It’s that time of year when one of the best things about camping is sitting around a fire. The Mayfly and Monarch from Alite Designs are lightweight, packable camp-chairs that maximize comfort for relaxing around the flames.
Both Alite chairs are constructed from ripstop nylon and aluminum, assuring they are light yet sturdy. This pair of chairs each packs down to around 12” long. The two feature color-coded legs to make assembly quick and easy. And both are quite comfortable. The main difference between them is the support structure.
The Monarch uses on a two-legged support system relying on the user to provide the front support. The chair is surprisingly stable thanks to both the low center of gravity of the person while seated, and the rearward placement of the legs. This stability allows one to rock comfortably without tipping. The chair also offers quite a bit of fun as you test your balance and your abs. Its two-legged design also means the chair is great on hills, uneven, and soft terrain. The Monarch packs down to a cylinder that is about 12” long and 4.5” in diameter, and is the lighter of the two at just under 21 ounces.
The Mayfly adds front support to the Monarch design making it a more traditional chair. The Mayfly requires a little less work making it easier on the legs after a big day of hiking or biking. It also lets you prop your feet up and take a load off. The extra leg support only adds about 5 ounces with the chair weighing 25.5 ounces. The packed dimensions are nearly identical to those of the Monarch, and are, if anything, slightly smaller. The user sits quite low in this chair, making it extremely stable.
With the low seated positions of the chairs, I found it easier to hold the chair against me as I sat rather than sit into the chairs, especially with the Monarch. I also found the rocking motion of the Monarch made it easier to get out of.
I carried both the Alite Monarch and Alite Mayfly on my White Rim bikepacking adventure. I had labeled them as frivolous, but they proved to be gear that I was glad I didn’t leave behind. I mounted one on the rack of my trailer and packed another along the downtube in my frame bag. Neither the weight nor the packed size was a hindrance, meaning the benefits of the chairs definitely outweighed the cons.
The size and weight of the Monarch and Mayfly also make them great for your less-than-epic adventures too. They are more easily portable than standard camp chairs making them great for concerts, races, bonfires, or other outdoor events. Also, they are small enough to fit in a console or under an automobile seat so that you always have them along for such events.
Both chairs, as is the case with all Alite products, feature a lifetime guarantee, so these are definitely not the low-quality, one-season, disposable chairs so common at big box stores. The Monarch sells for $70 on Alite’s site and the Mayfly goes for $100. Both are available in a variety of colors and arrive via free shipping.
– Alex (Steak Sauce)
Alite was kind enough to provide both chairs for this review.