I love to sit I know sitting is the new smoking, but I have to tell my truth. Although we live in the age of standing desks and clocks telling you to get up every 12 minutes, I don’t think I’m alone in my love of sitting because there are some really, really expensive camping chairs out there. You could easily drop $ 300 on a chair relegated to the back yard and have the occasional car camping adventure. But I don’t think a comfortable camping chair should cost as much as a car payment, which is why I’m interested in GCI’s RoadTrip Rocker, a ridiculously comfortable camping chair with all the bells and whistles that costs just $ 80.
I’ve tested a lot of camping chairs: roll-up versions, the REI Co-op Flexlite Air, the Nemo Stargazer, the ENO Lounger DL, and the cheap ones you can get in big stores for under $ 30, which is usually the Fall is break the first time my kids sit in them. But for the past two months I’ve only parked my bum on the RoadTrip Rocker. I’ve lost track of the number of baseball and soccer games I’ve watched my kids sit in that chair. It is also used as a lawn chair during several fire pits in the garden. Dollar for dollar, I choose the Rocker over everyone else I’ve tested because it offers the perfect balance between cost and comfort.
What I like
The RoadTrip is essentially a folding chair with spring-loaded legs that the brand uses over a number of their rockers. It has a mesh backrest and a fabric seat and is packed in a fabric carrier bag. Unlike most camping chairs, the RoadTrip has sturdy plastic armrests that are surprisingly luxurious when compared to the commonly used fabric and bar armrests that often sag.
(Photo: Graham Averill)
It’s also bigger than most of its competitors – the seat is 20 inches off the floor and the back rises 39 inches from there (high enough to serve as a headrest for most people). Compare that to the REI Co-op Camp Chair with a seat 10.5 inches off the floor and a shoulder-high backrest. The RoadTrip is so big that people would probably yell at you for whipping it at a festival, but if you have a long back or don’t like to crouch down to get to your seat, it’s you I will find the additional table height of the RoadTrip delightful.
(Photo: Graham Averill)
I’ve found the fabric and mesh back to be firmer than other options on the market. Put it all together and you have a camping chair that feels like a real piece of furniture. It’s like taking your porch rocker campsite with you.
The swing technology seemed a little tricky to me at first, but I’m fidgety. So when I have the ability to rock, there is something I can do other than tap my foot. The real benefit, however, is that you can step your feet on a tree stump and sit back, convert the chair into an armchair, and put you in the perfect nap position. Because the only thing better than sitting is taking a quick nap while sitting.
What could be improved
All this comfort in furniture quality comes at a cost. At 12.8 pounds, the road trip isn’t easy. And while it folds into a tote bag, at a folded size of 43.5 “long by 8.7” wide, it’s not the most compact option on the market – so big that it was my first time seeing my son’s baseball game have brought with me. It felt like I was carrying an EZ Up tent on my shoulder. But as soon as I put it up (it folds and unfolds in 2.3 seconds – I timed it) and sat down, all my worries about its unwieldy size disappeared.
The RoadTrip also comes with just a cup holder, which is a ridiculous oversight in 2021. Every camper needs at least two cup holders – one for your drink and one for your phone (or your second drink). Ideally there would also be some sort of snack tray that folds out, but I could be asking too much here.
Even if it’s not perfect, the RoadTrip Rocker can hold its own against competitors that are twice or even three times as expensive. Is Yeti’s $ 300 Trailhead Camp Chair a Better Chair? May be. Is it $ 220 Better? I do not believe that. I really like Nemo’s Stargazer ($ 220) and ENO’s Lounger DL ($ 125). They both hug you like a koala, but it takes about 45 minutes to put together. (That’s an exaggeration, but not by much.)
The RoadTrip Rocker is available at a fraction of the price of many camping chairs and offers an equally comfortable sitting experience. If GCI can give me another bag and snack tray, I would call it the perfect mobile seating unit.
Main photo: Graham Averill