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Helinox Chair Zero Review: The Ultimate Backpacking Chair

by Carissa Stanz

helinox chair zero review
Photo: Mike Connick

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The Helinox Chair Zero is the chair for all your adventures. We found it’s durability, lightweight, and packability to be worthy of its one time fee for all your lounging needs.

And we’re not the only ones raving. Backpacker Magazine awarded the Helinox Chair Zero their Editor’s Choice Award. And FYI, we’ve also got a gear guide you’ll want to see: Take a Seat: The 5 Best Backpacking Chairs.

What We Dig

Choosing minimal backpacking pack weight over comfort is not an issue with the Helinox Chair Zero.

Clocking in at a single pound, the Chair Zero’s featherweight and packable design cut out all the extra bulk and fuss you typically get with backpacking and camping chairs. This alone makes the Chair Zero insanely versatile — which we absolutely love.

From the beach to the backcountry, the Chair Zero is a prime choice for any setting where you’d prefer to be elevated off the ground rather than sitting on it.

Meaning, you also don’t have to fork over extra cash purchasing an array of chairs for all your outdoor activities.

As for the construction, we can’t stress enough how surprisingly durable this chair is. While you’d half expect the Chair Zero to crumble in no time what with all the repetitive seat plopping and all, the strength to weight ratio is unmatched.

The aluminum poles are sturdy and the seat fabric is remarkably strong. All this and the chair takes only a few seconds to set up.

What We’d Change

There’s no way to tiptoe around it, the Helinox Chair Zero is pricey. That said, if you look at the purchase as an investment, you may find it well worth the dough.

Another gripe we have is the seat dimensions are on the smaller side. I’m 5’6” so I fit perfectly snug into this chair. However, taller folks who have sat in the Chair Zero find the shallow seat and short back to be less supportive and not as comfortable as other camp chairs.

The dimensions also mean the seat is best for shorter periods of rest as opposed to racking up the hours of lounging time.

The Verdict

The Helinox Chair Zero is one of the lightest backpacking chairs around. This chair’s weight is further matched by its strength.

The Chair Zero isn’t just for backpacking. The weight and portability make the Chair Zero a go-to chair for all your outdoor adventures where you’d like to take a seat.

There are certainly other options on the market that are cheaper and more comfortable than the Chair Zero, but none match this chair’s strength, weight, and packability.

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Field Test

helinox ultralight chair review

I’ve done a lot of sitting in my life, but it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I had the pleasure of sitting in the Helinox Chair Zero.

Since then, my Chair Zero has been put to the test on many adventures. The most notable of which was when my partner and I lived out of a Tacoma truck for eight months.

From California to Washington, the Chair Zero got busted out in all types of terrain on a daily basis. Less than a minute to set up, Chair Zero proved to be efficient and comfortable at the end of a long day.

The packability, on the other hand, was worth its weight in gold. There’s only so much you can pack into a Tacoma truck and the Chair Zero earned its space.

With repetitive daily use I expected the Chair Zero to eventually wear out and break – as happened to many of my partner’s cheap camping chairs. Surprisingly, the Chair Zero remained reliably durable.

So durable that even after a campfire ember burned a small hole into the seat fabric, the hole remained the same size despite consistent use. The fabric also has shown very little signs of stretching and the poles remain good as brand new even after a couple years worth of use.

Product Details

helinox chair review

The Helinox Chair Zero weighs a mere 16-ounces and packs down to the size of a 32 ounce water bottle (13.8 x 3.9 x 3.9 inches). Praised for a compact featherweight, the Chair Zero is super rugged thanks to the anodized DAC aluminum poles and ripstop polyester seat fabric.

Plop down 265 pounds of body weight into the chair and it will hold strong under the pressure. Meanwhile, the set up takes only a few seconds due to the virtually self-assembling style design.

Simply lock the single shock cord pole structure frame into place, slip on the seat cover, and get ready to lounge.

Featuring a durable construction, packable design, and astounding light weight, the Helinox Chair Zeros is a top-shelf quality chair that’s versatile enough to be used in an array of outdoor settings.

Takeaways

The Chair Zero is a versatile backpacking chair with an unmatched strength to weight ratio. Here’s a breakdown of the highlights.

User-Friendly: Forget the instructions, the Helinox Chair Zero pretty much sets itself up. Lock in the poles and slip the four corners of the seat fabric into place and you’re ready to go. If you happen to forget, the directions are printed on the back of the seat cover.

Lightweight: The Helinox Chair Zero weighs a single pound. Enough said.

Packable: Cutting down on all the unnecessary bulk, the Helinox Chair Zero is compact and packable. This means you can stuff it in your backpacking pack or add it to your Tetris packed vehicle to take it on your outdoor excursion of choice.

Durable: The ripstop polyester seat and anodized DAC aluminum poles make the Helinox Chair Zero strong enough to take a beating on the trail.

Versatile: The combination of packability and weight make the Helinox Chair Zero one of the most versatile chairs. Beach, picnics, parks, campgrounds, and backcountry, you can take a load off anywhere you go. This also means you’ll get more bang for your buck.

Helinox Chair Zero Vs. Chair One

helinox chair zero vs chair one

What comes after zero? One. And such is the case for the Helinox chair product line.

While the Chair Zero is coveted for minimal weight and abundant strength, Helinox built a slightly less expensive version called Chair One.

The Helinox Chair One sports a similar construction to the Chair Zero with some noticeable differences.

The seat fabric incorporates a breathable mesh to keep you cool while the dimensions add on just a hair more room. While this makes the Chair One more comfortable, the breathable mesh leads us to believe the Chair One may be more prone to stretching over time.

That said, the seat does sit you a bit more upright while feeling sturdy and stable under your bodyweight.

Speaking of weight, the Chair One weighs in at two pounds as opposed to the Chair Zero’s single pound weight. Chair One is also bulkier but can support more bodyweight.

Between the two, the Chair One is the more comfortable option. However, there is no question that when it comes to packability and versatility, the Chair Zero reigns supreme.

Conclusion

The Helinox Chair Zero is an extremely lightweight and portable backpacking chair that’s incredibly versatile. If you’re looking for a one size fits all your outdoor adventures type of chair, this is the ideal option.

Beach days, campfires, backpacking trips, picnics in the park, you name it the Chair Zero is made for it. This chair takes up virtually no precious cargo space while being light as a feather to cart to your destination.

The incredible strength to weight ratio means the Chair Zero will last with repetitive use while also being able to take a beating on the trail.

However, if you’re the minimalist trail weight type who shaves off the end of your toothbrush, you’ll find the single pound to be too heavy for your backpacking pack. In this case, perhaps the Therm-a-Rest Z Seat is more up your alley.

On the other hand, if a single pound sounds like a back saver, the Helinox Chair Zero is a great option.

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