Helinox Chair Zero Review 2019

  • Car Camper
  • Day Hiker
  • Ultralight Backpacker
  • Urban Hiker
  • Wilderness Backpacker

Helinox Chair Zero Overview

Whether a backpacking chair is a luxury you can’t live without or something you’d never consider packing into the backcountry, this product category has gotten a significant makeover in recent years. The chairs of yore were rocks and logs (maybe a sit pad) but by taking a few design queues from lightweight tents, the modern backpacking chair is quite capable.

Enter the Helinox Chair Zero, which at just 17 ounces is one of the lightest foldable backpacking chairs on the market. The Chair Zero does a quality job of providing leg-off-the-ground support just about anywhere you want. It packs up into the size of an ultralight sleeping pad, sets up in under a minute, has a durable DAC aluminum pole hub (very similar to modern tents), and is comfy to sit in.

Due to the innovation of design (Helinox helped spur the foldable backpacking chair movement), extreme lightness, and quality construction we’re awarding the Helinox Chair Zero our Premium Pick backpacking chair for all Backpacker Types.

Helinox Chair Zero Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Setup
  • Packability
4.5

Summary

The Helinox Chair Zero is an ultralight foldable backpacking chair that will keep you a solid 11 inches off the ground. Stretch out your legs, lean back, and let that campfire warm you in the backcountry, all for 17 ounces in a highly packable form factor.

If you’re set on the lightest foldable chair, this is it. If you don’t care as much about the weight or a foldable style of chair, there are plenty of excellent options, which we highlight in our Best Backpacking Chair guide.

See the full Helinox Chair Zero review below.

Helinox Chair Zero Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 17 oz (490 g) Incredibly light for a foldable backpacking chair. One of the lightest on the market.
Type Foldable This backpacking chair has a hubbed pole system that folds open and closed!
Packed Size 13.8 x 3.9 x 3.9 in. A relatively small pack size. About the size of a lightweight sleeping pad.
Assembled Size 20.5 x 18.9 x 25.2 in. Not huge, but enough space to sit fairly comfortably. Definitely not deluxe though.
Height Off Ground 11 in. Almost a foot off the ground. Enough height to feel like a real chair, but not enough for a normal resting “chair” position.
Fabric Material Ripstop Polyester High quality ripstop polyester that will not tear easily.
Poles DAC Aluminum Hub A lightweight pole system that’s easy to set up and take down. Very strong as well.
Manufacturer Warranty 5 Year Warranty Helinox offers a five year warranty, which is not a lifetime warranty, but pretty solid. This chair does have parts that could break, namely the poles, so if something bends be sure to get in touch.
Retail Price $120 A very high price for a backpacking chair. You’re paying for the innovation, the high-grade materials, and the weight.

Gear Review of the Helinox Chair Zero

Revelation: The Moment I Knew

I’ve taken the Helinox Chair Zero backpacking and camping, to picnics and to the beach. When I’m not thinking too hard about where I’m going it’s a last minute decision, and because it’s so darn small, it has been easy to simply throw in my standard day pack and use if necessary.  I almost always use it, and it’s always comfortable.

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Size comparison of the Helinox Chair Zero. Pictured to the right is a 32 oz. Hydro Flask Insulated bottle. The chair is quite small!

One particular time was at an art fair, helping my wife sling her goods. I brought the Helinox Chair Zero, set it up, and was asleep in the afternoon sun with a book in my lap. Hard to beat for a 17 ounce chair that looks more like a water bottle when packed than a sitting device.

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Contemplating the Helinox Chair Zero in the backyard….

My main testing ground was a five-day backpacking trip in the Sespe Wilderness. I went out solo and set up a base camp in which I was going to fast, write, and enjoy nature for some extended solitude.

While I don’t normally take a chair backpacking, I thought that for a five day stint, a lot of which would be sitting around, it seemed ideal. And I was right.

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Sitting comfortably in the backyard. I didn’t bring a camera into the backcountry, so this will have to do.

I spent huge chunks of time in the Chair Zero, journal in hand, penning poetry and looking out at the valley before me. It was a welcome relief to have another method of relaxation — sometimes when you’re backpacking, and spending more time at camp than actually hiking, it’s nice to be able to lay, sit on the ground, find a log, AND retire to your trusty chair. It also means not having to share with anyone for the “good seat”, cause there’s usually one flat rock and a bunch of pointy ones.

The Helinox Chair Zero makes the sometimes complicated choice of “should I take that” easy — take it, you’ll use it.

