If you’re in a rush and want to find out what the best camping stool is, we recommend the REI Co-Op Trail Stool.
Having a comfortable place to sit after a long day on your feet is pure bliss. Camping chairs get the job done well for car camping and sporting events, but what about those times where you find yourself hiking deep into the wilderness away from civilization? You sure won’t want to lug a heavy camping chair that far!
A small camping stool is the perfect option for any outdoorsman who likes to be on the move, but still wants to indulge in a little comfort. Lightweight and portable, it might not feel like you’re sitting on a cloud, but anything that can get you a foot off the ground is a major improvement.
In this article, we’ll be reviewing the following best camping stools:
- REI Co-Op Trail Stool – Best Overall
- GCI Outdoor Quik-E Seat Chair – Editor’s Choice
- ALPS Mountaineering Tri-Leg Stool
- LuckyCup Portable Camping Stool
- Forbidden Road Camping Stool – Best Bang for Your Buck
Small Camping Stool Features
Before we dive into the products themselves, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you need to look for. Generally speaking, when it comes to small camping stools, here are few key features you should prioritize:
We’ll talk about all these things below, so you can get a clear understanding into our thought process, and how we picked out the best, small camping stool.
If you’re looking into small camping stools instead of something that provides an even better place to sit, like a camping chair, there’s probably only one real reason for this.
As most of us know, camping chairs take up a lot of space, and they weigh an arm and a leg more than you can afford when on the trail. In no rational world would they be an ideal option for a backpacking trip of any kind. But naturally, most backpackers desire a place to sit that’s more comfortable than the ground or a local rock. Frankly, even if you aren’t going on a week long trek, who wants to carry a 10 pound chair to any campsite, sports game, or outdoor gettogether? A 1.5 pound trail stool sounds much better, and it’ll actually be small enough to fit inside your backpack too.
Regarding portability, weight is obviously going to be a major factor to consider, but we’ll discuss that in more detail below. Aside from that, think about the overall size of the folding camp stool and how much space it will take up. If you’re backpacking, will you still have room for your other essentials, like your sleeping bag, food, cookware, and clothes? Small and simple aren’t bad things, especially when you’re trying to conserve at much space as possible.
When it comes to picking out a small camping stool, weight should be high on your list of things to check out. Not just how heavy the actual stool is, but also how much weight it was designed to hold.
It’s pretty common to find trail stools that land somewhere between 1-2 pounds, though I would definitely start to reconsider my choice if the stool was pushing 2 pounds or higher. If you’ve ever backpacked anywhere before, you already know that every pound counts, and you’ll definitely start to feel the extra weight after enough time. No matter how minimal it might seem when you first set out.
Be aware of how much weight the stool is designed to hold as well, because typically, it won’t be as much as a camping chair. Many chairs can hold several hundred pounds, while certain small camping stools can only withstand 200 pounds. For someone like me, that weight limit doesn’t do much to ease my mind, and I’m sure many of you feel the same. Make sure you grab a stool that can hold your weight, with plenty of strength to spare.
Use any type of gear in the great outdoors, and it’ll start to show signs of wear and tear after enough time. Eventually, even the greatest trail stool will die on you – the question is, will it happen after 10 months or 10 years?
The material that your small camping stool is made out of will directly impact how much life you can get out of it. Steel and aluminum tend to last for awhile, and a waterproof, UV resistant seating area will also increase longevity. When possible, avoid getting anything that has plastic at the ends of the legs. No matter how strong it is, plastic will definitely wear out faster than the rest of your stool, especially since it’s taking the brunt of all the weight and friction against the ground.
The whole idea of using a stool versus not using a stool is the added comfort it will bring. But if you don’t think the stool is comfortable, why even bother with it in the first place?
In general, the downside with small camping stools is the fact that they’re backless. Given enough time, it’s inevitable that you’ll experience some discomfort while sitting on it, but that’s the price you pay for such a drastic reduction in weight and size. That’s why it’s all the more important for you to find a stool that feels pretty good to sit on, and doesn’t have any hard bits that press up against sensitive areas of your body – for men especially!
You’d think that a small camping stool wouldn’t cost very much, especially when compared with a camping chair. However, because of the special attention given to the design, and the materials used to keep it lightweight and portable, the two different seating options are actually pretty comparable in price. Still, you can get yourself a high quality, small camping stool for under $50 pretty easily.
Best Small Camping Stool Reviews
REI Co-Op Trail Stool
When I was backpacking through Nepal, one of my companions brought this exact stool with him. Since he was in his 60s, he needed something a bit more comfortable to sit on at night and during breaks throughout the day, without adding too much weight to his pack.
Weighing a little over a pound, it would be difficult to find another product that has the REI Co-Op trail stool beat on weight. The aluminum frame contributes to this back saving factor, while also proving a strong and durable place to sit. Unfortunately, the weight limit is only 200 pounds, so it’s not an ideal option for some of us, but I’d highly recommend it to anyone who weighs less than this.
The seat of the stool is made out of polyester, and it’s a remarkably soft place to sit for an extended period of time. In the picture, you can also see the contouring of the seat, which works great as a way to keep you from sliding around. And, perhaps most surprisingly, it’s significantly cheaper than most options that you can find out there, despite being created by such a large name brand like REI.
