Ask FGG: What camp chairs are most comfortable for big butts?

23 Mar 10 - Ask FGG - Angela - 11 Comments

Robust models allow comfy, confident seating for camping, tailgating, or at the beach

The cautionary tale of Wounded soldier by twodolla

As my college friends gathered this weekend to help celebrate my birthday (thanks again, guys!), we excitedly planned our get-togethers for the next several months: Birthdays. Weddings and babies. Pool parties. Camping. All of this outdoor fun brought to mind an age-old fat girl challenge:

Where can I find a portable chair that won’t fold like a bad poker hand when I sit down?

Many of us know the only thing worse than mentally assessing the hip room of every portable camping chair at an outdoor gathering is perching daintily upon a cheapie version and praying that the recommended weight allowance is accurate to the ounce. Actually, there is one thing worse: that horrible moment when dainty doesn’t cut it and said chair unceremoniously dumps its occupant onto her bottom. Ladies, I have heard the sickening CRACK! of a breaking chair, and my goal today is to help ensure none of our readers ever has to do the same. So if you’re an outdoorsy girl seeking comfort, stability, and subtle design (read: NOT the chair equivalent of a muumuu), try taking a load off in one of these tush-friendly finds.

If possible, test Goldilocks-style until you locate “just right.”

Obviously, the best option is to check out your prospective chair using your body’s own specific dimensions. Fold & unfold the chair, try sitting in various positions (fully reclined, leaning forward, legs crossed or propped up, etc.), and stand up using the armrests as leverage. Pay attention to whether the armrests’ support bars or their grommets pinch or dig into your thighs; when they’re iffy after a five-minute test run, imagine how uncomfortable you’ll feel during an evening in front of a bonfire. Overall, look for a chair that feels stable no matter how you sit. And don’t forget to pack it back into its carrying case and try hefting it before you purchase — folding camp chairs shouldn’t be a “team lift” item.

Coleman makes several models that should accommodate plus-sized users without drawing attention to them, such as the Coleman Elite Cooler Quad Chair ($34.99, Target), which lists a weight limit of 325 pounds and features a cooler built into the armrest (brilliant!). You could also try settling into the Coleman Lumbar Chair ($21.88, Wal-Mart), which offers extra lumbar support and a weight limit of 350 pounds, or REI’s Comfort Recliner Chair ($59.50), with a 325-pound capacity and a seat back angle that invites you to prop your feet up and get comfy. The highest weight rating we found during a search of major retailers was the Coleman Max Sling Chair ($26.88, Wal-Mart), which accommodates 400 pounds. Unfortunately, the downside to in-person shopping is that selection may be limited; individual store locations may not carry these heavy-duty models, or may have just a small quantity or selection in stock.

If you can’t try it yourself, read specs & reviews carefully.

If you’re willing to gamble a bit with ordering online, the seating possibilities are almost endless — just be sure to research carefully and read any available customer reviews. Remember that it’s not just the weight capacity of a chair you need to assess, but its seat width and how the armrest support bars are positioned, as well. And to reduce the likelihood of chair legs sinking into soft ground, opt for models with wider “feet” at the end of each chair leg.

Online sellers offering robust chairs range from well-known retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods to LivingXL (which offers plus-sized products in many categories) to niche sites like Koolest Products, notable for a wealth of “extreme” merchandise. We liked the unassuming nature of the powder blue, heavy-duty Quik Chair from Dick’s, which subtly and inexpensively ($24.99!) seats users weighing 500 pounds. LivingXL offers a similar model with a few color choices and a higher price tag ($49.99), as well as the largest portable chair on the market — a 1,000-pound capacity model with 30-inch-wide quilted seat ($99.95, or $139.95 for the canopied version).

For truly indulgent R&R, go for the bells and whistles.

With a capacity of 400 pounds, LivingXL’s Suntracker® Swivel Chair ($169.95) rotates a full 360 degrees and includes a built-in sun visor. And the aptly named MaXXDaddy Monster Folding Chair ($149.99, Koolest Products) boasts two cup holders, a magazine pouch, a detachable/adjustable footrest and a pillowed headrest that cushions your noggin, hammock-style. All this, and it accommodates 800 pounds in an extra-wide, 25-inch seat, to boot. A friend purchased this chair (in purple) a few years back, and lo, it was good! At one point, I believe he considered ditching his couch and replacing it with a fleet of these puppies. The only downside was the rather prominent MaXXDaddy logo. . .  and the stampede that ensued whenever my friend vacated his seat for a beer run. With comfort that legendary, though, you may not want to leave your new chair, either.

Tried one of the chairs we mentioned? Want to share your experiences with a different model? Tell us in comments.

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Elaine says:

Koolest Products maxx daddy is a scam – they take your money and you will never get the chair. Investigate the company and see I am correct!

Brian says:

Do not get chairs from LivingXL. I bought the 500lb capacity chair less than a year ago and it just broke. I weigh around 350lbs so no where near its supposed capacity. LivingXL refuses to stand behind the chair even though I have seen several similar complaints so they obviously know the chairs are defective.

Kristin says:

Thank you for such a thorough, well-written post! Saved me a lot of “googling” time. :)

Nicole says:

Such great advice, thank you! This has helped ease my mind about an event I have coming up. Now I can bring my own brand new super awesome sturdy chair. Thanks!!!

Laura says:

I’m having to replace the 1000 lb chair I purchased about 1 1/2 yrs ago…from LivingXL. I sent them an email about the fabric tearing where the post goes into the back and also where the plastic foot has broken and a post is floating lose. I’m big but not near 1000 lbs!!! I paid $100 for that chair and it didn’t even make it 2 years.

Kendra says:

I have had the Maxxdaddy for 5 or more years and it is still as good as new. It is extremely comfortable and has lots of places for all my things. Though it is heavy to carry, it is totally worth it! I would rather carry a heavy chair a little ways and be secure than collapse in a weak chair that was light to carry.

I just ordered one for my husband yesterday. He isn’t plus sized by any means, but of the 10 or more camp chairs we have had over the past 10 years, it is the only one that has lasted and is still going strong!

Tee says:

Katherine, thanks for dropping by to give a review of your camping chairs! Very good to know!

Katherine says:

I purchased two of the recommended chairs yesterday, to give them both a try for comfort at my son’s little league game. The Coleman Lumbar chair is just divine, particularly for anyone with lower back issues like myself. At 5’11″ and a size 26 with an ample rear end, I’ve found most lumbar supports usually end up behind my rear, instead of supporting the lower back as intended. This chair is great as the lumbar pillow is adjustable in height.
The Coleman Max Sling Chair is also a cozy find, though I’ll be saving this for the beach. It has a supportive mostly mesh back to keep you cool, but it does have a bit of a backward lean, as the “sling” would suggest. Perfect for kicking back and catching some rays!!
PS- As a big girl that’s constantly feeling squeezed into a too small world, I felt right at home in these chairs!

Amy says:

Oooh. Thanks for this post. The Coleman Lumbar chair is what I’ve been looking for (otherwise these chairs are killer on my spine). I’ll have to bug the local Canadian Tire to see if they can get it in.

Moe says:

I actually have a Maxx Daddy and honestly, it is awesome and I have to fight people to sit in it. It is definitely worth the extra money. On the down side it is heavy so not great if you have to lug any distance before using it. I highly recommend it if you looking for a reliable chair. I never fear sitting in it.