TravelChair — Last Minute Gear’s Go-To Camp Chair

by | May 6, 2022 | Good Product

Our friends at Last Minute Gear know gear inside and out.  In fact, they are THE company to hook you up with gear to own, rent, or borrow!

They couple their insider access to top-shelf gear with pro tips for everything from bear safety to camping during a downpour.  Their Gear Guides will help you navigate the (sometimes daunting) task of knowing what is essential for your next adventure.

Check ‘em out at https://travelchair.com/outfitters-guide/

or

https://www.lastminutegear.com/ .

In California and ready to explore? Go meet ‘em at 563 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94102!

TravelChair is proud to partner with Last Minute Gear because they believe in helping others get outside by providing experience and tools to enhance the great outdoors experience, just like we do! Last Minute Gear uses our Joey Chair for their seating needs to help their local Bay Area Community explore the outdoors in comfort. 

We wanted to share the process that Last Minute Gear uses to select gear manufactures for their fleet.  Specifically, we wanted to share the chair comparison they went through before committing to TravelChair as their preferred chair supplier.  So sit back (on your Joey chair) and enjoy!

There are a ton of portable chairs on the market, we asked our friends at Last Minute Gear to share how they think through a good gear comparison.

Hello! At Last Minute Gear, our mission is to reduce waste & increase access to the outdoors. For those reasons, we are the only gear shop where folks can buy, rent, or borrow gear (borrowing is free!). For the same reasons, we spend a lot more time curating the gear that we carry in the shop. Whether for sale, or for rent, we want our customers to know that they’re getting something we truly think it’s worthwhile.

Given our mission around sustainability, one dimension we always consider first is multi-use. For chairs, that means we wanted to carry chairs that could be used in a number of different settings and were very flexible. Which is why early on, we decided to carry pitched style chairs in favor of folding chairs, collapsible style chairs, or picnic style chairs (see images below), because these chairs also folded down into a size small enough for carrying in most situations (backpacking, festivals, etc.).

When we thought about pitched style chairs, the models that came immediately to mind were Helinox’s Chair Zero, REI’s Flexlite, and Alite’s Monarch. But of course, models abound on the marketplace, including Big Agnes, ALPS Mountaineering, and of course, Travel Chair!

To narrow this down, we started collecting qualitative data and listening to what our customers. Given that we chose pitched style chairs because of their flexibility for use in backpacking, our hypothesis was that size & weight should be key. In other words, if it’s small & light enough for backpacking, it would be then appropriate for other uses as well.

But the more people we talked to, the more we disproved our hypothesis. People mostly wanted the chairs for car camping (lounging around a fire) or events such as music festivals. Many of our backpackers, who are more beginners and tend to not have ultralight gear (unless they’re renting from us), don’t have enough space in their packs for a chair at all. And many ultralight backpackers care about every gram of weight and would never bring a chair in the first place.

The lesson learned for you, an individual consumer: when starting a gear comparison, first, truly ask yourself—how will you use the gear?

We recommend to be honest with yourself by looking at your historic experiences, rather than being too aspirational and only dreaming of what you would do. We hear too many stories of people who shelled out $1000 for a closet full of gear hoping that by having it they will use it more, but honestly, like sticking to a new year’s resolution, that level of discipline is not common! So instead of dreaming about lounging in your chair after a long day on the Pacific Crest Trail, think back to when you wanted a portable chair in the past—what were you doing? Or run an experiment, and just like keeping a food or sleep journal, every time you find yourself wishing you had a portable chair or borrowing a friend’s, what are you doing? Are you at a music festival? Sitting around a campfire? Having a picnic in a local park? If so, don’t worry… you’re just like most of our customers!

As a result of hearing our customers, we demoted size & weight from being a key factor in our decision-making. Sure, it’s important, because some customers will want a chair for backpacking (a little aspiration is fine!), and small & light is always better, but this is the minority usage. And since the smaller & lighter, the more expensive, this demotion also allowed us to completely eliminate from further consideration ultralight and ultra-expensive chairs. Basically, since few people wanted the ultralight & package size, this also meant that most people couldn’t justify paying so much for a chair.