– Very lightweight
– Comfortable to sit on
– Durable aluminum frame
– Weight limit is only 200 pounds
GCI Outdoor Quik-E Seat Chair
While it doesn’t necessarily fit within the realm of traditional trail stools, the GCI Outdoor Quik-E seat chair is still close enough to count. When looking at it, you can see that it’s essentially a small camping stool that has a back on it – a significant improvement over most trail stools.
But before we get into any of the other features, let’s just take a look at the biggest elephant in the room when it comes to this chair. At about 4.5 pounds, it’s much heavier than I would feel comfortable recommending for backpacking. This weight primarily comes into play because of the steel frame, and the addition of the padded back for extra comfort. Obviously, these are nice features to have for added durability and comfort, but at the expense of being so heavy.
For shorter day hikes or car camping, it’s definitely one of the better options in this review. It’s fast and easy to set up and take down, and despite being a little clunky, the shoulder straps make it easy to transport from one place to the next. The smaller size also helps with portability, while still managing to keep you 17 inches off the ground.
– Very comfortable
– Comes with a backrest
– Durable steel frame
– 17 inch seat height
– Built in shoulder straps
– Has a beverage holder attached
– Heavy for a trail stool
ALPS Mountaineering Tri-Leg Stool
It might look similar to the REI trail stool, but this product by ALPS Mountaineering is different in a couple of key places. To start, the frame is made out of powder coated steel, instead of aluminum. As you may know, steel by far the heavier of those two materials, bringing the overall weight of this small camping stool up to 2 pounds. Though it’s twice as heavy as the seat by REI, I still believe it lands within a reasonable range for backpacking, or long hikes in general. And the great thing about the frame being made out of steel, aside from the extra durability, is that the stool is able to hold up to 250 pounds. This opens it up for use to a much wider variety of folks, without fear of it collapsing on them in an attempt to take their weight.
While convenient, comfort is an area that could be improved upon. As it is with any trail stool, the backless design automatically makes it less comfortable than a normal chair. However, in addition to that, this stool has 3 peaks of fabric that rise up around you – one of which comes up over your crotch. It’s a very secure fit, and if you sit with proper posture it isn’t an issue, but some men in particular may find it somewhat unpleasant.
– Very sturdy and durable
– Packs down small for portability
– 250 pound weight limit
– 16 inch seat height
– Quite cheap
– A tad heavy
– Slightly uncomfortable for men in particular
LuckyCup Portable Camping Stool
This small camping stool by LuckyCup is truly the greatest powerhouse we’ve discussed so far. With 4 legs instead of 3, the max weight capacity for this seat is 368 pounds (an odd number, but I imagine they tested it somehow). The steel frame only maximizes the sturdiness of the square design, making this one of the strongest, most durable trail stools you’ll find.
Traditionally, steel legs means the product is going to be obnoxiously heavy. And yet, this stool is actually lighter than many of the others, weighing in at a humble 1.66 pounds. Most likely, this surprisingly light weight is a result of how short the stool actually is, which brings me to my biggest pain point about the product as a whole.
At only a foot tall, the seat height is much lower to the ground than what you’d find on most stools. This isn’t too big of an issue if you’re shorter, but for tall folks, or those of you with bad knees or hips, it’s not an ideal setup. If you don’t mind how low to the ground the seat is, though, it’s certainly difficult to find something more reliable and portable than this small camping stool.
– Stable 4 legged design
– 368 pound weight limit
– Durable steel frame
– Packs away small and is easy to carry
– Comes with a built in water bottle holder
– Sits low to the ground
Forbidden Road Camping Stool
We’ve talked about some pretty lightweight stools so far, but if you want to take it to the extreme, check out Forbidden Road’s small camping stool. This one actually weighs less than a pound (0.9 pounds, to be precise), and the platform style seating area provides a surprising amount of comfort.
There’s always a tradeoff between the pros and cons, though, and it’s no different with this product. Like the stool by LuckyCup, this little guy will only get you about a foot off the ground. For most of us, that means that our knees will be higher than our hips while we sit, which is a recipe for some achy joints if you stay in this position long enough. At the end of the day, however, you didn’t want to purchase a trail stool because you value comfort above all else. From the perspective of functionality, I’m absolutely in love with this folding camp stool.
Not only is it lightweight, but the 4 steel legs provides an incredible amount of stability, regardless of the terrain. The corners are reinforced, which is great because this is one of the hidden areas that likes to wear down quickly on most stools. Because it is on the smaller side, it’s much easier to shove in a backpack, while still leaving plenty of room for all of your other gear.
– Small and portable
– Sturdy 4 legged design
– Comfortable sitting area
– Can also be used as an ottoman at home
– Sits low to the ground
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A comfortable place to sit around the campsite is a luxury that most of us crave. I’ve been on a number of camping trips where the ground was the best seating option, and as you probably know, this certainly isn’t ideal. It’s hard and uncomfortable, and a great way to get your clothes dirty in an environment where it’s difficult to clean them again.
Getting off the ground even a little bit is a significant improvement, and a small camping stool is the way to make this happen without packing on the weight of a full sized chair. Finding a stool that’s lightweight, portable, and durable is essential for the overall success of your vacation, which is why we like the REI Co-Op trail stool.
Though it may not have the greatest weight capacity, it’s one of the more comfortable stools out there because of the ergonomics and the tall seat height. At only a pound, it’s also one of the lightest products that you’ll find. For long backpacking trips, or even just as a place to sit around the fire pit back home, this small camping stool is my go-to option for outdoor seating.
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