Back pain doesn’t have to mean the end of camping. Ergonomic camping products make it possible to enjoy the great outdoors without soreness. Finding the best camping chair for bad back is one of the smartest things you can do. Let’s talk about loving your time outdoors even if you have some lumbar issues!
In this article, we’re going to review the following chair models for bad back:
- PORTAL Oversized Mesh Back Zero Gravity Reclining Patio Chairs
- STRONGBACK 2.0 Elite Camping Chair
- ALPS Mountaineering Camp Chair
- Timber Ridge Zero Gravity Chair Oversized Recliner
- Bliss Hammocks GFC
- KingCamp Lumbar Back Padded Oversized Folding Camping Chair with Cooler Bag Armrest and Cup Holder
- Caravan Sports Infinity Zero Gravity Chair
A Guide to Finding the Best Camping Chair for Bad Back
You love camping. You don’t love how hanging around at the campsite makes your back feel. It’s not as uncommon as you think. In fact, there’s an entire genre of camping chairs just for lumbar support!
Why Should You Consider Upgrading to a Camping Chair for Bad Backs?
For many people suffering with back pain, standard folding camping chairs are too stiff and restrictive. They don’t offer the “give” needed to relieve the pressure from your spine. If you always end up sore and stiff after sitting in a camping chair, consider treating yourself to a lumbar-supporting camping chair instead.
What Makes a Camping Chair Good for Your Back?
I want to start by covering the design features that make a camping chair heaven for your back!
I personally prefer camping chairs with zero-gravity designs that allow you to feel weightless while you’re sitting. This is the top option if sitting in an ordinary chair causes you to feel pressure and tension in the lumbar region.
Being completely flat can feel amazing for your spine if you suffer from back pain. If you’d like an option that allows you to get totally vertical without having to climb into your tent to relax on your mattress, a 170-degree chair is an amazing option because you can get into the fully reclined position in seconds.
This is a great option for both “relaxation” and full-scale campsite napping in the fresh air!
Some people find that staying properly aligned in the upright position actually feels better on their backs than being fully reclined. There are many standard-style back-friendly camping chairs that can accommodate this preference for you.
What makes a back-friendly upright camping chair different from a standard camping chair is that a back-friendly chair is designed to help form your posture in a way that promotes healthy spinal alignment.
You’ll feel the perfect amount of support keeping your spine straight without feeling like you’re sinking into the chair. You also won’t have to worry about constantly adjusting to redistribute the pressure from your body weight away from your spine.
What to Look for When Buying Camping Chairs for a Bad Back
The thing about shopping for a camping chair for bad back is that you’re shopping for the best chair for camping while also looking for features that demonstrate adequate back support. Let’s talk about the can’t-miss features to look for as you browse.
Both reclining and upright chairs should have built-in lumbar support. Lumbar support refers to strategic padding designed to support the lumbar region in your lower back.
Head and Neck Support
Pay attention to the head and neck area. While a chair may provide good lumbar support, your spinal alignment can still be thrown off if the support at the top of the chair is lacking.
Most camping chairs out there use polyester as the cushion/pillow fabric because it’s soft and comfortable while also being good in outdoor environments. I personally think polyester is about as good as it gets. However, you can also explore Oxford fabrics if you like something with a high-end look.
The standard for a back-friendly camping chair is a powder-coated steel frame. I generally recommended not veering away from this standard simply because it’s a great option for camping chairs because it’s generally pretty durable. What’s more, steel actually provides the durability needed to prevent your chair from wobbling. I have to discourage anyone who needs a camping chair that doesn’t cause back pain to stay away from plastic because it’s too flimsy to provide the frame support needed to handle your weight.
If you’re not a fan of the sun, look for a camping chair with a personal canopy that provides direct overhead sun protection.
Trays and Drink Holders
You’ll thank yourself if you get a chair with some built-in compartments because a camping chair quickly turns into a “personal island” when you’re relaxing anywhere from a campsite to a soccer field. A drink holder is the bare minimum. As you’ll see shortly, some chairs feature built-in insulated coolers, double drink holders, and large side trays.
I don’t generally give that much weight to storage on a camping chair because my focus in on back support above all. While some mesh pockets are nice for holding books or electronics, they don’t necessarily do anything to keep your spine healthy and supported. Consider good storage a “cherry on top” if you find it in a design that’s already a top pick because of the comfort and support offered.
While this feature is rare in camping chairs, you will find that some designs feature anti-sinking feet that prevent you from sinking into wet, muddy soil. It’s something to look for if you tend to set up camp in a wetter environment.
