the first 2 days..." Well, we kind of knew that. None of the 1 in 5 mentioned how much they weigh. The Stansport rates itself for 200 lbs.

Once you have slit four tennis balls as anti-sink feet they’ll fit either the Camp Time or ALPS. Kinda sorry I got rid of our collection of bent and busted Wallyworld cheapos; I could drill off the rivets holding those circular foot pads in place and epoxy fill/rivet them to the ALPS legs eliminating the need for tennis balls.

Why glue on foot pads we know are prone to failure. Photo below compares a foot pad to a piece of plastic that was given to me by Total Plastics (Pulaski Highway, Bmor). You could probably use chunks of plastic cutting boards. Just cut some circles and glue 'em on. What's it gonna hurt?

Chair-foot.jpeg

If no one wanted to sit in it I’m not sure the comparisons were equitable. Someone must suffer for the sake of science.

I have noticed a peculiar phenomenon when camped with friends who were using one of those little three or four legged milking stools; if I got up from my chair to walk up to the tent or down to the water by the time I returned my chair was no longer vacant.

Of course we sat in the Camp Time, for the test. The phenomenon you mention is the reason I always tried to remember to fold up my cheapo and carry it with me every time I got out of the chair. On most trips, they're guys, if not gals, that tip the scale north of 200. I didn't want to return to the chair to find them on the ground and the chair in pieces.
 
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