I Can’t Believe I Didn’t Invent This Simple Backpacking Chair

The Mountainsmith Slingback chair just might boast the best weight-to-joy ratio in backpacking.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited, so pleasantly surprised by a chair before, that I actually let out a “yew!” when I sat down until I encountered this little Mountainsmith Slingback chair.

Though “chair” is probably an overstatement. The Slingback is just 40 inches by 15 inches of strong Cordura 610d fabric propped up with trekking poles. It’s really a glorified backrest, which, while that doesn’t sound like much, can be a bonafide luxury in the furniture-free backcountry.

And it’s brilliant.

It’s so ridiculously simple I can’t believe I didn’t invent this years ago, patent it, and start swimming in that sweet backpacking chair wealth.

Here’s how it works. Lay the Slingback flat on the ground. Collapse two trekking poles to about two feet long. Cross them into an “X,” then stick each handle butt into a little pocket in the Slingback.

Now the fun part—you will probably fall backward the first time you try this, maybe even the second time too—but sit on the fabric then raise the poles to a vertical-ish position, and use your bodyweight to create tension on the fabric. Voila, you’re sitting in a “chair.”

It’s a little bit of physics magic and far more comfortable than it may seem.

Sitting on the ground, or a rock, maybe a tree stump is fine, but never comfortable, and foldable backpacking chairs, no matter how light, have never, um, sat well with me.

But the Slingback weighs only 4.75 ounces, and rolls up like a napkin. That too heavy for you? Shave an ounce or two by cutting off the strap and buckle if you must.

This clever little chair is the best weight-to-joy ratio in the backpacking universe. Assuming you’re already a trekking pole user, you may as well pitch one in your bag.

Also—it costs only $25. Easily the coolest backpacking gadget I’ve seen this year.

$25 • BUY


Showing 13 comments
  • Brian Lang

    That sounds interesting for at-camp use. I wouldn’t want to be adjusting my hiking poles multiple times a day to use it during breaks along the trail though.

    • Justin Housman

      Good point, I don’t think I would either. But trust me, once you made camp, you’d be thrilled with this little contraption.

  • tom

    i’m “sol” for this chair…. i use saguaro ribs or sotol staffs for my “trekking poles”……viva old school and thrift!!

  • Paco

    I always find it a little disingenuous when companies list weights for products that require trekking poles without including the weight of the trekking pole. Not all hikers carry poles. In fact, a majority do not. If your product requires trekking poles to function, whether a chair or tarp or tent, then you should include that weight, or an estimation, in your specs.

    • D

      1. If you do not carry trekking poles, this product is not for you, and the description is pretty clear about that.

      2. We’re all looking for multi use items as a way to reduce over all packweight. Lightweight accessories may make those items more valuable to us

      3. If I order a backpack shoulder strap accessory pouch, the weight shouldn’t include the estimated weight of the pack I may or may not be wearing.

      If I order seat covers for my Jeep, the weight shouldn’t include the weight of the Wrangler I’m driving.

      If I order a Laz-e-boy it should not include the weight of the house it’s going into.

      All those are variables outside the control of the manufacturer.

      I know what I carry and how much it weighs, the weight to benefit cost is all I care about, do your own math. DYOM HYOH

      • Steve Casimiro

        Hahaha. Thanks, Dave!

      • Paco

        This reply is nonsense. This product REQUIRES trekking poles to function, therefore the weight of that essential element should be included, especially in a review touting the “weight to joy ratio” of the product. Seat covers for your Jeep? Really?

      • J

        A majority of hikers don’t carry trekking poles??? like to see where you got your data on that one!

  • Catherine

    –used to use a very similar set-up with cross country skis and poles, back in the day when ski tips were skinny. The “sling” has pockets at the top that slide over the ski tips then a poles goes thru a sleeve at the bottom, and rests on top of the 3-pin binding. You could get in and out of this sling chair very easily. I made one for each of our party of four and we felt very smug lunching and lounging in the sunshine. Alas, my sling no longer fits my modern fat tele skis.

  • Nate

    Crazy Creek has been doing this better for decades…

    • gringo

      While the crazy creek is for sure the benchmark outdoor chair, one thing I have never liked about them is how the vertical / parallel stay dig into my ribs after a while. Also this chair is about 10x more compact and weighs a fraction of a crazy creek….better for backcountry use I’d say.

  • jim

    you can get all kinds of gizmos for the outdoors. this is kind of cool but I’ve always just sat on the ground or log or a rock etc. i say if it makes you happy to own it and use it buy it!

    for camp comfort i still haven’t found anything better than a hammock.

  • Mark

    Looks like just the thing. I’ve carried lightweight chairs to the Caribbean and Hawaii a number of times. These would be much easier to pack in carry-on even with a couple of bamboo or aluminum supports, and would lighten the load when hiking out to that remote snorkeling spot.

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