While not a common feature, some camping chairs for bad backs actually allow you to add in your own neck support pillow using a slot system. Consider this option if you consistently rely on a neck pillow that you’ve found provides the perfect amount of support. Of course, any high-quality ergonomic camping chair designed for people with back pain will have built-in neck padding that’s more than adequate for keeping the neck supported.
What Is a Zero-Gravity Camping Chair?
Zero-gravity chairs are ergonomically designed to make you feel like you’re “floating” by allowing you to sit or recline without pressure on your back.
Do They Make Camping Chairs for Bad Backs?
Yes! Camping chairs that are advertised as offering lumbar support are chairs for bad backs.
Why Are Camping Chairs So Uncomfortable?
It’s true that many camping chairs do have reputations for being uncomfortable. The reason usually comes down to a cheap frame that has not been ergonomically designed to support the lumbar region. What’s more, many camping chairs are cramped and stiff.
This can result in the need to twist your body to be able to sit. Looking specifically for a back-friendly chair with lumbar support can help you to avoid the awkward posture created by most camping chairs.
Do They Make Reclining Camping Chairs?
Yes! Designed for outside usage, camping recliners are foldable chairs that extend roughly 70 inches to allow you to fully recline.
What Is the Best Material for a Camping Chair for Bad Backs?
Generally, polyester is considered the go-to material for camping chairs. Polyester padding creates adequate support for back pain.
Will Napping in a Camping Chair Hurt Your Back?
Napping in most camping chairs will create serious pain or injury for your back. However, camping recliners designed for bad backs often feature zero-gravity designs that allow you to nap while fully reclined without putting pressure on your back
How Much Weight Can an Ergonomic Camping Chair Support?
The answer varies by brand. However, most camping chairs for bad backs have 300-lb to 350-lb weight limits.
Reviews of the Best Camping Chairs for Bad Backs
1. Best for Reclining: PORTAL Oversized Mesh Back Zero Gravity Reclining Patio Chairs
Dimensions: 22.5 x 18 x 42 (inches)
Weight: 16.5 lb
This camping chair is actually a zero-gravity recliner that adjusts to any position up to 170 degrees before securing the lock-in-place feature to stay comfortably reclined in your “sweet spot” for back bliss. This ultra-comfortable recliner has a maximum capacity of 350 lb.
The thing about this outdoor recliner is that it’s so comfortable that I actually wouldn’t be surprised if people are using this in their living rooms. If you’ve ever dealt with back pain, you know how soothing that zero-gravity support can feel.
The breathable mesh back is also terrific for when you’re camping on those muggier days. No worries about your back, bottom, and legs overheating in this chair! You also don’t have to worry about sweat pooling on the back of the chair the way you do with stuffier designs.
The padded seat does a great job of adding a sense of stability over the chair’s lightweight frame. The adjustable padded pillow does an exceptional job of supporting the head while providing unflinching lumbar support.
The side table on this recliner really completes the luxury experience. In addition to holding your phone, tablet, or snack, it also has a slot to keep your drink from sliding out of place. Something you may not know just by looking at a photo of this chair is that the wooden armrests are actually made of eco-friendly wood. I want to briefly touch on why that’s a mixed bag.
While I always get excited when there’s a chance to make an eco-friendly camping purchase, I do want to point out that the wood used on these armrests does leave the chair a little more vulnerable to the elements. You should do your best to avoid exposing the armrests to prolonged periods of sun or moisture. That brings me to my next point.
Keeping this chair safely tucked away is extremely easy because it folds up seamlessly to take up very little room!
- Allows you to recline in any position up to 170 degrees.
- Very sturdy. No wobbling or leaning!
- Great for tall people!
- Perfect for napping!
- Terrific neck and lumbar support.
- Very breathable design.
- Folds easily.
- Very adjustable overall.
- Great value.
- The wood armrests are a “mix blessing.”
- While durable, this chair has its limits for how much exposure it can take.
2. Best “Classic” Camping Chair: STRONGBACK 2.0 Elite Camping Chair
Dimensions: 34 x 10 x 15 (inches)
Weight: 10 lb
This camping chair offers what you’re probably used to from a camping chair in terms of appearance. However, its classic design conceals a world of back-friendly features. The lumbar-supportive design brings your body posture into alignment to release stress and tension from your back. You’ll find that your hips and spine align beautifully for a comfortable, straight sitting experience without the common feeling of “sinking” that you often get with a typical camping chair.
