Depending on the type of trip you’re planning, a camp chair can make the difference between misery and relaxation at the camp site. Few enough companies produce a chair as good as the Helinox Chair Zero, which I’ve been testing hard… mostly at soccer games. But still!
Helinox Chair Zero Features:
- Seat sits 11 inches off the ground
- Anodized DAC aluminum poles
- Chair Zero is strong enough to support up to 265 lbs.
- Single shock-corded pole structure makes for easy setup
- Compact size makes it easy to pack and carry
- Stuff sack included
- MSRP: $119
For those who like minimalism… and comfort:
Helinox’s chair series created quite a stir when they first came out a few years back. We reviewed the Chair One and found that it had already spurred copycats from other big-name companies. It’s still my go-to chair, five years on. So how do the new iterations, like the Chair Zero, stack up?
The profile of the Chair Zero builds off Helinox’s tried-and-true formula. Nine pieces of DAC Anodized aluminum poles are held together with beefy shock cord, so they effortlessly self-locate into place in the durable plastic frame. DAC’s custom TH72M alloy is anodized via a custom, ‘green’ anodization process that reduces the impact to the environment, and to the best of my knowledge they’re still leading the industry in green anodization.
In a lot of ways, the chair’s profile is very similar to the old Chair One. The intervening years have brought a few key modifications. For one thing, the reinforcement in the fabric pole pockets has been significantly beefed up. Now there’s a thick cushion of what feels almost like foam around each pocket, which will certainly help extend the lifespan of the pocket.
Another small, but significant, change is that instructions for properly assembling the chair are now printed onto the chair body. That’s surprisingly helpful. The biggest secret about setting these chairs up for the first time is that it’s a nightmare to try and stick the short poles in first; do the long ones first, and your life will be so much easier.
One of the remarkable things about the chair is simply how strong it is. At just one pound total weight, it can support 265 lbs. of backpacker or soccer dad. I should mention that I mostly used this chair to watch soccer games, and it can be nice to have such a light chair when the trek between the car and the field is long.
I did notice a few changes to the Chair Zero versus the Chair One in terms of comfort. The Chair Zero seems to sit a little bit more upright naturally, and feels narrower overall. As with all camp chairs, I recommend trying it before buying it – especially if you’re dropping $119 on a chair. Plus, there are a few difficulties with this type of chair on uneven terrain. The legs sink into snow or soft ground, which is fine unless it sinks unevenly or brings your butt down onto the snow. Additionally, it seems particularly affected by uneven ground. If one side of the chair is slanted upward, you’ll likely be using one leg to keep from falling over all night. It comes with the territory.
- It’s a comfy chair! Though that’s subjective
- Packs very small and light, but still keeps you well off the ground
- DAC tubing is strong, light and environmentally friendly
- Printed-on setup instructions add clarity
- A bit smaller/narrower than the Chair One
- Four-legged design can play badly with uneven or soft terrain
The Bottom Line: Helinox Chair Zero
As far as camp chairs go, the Helinox models definitely feel like the high-end products they claim to be. They’re comfortable and sturdy, and setup is easy once you get the hang of it. There are lighter models, there are cheaper models, there are more comfortable models. But, in the end, the Helinox Chair Zero is a good blend of all three.
Buy Now: Available from Backcountry.com