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I am not an expert camper. I have camped. I have enjoyed it, too! But ask me to put together a tent without swearing up a storm in frustration and you'll quickly see just how limited my mastery of outdoorsmanship really is. And yet here I am, about to tell you why you should seriously considering purchasing a camp chair for the summer ahead. What gives?
Well, for one thing, you don't have to be an expert camper—or anything even approaching that—to have a damn good time on a camping trip. But for another thing, the name "camp chair" falls woefully short of explaining what a good one actually is. Because it's also a park chair. A beach chair. A backyard barbecue chair. Even be an inside chair, if you're so inclined. Wren's highly packable, impressively comfortable "Compact Camp Chair" is all these things—and probably more. Here's why you should have one.
It's sized to move—or not
When it's packed away in its carrying case, the Compact Camp Chair is just 14 inches long, five inches wide, and five inches deep, meaning it takes up considerably less space in my bag than a pair of shoes. (And at just over two pounds, the chances that it's lighter than those shoes are pretty high.) That means it's an easy addition to your packing list if you're going anyplace where "being outside" and "sitting on something that is not the ground" is on the to-do list. It also means that when you get back home, you can stash it away with ease and not take up too much storage space in the process. Some camping essentials do the job well but require a lot of lugging and a big ol' footprint when not in use—I'm looking at you, coolers—but this chair isn't one of 'em. In your backpack or in your closet, it's easy to forget about until you want to use it.
It's remarkably easy to set up
When I first picked up the nylon carrying case for the Compact Camp Chair and felt a few of the aluminum rods rolling around under my fingers, I got nervous. Remember how much I like setting up tents? I saw a good deal of profanity in my immediate future as I imagined futzing around with uncooperative rods that needed to be fitted together using techniques seemingly designed to pinch every finger on each hand. Then I unzipped the case and breathed a sigh of sincere relief.
Everything is anchored to a central bar and held in place by elastic straps. You just give a little pull, slot the shorter rods into their plastic base, slide the two-piece rods that form the back together, and you've got your frame. It takes about 30 seconds to come together. With the next 30 seconds, you pull the cover onto the frame—there are pull tabs for that inevitable moment on the fourth corner when the tension on the fabric has built up and you need a little extra oomph to get it situated—and you're pretty much done. Just pop the feet on the bottom (there are standard ones and "anti-sink" ones that work for loose dirt and sand), and you're fully done. I didn't drop a single F-bomb.
It's nice to sit in
With "Compact" right there in the name, I knew this thing wouldn't exactly tower when fully assembled. And it does ride pretty low to the ground, which gave me pause before I decided to take a seat. But other than the extra moment between "standing up" and "sitting down," the size was no problem. It supported my six-foot frame just fine, and though I wouldn't necessarily trust that I could throw up my heels and throw back my head and not tip over backwards, it felt sturdy enough that I wasn't on guard in the least—especially when I was leaning forward like one might do around, say, a campfire. The slip pockets at the side are well situated to stash a phone or a wallet or a beer, in a pinch.
It is, altogether, a very nice chair to sit in, which is good, because, you know, that's one of the key things about chairs. My wife, who came in to find me setting it up in our living room one afternoon to her confusion, agreed after she gave it a shot. So did my three-year-old son, who plopped himself down (we steadied the chair with our hands to prevent any accidents) and happily declared, "This chair is perfect."