Best Backpack Beach Chair of 2018 & Buying Guide

True, some beachgoers are content to stretch out on a towel and soak up the sun wherever they are, but most of us prefer a comfy place to sit when the waves tire us out (or just a good place to people watch and tan).  Lugging a chair from your beach house or car isn’t ideal, though, when you’ve already got towels, umbrellas, snacks, and more to handle.

Backpack options are lightweight and easy to carry; as the name suggests, they feature straps that slip over your shoulders, just like you’d find on a backpack, for hands-free transport.  Our buyer’s guide will explore why this can be the best option for some beach bums, and which models might be worth considering.

Product Name

Ranking

Our Rating

Price

Tommy Bahama Backpack Cooler Chair

Top Best

Ostrich On Your Back Chair, Pink

The 2nd

Rio Brands Deluxe Steel Backpack Beach

The 3rd

Adjustable Backpack and Camp Chair

The 4th

Camping Steel Backpack Folding Chair

The 5th

Buyer’s Guide:

Why should I consider a backpack beach chair?

Backpack chairs—folding chairs with backpack straps—are easier to carry, especially when you’re already loaded down with the rest of your beach equipment!  Many double as handy camping chairs, too, and are often lighter or the same as standard beach chairs.

These convenient models don’t always come with the same cup holders or storage solutions, although most do.  Many of these can recline just the same as standard chairs, too.

Tommy Bahama Backpack Cooler Chair with Storage Pouch and Towel Bar

Tommy Bahama Backpack Cooler Chair with Storage Pouch and Towel Bar

What are other types of beach chairs there?  Should I consider purchasing one of those, instead?

Ostrich On Your Back Chair, Pink

Ostrich On Your Back Chair, Pink

There are plenty of beach chairs out there to choose from, each with their own unique set of pros and cons buyers should consider:

  • Backpack chairs:
    • Pros: Lightweight and easy to carry, hands-free; can feature full reclines, cup holders, and all the comforts of regular chairs.  Can be low like sand chairs or higher off the ground, and come in a wide variety of materials, although most are steel or aluminum and polyester.
    • Cons:  While most accommodate heavier weights towards or above 300 lbs., few are wide enough for everyone to use comfortably.
  • Sand Chairs:
    • Pros: Low to the ground; great for sitting in the waves, fishing from the shore, and general use.
    • Cons: Trickier or even dangerous for some to get in and out of, such as those with knee problems.
  • Lounges:
    • Pros: Allow for a comfortable reclined or completely flat position and more even tanning; user can fit entire body on them and prop up feet instead of putting them into the sand.
    • Cons: Large and often too heavy to transport, unless you’re staying very close to the beach, parking on the sand, etc.  Most models cannot sit totally upright.
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Rio Brands Deluxe Steel Backpack Beach and Camping Chair with Side Tray

Rio Brands Deluxe Steel Backpack Beach and Camping Chair with Side Tray

Outsunny Adjustable Backpack Beach and Camp Chair with Drink Holder and Storage Pockets

Outsunny Adjustable Backpack Beach and Camp Chair with Drink Holder and Storage Pockets

  • Fold-out canvas chairs:
    • Pros: Versatile; can be used at cookouts, campsites, football games, and more besides just the beach; durable and very comfortable.
    • Cons: Trap sand in fabric easily, and might get sand in frame joints that makes it harder to unfold later on.
  • Adirondacks:
    • Pros: Stylish and distinctive design; made of durable wood, stained or painted; accommodate a wide range of weights and body types; comfortable semi-reclined seated position.
    • Cons: Expensive and not foldable or portable; best for use as a deck chair by a pool or on a patio.
  • Canopy chairs:
    • Pros: Can be high or low, plastic or fabric, wood or metal, etc., but feature an attached sun canopy to protect user from UV rays and keep them cool.
    • Cons: Depending on canopy design, these can be a little more difficult to transport.
  • Beach hammock:
    • Pros: Not a chair, but rather an actual hammock or sling chair with a free-standing base/frame.  Very comfortable and can sometimes fit multiple people.
    • Cons: Expensive; less portable than traditional chairs; position is not adjustable.

