Best Lawn Chair of 2021
If you are shopping for an outdoor chair that boasts style and comfort, you'll find that the Timber Ridge Zero Gravity Oversized Chair meets your needs for both. There are multiple great features in this chair's design, like a reclinable construction, a headrest pillow that detaches, and wooden armrests. We surprised ourselves by really enjoying the wooden armrests — they don't heat up too much under direct sunlight, and they look great, too. Most importantly, this chair rose to the top of the heap because it was simply the most comfortable for relaxing in for hours on end.
With all of the positive features of this chair, you do experience some compromises — in portability, for example. At 20 pounds, it isn't quite as convenient to haul around as some other chairs we tested. We were also underwhelmed with the drink holder, which is just a plastic tray. Still, we think this is a stylish and comfy chair, and we'd highly recommend it for anyone who plans on spending hours sitting, reclining, and generally relaxing outside.
Finding a balance between comfort, durability, and affordability can be difficult when shopping for a camping-style chair. The ALPS Mountaineering King Kong Chair manages to nail that balance. It offers plenty of sitting space for a camping chair, and some testers were impressed with the comfort of the padded canvas seat. We were also mightily impressed with its listed 800-lb weight capacity, more than double of any other chair we tested. One tester has owned this chair for several years and many camping trips without a hiccup. The two cupholders, two side compartments, and mesh back pocket are convenient for keeping beverages, magazines, phones, or s'mores ingredients within reach.
Of course, we want to be sure to include any possible downsides, and we do think some features could be improved upon. For example, although the padded foam encased in nylon fabric provides comfort for longer sitting, this chair isn't very breathable under-bottom. Additionally, while the chair seems to be sturdy and reliable for the long haul, the carrying bag that comes with it doesn't hold up to the same quality. Still, we are fans of this model and recommend it for those in search of a solid camp chair.
We think the Best Choice Products Zero Gravity Chair provides comfort at a really affordable price. At first glance, it seems about on par, price-wise, with the other zero gravity style chairs, until we realized it's sold as a two-pack. For how comfortable and nice this chair is, we think it's a great deal. We also really like how it reclines and raises easily, and the large drink tray is accommodating. It was also surprisingly lightweight for how substantial this thing is.
We do wish that the drink tray was part of the chair, as when carting it around, it was easy for us to forget the tray in the car. We also wished that the metal was powder-coated a color other than black, as it gets quite hot in the sun. All in all, though, this is a quality pair of chairs at an excellent price.
The Coleman Portable Camping Quad Chair is a pretty standard camping-style chair at first glance, but it does have a few tricks up its sleeve. Notably, the left armrest unzips to reveal a cooler pouch that can fit up to four cans, while the right armrest sports a cup holder. There is also an accessory pouch on the right side of the chair for extra storage. It packs up into a convenient bag and weighs a portable 7.7 pounds.
While it's equipped for prolonged beverage enjoyment, it isn't our favorite for prolonged sitting. Our testers found that the super slouchy shape is somewhat uncomfortable for those who prefer a straighter spine, although this is a relatively common complaint among camping models. The carrying bag's stitching also started unthreading the moment we started using it, which makes us worry about the overall durability of the product. Still, it's considerably more affordable than any other option in this review, so if you're looking for a price-point camp chair, look no further.
Sometimes, when relaxing, a little movement is helpful. That's where the Amazon Basics Foldable Rocking Chair comes in. The seat and back have a zero-gravity style bungee system, which gives the chair a pleasant amount of give and support. We really liked that the chair rocks and has a nice balance, not tending to tip our testers too far back or forward. The headrest is also a nice touch, and it can be moved to serve as a back support as well.
This chair isn't very portable, as it doesn't pack down all that well. It has one of the longest packed down lengths and is surprisingly heavy at nearly 17 pounds. The rocking feature also is really only nice if you're on flat, stable ground. On sand or lumpy ground, it's a nonstarter for us. Still, for a chair on a lawn, the rocking motion is nice. We'd recommend this for someone who wants a rocking chair that is easier to move around than your typical rocker.
The Quik Shade MAX Shade Chair might be the most unique chair we tested in this whole review. Its standout feature, the fairly large canopy hanging out over the seat, is the main reason to consider this chair. While it seems gimmicky at first, the canopy is actually pretty nice, especially as the day heats up and shade becomes increasingly necessary. The shade is also adjustable, making both blocking the sun and getting in and out of the chair without ducking easy.
