REI Flex Lite Chair Review
July 24, 2014
The REI Flex Lite chair is an ultra compact fully featured camp chair. It folds down into a very small package, due to its “tent pole like construction”, but doesn’t skimp on support allowing you to kick it in luxury no matter where you are. I picked up this chair specifically to take with me on multi-night sea kayaking trips but I’ve used it for so much more than that – its become one of my favorite luxury outdoor items.
Essentially the REI Flex Lite chair is compairable (by compairable I mean practically identical) to the award winning Helinox One chair or the Alite Mantis chair. This type of chair reminds me of a tent. You assemble the frame of the chair much like you do a set of tent poles and then you attach the seat. The major difference between REI’s version and others is the price. Rather than costing $120 it will run you $69.99. Spending $70 on a camp chair is much easier for me to stomach. Its construction quality is top notch, it packs up small, and provides the holy grail of camp furniture – a way to rest your back after a long day. My primary use for this chair is to take it on sea kayaking expeditions. I refer to sea kayaking as the RV’ing of the backcountry since you can take sooo much stuff with you on a trip. The major limitation though isn’t the amount of stuff you can carry but physically fitting your gear into the hatches. A full size camp chair just won’t make it through – even if there is physically enough room inside the kayak things that are too long won’t be able to fit through the hatch opening. The REI Flex Lite chair fits with room to spare. I’ve also been pleased to see that with the proper care the exposure to ocean water has not caused any visible corrosion (I will rinse the chair off after I get back from a trip but I don’t take specific steps, such as wrapping the chair in plastic, to minimize salt water exposure). Really the only drawback to this chair that I’ve found is the small feet. Because I use this while I’m sitting on a sandy beach the small feet on the legs sink down into the sand which can make the chair unstable or sit so low that getting in and out is a challenge. What I’m describing isn’t a problem unique to this chair but it would be really cool to see a company make some sort of fold out feet for camp chairs to be used more easily on the beach.
Outside of kayaking the versatility of this chair has surprised me. I’ve brought it to concerts, on day hikes, to the dog park and tons of other places. I can fit two of these chairs into a small 24L backpack with room leftover for lunch. Nothing makes a romantic hike with my girlfriend to watch the sunset from the top of a mountain better than a couple of comfortable chairs (ok maybe a bottle of wine helps too). Recently on an overnight trip into the Cascade Mountains with a buddy of mine I came back to our campsite after refilling our water to find him lounging around in one of these chairs about 15 miles into the backcountry. I had no idea he had one but apparently he swears by it on long hikes to help relieve his aching back (he doesn’t share the same ultralight philosophy as I do).
If you are looking for a compact, lightweight, portable and affordable camp chair that still provides great back support look no further because the REI Flex Lite chair is for you.
REI Flex Lite Chair