My camping season here in Northern New England is pretty much over. I turned 66 years old the other day, and freezing my tookus off just to spend the night in the woods isn’t as appealing as it was when I was younger. Until spring, I suspect I will limit myself to the occasional late night hammock hang for some stargazing. [I also just had cataract surgery performed on one eye, and I go back later in the week for the second one. They actually shatter the cataract covered lens and replace it with one made from synthetics. I will have 20/20 distance vision restored. The point is, I will actually be able to see the stars once more, instead of “sort of” seeing them as a bunch of fuzzy stuff up there.]
Lately I have been impressed with the little portable “butterfly chairs” that I had seen a lot of folks bring to the fireside at the hammock hangs I’ve been attending. As opposed to the full-sized folding chairs that most people have at least a few of, these are designed to be packable… If you’re willing to deal with the extra weight. Of course, since I am now limiting myself to car, campsite, and paddle-in camping, the weight is not a heavy concern for me. But I had tried out a couple of the chairs, and found them awfully comfortable and convenient. They were, however, way too expensive for my budget. That’s why I was excited a few weeks ago to find a great deal on a “Chi-clone”/over-run of them on one of the Hong Kong sites…. at 1/3rd the price. [90% utility for 50% or less cost always works better for my budget]. The chair actually shipped from a US warehouse and was delivered within a week. I’ve been trying it out here around the yard.
Being me, I immediately wonked it with a four pack of little rubber balls, [intended as cat toys] that I picked up down at the Fell-Off-a-Truck-Stop for $.75. I made a little crossed slit in each one and slipped it over the end of the legs to keep them from digging into soft ground. My Reflctix sit pad works great to help keep my bum warm, and rolls right up in the chair package.
I am really impressed with how sturdily built it is. The hubs for the support spokes are made of a heavy-duty, but flexible, solid plastic like Delrin. The shock-cords that hold it together are super heavy duty, and the spokes snap into the hubs with ease, but also with a close fit… No wiggle. Both the Cordura fabric and the mesh inserts used for the seat bucket are at least as high quality is you’d see you in any other of the larger chairs from the high-end vendors, and the fabrics are very tightly sewn together. The whole thing rolls up compactly, and with the short buckle strap that I added out of my own junk collection, the total weight comes in right at 2 pounds exactly. This is certainly something that you could strap onto your pack and carry on a 2-3 day hike.
I haven’t had a chance to compare this chair with one of the more expensive units that my friends have, but a quick web search showed how closely this one matches up in it’s specs with the $100 units. Those are all what seem to be perfectly identical units, but sold by several different vendors. My solid suspicion is that this is a case of the Hong Kong guys remarketing overrun production units that are actually the same product without any branding… And at a fraction of the cost.
The chair itself is indeed very sturdy, and quite comfortable. My Reflectix pad fit without any adjustment and adds to the 3-season use, while the mesh inserts will allow the back of the chair to vent well on those hot, sticky summer nights. I have spent some time simply relaxing in it and reading, as well as some doing camp chores like cooking. It is equally comfortable if you’re leaning back with your legs stretched out or if you want to sit up and hold something on your lap. I also really like the burnt orange anodizing and black as a color combo.
It works especially well with my little strap-on tree table. I no longer have to kneel down to fuss with the stove, the windscreen and the pots… I can just sit there beside it and relax while things cook, and then sit there and eat while another pot of water boils for after dinner coffee.
I think this is pretty much a solid buy and a winner. I can’t wait to take it out to get some real use come springtime.