This chair has a 300-lb weight capacity. The frame-integrated lumbar support really helps to ensure stability once you’re settled in. The design also has no-sink feet that make such a big difference when you’re camping in wet or muddy spots. The best way to describe sitting in this chair is that you feel “grounded.”
While this chair doesn’t have any adjustable features, it does have good flexibility that allows the material to “sag” to accommodate your shape. Many standard camping chairs are too “tightly wound” to do this. The padded solid armrests are the heroes of this design because they enhance that ability to really sink into the comfort of the chair. There’s also a built-in mesh beverage holder. I love that the beverage holder is mesh because it prevents any mold or moisture from forming if your drink “sweats” as it warms up. I always appreciate when brands get those little touches that are important to campers so right!
The chair is made from heavy-duty, tear-resistant polyester 600D over a powder-coated steel frame. While there’s a lot about this chair that excites me, I have to say that the backpack carrying bag that it zips into is probably my favorite part. This is something I’ve been looking for because I find that going to anything from a concert to a sporting event while trying to carry both a cooler and chair in my hands is such a headache.
- The way this chair creates alignment in your posture is just great!
- Great use of additional lumbar support.
- The polyester material used is resistant to wear and tear.
- Very easy to carry using the provided backpack.
- There’s only one position to use when sitting.
3. Best for Slouch-Free Sitting: ALPS Mountaineering Camp Chair
Dimensions: 24 x 18 x 36 (inches)
Weight: 10.5 lb
I instantly became intrigued by the ultra-streamlined design on this chair. Could something so simple really provide the support needed for a bad back? The answer is all in the frame!
The aluminum frame on this chair admittedly looks a little unforgiving at first glance. However, what you’ll find is that you instantly get into alignment in a way that takes pressure off your back once you settle into the contours of the chair. This is my top no-slouch pick for that reason!
This chair’s design uses 600D polyester fabric over a lightweight pro-tech aluminum frame. I’m really enamored by the mix of strength and stability offered by this chair. I know that you might be wondering how this chair actually gets tucked away in your car when looking at a picture. The simple answer is that it actually has a detachable frame that allows for compact transporting and storing.
The impressive frame on this chair is held together using sturdy steel tubes and connectors. The welded joints make you feel very secure. You’re also getting an ultra-comfortable padded back panel with a slightly taller back for greater comfort. The padded armrests are also amazing. The drink pocket on this chair is located right by the knees to provide you with more unobstructed arm room up top.
The final thing I want to say about this chair is that its streamlined frame may have you fooled. The chair’s 425-lb maximum capacity exceeds most other camping chairs in this category.
- Comfortable, lightweight polyester.
- Slightly taller back provides great support.
- High maximum weight capacity.
- Sturdy frame.
- Slight bulky/awkward to carry.
4. Timber Ridge Zero Gravity Chair Oversized Recliner
Dimensions: 43.5 x 22 x 21.3 (inches)
Weight: 24.3 lb
This is an anti-gravity chair with a 350-lb weight capacity. The sturdy steel-tube frame paired with durable polyester makes this a really practical chair to use at a bustling campsite. It’s also a dream to nap in! Yes, you’re going from upright to fully flat in this ultra-adjustable reclining camping chair.
You’ll be able to keep your perfect position once you find it with help from the chair’s easy locking mechanism.
The padding on this chair is very decent. In addition to a fully padded seat, you’re also getting a removable pillow that can be used for head and lumbar support. Setting up is always a breeze with this chair because it folds and unfolds in seconds!
Overall, this chair is very ergonomic. The slight curve in the design helps you to avoid that rigid, forced feeling that you often get with camping chairs. The 600D polyester used is both durable and breathable. The powder-coated steel frame keeps you securely in your spot.
- Zero-gravity design takes pressure off your back.
- Fully adjustable to take you from upright to flat.
- Comfortable padding.
- Length is great for napping fully stretched out.
- Lightweight enough to bring anywhere.
- Very slow to dry if it gets wet.
- Would be better if the drink compartment had a tray.
5. Bliss Hammocks GFC
Dimensions: 71 x 30 x 33 (inches)
Weight: 27 lb
Finding a recliner with a built-in sunshade was very exciting! If you’ve ever had the experience of falling asleep in the shade before waking up in the sun, you’ll appreciate the way that some constant protection can prevent sunburn. This is a zero-gravity camping recliner that creates a weightless sitting experience.
