Field test and review
A few years ago I was leading a hike through the Lerderderg State Park in Victoria’s west. We stopped for lunch on a shady creek bed and as usual everyone searched for a comfortable log or rock to sit on or rest against. While I searched in my pack for the days’ culinary delight I was surprised to see one of my hiking companions pulling a bundle of aluminium tubes and black fabric from her pack. After around 30 seconds she had transformed this bundle into what looked like the perfect little hiking chair. I was astounded. Who takes a chair hiking? Of course I had to conduct the customary sit test and was amazed at just how supportive and comfortable it felt. This was the Helinox Chair One.
That night I jumped online and ordered two.
The Chair One quickly become an essential part of my pack and I carried it everywhere. While to some this may add unnecessary weight to your pack, believe me, there is nothing more soothing to your body, feet and soul than to recline back in your lightweight chair at the end of a hard day on the trail. Particularly true on multi-day adventures.
Earlier this year I had the honor of field testing the newly released Helinox Ground Chair. You can read my review here. At 320 grams lighter it quickly replaced the Chair One for all of my multi-day hikes. I now use the Chair One whenever we are car camping, down at the park, at the beach or when I have lent all my chairs to other people.
Recently I was chatting with the guys from Helinox and they informed me, with a lot of excitement, that they had an awesome new chair coming out. The Helinox Chair Zero. I shared their enthusiasm on the phone but afterwards thought what on earth do they need another chair for? Aren’t the Mini, Ground, One, Swivel, Two, Camp and Sunset chairs enough? Really? Another chair? So what is the big deal?
Well for starters it weighs only 510 grams (packed weight). That’s a whopping 450 grams lighter than the Chair One and 130 grams lighter than the Ground Chair with the added advantage that the seat sits 11 cm higher off the ground than the Ground Chair. That may not seem too important but at the end of an 18km day on a multi-day hike every centimetre counts when getting in and out of the chair. Especially if you are like me and have pushed yourself so hard that you have to roll out of the chair just to get up.
One of the major areas of weight saving is the seat fabric. It’s a lightweight material with a reinforcing grid of high-tech non-stretch thread that’s still strong enough to support 120 kg. As with the Ground Chair, one feature I enjoyed about the Chair Zero over the Chair One is the solid fabric seat and mesh sides. I felt that the seat was warmer on my back than the Chair One which has a mesh back and solid sides.
As with all Helinox Chairs the frame is constructed using TH72M alloy (by DAC). This is an advanced alloy that provides maximum strength with minimum weight and to date these chairs have never let me down (or any of my hiking buddies who want to steal my seat when I walk away for a split second). At first glance the framework is nearly identical in design to the Chair One but uses larger diameter, and thinner walled tubing.
Having owned Helinox chairs for a number of years I already had plenty of experience in setting them up so this part was a breeze. The Chair Zero can be set up by a novice in less than 30 seconds.
When it comes to testing any chair two of the most important factors (besides weight) are just how comfortable the chair feels and how practical it is to use. As you would hope, the comfort is very similar to both the Chair One and Ground Chair, amazing. Compared to Chair One, the frame sits slightly lower to the ground (4cm in fact) and the seating angle is a little more upright. This re-orientated seating position and slightly higher seat position (over the Ground Chair) works really well when sitting down to cook your meal or relaxing around the camp fire and is a lot easier to lift yourself out of, much like the Chair One.
After experiencing all three of these chairs I am a huge fan of the new Helinox Chair Zero. A huge fan! It is my chair of choice for any pack carry or multi-day adventure. For me, the other two chairs (One and Ground) will continue to have their place in my outdoor life but this chair now takes pride of place in my pack, wherever I am hiking.
You will not be disappointed. Go grab one now.
Buy direct from Helinox for $134 (RRP: $164)
- Assembled: 50 cm wide x 48 cm deep x 64 cm high.
- Packed: 35 cm long x 10 cm wide x 10 cm high.
- Ground to seat base: Approx. 23 cm
- Weight: 490 grams (assembled), 510 grams (packed weight)
- Capacity: 120 kg.
- Color: Grey fabric with cyan blue frame and black tote bag.
Field Tested by
Darren Edwards > www.trailhiking.com.au