The Helinox ground chair by Big Agnes.

Helinox Ground Chair (distributed by Big Agnes)

My two big questions about this chair were: would it hold up over the long haul, and would it be comfortable. On the other counts, at least on paper, it is impressive. The mesh seat and shock-corded aluminum poles pack down to almost the size of a one-liter water bottle. At just over a pound, it weighs less than most flat, folding camp seats. It keeps you off the ground and provides sling-style back support with breathable mesh on both sides. As to my unresolved issues, I put it to the test on a five-week river trip. The answers? Yes, it is comfortable. The true testament was that my companion kept stealing the chair in camp. The only caveat I would throw in is that it isn't easy to get out of (are any ground chairs?). Also, if you're sitting on sand, you go to the ground in fairly short order. And yes, it held up. I weigh in at about 200 lbs., and I don't always sit down gently. I used the chair daily for more than a month without anything breaking. The weak spot, as with most chairs in this category, is at the top where the stays poke up against fabric and take all the weight. Eventually, one of those will go through, especially if you're prone to tipping back and putting additional stress on those corners. Still, mine has 40 days of use, and counting, without failure.

Intel: 1.1 lbs.; 12.2"x5.9"x5.9" packed dimensions; max. load – 265 lbs.; $109.95;

The author testing Big Agnes' Helinox ground chair.

The author testing Big Agnes’ Helinox ground chair.