The 5 best beach chairs, for reclining in the sand, sitting around a bonfire, or relaxing at a campsite
- A proper beach chair helps you have a comfortable day at the beach, or any outdoor event or campground.
- The best should offer a combination of value, portability, durability, and comfort, no matter where you use it.
- Our top pick, RIO’s Lay Flat Beach Chair, is affordable, comfortable, and can recline in five different positions.
When I was a kid, I thought beach chairs were for old people. When it was time to stake out my sand territory, I’d happily spread out my colorful, oversized beach towel and never thought twice about sitting in an upright position.
Now, as an adult, I won’t spend even a minute on the beach without a proper chair. It’s absolutely necessary for comfort and for keeping my drink of choice upright and sand-free.
Of course, beach chairs have changed a lot since my childhood. Not only are there more lightweight options, but today’s chairs are packed with fun accessories like drink holders, insulated cooler pouches, pockets, attached umbrellas, and much more. Many of them can even be transported on your back or slung over your shoulder.
To help you find a chair suited to your lifestyle, I’ve tested a wide selection of brands like Tommy Bahama and Coleman to find the best currently available. At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some insight into the testing methodology I used, as well as some tips on how to shop for a beach chair.
Here are the best beach chairs:
- Best beach chair overall: RIO 5-position Lay Flat Beach Chair
- Best beach chair with a cooler: Tommy Bahama Backpack Cooler Chair
- Best reclining beach chair: Sport-Brella Recliner Chair
- Best quad beach chair: Coleman Oversized Quad Chair with Cooler
- Best backpack chair: ONIVA Fusion backpack chair
The best overall
Affordable and easy to carry, the simple yet sturdy RIO Brands 5-Position Lay Flat Beach Chair will keep you comfortable all day long.
Pros: Lightweight, affordable, sits close to the ground, durable fabric and frame, carrying strap, attractive designs
Cons: Depending on where it’s set up, it can be hard to get out of
Founded in 1947, RIO Brands focuses on creating beautiful beach and backyard furniture. Made of durable 300-denier polyester and a lightweight, rust-proof aluminum frame, the RIO Brands 5-Position Lay Flat Beach Chair is built to last. It’s also built for comfort. Five positions, including a flat position ideal for tanning (or napping), means you can adjust throughout the day for the perfect lounging mode. The armrests have a no-pinch feature.
The Rio 5-Position is also easy to transport. It’s lightweight at 6 pounds, foldable, and comes with an adjustable padded shoulder strap for easy carrying.
The best with a cooler
The attractive and comfortable Tommy Bahama Backpack Cooler Chair is lightweight, easy to adjust, and holds everything from your phone to a six-pack of Coke.
Pros: Lightweight, 5-positions, zippered storage compartments, insulated cooler that can hold up to 7 12-oz cans, adjustable pillow, easy to carry
Cons: The fabric isn’t terribly durable
Carry this lightweight chair on your back with comfortable padded straps? Check. Cooler? Yes. Cup holder? Of course. This five-position Tommy Bahama Backpack Cooler Chair has all the features you could possibly want in a beach chair.
It allows you to lay flat and comes with a built-in adjustable pillow for extra comfort throughout the day. Two large storage compartments keep you organized. One is insulated to keep your food and drinks cool, too. The contour molded armrest has a hanging cup holder, as well as a phone compartment. A folding towel bar on the back of the chair allows you to easily dry your towels and wet clothes.
The chair is lightweight and its rust-proof aluminum frame is enhanced with durable 600-denier polyester and can hold up to 300 pounds. The chair’s back is made of canvas.
The best reclining
The Sport-Brella Recliner Chair comes with a swiveling umbrella, as well as an insulated cooler and drink pouches.
Pros: Detachable footrest, ample storage, insulated storage, cup holder, detachable and adjustable umbrella, lightweight
Cons: The umbrella can be a little flimsy
Sit up, lay back, or nap. You can get comfortable in three different positions with the Sport-Brella Recliner Chair. The chair’s umbrella has a 50+ UPF rating to protect you from the sun and a metallic underside to deflect heat. The umbrella is versatile, too. Not only can you attach it to either side of your chair, but it swivels into three different positions to ensure you are always in the shade.
The chair has a built-in insulated pocket that holds up to four drinks, a cup holder, and a zippered storage pocket that has a built-in bottle opener. Its lightweight, stainless steel frame supports up to 250 pounds, too.
The best quad chair
The extra-roomy Coleman Oversized Quad Chair with Cooler is so comfortable and sturdy, it will become your new best beach friend.
