Helinox Chair One – a nice piece of kit for the camping kayaker


Photo by Dee Ratcliffe

Recently, while involved in five days of some solid paddling activity, I had the opportunity to do some field testing on the Helinox Chair One.

The Chair One is manufactured in Korea by Donagh Aluminium Company (better known as DAC), an organisation that specialises in making lightweight outdoor adventure equipment. DAC enjoys a world-wide reputation for the high quality of the materials it uses in its products which include tent poles and trekking poles. The Chair One is the result of three years of development.

What I like about this product

It’s well designed: simple yet highly functional. There are only two components, the frame and the seat cover. They are easy to put together (the frame almost self-assembles), even in the dark. The printed instructions that come with the chair are almost superfluous.

It’s well made: the slim-tubed frame is made of a high-quality, light-weight anodised aluminium alloy (or, to be accurate, TH72M – an alloy said to have an unrivalled strength­to-weight ratio). The frame is held together with shock cord – thin but durable. The seat cover is a combination of meshed fabric and a plasticised cloth. The stitching is robust as are the pockets into which the frame fits when the chair is assembled. The finish of both components is clean – no loose threads sticking out from the seat cover. The carry case reflects similar quality.

It’s strong: the product specifications indicate that the chair can cope with a 145kg person sitting in it. Not many sea kayakers tip the scales to this extent. The chair showed no ill effects from me frequently plonking my 85kg body into it.

It’s light: Chair One weighs close to 940 grams when packed in its carry case. This is a significant weight saving on the three-legged stool I’ve been using up until now.

It’s compact: when disassembled and packed snugly in its carry case, Chair One measures 35 cm long X 10 cm wide X 12 cm high (not much bigger than one of my sandals). When assembled, it measures 52 cm wide X 50 cm deep X 65 cm high. During a rain shower while field testing I was able to use the chair inside the vestibule of a 3-person tent with headroom to spare.

It’s comfortable: promoted as being “lounge-chair” comfortable, I reckon I could nod off in Chair One without too much difficulty (which is something I wouldn’t want to do on my 3-legged stool). One of the best features about the chair from my point of view is that it’s very easy from which to prepare a camp meal.

It’s practical: I sat in Chair One on various surfaces – from sandy beaches to riparian campsites. The legs of the chair are angled enough to avoid too much sinking into soft surfaces. Its scalloped rubber boots also assist in this regard. I sat in the chair in my wet paddling kit a couple of times without any apparent ill effect.

What I didn’t like about this product

I really can’t say that I found any negative aspects of Chair One during my field test. The one occasion when I tipped over backwards getting into the chair was caused by my own carelessness. Being lower than most camping chairs, heavier folk might find it more difficult to get up from.

I think the sub-title of this review says enough.

Chair One can be bought direct from Helinox. At the time of writing it was selling at $89 including Australia-wide delivery. Even though this is a lot more than I forked out for my three-legged stool, the comfort benefits alone of Chair One deliver value-for-money (it’s like comparing a plastic-bladed paddle with an alloy shaft alongside a carbon fibre model). The chair is backed by a 2-year warranty and Helinox maintain a Brisbane-based service centre for any repairs, refurbishment, etc. Bushwalkers who already know the quality of DAC products have snapped up existing stocks of Chair One. More stock is due to arrive in July. •

Chair One on Orpheus Island, Queensland