|Rating:||7.9 / 10|
|Value for Money||2.1 / 2.5|
|Versatility||1.7 / 2.5|
|Durability||2.0 / 2.5|
|Comfort||2.1 / 2.5|
On most of my hikes, regardless of the length or duration, I find myself looking for that perfect rock or log to sit on for a break. For me that means lightly shaded and something that’s flatfish and dry which is easier said than done when its been raining. Given the opportunity I also like a spot that provides back support and this is were it really gets hard. Sometimes this combination of sitting options just doesn’t exist and only a chair can satisfy the need. Carrying a chair for hiking definitely falls into the ‘luxury item‘ category but as luxury items go, it’s what I most commonly see being carried.
Now I have been aware of the Helinox chairs for a number of years and even compared the range at a trade show a couple of years ago. Recently I had the opportunity to have a play with the Helinox Chair Zero in the real world.
The Helinox range includes around 15 chairs that are designed for particular uses and include four chairs in the ultra lightweight category designed for hiking and camping situations where weight and size are of important. The Chair Zero is their lightest in the range (510 grams) beating out the Ground Chair which looks smaller and more compact but in reality comes in at 640 grams. Adding just over 1/2 kilo to your pack to get a comfortable seat definitely requires a conscious decision.
The Helinox Chair Zero is constructed using DAC (Brand) aluminium poles for the frame. DAC poles can be found in most of the world’s high end tents and trekking poles and while there are cheaper options available, by using DAC they have picked the best quality. The frame of this chair is in many respects similar to modern tent poles that contain shock cord. The high quality materials are of course reflected in the $169.99 price tag.
When I first took this chair out of the pack I was expecting to have to assemble a jigsaw puzzle with all the various bits but soon realised this was a very easy process with all the poles snapping into place quickly. Attaching the robust nylon fabric component of the chair to the frame took me a bit longer to work out until I noticed a ‘This side up’ arrow – once I’d worked that out it was a pretty quick process.
As chairs goes this one is on the lighter end of what is available and much smaller when packed than most ultralight tents so it isn’t going to take up a huge space in your pack. This chair is rated for a 120kg person and at the time of testing I weighed in at 106kg. Comfort wise I found it to be quite good even after an extended period of sitting and reading. However, given my height I found it more comfortable to sit with my legs out in front rather than in a knees up position. As heavy as I am, most of my weight is in my upper body and the chair size worked well.
My issue as mentioned is that my knees are a bit stiff and given my height of 185cm, I found it a bit hard to sit myself down in the Chair Zero having to lower myself as much as I could and on the final approach supporting myself with my hand on the ground to settle in just so I didn’t drop into the chair with any force. If you are shorter in height this may not be as big an issue and in fact my wife Gill who is around 168cm and much more nimble found getting in and out of this chair very easy. Like any rating you don’t want to push the limit and as I have dodgy knees at the moment I was conscious of gently lowering myself into the seat rather than flopping into it from full standing like you would do with a conventional chair at your house. If you are close to the 120kg weight I would be gentle with how you handle it and ensure that it has a good stable and reasonably level base before settling in for the evening.
Stability-wise once you are seated there is a bit of a ‘wobble’ – we both found this to be the case but this is less of an issue if your legs are out in front of you rather than sitting with your knees up. Once I settled in and got used to the slight movement it wasn’t an issue.
If you are (very) broad across the backside you may be better off looking at the Chair One which apart from having a load capacity of 145kg also has a few extra centimetres width.
The Chair Zero comes in three colours Black, Grey and Sand. Helinox also produces accessories for the chair range including a ground sheet for use on soft ground as well as more robust feet for better grip. There is even a cupholder that clips onto the frame!
Overall as hiking chairs go the Helinox Chair Zero definitely sits (pardon the pun) in that sweet spot of comfort and weight. Provided you are happy to carry that extra 510 grams in your pack it’s a great option if comfortable sitting is what you are after.
Chair Zero packed up
‘This side up’. This is all the instruction you need to set up this chair
The Chair Zero Frame. When I first saw this I thought it was going to take me ages to put the chair together but its linked with shock cord like modern tent frames and very quick to assemble
Chair Zero front view
Chair Zero side view
Chair Zero knees up. Not the most comfortable position if you have stiff knees or are tall
Chair Zero legs out. For me this was a very comfortable position
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AUD $199.99 RRP
Helinox produce a range of 15 chairs as well as other products but if you are looking for a hiking chair the Chair Zero, the Ground Chair or at a pinch, the Chair One are going to be your best options
This review was done with product provided for test by the Australian supplier