I have back problems—what kind of beach chair is best for me?

Most likely, you’ll find higher chairs with multiple recline options to be the most comfortable.  You can purchase models with lumbar support/padding in the lower back area, or use a rolled-up towel for comfort in a standard chair.

Overall, you should avoid low-to-the-ground chairs; these can be too difficult to get in and out of and place more strain on your back.  Consider options with a full recline feature, as well, so you can lie down if your back starts aching before you’re ready to head home.

BeachMall Beach and Camping Steel Backpack Folding Chair

BeachMall Beach and Camping Steel Backpack Folding Chair

Best Backpack Beach Chair Reviews

1. Rio Brands Deluxe Steel Backpack Beach and Camping Chair with Side Tray Review

For the best bang for your buck, consider this two-for from Rio Brands: the affordable price gets you two identical folding chairs, each equipped with a removable side tray, as well as a cup holder, headrest, and carabiner clip.  

The straps on each are adjustable, and at just over 8 pounds each, even youth campers and beachgoers can carry them with ease.

Pros

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    Two chairs included.
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    4 reclining positions.
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    Includes removable padded headrest, carabiner hook for keys, and cup holder, and removable side tray.
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    Storage pouch on back for towels, water, snacks, etc.
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    Steel frame. Folds up for easier transport; adjustable backpack straps.
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    10.5” from ground; seat back measures 24”.
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    Each chair weighs 8.3 lbs.
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    Maximum weight capacity: 240 lbs.
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    Polyester; durable and easy to clean.
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    Available in green, navy, Aruba blue, blue, and denim.

Cons

  • Steel frame is highly durable, but more prone to rust than aluminum.

This model boasts plenty of impressive features and strong design, without excessive bulk or weight.  We do find the color options a bit lackluster; while vibrant, 4 of the 5 are varieties of blue.  That said, it’s still a great option for most, especially since it includes two matching chairs, each with extras like an adjustable headrest and carabiner clip for storing keys, safety whistles, and more.

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2. BeachMall Beach and Camping Steel Backpack Folding Chair Review

For an affordable and no-fuss kind of chair, consider this blue beauty from BeachMall.  It doesn’t have cup holders, clips, or anything fancy, but comes at a great price and with plenty of comforts.  

At just 4 lbs., it’s easy to sling over your shoulder for a hike—whether it’s up some trails or down some dunes.

Pros

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    Standard folding chair design; lacks extra features, which some buyers will prefer.
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    Polyester fabric is less prone to fading and tears, and dries more quickly than cotton.
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    Maximum weight capacity: 225 lbs.
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    10” from ground; seat back height: 19”.
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    Powder-coated steel frame; protected better from rust than uncoated steel.
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    Available in two shades of blue.

Cons

  • Does not recline.

If a bare-bones option is your cup of tea, the BeachMall chair is for you.  Our only hesitation is the fact it doesn’t recline, which might leave some beachgoers uncomfortable—but for fishing, relaxing near the waves, and general camping use, it’s a sturdy, quick-drying chair that’s easy to fold up and carry, wherever your adventure leads you next.

3. Tommy Bahama Backpack Cooler Chair with Storage Pouch and Towel Bar Review

Purveyor of all things tropical, Tommy Bahama offers a fun-looking yet well-crafted chair for an affordable price, in durable polyester and aluminum that can withstand the sandiest, windiest beaches.  

With eight distinctive color options (and counting), cup holder and side storage, rear storage pouch, and an integrated towel bar, this chair will ensure you’ve got everything you need at hand to be a certified beach bum.

