Instead of perching on the closest log or rock, I decided to get a proper place to sit when outdoors. My day job took me to a city large enough to accommodate 2 REI stores, and I took the chance to check out a variety of lightweight options. I found the visit to the store to be very helpful in making my choice not only because I was able to actually try out everything, but also because the salespeople at this store offered some advice on what they liked in a camp chair. If possible, I highly recommend trying out this piece of gear yourself before purchasing.
I don’t always have a checklist for items that I buy, but it in this case the list was pretty clear. This seat needed to be comfortable, packable, light, and as cheap as possible considering everything else. There is a very wide array of choices to consider in backpacking seats, so I narrowed my search to a chair or stool and went from there.
REI had many options in stock, so I pulled up a chair (or lots of chairs) and started testing. I’m not going to get into name brands but the first chair I sat in just felt too flexy. Chair #2 put me too close to the ground, the angle of the back on chair #3 just didn’t work, chair #4 was too heavy for what it was, and chair #5 required too much participation on my part to keep it balanced with me in it.
I had previously seen the REI Trail Stool, but wasn’t really excited about it because there is no back to lean on. After checking out many others, I pulled out a Trial Stool and had a seat. The sit height is good at 15 inches, I didn’t have to try a yoga move to sit on it, and it felt nice and sturdy. The seat was big enough with the sides of the triangular seat measuring 13 inches and I found the comfort to be pretty good.
The REI Trail Stool has a claimed weight of 18 ounces, and although I don’t have access to accurate scales right now, I’d say that is pretty close. The stool packs up to 20 inches by 4 inches. For me the weight is acceptable and the packed size is big but manageable. This stool will be strapped to the outside of my pack or maybe partially stuffed into a lower outside pocket. It has an attached carrying strap that I have found to be too short, so I won’t use it and plan on taking it off. A long strap is threaded though the bottom of the legs which is used to hold the stool folded. This strap is very loose when the stool is set up and I may remove this as well or shorten it up and improve it. Neither of these little issues stopped me from buying the stool.
One look at the price tag put the cost factor at superb. MSRP on the REI Trail Stool is $22.50. Many other options out there cost four times that much or more. So with comfort being good, packability, and weight being acceptable, and cost being great, I bought the REI Trail Stool. Check it out here.