The Sea to Summit Air Chair is a strange yet alluring contraption that allows you to turn your sleeping mat into a chair with the help of a lightweight frame and a couple of buckles.
In simpler terms, it’s the quintessential piece of backcountry equipment you never knew you needed.
When my girlfriend gifted me this contraption for Christmas I was a tad apprehensive, at first. What purpose could it truly fulfil in the backcountry? I figured that the point of backpacking or hiking was to pack light and go – leaving relative comforts of home to seek the basics of a life once forgotten. The idea of bringing a camp chair on a backcountry jaunt is wildly impractical and ridiculous.
After all, is it not just as simple to lay on the grass in an alpine meadow, or hack out a snow bench when a days’ walking or touring is done?
Well it is, but now it’s better.
Materials & Durability
The ultra-durable 70D nylon fabric on the base of the Air Chair means that you won’t damage your sleeping mat. I’ve personally set it up on everything from rough granite boulders, craggy alpine ridgelines, and rocky river shores and haven’t heard so much of a creak out the fabric.
The 2K waterproof rating ensures that both your sleeping mat and your bum will be dry as a bone whilst being warm and comfy the entire time.
Weight & Comfort
The true ingenuity of the air chair is its ability to minimise your pack weight. The medium and large versions weigh in at a feathery 263g and 270g respectively, half the weight of most of the backcountry chairs on the market.
The poles are constructed of lightweight but very strong fibreglass which also enables an adequate amount of flex. As previously mentioned the durable 70D nylon makes up the rest of the material.
Comfort wise, I found the adjustment options really handy. The buckles easily let you recline all the way to 180 degrees. You can sit upright, keeping a tentative eye on your stove or recline back with a drink while watching the sunset. All kinds of comfort!
The assembly and pack down are so simple it’s stupid. Depending on the shape of your sleeping mat you merely need to fold it a couple of times, clip the buckles and bang – you’re on your way to a level of wilderness comfort you never knew existed.
It can be tricky to get your sleeping mat to stay in the sleeve at first and may take some practice to nail your folds. Like all wilderness gear, a home test is always a good idea to nail it down before getting out in the wild.
If you’ve got a mummy shaped sleeping mat first you need to fold it in half, for a regular shaped mat fold both the ends towards the middle.
Next you need to slide the bottom end of the sleeping mat into the sleeve at the bottom of the frame. Clip the middle strap over and tighten to hold the mat in place, then secure the side straps and pull tight to adjust the angle.
So Are Chairs a Hiking Essential?
Small comforts can be particularly satisfying when you’re carrying your life on your back. But at just over 250g the Sea to Summit Air Chair is a very minimal bit of kit that cleverly expands the usability of your sleeping mat.
Safe to say I won’t be heading into the backcountry without it!
Ryan’s review of the Sea to Summit Air Chair is not sponsored and all views are his own.
We Are Explorers uses affiliate links. If you buy anything through our Wild Earth links we earn a small commission, which helps keep our site free!