The ubiquitous camp chair has now reached critical mass. You can buy them at REI, Wal-Mart, Costco or even your local convenience store. They come in all colors, shapes and sizes. You can get one with your favorite NASCAR driver’s mug on it or any cartoon character imaginable. But, they all have something in common that makes them unsuitable for real camping–they are freaking HUGE and cumbersome to carry.
As a kid, I had an ultralight aluminum-framed backpacking chair that I strapped to the back of my backpack on long hikes along the Pacific Crest Trail or traversing the Olympic National Park. Nowadays, there’s hardly a true ultralight backpacking chair on the market, so I thought. That all changed when I found the Alite Monarch Butterfly backpacking chair.
More about the Alite Monarch Butterfly Backpacking Chair from AliteDesigns.com:
Monarch Butterfly chair weighs about a pound but can hold up to 250 pounds! Great for holding one of Alite founders: Big Stinky Alaskan Guy. Balancing on the 2 rubber feet allows you to rock back and forth. The leg structure keeps you off the ground while sitting on dirt, grass and even sand.
The leg structure is made out of super strong lightweight aluminum poles for durability and elastic chorded inside for easy assembly. The fabric sling is made of high quality lightweight nylon and binding materials similar to climbing harnesses. Constructed to hug your body for super long lasting comfort.
The chair packs down into a small stuff sack designed for attaching to backpacks, bags and bikes. We designed it for camping, parking, concerts and the beach. MSRP: $60
Alite Monarch Butterfly Backpacking Chair Review
In my quest for the perfect backpacking chair, I previously used the GCI Outdoors Trail Sling, which was decent, but odd in its own way. But, since using that chair, I had yet to encounter something as compact and backpacking-friendly as the Monarch Butterfly.
Now let me explain a little about this chair. It’s really not a chair in the traditional sense–it’s more like a rocker. It sports two legs with large rubber balls on the bottom. Since most humans have two legs , the two legs of the Monarch Butterfly chair add up to four total legs. So, you act like the missing two legs and provide balance as you sit or rock in complete comfort.
The way the fabric is designed, it cradles your hindside and your back for a comfortable seat. I’ve used it extensively this Summer while on vacation and during downtime on the Wasatch Back RAGNAR Relay last June. In all cases, the portability was killer as I whipped it out on rest stops (it takes about a minute to set up) and proceeded to rock and relax in the shade.
While most terrain was just fine for it, there were some uneven surfaces that caused the chair to lean to one side and not work all that well. So, you really need to find at least a fairly level spot of ground for it to work well.
- Light weight: 1.35 lbs
- Can support up to 250 lbs
- Great option for backpacking or travel
- Assembles and disassembles quickly
- The stuff sack keeps things nice and tidy
- Gotta find level ground or it’s no good
- Don’t get too aggressive or you’ll rock right over
- It does sit you low to the ground