As far as the seat goes, our testers found it to be average. We wish it was a bit more breathable and had some more support. Unless camp chair seats are pretty taut, they tend to round the user's back, which can be uncomfortable for longer periods. We also wish that the chair was a little easier to get into the bag, as all the extra canopy fabric makes packing it up an annoying task. The shade canopy is worth it, though, and we recommend this chair for anyone sensitive to the sun, or any shade-seekers.
The Kijaro Dual Lock is a classic folding sports chair without any of the slouchy slack you've come to expect from camping chairs. The firm seat locks into place with a tall, friendly-angled back that helps this model be easy to appreciate. Our tallest friends and family members love the added seat height of this towering chair and our grandparents love how easily they can get in and out of it. A quick-release locking mechanism holds the chair securely open for added stability, while simultaneously locking it closed for easy carrying. You can leave the bag at home, as the Kijaro features a shoulder strap attached directly to the frame. It also has a side pocket we like for holding a book and two different-sized cup holders to keep you hydrated.
On the other hand, if portability is your main concern, the Kijaro is just shy of 4 feet long when folded, making it a challenge to fit into some car trunks. It doesn't impress us with its durability, as we've had issues with broken lock mechanisms, loosening pole joints, and easily stained fabric. On top of some other details like sloppy seams and wiggle room in parts of the frame that we don't want wiggle in, we're not convinced this chair will last as long as your desire to go outside will. However, the convenience of the lock and shoulder strap combined with the height and support still make the Kijaro a chair we often reach for when heading to barbecues and backyard hangouts.
The Caravan Sports Infinity Zero Gravity chair is yet another comfy and spacious lawn chair for those who are serious about relaxing. It reclines to 50° and locks the backrest in place easily wherever you'd like it to stay. The headrest can be slid up or down to fit the user. We like that the mesh material keeps things fairly breathable as the air temperature rises. The bungee attachment of the zero gravity chairs gives a pleasant amount of support, which we really enjoy.
As nice and comfortable as zero gravity chairs are, they are quite heavy. Not as portable as the camping-style chairs, this one heavier and doesn't pack down nearly as small. If you're packing it in your car and space is tight, you might wish you had a smaller chair. Once it's deployed, though, there are few complaints — unless you want cupholders on your chair. All in all, we like this chair, even if we like a few others a little bit more.
The Lawn Chair USA Webbing Chair epitomizes the classic lawn chair. It wouldn't look out of place next to a 1960's Sunrader, nor a modern Land Cruiser, on a car camping trip. For how simple the design is, it's reasonably comfortable and keeps the user fairly supported. Although it doesn't collapse in two directions like a camp chair, it folds nearly flat and weighs a scant four pounds, much less than the other lawn chairs in our test fleet.
What you see is what you get on this product. No drink holders, no head or footrest, no secret compartments. The material is also plasticky and heats up underneath us after sitting for a while, which leaves something to be desired. But if you love the classic look and want a simple, very portable lawn chair, this might just be the ticket.
The GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker is an unusual and unique rocker-style lawn chair. Instead of the typical curved legs on a rocker, the GCI sports two spring-loaded pistons that you can press back into in a facsimile of the motion of a typical rocking chair. It also sports a nice wide seat and a convenient cup holder permanently attached to the chair.
We didn't love this chair. The pistons force the user forward into an upright position, almost tipping forward, and the rocking motion doesn't feel nearly as natural as a regular rocker. This is further exacerbated by the strict ninety-degree angle of the chair, which doesn't allow the user to recline at all without pushing with their legs into the pistons. While we appreciate GCI trying new things in the camp chair world, we wouldn't really recommend this chair.
Why You Should Trust Us
This review represents a combined effort of two of our senior review editors, Ethan Newman and Maggie Brandenburg. As a freelance writer, Ethan sits a lot. Not only that, but he's spent years of his life car camping, and that means spending a ton of time in camp chairs. He has gotten even pickier over the past few years as chronic spine issues have surfaced, so he's always on the lookout for a quality, comfortable, and supportive sitting surface. Maggie is a seasoned multi-sport athlete who's spent years guiding folks both young and old in the great outdoors — and requires a comfortable seat from which to write about it all. She has tested lawn and camping chairs for the past several years, having hands-on experience with over 25 unique models. We also enlisted an array of our car camping friends, lawn-lounging relatives, and even a few dogs to help us put these chairs to the test.
