The Helinox Chair Two is a worthy successor to the Chair one, a highly packable, lightweight chair that claims to offer support, comfort and portability all in one. Available in a wide range of colourways, the Helinox Chair Two has an RRP of £129.95 / $139.95, and is available now. To see how it compares to the best camping chairs out there, I took it out and about for a test.
Helinox Chair Two review: design and build
The simplest way to think about the Helinox Chair Two is as a chair crossed with a tent, or maybe a chair that thinks it’s a tent. A lightweight alloy pole set clips together to support a hammock-style chair, a scenario that sounds like it might be overly fragile, but in reality that’s not an issue to worry about. It's an ideal companion product for the Helinox Table One Hardtop.
The poles are shock-corded just like a tent, slotting into hub units made from high-strength, fibre-reinforced Nylon 66. Some slot into place automatically under tension, while the longer backrest poles usually need a bit of a hand to seat correctly. The fabric cover slots into the two longer backrest poles, then hooks over the two front poles, creating a bucket-style seat.
A further ingenious addition is the headrest wrap, a full-width velcro sleeve affair, which means you can create a pillow from anything that’s to hand, or even the chair’s bag itself. The downside to using larger items is that the extra weight makes the chair top-heavy and thus it overbalances easily, but this is easily avoided. Helinox say that the high-back on Chair Two works best for people standing 5 foot 7 inches (170cm) and under, although testers taller than this didn’t report major issues.
The main claim to fame of the Helinox Chair Two is the packsize, an impressive 12 x 46 x 61cm, combined with the weight, a mere 1.18kg, including the bag.
Helinox Chair Two review: comfort and performance
Performance-wise there are two factors here - firstly that the pitch time of the Helinox Chair Two is slightly longer than your standard camping chair. Not very much, to be fair, but there is a certain amount of fiddling around required. Unrolling the fabric, removing the tangle of poles, clicking them into place, then hooking the fabric on takes a few seconds - like 30 of them or so. This isn’t much of an issue if you’re using the chair in one spot - like camping for the evening, or at an event of some kind, but if you’re moving around it’s certainly a potential time overhead.
However, the flip side of that is the weight and size, which is quite a revelation to be fair. It’s so portable you end up taking it to places just in case you fancy a comfortable seat, and as a handy thing to keep in a car boot it’s right up there. The 1.18kg weight is arguably a bit of a chore for longer backpacking trips, but for anything short and sweet its entirely doable. The really nice thing though is that it’s basically half the size of a normal camping chair, so even for car-camping trips it really drops the overall amount of ‘stuff’ right down.
Maybe none of that would matter much if the Helinox Chair Two was uncomfortable, but that’s very much not the case. Once safely ensconced, there’s nothing to indicate you're sitting in an ‘ultralight’ chair, it’s every bit as comfortable as any other hammock-style chair, which is pretty comfy. The headrest really amps up the comfort factor, but by using whatever comes to hand, from waterproof to fleece, tent bag to camping pillow.
Not only is it comfortable to sit in, but the maximum capacity is a generous 145kg, which should be sufficient for most standard humans, and an impressive feat given the complex construction. The only caveat is that there’s little weight in the chair itself, and the base is a relatively compact area, so on slick surfaces it’ll often slide as you stand up - a good core strength test.
Helinox Chair Two review: verdict
The simple fact is that if you want a genuinely portable camping chair, the options are slim. The Helinox Chair Two combines that portability and low weight with a genuinely premium experience (there are many cheap clones available), and in spite of that lightweight build, it still feels like a robust, quality product that will last you well. This is certainly helped by the high-quality aluminium poles - the fit and finish is a thing of beauty.
Even for car campers with smaller vehicles it offers extra boot space for that new pizza oven, making the Helinox Chair Two a bit of a winner for every type and style of camper.
As mentioned, the ‘pitch’ time is the only real downside here, as it does take a short period of faffing to put up a Helinox Chair Two, as opposed to the handful of seconds it takes to unfold a standard-umbrella style camping chair.
The question is, do you want to swap a few seconds faff for a super-portable camping chair? If the answer is yes, or even maybe, the Helinox Chair Two is a smashing choice, and a decision you won’t regret - especially for those moments when you suddenly remember you’ve got a chair in your rucksack and can just…sit down in comfort. Marvellous.