 

Top Criteria for a Camping Chair 2022

At this point we had a narrower set of models to look at. For each of these models, we ranked based on 4 factors:

 1) Seat surface area – since our mission is to make gear more accessible, and we had already ruled out the ultralight chairs that save weight by having tiny seat surfaces, we wanted to make sure the seat surface area would be substantial for a larger person.

2) Seat height some chairs sit so low to the ground that even a lightweight person’s bottom will touch! In our minds this doesn’t add value over a picnic style chair like the Crazy Creek, so we eliminated these quickly

3) Price an important criteria in every decision! As a sub-criteria, we also looked at price relative to seat surface area, seat height, and also size & weight (just because size & weight were demoted doesn’t mean they are irrelevant) to ensure we picked chairs that offered a price to value ratio that wasn’t out-of-line with the market

4) Reviewsthis, for us, is often a substitute for comfort. This is because comfort varies vastly between people, so what our staff thinks is comfortable may not be true for everyone. By reading aggregate reviews, we can get a sense of what’s comfortable for most people

There are other factors we would’ve liked to have considered, but there’s just not a lot of available information. This includes durability & reparability, which are both hard to gauge until you put the item to the test. Reviews, for example, often don’t talk about durability because most people give reviews shortly after receiving an item, rather than going back several years later. Sustainability is also important to us, but few chairs can boast sustainability features, and most gear is difficult to manage at end-of-life (e.g., it’s very difficult to recycle everything), we’ll just hope for new innovation here!

For each of the 4 factors we looked at, each chair received a score, then we just added up all the scores to compare. You can do this different ways, for example, using rankings, or weighting the scores. More importantly, have a tiebreaker process for yourself! Perhaps in the event of a tie, you can add a weight to the scores (if you hadn’t already), or consider smaller factors (e.g., style or colors available).

All of this comparison process may seem like quite a bit of work, but buying gear is and should be an investment. We say this all the time, but time and time again, experience shows that cheap gear doesn’t last and ultimately isn’t worth it. A $20 chair that breaks after 2 uses cost more per use than a $100 chair that you took on 2 trips a year for 10 years. And if you don’t use it very often, well, that’s precisely why we’re here to offer rentals!

All the chairs we evaluated were in the $80-120 price range, and since we’re making a purchasing decision on behalf of all our customers who rent, it was even more important for us to make the correct decision! We ultimately went with Travel Chair’s Joey series. 

While it was one of the heavier and bulkier chairs we compared, recall that we realized from customer feedback that size & weight actually aren’t the most important factors. Instead, the Joey series has one of the larger seat surface areas and heights, without a crazy price tag attached. In terms of smaller features, we liked the anti-sink feet, and that we could print on it.

Whatever you decide to go with, if you’ve followed a good process that truly respects your use case, you’ll be sure to end up with a chair that will be just right for you!

Slacker Stool- 1389V

"I now keep one in my car ready for any type of activity where sitting is preferable than standing. You can insert your own activity here. The size make this easy to grab when in doubt, and has often served as a life saver.

Easily stored and low-profile. Almost no bigger or heavier than an umbrella. You will not complain taking it with you and will be rewarded by being rested and comfortable when you get up."

-Richard T.

    Joey Chair- 7789V

    "After owning this chair for a little more than half a year, I can confirm that this chair is all-around amazing. It is extremely comfortable and it is pretty light weight.

    As others have mentioned, the feet outperform other chairs that have straight feet in the sand. The feet design allows for the chair to sit on top of sand rather than sinking in.

    My friends are always jealous when I bring this chair to the park (which is every time, since its so easy to pack). So much that we often end up taking turns on it 
    If you're debating whether or not to get it, do yourself a favor and just buy it!"

    -Roger C.

    Big Kahuna- 599

    "Awesome sturdy comfortable chair. I don't know why but I am the King Champion of breaking folding camp chairs. I am 6'2" 295lbs and have broke many 300lbs rated chairs, one chair cut up the back of my knee pretty good when it failed.

    My son is 6'7" 325lbs and plays major college football, he has not even come close to breaking as many chairs as I have. Well the Big Kahuna Chair is rock solid and comfortable I don't ever see this chair failing. If it ever does I'll post it."

    -Keith B.

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