Portable and Folding Chairs Buying Guide

Find the perfect seat for your activity with our guide to portable and folding chairs.

October 18, 2023
chair on pavement

Accessible. Comfortable. Easy to set up. These are just a few of the qualities you might be looking for in a portable folding chair. Whether adventuring to the sidelines for a game or the outdoors for some family fun, you need the right equipment. A quality chair can help take your experience from unpleasant to comfortable.

 

Follow our all-inclusive guide to ensure you always have the perfect seat.

 

*Disclaimer: Product availability may fluctuate due to inventory.

WHERE ARE YOU GOING?

Before you select your seat, you assess your environment. For maximum comfort and portability, you may want to purchase multiple chairs for different activities. While one chair style might cater to sitting at a sporting event, others might be better suited for backyard gatherings. Are you hiking into the backcountry or heading to the beach? A lighter, more portable option would likely best fit your needs.

After determining the portability factor, consider the features you'll need (and want) most. For example, do you prefer a chair with cup holders for convenience? How about padded arms for comfort? Do you want some added benefits like a rocking chair or a zero-gravity chair for extra relaxation? 

Also think about storing and transporting the chair of your choice. A quad fold chair will typically fit inside a portable bag in a cylindrical shape, while a quad fold lays flat when not in use.

SIZE AND WEIGHT

Foldable chairs can seem relatively light. That is, until you have to carry them for a few miles — then their size and weight really start to matter. Consider choosing a chair made with aluminum instead of steel for a lighter carry. Additionally, aluminum chairs are a great choice for the beach as they will not rust.

 

Similarly, if you’re hiking, hunting or walking a distance to your camp, you may want something even more compact, like a tripod stool. What these models lack in comfort, they make up in portability. Plus, any seat can be better than sitting on the ground.

WEIGHT CAPACITY

Not all chairs — even some that look similar — can hold the same amount of weight. It’s important to check each model’s weight limit.

 

Some kids’ chairs hold as little as 150 pounds or as much as 225 pounds. Some adult chairs are built to hold between 225 and 500 pounds. It might seem like more than enough if a chair says it holds 250 pounds. But it can be best to err on the side of caution, especially if you have young kids running and jumping around. 

Best Folding and portable chairs

BEACH CHAIRS

Height is a crucial element when buying a chair for the beach. Consider both the backrest height and the distance between the chair and the ground. Some beach chairs are lower to the ground, allowing you to stretch your legs on the sand.

 

BONUS PRO TIP: Beach chairs are also perfect for festivals, according to Mosler. Most festivals limit chair height to 30 inches, making these a great go-to option.

 

Check out a few styles we like!

GCI Waterside SunShade Backpack Beach Chair
GCI Waterside SunShade Backpack Beach Chair
$
  • 4-position aluminum beach chair
  • SPF SunShade
  • Folds to compact size for transport and storage
  • UPF-50 fabric with bowed shape
  • Sturdy powder-coated steel/aluminum frame
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CAMPING CHAIRS

If you’re camping and not carrying your gear too far, you can opt for a chair with more bells and whistles. Recliners, cup holders, storage pockets, umbrellas and canopies are all great features to consider.

 

Mosler also says to look for camping chairs that have a quad-fold style and can fit in a bag for easy storage. Some even come with special features, like a side table, which make mealtime around the campfire more fun and convenient. Padded headrests can be another perk to look for, offering comfort after a long day in the great outdoors.

 

If you’re looking to bring the coziness of home, consider a reclining chair. The GCI Legz Up Lounger is a portable option we like!

 

Check out a few styles we like!

GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker Mesh Chair
GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker Mesh Chair
$
  • Comfortable camping rocking chair
  • Scratch-free feet
  • Folds flat
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YETI Trailhead Camp Chair
YETI Trailhead Camp Chair
$
  • Supports up to 500 lbs.
  • UV-resistant fabric prevents chipping and disintegrating
  • Carry bag included
  • Adjustable drink holder
  • Stable in any terrain
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SIDELINE CHAIRS

Sitting on the sidelines? You’re going to want a chair that’s functional with details like cup holders and cellphone pockets. If attending daytime sporting events, consider a chair with a canopy to keep you shaded from the sun. Maybe your perfect viewing spot will include director-style chairs, as they fold flat and fit well in the trunk of a car. The GCI Rocking Chair is a favorite for the sidelines: it has carry straps, is easy to use, comfortable and you don't have to mess with a bag.

 

Is the event at a location with bleachers? Add some support to your sporting experience with stadium seats, which can easily fold and are lightweight to carry. The cushion provides comfort and can help you avoid hard bleacher surfaces.

 

Will it be a family affair? Opt for sideline benches, which feature a group of four to six seats that fold up like an accordion to make one bench. This compact option can come in handy when you’re with a larger group — plus, they beat lugging multiple seats around. Sideline benches include bleacher, padded cushions. They are a popular, must-have layer between you and that cold, hard seat.

Check out a few styles we like!

GCI Outdoor Comfort Pro Rocker Chair
GCI Outdoor Comfort Pro Rocker Chair
$
  • Premium outdoor rocking camp chair
  • Durable nylon mesh
  • Spring-action rocking technology
  • Weight Capacity: 250 lbs.
  • Carry Weight: 11 lbs.
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GCI Outdoor SunShade Comfort Pro Chair
GCI Outdoor SunShade Comfort Pro Chair
$
  • No locks or assembly needed
  • Polyester ripstop fabric
  • SPF SunShade™
  • Mesh backrest
  • “No sag, no bite” seat
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HIKING CHAIRS

If you’re hiking, you’ll want to avoid any unnecessary features that might add weight to your pack. Instead, opt for something portable and compact like an ultra-light or packable chair with a carry strap or bag.

 

Check out a few styles we like!

GCI Outdoor ComPack Rocker Chair
GCI Outdoor ComPack Rocker Chair
$
  • Slick smooth swing
  • Padded cushioning
  • Compact when folded up, featuring carry strap
  • Mesh for airflow
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GCI Outdoor Quik E-Seat
GCI Outdoor Quik E-Seat
$
  • Outdoor Quik-E-Seat®
  • Folding stool with back rest
  • Steel frame construction with 600D Polyester fabric
  • Comfy padded fabric backrest and seat
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KIDS’ CHAIRS

When buying a kids’ chair, remember that all options will come with a special lock to avoid collapsing. It can be a fun family activity to have kids pick their own chair based on their favorite color or style. Having a carry bag can help your youngster get involved in carrying their seat to your destination.

 

Check out a few styles we like!

Quest Junior Chair
Quest Junior Chair
$
  • Perfect for camping, backyard use or sporting events
  • Handy storage bag with carrying strap included
  • Durable steel legs and 600D polyester seat
  • Conveniently placed mesh cup holder
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Kings River Youth Swing Lounger Hammock Chair
Kings River Youth Swing Lounger Hammock Chair
$
  • Naturally reclined design
  • Mesh fabric
  • Safety locks
Learn More ADD TO CART

Before you venture outdoors for some fun and excitement, it’s important to know what options are out there. There are an abundance of seating options to choose from, especially when it comes to style and features. Consider your needs, your comfort and your activities. Whatever you have planned, there is a chair out there for you.

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