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Updated Jul 27, 2022 4:59 PM

Finding a camping chair for your bad back might be the difference between a relaxing weekend of camping and dealing with a stiff back. Especially if you already struggle sleeping in a tent with nothing but a thin pad between you and the ground. 

If you hate the way most chairs lack support or sag so much that they seat you in a perpetual squat, then this review is for you. I interviewed a doctor of physical therapy to see what features the best camping chairs for bad backs share and compiled a list of chairs based on their suggestions.

Things to Consider When Buying a Camping Chair for Bad Backs

When I spoke with DPT Benjamin Killen at the University of Mississippi Medical Center to find out what characteristics the best camping chairs for bad backs should have, he informed me that it’s not quite that simple. For starters, a “bad back” can vary drastically from one individual to the next. 

“There isn’t necessarily a direct correlation between an individual’s posture and back pain or relief,” Killen said. “Like most bad backs, there’s probably a greater underlying issue that needs to be addressed, and simply buying a chair isn’t going to change that. However, If you have a ‘bad back’ or back pain, the best thing you can do is find a chair that feels comfortable and avoid the ones that don’t. There’s no blueprint or one-size-fits-all for what this looks like, and, quite frankly, what one individual finds comfortable might look completely different to the next person.”

Killen also noted that there are certainly chairs that you want to avoid, like ones that have unsupportive seats or backs that give easily and might put you in an awkward position or cause you to excessively strain while you try to get up from the chair. According to Killen, if you have trouble getting up from low-seated positions, it’s probably best to avoid chairs with low seats and opt for higher ones.

With these considerations in mind, my goal in this review is to include a variety of chairs and styles that might suit the different “bad backs” out there. While no one chair will solve your bad back, there are options that provide more support than others and that can at least not irritate or agitate your bad back. Still, it’s best to try out a few chairs and see which ones hurt or help your cause before buying one.

Best Overall: YETI Hondo Base Camp Chair

Key Features

  • External Dimensions: 26.5 inches x 30.1 inches x 32.3 inches
  • Weight: 16.5 pounds
  • Capacity: 500 pounds
  • Hondo cupholder fits with other YETI products
  • Five-year warranty
  • Hauler Handle

Why It Made the Cut

The YETI Hondo Base Camp Chair is super comfortable, easy to carry, and has great support that doesn’t give out like most camping chairs.

Pros

  • Super comfortable
  • Perfect height
  • Stores easily

Cons

  • Not sure about the fabric’s long-term durability
  • Steep price

Product Description

Though they make some of the best fishing coolers, YETI has introduced a few camping chairs to their lineup as well. For the past two months I’ve been working from the Hondo, which means I spent hours upon hours in it, and I have zero complaints when it comes to comfort. The height of the Hondo is perfect and not too deep. And the solid frame and armrests make it easy to get up from the chair without it sliding or feeling like it’s going to tip over when I lean forward. One thing I like about the YETI Hondo Base Camp Chair is the tight stitched seat and back, which don’t give even after sitting in it all day. Though, I do wonder about the long-term durability of the fabric and how it might fare if left outside or on a camp porch for a substantial amount of time (I tested the Hondo in my home office). But so far, the material has kept its shape and tension, and if something does happen to your Hondo, it comes with a five-year warranty.

The YETI Hondo Base Camp Chair
The YETI Hondo Base Camp Chair is almost too comfortable. Adam Moore

Though the Hondo has a solid construction, its 16 pounds makes it manageable to carry to the campsite, especially with the Hauler Handle. And it packs down great for its size, so you can easily store it when not in use or during travel. The added Hondo cup holder is a nice touch and accommodates YETI’s other products. The main drawback of this chair is the steep price tag. While I had the privilege of using a test model, I have to admit that I would have a hard time paying around $300 for a chair. And for a few extra bucks, I’d probably buy the YETI Tundra 45 and sit on that. But if you have a bad back and need a camp chair that’s super comfortable and supportive, the YETI Hondo Base Camp might be worth the investment.  

Best Packable: Big Agnes Big Six Camp Chair

Big Agnes

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Key Features

  • Packed Size: 3.5 inches x 21 inches
  • Weight: 3 pounds, 3 ounces
  • Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Travel bag
  • Frame Material: aluminum
  • Seat Material: High-tenacity Robic nylon
  • Color-coded shock-cord for setup/breakdown

Why It Made the Cut

At just over three pounds, the Big Agnes Big Six Camp Chair packs incredibly well, and the tension provided by the Robic nylon seat is comfortable and plenty supportive.

