Gear Review

REI Flex Lite Chair

REI Flex Lite ChairFinally, an affordably-priced, packable camp chair that keeps you off the ground and is lightweight and small enough to stow in a kayak hatch.

What We Like:
My camp chair has historically been one of the bulkiest items I’ve had to contend with while packing my kayaking for overnights, often taking away precious space from other (probably more necessary) items. Never have I put in more man-hours searching for a piece of camp gear than I have looking for a camp chair that was smaller than what I currently use.

I’ve been amazed, astonished and bewildered that in all my research, I couldn’t find a lightweight and packable camping/backpacking chair that kept me off the ground and didn’t have me balancing on two legs (I’ve never understood why you’d want to perform a balancing act while drinking around a campfire. In fact, it’s the last thing I’d want to do).

I’ve been using a chair I found at Menards years ago for $5. It’s been good to me and I’ve been able to successfully pack it in my kayak but it’s showing its age (and price). Although it’s actually lighter than most camping chairs, it’s also longer (29″ in length and 4.5″ around when folded) so it made for some creative packing and I’ve always tried to refrain from putting gear on top of my deck unless I absolutely had to.

I’ve been pretty specific (but not unreasonable) in what I was looking for. It had to be lightweight and smaller than what I currently use and it didn’t need arms (this doesn’t have any – a requirement for some). It also had to keep me elevated at least a couple inches from the ground (taking into account the sand and mud we often encounter on kayaking overnights).

I really considered one of these Camp Time Roll-A-Chairs for awhile but then I came across the Big Agnes Helinox Chair that looked like it fit my needs perfectly. As luck would have it, just as I was about to pull the trigger, REI came out with its Flex Lite Chair. It’s actually quite similar to the Big Agnes chair, just much more affordable (especially when using your discount).

It was love at first sight.

It fit my (very practical) list of criteria: Lighter, smaller and ground clearance. The best part of it is literally cutting the size of my current chair in half while reducing the weight by over 5lbs. When testing it in wet sand, the legs only sunk in a little bit, still giving me (at least) a good five inches of elevation from the ground, which is good enough to keep the sand critters away.

The Flex Lite Chair is nicely designed and comes in a variety of colors. The setup is really simple (and quite self-explanatory) and it’s rated to hold 250lbs (I have a few more to gain before I max out). It’s comfy as it gets for chairs of this size.

The storage bag it comes in was the real headscratcher and at first, a rather annoying challenge to figure out. The first few times I pleaded with the REI Gods. “Oh why won’t you give me a half-inch more space to help me put this chair back in the bag??!!” But I learned that the trick to getting it back in is to keep the caps attached to the middle pole and then fold the legs inward. Roll the mesh between that caps and you should be able to get it back in the pouch with ease (and less swearing).

The Final Word:
I love this chair and I love the fact that I reduced the size of a much needed piece of camp gear and consequently, gained more hatch space for other gear. It’s the perfect kayak campchair and I’m really happy the search is over.

Photo Gallery:

Key Info:

Manufacturer: REI
Material: Ripstop Nylon + Aluminum
Folded Dimensions: 4 x 14 inches
Unfolded Dimensions: 25.5 x 20 x 20 inches
Weight: 1 lb. 12 oz.
Seat Height: 13″
Weight Capacity: 250 lbs.

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