Camp chairs

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Campchairs come in many shapes and sizes
Campchairs come in many shapes and sizes

It’s a basic. It’s something you’ll spend hour upon hour enjoying. You’ll use it every day of your nomad life. And yet it’s something that many hardly put any thought into at all.

The humble campchair is a luxurious necessity that many of us take for granted. It’s hardly surprising when they can be picked up for less than $10 and easily replaced when they tear or break.

But, of course, as with most things you really do get what you pay for. In the end, it boils down to four factors, cost, durability, comfort and extras. Starting at $10 for the basic models campchair prices just go up and up.

Before you rush into the cheapest purchase though it is worth spending a little time thinking about your needs and how they can best be met. There are great differences in the quality of the chair’s support structure and the cloth material you sit in.

The cheap $10 special folding chairs are obviously not as well made as most of their more expensive competitors nor are they equipped to take as much weight.

Sadly, most of us are not quite as athletic and as well … slender .. as we once were so we need to consider the overall strength of the chair we choose. Apart from anything else, it can be very undignified falling through the bottom of your chair in the middle of a happy hour game of cards with a group of new friends!

The state of our own health is also a factor. A back injury is the most obvious condition that requires special care. Saving a few dollars on a camping chair and then spending weeks or months in agony with a dodgy back is not a smart move.

Comfort then is another important issue. How much padding do you need? Does the chair offer enough back support? What about extras? A spot to hold your beer is just about essential, of course, but what about netting at the side of, or underneath, the chair to store newspapers or documents. Nowadays, you can also get chairs with footrests and headrests, and urban legend has it that you can even get rocking campchairs. Email us here if you have come across one of these on your travels … I want one!

With space generally at a premium, fold-down campchairs are generally the grey nomads’ seat of choice and they are less bulky to travel with.

Despite the fairly compelling arguments against, budget-minded Derek from Sydney remains a cheap and cheerful fan.

“I’ve been on the road for 14 months now and I’m on my second less-than-$10 chair,” he says. “I’m 6’2 and am no lightweight, believe me, but those things can handle a fair but. I’d spend more if I thought I needed to but I don’t see the point of spending for the sake of it … I just like the fact I don’t need to worry about putting them in at night or if there’s a few spots of rain.”

The amount you are prepared to spend on a campchair will ultimately depend on how much use you are going to get out of it … and what you are going to use it for. Some people like to spend their days out and about bushwalking and sightseeing and then hang out in their van for the evening, while others are happy to spend days and evenings lounging under the awning, soaking up the scene and chatting to passers-by. It’s horses for courses … and there’s a chair to suit all.

Some people like to carry a couple of different chair options in the RV to use for different occasions. They can have a lounging-by-the-campfire or playing cards chair and a different eating-at-a table chair. Clearly, if you are going to sit at an outside table in your campchair, choosing one that is the right height for your table is crucial.

Okay, when all is said and done, buying your campchair may not be quite as important a decision as it was choosing your van, or satellite phone, or even which way round to travel the country … but it’s still a biggie.

When you’re out in the great Australian Outback, sitting back and staring up at the incredible southern night sky after a wonderful active day, you don’t want to find your beer has fallen through your frayed chair’s cup holder and soaked your much-loved travel diary, do you?

As with everything you tend to get what you pay for. Most road-hardened nomads swear by their chair and consider buying a name brand from a reputable manufacturer to be money very well spent.

Happy sitting!

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