The Ah Chair is a hiking chair unlike anything you’ve seen before.
And perhaps this is because you, like me, have never really looked into getting a chair for overnight trips. Hiking chairs aren’t part of your typical packing list, but potentially this has more to do with a lack of suitable options on the market than anything else. Most available options are fiddly to set up, or not very comfortable or supportive. So, does the Ah Chair break the mould?
I was sent the Ah Chair to review during my coast trip from Cairns to Brisbane. Here are my thoughts on this unique hiking chair.
The Ah Chair is made up of a canvas backrest positioned around your low-mid back, and two adjustable straps which run along the leg to the marine ply and EVA foam footplate. It definitely isn’t the most fashionable chair around, if such a thing exists.
The main problem with the design is that it provides just a small yoga mat for your butt, meaning it can’t be used on wet and dirty ground. Because it’s not off the ground, you’re also more susceptible to the cold. This is probably the main downside of the chair. It’s so easy to set up otherwise, but finding a dry and clean surface to sit on becomes the main task.
Because of the design of the chair, you’re also ‘locked in’ to your position and can’t adjust or move easily. With other chairs you just get up if you forget your cup of tea, but you have to get fully in and out of the Ah Chair.
That being said, the design overall is pretty ingenious, and it’s the lightest and most compact hiking chair I’ve seen on the market.
Ah Chairs are custom made in Moruya, NSW, in several colours and with full money-back guarantee. They retail for half the price of a comparable hiking chair ($45AUD versus $80AUD+ for other lightweight hiking chairs).
Does it work?
The makers claim that the Ah Chair is therapeutic and relieves back pain. When I used it, I can honestly say I did feel reduced strain on my back – it’s a very supportive chair. It was comfortable to maintain my position and I was able to read without adjusting myself every five minutes.
A straight leg position is good for stretching but becomes strenuous over a longer period – I found my feet, in particular, got sore. For normal sitting (not stretching), a slightly bent leg position is best.
I was pleasantly surprised to find it so supportive despite its minimalist and experimental design. For longer trips, thru-hikes, or bad weather, even hikers who don’t struggle with back pain might appreciate proper posture support in the tent.
This is the lightest and cheapest hiking chair I’ve been able to find. It packs down small enough to easily fit in a side pocket. Obviously, if you’re counting every gram, a hiking chair isn’t essential and no matter how light it is, it won’t make the cut. But at just 200 grams, it’s lightweight enough for the average hiker to consider.
How does it compare to other lightweight hiking chairs?
Thermarest and Sea to Summit both sell a chair sleeve, which converts a compatible camping mat into a chair. This option weighs the same as the Ah Chair, but retails for twice as much, and is fiddly to set up (you have to blow up your compatible mat and fold it inside the sleeve). The Ah Chair, in comparison, is an instant set up product.
The other option available on the market is essentially a miniaturised version of your standard hiking chair. To save on weight these chairs usually pare down or completely eliminate the back support. They also tend to be lower to the ground.
Even so, the lightest option is the 510g Helinox Chair Zero, with middle-range chairs up to 890g for a Kathmandu Quest chair. These chairs retail for 2-3 times as much as the Ah Chair and weigh 2-4 times as much.
Based on my own research, I couldn’t find a hiking chair which beat the Ah Chair on price, support, or weight. It’s also super convenient with an instant set up, and it fits easily in your side pocket. So if you’re the kind of hiker who values some creature comforts on a hike, it’s a very competitive option.
Quite simply, if you’re in the market for a hiking chair that’s affordable, lightweight, and provides good back support, the Ah Chair is a competitive Australian option to try. If you don’t need a chair or are counting every gram, give this one a miss.
Photos by @mitchell.quinn
Saphira was sent the Ah Chair for testing and was allowed to keep it afterwards. She was allowed to say whatever the heck she wanted about it in this review.