Pros

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    Built-in foldable towel bar to hang wet towels or bathing suits to dry and avoid sand.
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    Towel bar can also be used as additional support when reclining chair to flat/lying down position.
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    600D polyester dries fast and resists fading and tearing well.
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    Rear storage pouch, along with side storage/phone holder and cup holder. Rear pouch is insulted for cold storage/use as a cooler.
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    Aluminum frame; strong but lightweight (6 lbs.).
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    Maximum weight capacity: 300 lbs.
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    Height from ground: 9”.
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    Adjustable straps for carrying; rubber handle, as well.
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    5 recline positions including flat.
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    Eight color options: multicolour stripes, blue and green stripes, dark blue palm trees (large print), Blue Palm (small geometric print), Hawaiian floral, solid blue stripe with green and blue ombre, red-orange floral, red/white/blue stripes, and solid navy. New designs released annually.

Cons

  • Front seat bar/legs can press against thighs when reclining, causing pressure points/pain on legs for some.

We love the look of this chair without a doubt—it just says “beach” all the way—and the insulted cooler pocket on the back is perfect for keeping a few drinks cool when temperatures spike.  The phone storage and cup holder on the side are great, but the real standout here seems to be the towel bar, which doubles as a support system when the chair is in full recline.  While some users have experienced discomfort from the frame, it appears this is negligible overall, and that the benefits of this design far outweigh the cons.

4. Outsunny Adjustable Backpack Beach and Camp Chair with Drink Holder and Storage Pockets Review

The Outsunny Adjustable Beach and Camp chair is one model you can take from the campsite to beach bonfire without anyone wondering if it was meant more for one than the other: its classic and strong design helps its look perfectly at home in the mountains or on the shore.  

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Its wooden armrests are stronger than the plastic ones you’d find on most chairs, and it features plenty of storage for anything from trail mix to sunscreen.

Pros

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    100% Oxford fabric; stronger than canvas and resistant to tears.
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    Features four reclining positions.
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    Wooden armrests instead of plastic; stronger and less prone to fading/cracking from sun exposure.
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    Includes two large zippered pockets for storage and cup holder; removable headrest cushion.
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    Chair weight: 8 lbs.
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    Maximum weight capacity: 285 lbs.
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    Chair height from ground: 10.6”.
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    Coated steel frame.
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    Available in grey, green, red, or blue.

Cons

  • Oxford is more prone to wrinkles and creases, but ages better than other fabrics.

We recommend the Outsunny to anyone who enjoys a slightly more sophisticated look than standard beach and camping chairs, and want a stronger design overall that can withstand both.  This steel frame can take quite the beating, as can its 100% Oxford seat and back.  The wooden armrests won’t fade and splinter in the sun (as plastic ones can often do, with time), and the ample storage space, cup holder, and choice of four reclining positions make it easy to relax in style.

5. Ostrich On Your Back Chair Review

The Ostrich On Your Back boasts more than a cute name: its specialized design lets users lie on a full recline even on their stomach.  

Flip away the headrest pillow and you’ll find a padded opening, as well as generous and wisely-placed cut-outs in the seat’s back: simply put your face and arms into the openings to relax comfortably or read a magazine while tanning your back.

Pros

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    Features movable headrest pillow that covers a face opening; also has arm cut outs so chair can be used flat with user on stomach.
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    Seat is wider than most to comfortably seat multiple body types.
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    Includes cup holder.
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    5 recline positions including full recline.
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    Maximum weight capacity: 325 lbs.
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    Chair weight: 9.6 lbs.
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    Chair height from ground: 9”.
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    Also available in green, blue, or red.

Cons

  • Does not feature storage pockets.

True, this is one of the heavier backpack chairs you’ll find, but it’s designed for beachgoers more than camping (when people have more gear to haul, anyway), and is still lightweight enough for most.  The lack of storage pockets might deter some, too—but even with those downsides in mind, we highly recommend this to buyers who love lounging in the sun.  The patented design’s padded face cut-out and arm holes make beach reading all too easy, and allow for full reclining and relaxation in just about any position.

To Conclude:

When it comes to lazy days at the beach, the right chair can make all the difference—and between towels, beach bags, umbrellas, sand toys, and coolers, it’s not exactly easy to tuck a standard folding chair under your arm for that trek across the sand.  Backpack models are an easy and lightweight solution to this problem, and many come outfitted with just as many must-have features as you’d find on larger, bulkier options.