Years ago, a friend was talking about a camp chair that was strong, comfortable, had good lumbar support on the back and lasted a long time. Seemed to good to be true but I decided to test one to see. He was right. And that chair was a Strongback Elite.
I’m still using that older version of the Strongback Elite. The fabric is faded but it’s still going strong and just as comfortable. We tested the newest version for this camp chair roundup. Was it just as comfortable, supportive and sturdy as the original?
A few quick pros and cons and then we’ll get into the details.
- Supportive backrest
- Comfortable armrests
- Wide seat
- 11.9 pounds
- 300 pound capacity
- 28″ x 27″ x 36.5″
- 44” x 11” packed
- $149.95 USD
- Carrying bag
- Green, blue, black and camo colours
- 600 denier fabric
- 3 year warranty
- Free shipping in US
The size of the Elite makes it a big and comfortable chair. That also makes it a bit unwieldy to carry and pack. It’s middle of the pack when it comes to packing and carrying.
The Elite comes with a bag with a nice big opening and a drawstring for closing. The opening doesn’t quite close when the drawstring is pulled tight. The bag is larger around at the opening end so it fits better feet in first. Once you get the bag around the arms it’s easy to pack the rest of the way.
The bag has 2 straps with a velcro handle that wraps in the middle. It’s comfortable to carry and doesn’t hang down too low. Some bags hit the ground when carrying them normally. The straps are long enough to throw over your shoulder too.
The 2 separate straps can be used like backpack straps as well. I had to turn the chair in the bag to use like this so a padded spot was on my back. If you get part of the frame digging into your back, it’s not terribly comfortable.
Carrying without the bag is a little heavy but doable. I usually hold the front or back of the frame where it crosses which holds the chair together and is a convenient handle. I’d love to see a shoulder strap permanently attached to the chair with a clip to hold it folded so the bag isn’t needed all the time like the REI Wonderland.
Set up is very easy with the Elite. Just pull it open. All the poles slide open quickly and you’re ready to roll. If it’s in the bag then you need to pull it out first. Sometimes the arms or cupholder get caught pulling it out.
The big feet on the Elite sit flat on the ground and are nice and stable. These are the biggest feet out of all the chairs we tested this year and easily sit on top of sand or soft dirt.
For looking flat and basic, the Strongback is very comfortable. The wide seat and back give you plenty of room. The recline is just right and the lumbar support is more than almost any other chair I’ve seen.
The back is 26″ off the seat of the chair. It comes to just over my shoulders. Not high enough to lean your head back against but fairly tall.
The seat is about 23 inches wide and 18 inches off the ground. Strongback says the Elite is great for people taller than 5’7″. I’m 5’7″ and it fits great and is comfortable. Shorter folks might want to go for the Guru chair they have.
It’s rare to see a really good cupholder on camp chairs. They need to fold or tuck under the chair to pack them up and be firmly attached to the chair.
The cupholder on the Elite is 4″ deep and 3″ across so it holds a drink can no problem. Narrow tumblers fit as well if the bottom is less than 3″. Bigger tumblers don’t fit well. Regular phones like the iPhone 14 fit as well.
I’d love to see a bigger multi-purpose cupholder that can hold larger tumblers and phones but the one on the Elite has the basics covered.
Folding the Elite is just pulling up on the middle of the seat and pulling forward on the middle of the back. It folds up quickly.
The size and weight that makes the Elite so comfortable makes it a bit harder to get back in the back. Once it’s folded, I usually hold the ‘X’ in the frame and slide the bag over. The bag is narrower at the bottom for the feet so it doesn’t pack well with the feet last.
Size and Weight
At 11.9 pounds the Elite is a fairly big chair. It makes it more comfortable but a little bit more to cary.
It’s 28 inches wide, 27 deep and 36.5 tall.
When packed up is 44 inches long and 11 inches across.
I’ve been very happy with the quality of my older Strongback and this newer version looks the same or better. A strong frame with steel rivets and 600 denier fabric means they last a long time.
The cupholders tend to get torn off at some point so those could use a bit of work but other than that the main part of the chair is very solid.
Who is Strongback?
Back in 2010, Ladd Lougee was sitting in some uncomfortable camp chair for the millionth time. Uncomfortable with a sore back yet again, he got to tinkering with something better. To many trips to the hardware store and 30+ prototypes later he had the original Strongback design.
He had an actual solution to the problem of uncomfortable camp chairs.
Since then strong back has ramped up production on a number of models, all with actual lumbar support, and distribute around the world.
Strongback is a standout in a vast sea of cheap camp chairs. They last longer and actually have some back support for a far more comfortable sitting experience.
The Elite chair is on the big side and not for backpacking but that’s exactly what makes them durable and comfortable. The cupholder could use some updating but it’s actually pretty good compared to most other cupholders. The bar is pretty low. A carrying strap attached to the chair would push this chair into the ‘perfect chair’ territory.
Doesn’t matter if it’s the campsite, backyard or beach, the Strongback is always a favourite with me.
Verdict: Highly Recommended see our rating system
Usual Price: $149.95 USD