Monarch Butterfly Chair
Featherweight packable seat
The Monarch Butterfly Chair ($70) caught my eye immediately because it looked like a clever solution to a problem I’ve wrestled with for a long time — how to carry comfortable seating that takes up minimal weight and space. As a motorcycle rider, meeting friends for “car camping” means I’m much more limited than they are in the luxuries I can bring along.
One way this chair saves weight is by eliminating the two front legs; you lean back in it as you would when tipping a chair back on its hind legs, using your own legs for control and balance. At first I thought this would be tiring, but it really isn’t. Nearly all of my weight rests comfortably in the seat, with the kind of lumbar support I need. When collapsed, the Monarch fits into not much more space than a water bottle, and it weighs only 18 oz. At least as importantly, it’s simple to set up and it seems very solidly constructed.
I’ve had problems with foam seats such as the Crazy Creek chairs because the stress points don’t hold up well to repeated use. And another chair I’ve used, the GCI Trail-Sling (no longer available) is a light, comfortable chair, but it can be a little tricky to set up and doesn’t seem likely to hold up to too much wear and tear. I still have a couple Trail-Slings, but I believe they’ll get left behind in favor of the Monarch going forward.
The Monarch’s legs are sturdy milled aluminum poles, connected with shock cords like tent poles, and seem designed for years of use. Similarly, the seat appears thoughtfully shaped to minimize possible points of failure, and the pockets into which the poles fit are thick and reinforced beyond what I’ve come to expect from most consumer outdoor gear. Really, the whole chair has a feeling of quality and craftsmanship. It’s not inexpensive at $70, but I find it’s worth it.10/25/18
(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2009 — editors)