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Packs down great
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Chair tips when you lean forward to get up
  • A bit pricey

Product Description

If space is at a premium in your car or hiking backpack, the Big Agnes Big Six Camp Chair will occupy less space than most of your other camping gear and packs down to about the size of a rolled-up camping blanket. The color-coded ends of the aluminum frame make the chair a breeze to set up. While the seat can be a little difficult to stretch over the frame, the tension creates a super supportive seat that doesn’t sag and feels super supportive. It does tend to hug you when you sit in the seat, so it might not fit the best for large campers. However, this seat is super comfortable, enough so for a nap.

The Best Camping Chairs for Bad Backs in 2022
The Big Six packs incredibly well for campers whose space is at a premium. Adam Moore

One thing that sticks out about this chair is how incredibly light it is. At just over three pounds, it feels even lighter than that. However, one drawback that comes with the lightweight is that the chair tended to tip forward whenever I would go to stand up, so if you’re a camper that likes to lean forward while you’re sitting, the Big Six might let you down there. And those super lightweight materials will also make your wallet significantly lighter as well. Still, this chair packs incredibly well and its lightweight construction makes it a versatile option that you can take with you whether the campsite is off the trail or at the beach.

Best Padded: RTIC Big Bear Chair

RTIC Outdoors

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Key Features

  • Dimensions: 23 inches x 28 inches x 26 inches
  • Weight: 17 pounds
  • Capacity: 400 pounds
  • Exterior mesh pockets
  • Material: 600D polyester fabric
  • 4-can cooler on left arm

Why It Made the Cut

The RTIC Big Bear Chair sports plenty of padding and storage space at an affordable price.

Pros

  • Not as pricey as other options
  • Tons of padding
  • Stores easily

Cons

  • Might not be as durable as others in this review
  • Seat sinks rather than supports

Product Description

If you’re looking for a chair that has comfortable, padded seating, the RTIC Big Bear Chair has plenty of cushion for your back. And if you want to plop down for a mid-day siesta with a couple of your coldest friends, the left armrest has a built-in four-can cooler to make sure you both stay chill. While the padded seat sinks down to a comfortable height, depending on your bad back, some campers might not find this ideal, especially if getting up from a low-seated or squatted position aggravates your back. But if sitting in an extremely cushy seat helps relieve your back pain, this is a great option. And the two-digit price tag runs lower than other options in this review, so this chair offers plenty of comfort and packable convenience at an affordable price.

Best Lumbar Support: STRONGBACK Elite

STRONGBACK

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Key Features

  • Folded Size: 11 inches x 6 inches x 44 inches
  • Weight: 11.9 pounds
  • Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Material: 600D polyester
  • Two-year warranty
  • Carry bag
  • Cupholder

Why It Made the Cut

The STRONGBACK Elite incorporates a frame that contours near the lumbar region and has additional padding in this area as well.

Pros

  • High supportive back
  • Additional lumbar padding
  • Lightweight
  • Spacious seat
  • Multiple color options

Cons

  • Shorter campers might find the back too high
  • Flimsy cupholder
  • Pricey

Product Description

A lot of camping chairs can make you feel like you’re curling into a ball when you sit in them, mainly because they lack back and/or seat support. The STRONGBACK Elite, however, provides both. With a reinforced frame that contours toward your back and extra padding, this camping chair provides ample support for campers with bad backs, specifically if rounding the lumbar area of your back irritates or causes you discomfort. And the high back provides support for your upper back and neck as well. While this chair isn’t as light as the Big Agnes Big Six, it is one of the lighter chairs in this review at just under 12 pounds. And if you’re counting on a dependable cup holder, I wouldn’t hold your breath with this one. But if sturdy lumbar support is your ticket to enjoying time outdoors, look no further.

Best Reclining: GCI Outdoor Freeform Zero Gravity Lounger

GCI Outdoor

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Key Features

  • Folded Size: 36.4 inches x 30.3 inches x 6.1 inches
  • Weight: 20 pounds
  • Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Zero Gravity mode
  • Adjustable headrest
  • Beverage and phone holder
  • Locks into Freeform or Zero Gravity positions

Why It Made the Cut

If stretching out in a reclining chair helps relieve your bad back after a day on the trails, the Freeform Zero Gravity Lounger from GCI Outdoors is an excellent option.

Pros

  • Multiple sitting/reclining positions
  • Locking positions make this chair stable
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Large footprint
  • Doesn’t pack as easily as others in this review

Product Description

Most camping chairs are fine when it comes to sitting around the fire or just taking a load off. But when you really need to stretch out after a hard day of hitting the trails, most camping chairs just don’t give you that option. Thankfully, the Freeform Zero Gravity Lounger from GCI Outdoors allows you to do just that. The locking mechanisms allow you to stretch out almost 180 degrees without worrying if the seat will fold back up. But you can also casually lounge in an upright position, too. This chair is definitely nap approved, and the added head pillow makes it hard not to resist one after an exhausting day outdoors.