Digging Deeper

Comfort – 3.5 Stars

While the convenience and setup are stellar, the comfort is a solid medium. For its weight and size I think it’s actually quite a feat, but I could only sit in the Chair Zero for an hour or so at a time, and adjusted my legs pretty continuously in that hour.

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The Helinox Chair is comfortable, but not overwhelmingly so. Constant leg adjustments are necessary.

The Chair Zero is 11 inches high, which means that my knees stick up at an odd angle, and I’m quite short at 5’6”. This meant most of the time I hunkered low and let my feet splay out long, which is comfortable, but not your typical “chair” posture.

The width of the seat is also pretty narrow, and I found myself unsure of my elbow positioning after long periods of sitting.

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Where do the elbows go?

That said, I fell asleep in it, and have used it a lot to great effect. There are more comfortable chairs, but all of them are heavier and much larger.

Durability – 4.5 Stars

There are two pieces to this chair: the DAC aluminum hubbed poles and the nylon ripstop chair back. Both are extremely well made.

The DAC poles are some of the highest quality you can get, are very light, and are found in high-end backpacking tents. I don’t imagine these breaking any time soon, and they can support up to 265 pounds!

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The Chair Zero’s back and poles roll up nicely.

The nylon ripstop backing is also excellent. It took sweat, dust, and awkward angles with ease. The attachments to the hubbed poles feature a much more durable fabric and are very stiff — I don’t feel like they will break even after years of use.

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There are reinforced backings for the pole attachments on the Chair Zero. They won’t fail any time soon.

I took half a star off due to the stuff sack. It’s well made and light, but I feel that it could rip rather easily, and the drawstring is a little funky. This is an essential piece to keeping the chair easy to pack, and I wish it was a bit higher quality.

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The stuff sack has a closure, but it’s quite short and difficult to use with one hand. The bag fabric is also pretty thin.

Setup – 5 Stars

The Helinox Chair Zero setup is really simple. Unpack the chair, connect the hubbed pole by snapping everything into place, then fit the chair back onto the black rubber ends.

It took about a minute longer for me to do it the first time, and now I can set it up in under a minute.

Helinox Chair Zero review chair setup

Helinox has even printed a diagram of the setup, and an orientation, right on the fabric in case you’re a newbie or forgot!

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Setup instructions are printed on the chair. Thoughtful.

Packability – 5 Stars

Packing up is easier than setting up, which says a lot. The hubbed pole system keeps everything together, so you simply take the chair back off, unlock each pole and put it into a cylinder shape, then wrap it up in the chair back like a burrito.

After that, stuff the whole thing in the included stuff sack, which is a perfect size — not too large, and not too small — and you’re all set.

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The stuff sack is large enough that putting away is easy.

The only thing that’s not included is a super obvious way to secure the stuff sack to the chair, but I solved this by putting the drawstring loop under one of the legs.

Grievances

I’ve found this chair to be kind of amazing when it comes to weight, packability, setup, and general ease of use. My only real complaint is around comfort, but I don’t know if it could be more comfortable while keeping all those other amazing qualities.

If I had to nitpick (this is an expert review, so I will!), I’d say that Helinox could add a small pocket to the chair somewhere, which would allow you to keep a phone, pen, headlamp, or any other small object at hand. This would up the comfort factor and wouldn’t weigh more than half an ounce, probably.

Final Word

The Helinox Chair Zero is an ultralight, 17 ounce backpacking chair that lifts you 11 inches off the ground. If you need to hear more, you’re not aware of how far backpacking chairs have come!

Where to Buy Helinox Chair Zero

We tested the Chair Zero by Helinox. There’s only one version!

Compare Helinox Chair Zero prices below.

dbzweier bio pic 2018

Daniel Zweier

Daniel Zweier is Editor-in-Chief of Backpackers.com. Beyond orchestrating the daily flow of Backpackers.com, Daniel writes surrealistic short fiction and novels, adventures into the backcountry and abroad, surfs, reads, drinks tea, and obsesses over gear. A lot of gear. Visit his website if you want to learn more about his authorial pursuits.

Review Policy: We do not accept payments or gifts from brands and vendors, and strive to provide unbiased, independent advice. Brands typically provide review samples which we return, and in some cases we purchase the item so we can keep using it long after the review. Affiliate Policy: We support the hours that go into our reviews and testing through affiliate commissions on purchases made through links in this article. These don't effect the outcome of our reviews or selection of gear, as per our Review Policy.