How to Choose Folding and Portable Chairs

Find the perfect seat for you and your activity with this guide to portable and folding chairs from Pro Tips.

Accessible. Comfortable. Easy to set up.

These are just a few qualities you might be looking for in a portable folding chair. Whether adventuring to the sidelines for a game or the outdoors for some family fun, you need the right equipment. A quality chair can help take your experience from unpleasant to comfortable.

Pro Tips has your back(side) in choosing a chair for all events and activities.


Before you select your seat, you have to assess your environment. For maximum comfort and portability, you may want to purchase multiple chairs for different activities. While one chair style might cater to sitting at a sporting event, others might be better suited for backyard gatherings. Are you packing your chair into the backcountry or heading to the beach? Maybe a lighter, more portable option would best fit your needs.


Height is a crucial element when buying a chair for the beach. You have options for two different aspects regarding height: the backrest height and the distance between the chair and the ground. Some beach chairs are lower to the ground, allowing you to stretch your legs on the sand. Meanwhile, other beach chairs can raise higher.

Beach chairs can have a completely covered back, while other models can have a shorter back. Tyler Mosler, a DICK’S Sporting Goods associate, says most beach chairs are made of aluminum to avoid rusting. However, remember that not all beach chairs will have beverage holders. If you want your drink to be comfortable, too, consider upgrading to a canopy-style beach chair with added cupholders.

BONUS PRO TIP: Beach chairs can also feel right at home at a festival, according to Mosler. Most festivals limit chair height to 30 inches, making beach chairs a great go-to option.


If you’re camping and not carrying your gear too far, you can opt for a chair with more bells and whistles. Recliners, cup holders, storage pockets and umbrellas or canopies are all great features to consider.

Mosler also says to look for camping chairs that have a quad-fold style and can fit in a bag for easy storage. Camping chairs can also come with special features like a side table. A side table can make mealtime around the fire more convenient. Padded headrests can be another perk to look for, offering comfort after a long day in the great outdoors.

If you want the coziness of home, consider a reclining chair with zero-gravity technology. These options are bigger, but can offer a lounging experience with plenty of comfort.


Zero-gravity technology for camping chairs is the ability to recline without touching the ground. This type of chair is usually made with a steel frame and includes a lock for when reclining. Usually, zero-gravity chairs are a lighter option for campers who want a more comfortable seat during their trip.


Sitting on the sidelines? You’re going to want a chair that is functional. If attending daytime sporting events, consider a chair with a canopy to keep you shaded from the sun. Maybe your perfect viewing spot will include director-style chairs, as they fold flat and fit well in the trunk of a car.

Is the event at a location with bleachers? Add some support to your sporting experience with stadium seats, which can easily fold and are lightweight to carry. The cushion can help provide comfort and help you avoid hard bleacher surfaces.

Will it be a family affair? Opt for sideline benches. These chair styles feature a group of four to six seats that fold up like an accordion to make one bench. This compact option can come in handy when you’re with a larger group and beats lugging multiple seats around. Sideline benches include bleacher, padded cushions. They are a popular, must-have layer between you and that cold, hard seat.

Mosler says that the most important aspects you should pay attention to for sideline chairs include looking for options with cup holders and cellphone pockets, too.


If you’re hiking, you’ll want to avoid any unnecessary features that might add weight to your pack. Instead, opt for something portable and compact like an ultra-light or packable chair. Look for a hunting chair or hiking chair that comes with a carry strap or a carry bag.


Foldable chairs can seem relatively light. That is until you have to carry them for a few miles. Suddenly, their size and weight start to matter. So, if you know you will be walking and carrying them for an extended period, you may want to choose a chair that has corded legs. These chairs also can collapse to a smaller, more compact size and lighter weight.

Similarly, if you are hiking, hunting or walking a distance to your camp, you may want something even more compact, like a tripod stool. What these models lack in comfort, they make up in portability. Plus, any seat can be better than sitting on the ground.


Not all chairs — even some that look similar — can hold the same amount of weight. It’s important to check each model’s weight limit.

Some children’s or youth chairs hold as little as 150 pounds or as much as 225 pounds. Some adult chairs are built to hold between 225 and 500 pounds. It might seem like more than enough if a chair says it holds 250 pounds. But it can be best to err on the side of caution – especially if you have young kids running and jumping around.

BONUS PRO TIP: If you know you want a chair for a larger person, most of the XL chairs not only hold extra weight but offer additional room as well. That may make all the difference in terms of comfort.


When buying a kids’ chair, remember all options will come with a special lock to avoid collapsing. Kids can be instrumental in choosing a chair based on their favorite color or design styles. Despite being smaller, lighter chairs, having a carry bag can help your youngster get involved in carrying everything to the site.

Before you venture outdoors for some fun and excitement, it’s important to know what options are out there. You have an abundance of seating options, especially when it comes to style and features. Consider your needs, your comfort and your activity to help make an informed decision. Whatever you have planned, there is a chair out there for you.