You will feel the stress oozing out of your muscles as you settle into this chair. It allows you to go from upright to fully reclined in seconds with some minor adjustments. I have to say that the woven PVC-coated polyester is nice for creating a strong, secure surface that does nicely in the weather. The powder-coated steel frame helps you to feel stable.
The 360-lb maximum on this chair is slightly higher than average for this category. I want to go back to the built-in personal sun canopy on this chair. This canopy pairs beautifully with the chair’s dedicated headrest. I’m also awarding this chair extra points for its double drink holder with a built-in slot for mobile devices and tablets. My first thought was that this is actually perfect for parents tasked with stewarding the food, snacks, and entertainment because they can keep it close by without having to get up when their kids ask for them!
- Personal canopy for sun protection!
- One of the only recliners with double drink holders.
- Durable polyester.
- Reclines from upright to fully flat!
- Folds easily.
- This chair has notoriety for being squeaky!
- Feels a little bulky to carry.
6. KingCamp Lumbar Back Padded Oversized Folding Camping Chair with Cooler Bag Armrest and Cup Holder
Dimensions: 23.5 x 23.5 x 41 (inches)
Weight: 11.3 lb
This chair takes your alignment seriously! It’s one of the only ones I’ve seen that uses a strap to ensure that your lumbar stays securely in place. My suspicion that the fabric on this chair was something slightly more luxurious than the polyester I’ve seen on other chairs was confirmed when I discovered that the padding is actually Oxford cloth.
This chair doesn’t just have a built-in cup holder. It actually has an additional built-in insulated cooler bag on the opposing arm rest! While that’s pretty cool, the feature that really impressed me was a hidden “head pocket” behind the headrest area. You can actually add an extra pillow here to customize your level of support if you don’t think the existing setup is padded enough. There’s also a mesh side pocket for holding books, devices, and trail maps.
The 350-lb weight limit on this chair is impressive for its size. Lastly, this foldable metal chair also tucks neatly into its own carrying backpack. I personally love all of the cool features on this chair. However, the reason why it makes my list still comes down to its impressive ergonomic support for bad backs!
- Great lumbar support.
- Ability to insert your own neck pillow/support.
- Has its own carrying case.
- The material is less breathable for damper weather.
- The seat can dig into your thighs slightly at the cutoff point.
7. Caravan Sports Infinity Zero Gravity Chair
Dimensions: 36 x 26 x 45 (inches)
Weight: 19 lb
This very stylish pick also happens to be my budget pick for a back-friendly camping chair. In addition to standing out for being affordable, this chair also stands out for its ultra-durable outdoor-grade textaline fabric suspended by a unique double bungee system.
Like the other recliners on my list, this one features a recline function that allows you to stay locked in any position from upright to fully flat. The chair’s padded headrest balances out the lumbar support nicely.
Offering a 300-lb weight limit, this chair shows off a high-strength powder-coated steel frame. You’ll find that settling into the gravity-free environment provided by this chair is just what’s needed for taking the tension out of your legs and back after a long hike.
- Durable fabric.
- Folds down to a slim profile.
- Feels slightly less durable/grounded than comparable chairs.
- Not as much give as similar chairs.
My Takeaways on Choosing the Best Camping Chair for a Bad Back
It’s all about that mix of lumbar and neck support! That’s why I had to go with the PORTAL Oversized Mesh Back Zero Gravity Reclining Patio Chair as my top recommendation for anyone shopping for the ultimate camping chair.
Being able to fully recline in a zero-gravity environment can’t be topped if you need to take pressure off your spine. The quality, size, comfort, and amount of “give” of this chair all make it my top choice. I personally love that you can sink into this chair with feeling stifled or overheated.
My rundown of the best camping chairs for people with bad back has hopefully opened your eyes to the fact that you don’t have to suffer in a stiff, restrictive chair that sets you up for sore days and nights at the campsite. While my preference is a full-body recliner, I made sure to include some upright-only camping chairs for bad backs because I know some of you are actually shopping for ergonomic camping chairs you can take to concerts and ballgames. However, my recommendation is to go with a zero-gravity recliner if you intend to nap in your camping chair!
Don’t stand on the sidelines while everyone else enjoys time around the campfire! Sit in comfort by ordering yourself a back-friendly camping chair instead! Happy reclining!
Fueled by his own lifelong passion for the outdoors, Ryan is dedicated to sharing his knowledge to help others experience the life-changing beauty and majesty of nature. He enjoys planning expeditions throughout the United States. He also has a passion for finding gear and methods that enhance the experience of enjoying nature.