The Best Piece of Unnecessary Backpacking Equipment

Endless blogs of self-appointed backpacking authorities offer opinions and recommendations on how to shave weight off your basic weight. My favorite is to cut off excess pack straps. Weight savings? Maybe 2 ounces. Ridiculous. While I maintain a base weight of about fifteen pounds, I do enjoy a few luxuries.

By far, my favorite piece of unnecessary equipment is the REI Flexlite Air backpacking chair. A chair? Seriously? Yes! For us older backpackers, sitting on a log, a rock, or the dirt simply does not cut it. First, there is no back support. Second, it is not relaxing. On a recent hike, I unfolded and set up my chair on the summit of Pinchot Pass. I could have sold this chair multiple times for a nice profit!

Purists will scoff at the weight and absurdity of a backpacking chair. This chair clocks in at a whopping one pound. I will happily leave the 35 mm camera or solar panel to make room. The Flexlite chair is durable, comfortable, but a bit of an irritation to set up, as it has been engineered with minimal clearances. For a hundred bucks, it is well worth the money.

Imagine, the end of a long day with a few thousand vertical feet climbed. You set up camp, heat up dinner, and settle into your comfy chair to enjoy the view of Palisade Lake. Every muscle in your body is relaxed and feeling good. All that is missing is a cold beer. But that is just another sixty miles down the trail.

REI not your jam? Check out the Basecamp chair available on on Amazon:




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  1. I fully agree about the camp chair. I have done the JMT twice. The first time I was too weight conscious and left the chair at home. The second trip I brought it and NEVER regretted it.

    I am doing the JMT again this year and like your American Express card “will not leave home without it”

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