Founded in 2009, Helinox has made a name for itself with a range of highly functional camp chairs and other portable furniture. The South Korean company helmed by Young Lah utilizes lightweight aluminum tubes from Dongah Aluminum Corporation (a renowned tent pole brand owned founded by Young's father) in all of its products, giving them an excellent strength-to-weight ratio. The smart designs, ease of use and huge variety of colors (and cool collaborations) make Helinox chairs stand out in the camping space.
Perhaps the most popular Helinox product is the Chair One ($110), a lightweight camping chair designed in 2012. The four-legged adventure seat has a whopping 4.8-star review on Amazon with over 1,400 reviews and is consistently given top marks by industry-leading publications. In order to vet the product ourselves, we got hands on with it, testing it on numerous treks in the mountains, along the coast and just about every other place we could tote it.
What's Good About the Helinox Chair One
It's Lightweight and Portable
This chair is notably lightweight — just 2.2 pounds — due to its unique aluminum frame. Made of a proprietary anodized aluminum alloy called TH72M, the hollow poles are durable, strong, corrosion resistant and light. The poles function much like tent poles (held together internally with elastic cords) and are secured to fiber-reinforced nylon hubs at the base of the chair. The durable seat cover slips over the ends of each pole, creating a taught, ergonomic surface.
Disassembled, the Chair One packs into a pouch that's just 13.5 x 3.5 x 4.5 inches. That means you can easily store the chair in backpacks or totes, or clip it to the exterior of one of your larger bags. When packing, it takes up far less space than other portable camping necessities like blankets, sleeping bags, and tents.
Designed with Comfort in Mind
The Chair One sits 10.5 inches off the ground and has a curved seat cover that reaches a total height of 25.5 inches. You can get into and out of it comfortably, especially after a long day of hiking, and it supports up to 320 pounds. The taught seat cover supports your back and the front edge doesn't put pressure on the underside of your thighs, so it's easy to relax after a day on your feet.
It's Insanely Easy to Assemble
Because of the simple design, the Chair One can be assembled in 15-20 seconds. There are two parts: the frame and the seat. To set up, just allow the elastic cords to guide the poles into their respective hubs, set the chair on its base and stretch the seat cover over the frame. You can assemble the chair in near darkness without having to fumble around trying to figure out what parts fits where. When you reach your destination and want to relax for a bit, you can focus on that — relaxing — without stressing over unintuitive furniture designs.
What's Not Ideal About the Helinox Chair One
It's Best for Level Surfaces
While the Chair One can be used just about anywhere, it's most comfortable on level ground. If you're at a campsite and have already set-up your tent, chances are you're in a good space. But if you're packing these chairs on an excursion and are using them along the way to relax, it's worth seeking out a low-grade location to set them up. As the ground gets steeper, the angles of the chair are throw out of whack, and it's easier to tip forward or backward. Most notably — since the angles change — the chair is less easy to sit in and less comfortable. Easy fix: flat ground.
Not for Sandy Settings
Because the Chair One's aluminum poles are narrow, the design doesn't excel in sandy settings or areas with loose soil. If you set up on a beach or somewhere else, the chair will sink. But Helinox has some products that can help, like its ground sheet, a stable base that helps prevent sinking, and its Vibram ball feet that help with stability. If you're not investing in those products, just be aware the type of ground you're setting up on.
Helinox Chair One: The Verdict
While the Helinox Chair One is certainly pricey, it's worth it. The incredible portability, durability and great design make it at home on camping trips, on wilderness hikes, while dock fishing or even at outdoor concerts. The chair comes in a wide variety of colors, so it's easy to find one that matches your personal aesthetic. But if you see one you like, act fast — they have a tendency to sell out quickly.