Camping furniture has been a bright spot at outdoor retail as more consumers bring the luxuries of home not just to campsites, but also to tailgates, music festivals and the kids’ soccer games.
“The specialty outdoor buyer is looking for lightweight, small and compact solutions,” said Jeff Polke, president of GCI Outdoor. While few are planning to haul these furniture options in their overnight pack, he said, they want something that’s small to stow in the car and easy to carry the couple hundred yards from the parking lot to down to the river, beach or event.
In this realm, new options on the Summer Market show floor include TravelChair’s Wallaby (MSRP $135), which upgrades the minimalist chair with armrests and a cup holder, while keeping the weight at less than 3.5 pounds. The anodized aluminum frame with dual-shock corded poles can support up to 325 pounds and its anti-sink disc feet prevent sinking in soft ground. Therm-a-Rest enters the camp furniture category with the Treo Chair (MSRP $100), which packs down into its own tripod base and weighs 2 pounds, 6 ounces. And Alite Designs brings the Shasta Stool (MSRP $45) an ultralight seating option at 1.25 pounds that can double as an ottoman with other chairs.
For backpackers, the go-to backcountry seating has been folding up the sleeping pad with a chair kit. Crazy Creek’s Air Chair Compact (MSRP $80) takes the same theory but uses a dedicated 2-inch-thich Klymit pad, which can be kept in the car when needed.
Even car campers, who can afford to bring a bit more size and luxury, are demanding more compact solutions, Polke said. “With rising gas prices, not everyone has a big SUV anymore,” he said. “Customers want the ability to fold down a couple of chairs, and a cook station, and fit them into a Mini Cooper with room left over for the rest of their gear.”
GCI Outdoor’s 3-Position Director’s Chair (MSRP $60) folds flat and compact with a new design that’s 40 percent smaller than same-style chairs, Polke said. And it still boasts a three-position backrest and a plastic side table with a built-in beverage holder. Its Slim-Fold Cook Station (MSRP $80) similarly folds flat and can be set-up or taken down in about 30 seconds. It features four swing-out side tables and a heat-resistant aluminum top for stoves. Need a slightly smaller option for less of a crowd? Check out Tailgaterz’s Gameday Buffet (MSRP $79), which carries like a briefcase and sets up with four, foldable, auto-locking legs.
You’ve had your beer and food at camp, so now it's time to truly lounge. Eureka’s Lounger Cot (MSRP $150) hits the spot with four reclining positions for a hybrid chair/cot design.