Do you enjoy sitting on the ground getting a wet, cold and dirty behind at the end of a long day walking? If you do then carry on, there’s nothing to see here.
If like me though at the end of a hard day’s walk you like to keep your posterior clean, dry and off the cold hard ground and you also enjoy relaxing at camp in comfort then read on as this chair could be what you’ve been searching for.
Design, Comfort & Durability (Rating: 95%)
The Chair Zero is the latest and lightest in the line up from Helinox and quite possibly got its name due to its super light weight. This chair really is amazingly light at 510 grams.
This clever design is similar to other Helinox models in that it uses plastic ‘hubs’ and shock corded aluminium poles to create the chair frame. The seat is made up by stretching fabric over the frame.
Upon first glance, it’s hard to imagine that the Chair Zero would be strong enough to hold the claimed 120kg weight especially when there’s a warning on the instructions that the chair can easily blow away due to how light it is.
However, when the frame is all locked together and you stretch the seat fabric over the frame it really feels like a solid bit of gear. I have no doubt this would hold the claimed weight and also no doubt it could blow away if left out in any decent wind. As I said though if you’re travelling in a group this chair will never be left empty for long.
As with all Helinox products they use top quality aluminium made by DAC and super light-weight fabrics. The fabric in the Chair Zero is the lightest used by Helinox and appears to be where most of the weight savings in this model come from.
The build quality is first class as with all previous Helinox products I’ve had the pleasure of using. The Chair Zero’s seat material is more minimalist than my previously used Ground chair with the Zero seat being all fabric including the sides which could make it slightly hotter to sit in during warmer conditions. The Ground chair has some mesh on the side but is also a much heavier fabric so as with all things it’s a trade off. The Chair Zero fabric feels to be a lot lighter and stretches a bit tighter once set up.
As far as comfort goes the Chair Zero is fantastic at the end of a long day to sit back in and relax. I personally struggled with the idea of adding weight to my pack after spending a small fortune to reduce it. However, after biting the bullet due to a few miserable trips trying to find a flat rock or tree branch to sit on (which apparently are very rare) I’ve never once regretted carrying my Helinox chair since. My only regret is not doing it sooner.
The only thing I have noticed using the chair Zero compared to the ground chair is the base of the chair fabric feels to be a slightly tighter cut and places a small amount of pressure on the sides of my thighs when sitting upright. It’s not painful by any means but is noticeable. I’d say this is due to the tightness of the fabric mentioned above although there is a slight possibility I could have a big behind and need to eat less and hike more. I’ve found this is easy to negate though by simply sliding your behind ever so slightly forward and sitting slightly less upright.
Overall, with the build quality and materials used I have no doubt the Chair Zero will give me years of trouble free use with proper care.
Functionality & Ease of Use (Rating: 95%)
The Chair Zero is quick and easy to set up and pack down even for a new owner.
In short, you straighten all the aluminium arms out and lock them into the plastic hub sockets to make up the seat frame and legs. You then place the fabric ‘seat’ on the back posts first, lay the chair back and stretch the seat fabric over the chair base and you’re done. It’s really that simple and for those that struggle the instructions are printed on the underside of the seat fabric so it’s pretty hard to go wrong.
Pack up is the reverse, the seat fabric once removed folds into thirds and wraps around the folded frame before it slips easily into the supplied stuff sack bag. The packed unit is about the diameter of a 1 litre Nalgene water bottle and just slightly longer, meaning it will easily fit in a pack bottle holder or inside the top lid of most packs for easy access.
As far as seating position goes, the chair Zero places you at a nice height to sit and cook at your feet if hiking and it’s definitely easier to get in and out of than my Ground chair being further off the ground.
The only down side I can see to the chair Zero design which is not a knock to Helinox but something that is shared with all 4 leg chairs of this type is the legs have a tendency to sink into soft ground and can be a bit unsteady if you lean to the side or back to far. I believe this issue is easy to overcome though with a few options available.
The easy option would be to use the Helinox ground sheet which you can buy as an extra. This is basically a mesh square with some hard plastic corners the legs sit in which disperses the load off the feet and stops them sinking into the ground. The base weighs in at about 160 grams on my scales and so far in testing appears to do the job very well.
Having said that I feel the real appeal of this chair for most will be its light weight so adding the ground sheet really detracts from that and as such will not be a suitable option for people seriously counting grams. However, if you just want one chair that does it all this option will work well and will still allow you to use the lighter chair without the base when suitable.
The other option is use something you may already be carrying such as a foam mat or ground sheet which costs nothing and adds no weight to your pack as your already carrying it. This DIY option may be more suited to the gram counter amongst us and should effectively do the same thing.
A word of warning though, the second you get up someone else will be trying to sit in your chair when they realise how good they are. You may need to consider carrying it with you when you get off it to avoid losing your seat. Either that or perhaps trade some ‘chair time’ for extra scroggin or have someone do your dishes. The possibilities are endless.
What I Like
- Small packed size and super light weight for a proper camp.
- Easy to carry as it fits in a standard bottle holder in a pack or sits inside the lid of a pack due to its small pack size.
- Light enough so you never feel like leaving it behind to save weight.
- Amazingly comfortable and is such a pleasure to sit on after a day of walking or exploring.
- Can be used to bribe camp mates for extra scroggin, chocolate and possibly have someone do your dishes in order to obtain some ‘chair time’.
- The chairs bag actually fits the chair back in it (it also fits the base if you wrap the chair in it).
What I Don’t Like
- The possible stability issues which are associated with all four leg chairs of this design. Having said that if I was doing a trip which would be using the chair on soft ground I would just take the ground sheet which solves the issue.
- The slight ‘tightness’ of the fabric along the seams on my thighs.
- The fact that I like my Helinox chair’s so much I will probably need to get a couple of sunset chairs to use for car camping.
- The second you get up someone is trying to jump in your chair.
The Helinox Chair Zero is available online, direct from Helinox for AUD$134. The groundsheet is AUD$34. They supply a couple of other Chair Zero accessories, too.
Disclaimer: Helinox provided the Chair Zero for review. This has no influence over the opinions presented here.
Have you tried the Helinox Chair Zero? Got any questions or comments? Let us know by commenting below.