The Great Bag Chair Shootout

Our contenders; the $8 superstore chair vs. the $20 premium chair

Our contenders; the $8 superstore chair vs. the $20 premium chair

The ubiquitous bag chair is as much a part of camping as roasting marshmallows over a fire. These chairs are inexpensive and sufficiently durable to withstand a season, or two, of family camping. The two chairs pictured here represent the spectrum of bag chairs. On the left is the typical $8-$10 bag chair that you’ll find in your favorite super store and, on the right, is a much higher-end $20 chair. So how do these chairs stack-up, after two years of constant use?

bag-chair-split-footThe nylon feet are the weakest link for all of these bag chairs, including our $20 high-end model that is already splitting across the mounting hole. The $8 chair uses a rivet to secure the foot to the leg, instead of a screw. I can only surmise that the foot on the $8 chair is molded with a hole for the rivet, while the foot on the high-end chair is drilled – and drilling a plastic part does create a weak spot.

This seam on the premium chair is splitting after only 2 seasons

This seam on the premium chair is splitting after only 2 seasons

Both chairs use a similar polyester material, although the high-end chair is double-ply with padding in between the layers and is noticably thicker and plusher than the $8 chair. It’s proven a little too  plush for this seem on the arm, however, which is splitting where the two halves join.

It's important to remember that polyester is a flammable material

It's important to remember that polyester is a flammable material

Here’s a hole from a burning campfire ember on the $8 chair. Bag chairs used to be made out of canvas and, while canvas can stop a burning ember, they didn’t hold their color well and faded quickly in the sun.

As these two chairs enter their third season of camping, it’s pretty obvious that there is little reason to go out and spend extra money on a higher-end bag chair. Many of these chairs come from the Northpole® company in China (as do most tents) and this company has the process dialed-in, from the proper thread to keep the seams from splitting, to the extra gusseting in high-wear areas. We tend to not equate Chinese products with quality, but I would have no problem recommending a Northpole chair (look on the country of origin label) for its durability and its economical price.

See also…

16 thoughts on “The Great Bag Chair Shootout

  1. Thats why we are filling up our land fills, everything today is throw away!!! 1/2 the products we buy are junk!!! It’s ridiculous!!! In this day of technology and they can’t even make a decent foot on a bag chair!!!!!

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention CampingBlogger | The Great Bag Chair Shootout --

  3. Alex – I should do an entire post on kid’s chairs. My son got burns on both of his forearms when the chair he as in tipped forward and he fell against the fire ring. We ditched that one and got some of the small Coleman chairs and those are very stable.

  4. Boy, you guys are rough on chairs. I have a freebie that has lasted three years of camping , concerts, and ballparks. Just lucky I guess.
    On a related note I got my kids mini- camp chairs a few years ago, and found that either my childen or the chairs have no sense of balance. I finally got rid of them(the chairs not the kids)and got low slung beach chairs for them. Too many close calls with fires and flaming marshmallows.

  5. Great piece on these chairs. I always suspected the more expensive ones weren’t worth the cost so I never bothered to buy one. I still have my heavy-duty Coleman chairs. They aren’t as portable as the others, but if I’m looking for easy packing I just bring a folding stool. I better watch out or I’m going to get a reputation as a cheapskate. 🙂

  6. I had two of these kinds of chairs last summer.The plastic supports broke on both chairs.My wife fell out of one when the legs gave out and she fell right in a pile of firewood.We keep our chairs in the back of the truck and they get hot from the sun.I’m thinking that maybe the problem or something to do with the plastic supports cracking.

    edfrueh’s last blog post..Joys Of Family Camping

  7. Exactly! Is it wrong to hope it sells so poorly that we get a bargain bin price of $20? About the only way I’ll ever own one! I continue to use the $5-10 chairs till that blessed day comes…lol.

    Dan’s last blog post..Moving to a Faster Tune

  8. Wow Dan, that’s like an entire weekend of camping – food, gas and the campsite! 🙂

  9. I think anything over 2 years is a gift, Sis – although our cheap one is still looking pretty good. I’m going to try to work on the expensive one, to extend its life.

  10. I bought my first of these types of chairs this summer. I love them! I hope they last for more than one or two seasons though!

  11. I only drink soda, and on one of my last “$8” chair. the cup holder broke. The seam tore and I spilled a soda.

  12. I’m not a good test-case for the cup holders, as these see very little use on my chairs 🙂 They’re terrible for long-neck beer bottles – you’re almost guaranteed to spill a beer if you try to use them, and they’re too small for a (real) coffee mug.