This chair comes with a large footprint, so you definitely won’t be taking this one off the beaten path. But it does fold nicely for travel or storage purposes. While this chair isn’t the cheapest option, it certainly won’t break the bank. I’ve used multiple GCI products in the past and have had zero issues with durability. If you want one of the best camping chairs for bad backs that reclines, this one is hard to beat.

Best Rocking: GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker

GCI Outdoor

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Key Features

  • Weight: 12 pounds
  • Capacity: 250 pounds
  • Overall Height: 34.8 inches
  • Seat Height: 19.7 inches
  • Mesh backrest
  • Carry handle

Why It Made the Cut

The GCI Freestyle rocker has a supportive backrest, and you can also use it as a solid, stationary camping chair.

Pros

  • Solid stationary or rocking chair
  • Quiet
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Not very packable

Product Description

If you want a solid camping chair, the GCI Freestyle Rocker, which has an aluminum frame, makes an excellent option. The spring-loaded shocks allow for smooth rocking when you want, but it also sits stationary for those times when you’re eating one of the best camping meals around the fire. But this chair isn’t just convenient, it’s also super comfortable and provides a sturdy, supportive backrest that doesn’t give like other camping chairs I sat comfortably in this chair for hours (way longer than you probably would on a camping trip) and would have no problem hauling it to the campsite or other outdoor get-togethers.

While the Freestyle Rocker makes a great addition to your campsite or backyard fire pit, it’s a bit heavy for any trip that requires a significant amount of walking to your setup. And the removable Velcro arm rests don’t provide much cushion or stay in place. But for everything within a short walking distance, this chair is my go-to, which is why it won best overall in the best camping rocking chairs review.

Best Budget: Coastrail Outdoor Padded Camping Chair with Lumbar Back Support

Coastrail Outdoor

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Key Features

  • Folded Size: 40 inches x 7 inches
  • Weight: 12 pounds
  • Capacity: 400 pounds
  • Material: 600D polyester
  • Adjustable lumbar support
  • Cooler bag and clip
  • Head and side pocket

Why It Made the Cut

The Coastrail Outdoor Padded Camping Chair provides plenty of adjustable back support and storage at a great price.

Pros

  • Budget friendly
  • Back padding adjusts to your height
  • Plenty of cushion

Cons

  • Some might prefer a firmer seat

Product Description

While this chair runs almost half the price of others in this review, that doesn’t mean that it sacrifices comfort or back support. The Coastrail Outdoor Padded Camping Chair includes a generous amount of padding and lumbar support, which you can adjust depending on your preference and height. It also includes a cooler bag to keep a few drinks. The seat might give a little too much, especially for campers who prefer a firmer seat, but if you’re on a budget and lumbar support is your main concern, this chair from Coastrail makes a reasonable option.

FAQs

Q: What is the best camping chair for a bad back?

Based on my interview with DPT Killen, the best camping chair for a bad back varies from individual. Because “bad back” might mean something completely different from one camper to the next, there’s not really a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, it’s important to find a chair that allows you to sit in it comfortably and avoid ones that irritate your bad back. If you know that most chairs hurt your back because they give or sag too much, look for one that has a sturdy, firm seat with a high back and added lumbar support.

Q: How much does a camping chair for a bad back cost?

The camping chairs for bad backs in this review range from around $50 to $300, depending on the materials used.

Q: What is the best camping chair for a bad back?

The best camping chair for a bad back is the one that’s most comfortable to you. But for this review, the YETI Hondo Base Camp Chair proved the most comfortable out of the chairs I was able to test. It provided plenty of comfort, even when I sat in it for hours on end, and the seat and back are just firm enough that you won’t sink into the chair like cheaper options.

Methodology

For this review, I interviewed a doctor of physical therapy to figure out what features on camping chairs provide comfort for campers with bad backs. Because of availability issues, I was only able to test the GCI Freestyle Rocker, Big Agnes Big Six, and YETI Hondo Base Camp chairs. But for the other chairs in this review, I researched and included ones that have the best features for campers with bad backs and arrived at these picks.

Final Thoughts

Remember, the best camping chairs for bad backs will vary from person to person, so it’s important to keep that in mind when you’re looking for one. If possible, try out a few that allow you to sit comfortably and enjoy a fireside meal in the great outdoors and, ultimately, forget about your bad back.