Pros: Extra-wide seat, very sturdy, holds four cans in an insulated cooler, features a drink cup, folds up
Cons: Not extremely durable
The versatile Coleman Oversized Quad Chair will help you relax whether you’re deep in the woods, on the sidelines of a sporting event, or watching the waves at the beach. Made of durable polyester mounted on a heavy-duty steel frame that supports up to 300 pounds, this chair also has adjustable rest heights.
But it’s the beverage holding capabilities that make this chair worthy of a toast. A built-in armrest cooler holds up to four cans, while a mesh cup holder stores one more.
A large storage pocket and another small mesh pocket — perfect for keys and cell phones — are also included. When you’re ready to go home, fold up the chair and put it in the carry bag for easy transport and storage. The chair comes with a limited one-year warranty.
The best backpack chair
The Oniva Fusion backpack chair by Picnic Time has a table, cooler, and pockets built in so you have everything you need for a day on the beach.
Pros: Storage galore, detachable cooler, table, easy to carry
Cons: Doesn’t recline, fabric may be on the thin side
One major problem we all encounter with beach chairs is that we have to carry them. A four-way folding chair eliminates some of the problems with a shoulder strap, but the Oniva Fusion backpack chair has backpack straps that fully free your hands to carry the mountain of other gear you’ve foolishly, unnecessarily lugged out to the beach — if you’re anything like me, that is.
If not, then you can easily manage to fit just about everything you need for a day at the beach into this all-in-one chair because it comes equipped with a side table, cooler, and pockets galore.
What’s also great about the Oiva Fusion by Picnic Time is that you can toss in another $30 or so and get a 5.5-foot attaching umbrella, and if you want to ditch the cooler for a day, it’s easily removed and reattached. — Owen Burke
How to shop for a beach chair
It’s important to keep a few key features in mind while shopping, most notably the frame, the kind of seat it uses, the build material, its weight range, and portability.
The frame of the chair may be steel, aluminum, or wood, and choosing between either depends not just on personal preference but also on how you intend to use it. Wood chairs might not be as portable while a steel chair will inevitably be more durable.
Meanwhile, the chair’s seat may be made from marine-grade canvas, polyester, nylon, or cotton. For durability, you should aim for a denier strength (a measurement of fabric thickness and weight) between 420D-600D. Beach chairs typically support weights ranging from 225 to 400 pounds, but always check before purchasing.
If you plan on transporting the chair, you’ll want to select one that’s capable of being carried easily. Some beach chairs fold in half vertically or horizontally, while others fold into three sections. Look for chairs with an attachable sling shoulder carry strap, a separate carry bag with strap, or backpack-style carry straps.
How we test beach chairs
Each chair featured in this guide went through a series of tests that required more than just unfolding it and plopping down into it (though, we certainly did that, too). While testing, we looked at a series of categories to determine which chairs were fit for recognition. Those categories are comfort, portability, durability, and value. Here’s how each factored into our testing:
Comfort: If your beach chair isn’t comfortable, you’re not going to be very excited about hauling it to and from wherever you plan on using it. For this, we looked at how comfortable the actual seat is, whether it reclines and if the armrests are more than just aluminum slabs.
Portability: Though any beach chair benefits from being able to be stashed in a vehicle during transport, lugging it from your car to the beach or campsite shouldn’t feel like you’re competing in a Strongman Competition. Put plainly, portability matters, and the best beach chairs should be easy to tote around, even if it’s a longer hike to where you plan on relaxing than you expected.
Durability: The beach chair you ultimately purchase should be durable enough to last for several beach seasons and ultimately help avoid turning a decision on what to buy into an annual event. This means that it should hold up to being thrown into a car, stashed in a garage or closet, and, of course, thousands of sits.
Value: Value is relative not just to a beach chair’s sticker price but to how well it functions in relation to the price. Do its features justify a higher price tag? Will a budget chair just break after one summer, forcing you to spend again the next year?
Check out more Insider Reviews beach guides
The best beach gear you can buy
Summer is a great time to get outside and hit the beach. We’ve rounded up the best beach gear of all kinds so you don’t have to waste precious time indoors looking for good beach gear.
Whether you need a beach umbrella, towel, chair, cooler, grill, toy set, or sunscreen, we have a pick for you.
Click on a link to jump to a topic:
- Best swimsuits and swim trunks
- Best sunglasses and sun hat
- Best beach sandals
- Best sunscreen
- Best beach towels
- Best beach blanket and mat
- Best beach chair
- Best beach umbrella and tent
- Best water bottle, wineskin, canteen, and mug
- Best coolers
- Best picnic baskets
- Best grilling gear
- Best beach toys
- Best beach cart and bag
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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected]
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