The 4 Best Camping Chairs For Bad Backs, According To An Orthopedist

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Just because you’re roughing it in the great outdoors doesn’t mean your camping chair has to be rough on your back — especially when you live with chronic discomfort. The best camping chairs for bad backs bring your head in line over your pelvis and have extra padding to enhance comfort. Some also have lumbar support that conforms to the natural curvature of your spine.

Rahul Shah, M.D., a board-certified orthopedic spine and neck surgeon at Premier Orthopedic Spine Associates in Vineland, New Jersey, explains that a comfortable camping chair “allows one to hold the head comfortably over the pelvis without having the muscles do much extra work to bring the head in line over the pelvis.” In order to achieve this, some chairs have built-in supports to “alleviate extra muscle work.” Extra padding throughout the back and the waist area is an advantage as well.

What should you avoid when picking out a camping chair? For starters, Dr. Shah recommends staying away from stiff chairs that force you to sit in an uncomfortable position. “Additionally, those chairs that are either too low to the ground, too high from the ground, or don’t support much of the low back muscles may also work to aggravate, as compared to alleviate the back muscles,” says Dr. Shah.That means you should stay away from chairs with flimsy backs, as well as saucer chairs or scoop seats that force your back into an angled position, which brings your body out of alignment. You may also want to look for chairs with a seat height that allows you to place your feet flat on the ground, with knees bent at a 90-degree angle, as recommended by the Cleveland Clinic. (For reference, the picks on this list have seat heights ranging from 15.5 to 19 inches.)

The chairs below are specifically designed to reduce the strain on your back muscles, so you can better enjoy your camping trip. They’re lightweight for easy portability, and some even include extras like built-in coolers and storage pockets, while others have frames that are designed to work specifically with your height. Whether you’re looking for a seat that offers extra lumbar support, thick padding, or an ergonomic design, these chairs have got your back (literally).

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1. The Overall Best

This KingCamp chair is the top pick for campers who deal with bad backs, thanks to its reasonable price and clever design. Made from durable 600-denier Oxford polyester fabric with a sturdy steel frame, the chair is lightly padded throughout the seat and the straight, high back offers lots of support to keep your body aligned. There’s a lumbar-supportive cushion with an adjustable strap to hold it securely in place at the lower back, and a hidden storage compartment in the head area can be stuffed with a pillow for added neck comfort. The seat is 18.5 inches off the ground, and an insulated cooler bag located inside one armrest can hold up to three cans, while the other armrest has a cupholder. On the side, there’s a convenient storage bag that can hold small items. At 11.3 pounds, the chair is easy to fold up and carry inside the included bag.

According to a reviewer: “It really is a comfy chair for camping. The added lumbar support is really helpful. My husband has back issues and this was the only chair he could sit in while camping.”

  • Available colors: 3
  • Weight capacity: 350 pounds

2. The Most Lightweight

The thick foam padding on the seat and high back of this folding chair from Timber Ridge makes it a comfortable pick, and one that’s sturdy enough for full-back support. It’s not as tricked out as the other picks on the list, and does not have extra lumbar support, so you might want to add a cushion of your own. With a seat height of 19 inches, the chair itself is made from heavy-duty 600-denier polyester material, while the frame is made from lightweight aluminum. It conveniently folds up in one quick motion and fits inside the included carrying case. At just 8.6 pounds, it’s the lightest on the list, so it’s the best choice if you’re concerned about carrying weight. There aren’t any drink holders or storage compartments, making this a good pick for those who want a more streamlined, straightforward camping chair.

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According to a reviewer: “Lightweight so very easy to carry. Love the back support!”

  • Available colors: 2
  • Weight capacity: 300 pounds

3. A Premium Chair For Those Who Are 5 Feet 8 Inches & Up

For those who are 5 feet 8 inches and up, the STRONGBACK chair is an ultra-supportive option, and while it’s on the pricier side, it offers excellent support. The patented ergonomic design provides relief to your lower back, thanks to the lumbar support integrated into the frame and the additional lumbar padding built into the chair. The high back comes up to the shoulders for full support, and it’s sturdy to keep your back from rounding, while the ground-to-seat height measures 17 inches. There are two mesh beverage holders, one located on either side of the chair, and the armrests are padded for added comfort. Made of a lightweight nylon material, the 11.9-pound chair can easily be collapsed and carried in the included carrying case. Since it sits a bit higher off the ground, it’s best for those on the taller side, giving them the clearance to place their feet on the ground, with knees bent at a 90-degree angle. If you’re shorter than 5 feet 8 inches, you’ll want to check out the next option, which is also by STRONGBACK.

According to a reviewer: “The Elite ended up being one of the best Amazon purchases I’ve ever made! It was supportive to my back, and I was comfortable in any position I sat in as I curled up with my book for hours by day and roasted marshmallows around the campfire by night. The chair did not feel too big for me at all! In fact, I liked the higher back because it offered slightly more head/neck support on my shorter frame.”

  • Available colors: 4
  • Weight capacity: 300 pounds
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4. A Premium Chair For Those Who Are 5 Feet 7 Inches & Under

Similar to the previous pick, the STRONGBACK Guru chair has frame-integrated lumbar support as well as additional lumbar cushioning for the lower back. The ergonomic shape encourages proper posture to align your hips and spine, and the high, sturdy back supports you all the way up to the shoulders. With a seat height that measures 15.5 inches, the shorter frame is best for campers who are 5 feet 7 inches and under, as it sits lower. (If you’re taller, check out the previous option.) There are mesh drink holders built into either armrest, both of which are padded for additional support. The back and seat are made from a strong nylon material that collapses effortlessly, and at 10 pounds, this chair fits inside the backpack-style carrying case for easy transportation.

According to a reviewer: “The posture and lumbar back support is excellent. To try them out here in winter, we sat in them all evening watching TV in the family room for several nights in a row. Result- best folding chair on the market. We both have lower back problems and can sit in this chair for hours in comfort.”

  • Available colors: 2
  • Weight capacity: 300 pounds

Expert:

Dr. Rahul Shah, board-certified orthopedic spine and neck surgeon for Premier Orthopedic Spine Associates. https://rahulshahmd.com/

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>