Camping Stools Review
Since a reoccurrence of back problems during 2006, one of my quests has been to find a good camping stool. These problems were aggravated by sitting on sleeping-mat chair-kits, or just sitting on the ground. The best alternative appeared to rest in the use of a camping stool, but which one? My criteria were: It had to have a certain amount of comfort and be easily folded. Also to help transport the loaded bike when going abroad, it had to be lightweight and if possible fit into a rear pannier. As I like to test camping gear until I find the most suitable, here are my thoughts on the stools I have used over the last 3 years.
My first purchase was the normal tripod stool that is sold in many shops, often at very cheap prices. Poundland do their version at £1 but it really is poor quality. Four different makes of the same design were tried. All of them only lasting a few days under my weight before the legs broke or the fabric got torn. Also the folded length made them awkward to get into the bike panniers.
Next choice was the basic folding stool. I got one from Jacksons of Old Arley, but similar versions are available in most camping shops. A wide seat makes it very comfortable and tubular aluminium legs give it a very light weight. Again the drawback is size when folded. It does fold flat but needs to be strapped to the outside of the pannier. Brought in their sale it was £3.99 but expect to pay £6 upwards.
The search of the optimum then led me to the Walkstool. These have telescopic tripod legs which satisfy my requirement to go in a pannier. It also is manufactured to a very high standard. Because of this it carries a much higher price tag. The downside is that with three legs it is not a totally comfortable seat. The picture shows the stool ready for packing, next with itís legs collapsed and then as it would be used. Walkstools come in various sizes the lightest being 725 grams. Expect to pay over £45.
A suggestion from a fisherman led me to my next stool and my all-round favourite, the Highlander Foldable. Mine has traveled more miles and been used for more hours than all the other stools put together. It is the basic fishing stool design, made from steel bar and has a wide polyester comfortable seat. The structure gives it strength and allows it to fold flat, easily going into a pannier. The only downside is weight, which is 835 grams. Mine cost £3.99 but the latest RRP is £5.99.
I first spied the Gelert Super Stool at the Outdoor Trade Show. Both Mike Handley and me were impressed with itís lightness, weighing 580 grams. Comfort is from nice wide polyester seat similar to a fishing stool. And it goes into a neat carry bag, small enough for any pannier. It appeared to tick all the boxes. However there is a but. Second time out it collapsed on me causing me an injury. The plastic joint in the centre failed under my weight. It may be perfectly okay for a lighter person, but under the circumstances I cannot recommend buying. Cost of these varies between £5.99 and £8.99.
The last of my stools is the new kid on the block, The Coleman Exponent. It is a four legged stool with legs made from aluminum channels that fold at the centre joint. This design makes it a very light only 490 grams and compact when folded into itís small carry-bag. So far I have only used it once at the Wolverley meet but first impressions are good. Although the seat is smaller than some of the other stools one can find some comfortable seating positions. Coleman have high hopes that this stool will become a winner among lightweight campers, and they may be right. Prices range from £15.99 to £20.99.
There you have the six stools I have tried over the last three years. Others of you may have different choices and if you let me know your favourites I will always be willing to try them.
In conclusion, my favourite is still The Highlander Foldable fisherman type stool, despite the weight.
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