We independently purchased the products we reviewed after researching and evaluating the top products on the market today. We created our own rigorous test plan, targeting objective assessments and using measurable tests when possible. We tested and used each product exhaustively, comparing models side-by-side, to tease apart even the smallest differences. Our team also measured seat heights and degrees of reclining range, tried out each drink holder with cans and cups, and left them under the sun for days to see how they hold up. We've carried and sat in each model to help bring you the details you need to make a confident purchase decision.
Analysis and Test Results
Our assessments are chiefly based on four critical performance areas, including Comfort, Portability, Features, and Durability. Below, we discuss how each affects the overall performance of a quality lawn chair, and which models stood out as top performers in each area.
First and foremost, lawn chairs should be comfortable. Lawn chairs are primarily a product used to relax, so we thought we should be as comfortable as possible, for as long as possible, in each chair. We mostly tested this by sitting in each chair for hours at a time. Chairs scored lower if they became less comfortable quicker, or if they made us sweat due to less than breathable fabrics, or we found ourselves fidgeting around to get comfier.
We found the zero-gravity style chairs to be the comfiest. On the zero gravity chairs, the fabric is supported by a bungee cord attaching the seat fabric to the frame. They also tended to have more breathable fabric, allowing for a less sweaty experience when temperatures climbed into the triple digits. The amount they all recline (as much as 60° from vertical) made them really nice for extended relaxing, enough to easily nap in. We especially liked the Timber Ridge Zero Gravity Oversized Chair, as not only did it recline further than others, but it also had an extra-wide seat to curl up in. We also appreciate that the wooden armrests don't heat up in the sun as much as others made out of plastic. As for non-reclining chairs, we found the Amazon Basics Foldable Rocking Chair quite comfortable with its zero-gravity type suspension and calming rocking action.
Rarely do lawn chairs stay set up on a lawn or patio. Instead, they're meant to be storable and packable to take in seasonally or to travel with. We generally take our lawn chairs car camping or to the beach, and so we like them to be fairly portable. Products scored higher here if they weighed less and packed up smaller.
The camp-style chairs, like the ALPS Mountaineering King Kong, Coleman Cooler Quad, and Kijaro Dual Lock, generally score the highest as they all packed into their own included carrying bags. In the Kijaro's case, you can skip the bag, as the chair itself has a shoulder strap on the frame that works well in conjunction with its namesake locking mechanism holding it closed in transit. However, its folded length is nearly 4 feet, which isn't very compact nor convenient. We gave the Lawn Chair USA Webbing Chair a high score here because of how light it is at around four pounds, and how flat it folds. Some of the other chairs, especially the zero gravity chairs, are best as patio furniture, as they don't pack down that small and typically weigh 15 or more pounds.
Features often improve convenience. We look for cup holders, reclining lock-outs, canopies, trays, accessory pouches, and headrests. The more and better the features, the higher the chairs scored. We like cupholders that fit standard 12-ounce cans securely, adjustments and joints that worked smoothly, and anything else that made our experience with the product more enjoyable.
Once again, we really appreciate the features of the Timber Ridge and the Best Choice chairs. Our lead tester loved that the headrest can also be used as back support. They both came with detachable cupholder trays that could also hold a book or sunglasses. The best feature of all was the recliners, especially if the lockouts were easy to use and the weight was well balanced, like on the Caravan Sports chair. The Quik Shade MAX Shade Chair stands out with its unique canopy to provide shade. It was a little jerky to set up, but we did appreciate our own little shade that kept us from baking in the sun. The one other really unique feature we saw was the cooler in the armrest of the Coleman, which fits four 12-ounce cans and some ice.
We assessed durability not only by using them but by leaving the products out in the full summer sun and getting them wet for extended periods to look for signs of weathering.
While most of the products held up well, we thought that the strongest designs were also the simplest. The Amazon Basics Foldable Rocking Chair stood out not only because it had a strong design that weathered the wear well, but also because there's so little to break on it. We were impressed by most of the products, but some of the stitching on a few of the chairs did start to unravel as we packed and unpacked them. In the case of the King Kong, one of our testers has owned this chair for years without any issue with the chair itself. The carry bag, though, isn't as sturdy. During our test period, we noticed some stitching on the bag coming undone.
Any of these chairs can be a throne for the right person, and we want you to feel like royalty when you relax outdoors. We hope that our in-depth evaluation helps you find the right product for your needs and that you use it to relax in the great outdoors wherever you are.
— Ethan Newman