I am not exactly an ultralight hiker but I do try to keep weight a minimum. This is extremely important in North Idaho where we are either carrying a bunch of extra weight in insulation layers during the cold months or a bunch of extra weight in water in the dry months. There is one item that I carry that might be considered extra weight or a luxury item by some but it has been indispensable for me – a Crazy Creek Products Hex Original Chair.
The Hex Original Chair (now sold as an improved Hex 2.0 Original Chair) is a lightweight, easily packable, multipurpose chair. It weighs in at about 22 ounces and rolls up to a tube shape that is about 15.5″ long and 4″ in diameter. The chair is essentially a single long piece with ends that are joined with adjustable straps making the back angle adjustable.
Observations from Use
To call this a chair is doing it a disservice. It can be used in a multitude of ways, some of which have become absolutely integral to how I camp. Here are a few of the important ways I use it:
- It is a great chair. It is actually extremely comfortable and I can usually find a small ledge, rock, or log if I don’t want to sit directly on the ground.
- It is an auxiliary or backup sleeping mat. I use it to add padding and insulation to my sleeping mat. It also protects my inflatable pads from puncture. If I do have an issue with my pad, the Hex Original Chair can stand in for my sleeping pad (or be used for a quick trailside nap). This is a very important redundancy.
- It is also useful for keeping things off snow or wet ground – I use it to hold fire-making materials off the ground when necessary or even tucked inside to protect them from rain. It’s also nice to stand on when you are changing clothes.
Hopefully, the above does a good enough job of justifying the extra weight. It is not one of those items that you pack and then never use. It is so useful, that I generally store it on the outside of my pack because it is one of the few items that I am likely to access along the way to camp as well as in camp. If I could fit it in a pants pocket, I would probably carry it there.
There are a variety of similar camp chairs on the market. As far as I can tell, Crazy Creek Products makes the original and they are certainly not the cheapest. I have found their chairs to be extremely durable and well worth the money. The Hex or Hex 2.0 versions are especially well suited to backpacking thanks to their lighter weight and how much smaller they pack.
There are a few things that seem to set their chairs apart. They use carbon stays to keep the weight down which is very nice. I appreciate that they use tightly weaved materials for the outer surfaces which, at least, slows moisture from getting through.Finally and probably most crucially, they reinforce the ends of the stay pockets with multiple layers of very durable material which is absolutely key for these chairs. I can’t make you spend the extra money on a Crazy Creek Products chair but at least make sure the chair you chose has heavily reinforced stay pockets or it will fail you.
I should make it clear that the chair shown here is the earlier version of the Hex. It has open mesh inside that takes some care to prevent debris and dirt from getting down into the insulation. The newer Hex 2.0 chairs are greatly improved with the addition of a tighter weaved material for the inside.
The Crazy Creek Product Hex Original Chair is probably one of my all time favorite pieces of outdoor gear. I don’t hit the trail without one.
Check them out on Amazon (affiliate link): Crazy Creek Hex 2.0