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The YETI Trailhead Camp Chair is an ultra-rugged, super comfortable collapsible camping chair. Of course, the YETI Trailhead Camp Chair is also great for backyard barbecues and the beach.
To get us a closer look, YETI sent Man Makes Fire a review unit. After testing the YETI Trailhead Camp Chair while camping, watching outdoor youth sporting events, and hanging out on the lawn and back deck with many kinds of cool drinks, this is what we learned:
Is the YETI Trailhead Camp Chair Worth It?
The top-of-mind question for most people considering the YETI Trailhead Camp Chair is undeniably this: Is the YETI Trailhead Camp Chair worth the $299.99 price point?
If the price doesn’t make you blink, the YETI Trailhead Camp Chair is definitely worth it. Why? The YETI Trailhead Camp Chair is rugged, refined, sturdy as all get out — and surprisingly comfortable. If you want a solid camp chair that will last for many years, you can’t go wrong with the YETI Trailhead.
Like YETI’s ultra-rugged coolers, the YETI Trailhead is a seriously great camp chair.
For everyone else — those of us who blink and tilt our head at the price point and get a little confused at the $50 YETI bottle opener — is the YETI chair really worth it?
Let’s dig into it. Ultimately you’ll have to decide for yourself, but my experience with the YETI — and how I feel about it after using it — might help you decide.
Let’s Talk Comfort
The whole point of investing in a great camp chair is comfort. It’s hard enough to get packed up with all your camping gear to find yourself a small spot of paradise outside in the woods or at the beach — do you really want to sit in a bad chair once you finally get there?
The YETI Trailhead Camp Chair has a deceptively simple seat and back. It’s made from a single piece of YETI’s ‘FlexGrid Fabric’ that’s stretched between each side of the chair. The result is a seat that stretches for your butt but remains supportive on the backs of your legs. The FlexGrid Fabric is also airy, so you don’t get hot spots on hot days. If it rains or some early morning dew settles on the chair that you left out overnight around the campfire, the seat dries quickly.
Pro Tip: Collapse your camp chairs before you go to bed and lean them against something. When you unfold them in the morning, the interior won’t be wet from dew.
The arm rests are robust. They’re long enough and tall enough to be comfortable. If you have young kids, the YETI Trailhead Camp Chair is tough enough to let a kid climb into your lap by the campfire at night. The arms will help keep you both together as they fall asleep.
The YETI design engineers put some seriously thought into the Trailhead Camp Chair. Sure, there’s the extensive framework and pivot points, but the most import factor is how the seat levels out and how it connects to the slope of the back. The YETI Trailhead Camp Chair is a marvel of ergonomic engineering. I’m serious.
You can lean back in the Trailhead and relax. The high back is supportive but also has enough lean to enjoy. When it’s time to sit more upright with a paper plate on your legs, it’s easy to keep the plate level. And if you’re pulled up next to a camping table — like the excellent Mountain Summit Gear XL Camp Table — to eat, the seat is also very good. Most camp chairs don’t pull up next to tables well at all because they’re only designed for lounging around.
When it comes to long-term comfort, most any camp chair is comfortable compared to dirt, logs, and rocks. Consequently, I also tested the YETI Trailhead in my living room during a multi-hour Netflix binge-watching session. Could I sit in the Trailhead for three hours or would I gravitate to the couch? I found I could watch in the YETI chair easily, without discomfort after two hours (but I admittedly prefer the couch when it’s available).
Rock Solid Stability
YETI made its name by building ultra high-quality hard-sided coolers. The company has then translated its quality and rugged build ethos into soft-sided coolers like the YETI Hopper M30, as wells as related outdoor gear like the waterproof Panga Backpack. I’ve tested and reviewed lots of YETI gear over the years and it’s all been the best-of-the-best in build quality.
At first glance, the YETI Trailhead Camp Chair seems to expand just like many other camp chairs. The end result, however, is super sturdy. The strong arm rests let older campers settle into the chair — or rise up out of it — with relative ease.
How does the YETI Trailhead achieve this?
First, the YETI chair uses strong materials. You get steel pivot points and rugged plastic feet and connections. When it’s locked in, it becomes a single solid unit. And by locked in, I mean locked in.
Strong ankle joints at the foot.
Rugged frame joints.
YETI has a whole web page dedicated to illustrating How to Fold and Unfold your Trailhead Camp Chair so I won’t repeat that. Basically, you push down on the armrests to lock those into place, then push down on a lever in the back to lock in the rear legs and back support. It’s all held in place by the tension in the perfect geometry of the frame and FlexGrid Fabric.
How much weight can the Trailhead hold? Up to 500 lbs. That means that you don’t have to worry about overloading your camp chair when your kids want to sit on your lap around the campfire. (I’m pretty sure someone has been impaled by the flimsy legs of a cheap camp chair that collapsed somewhere.)
Cup Holder and Carry Bag
YETI includes a fabric cup holder that slides onto a bracket on the side of the front leg. It fits standard cans and bottles just fine, as well as most YETI tumblers and the 12, 18, and 26 oz. YETI bottles.
There are brackets for the cup holder on both sides of the Trailhead, so if you want the cup holder on the left side, you can move it there.
This isn’t a true drawback, but it is a bit puzzling to me: After spending so much time on the overall engineering of the Trailhead, I’m wondering why YETI doesn’t include two cup holders? One could be the standard size and the other could be an oversize cup holder that could also hold a phone or other odds and ends.
As for the carry bag, it’s fantastic. First of all, it’s made from rugged fabric that won’t easily wear a hole or have the seams blow out. Second, it’s sized large enough that it’s easy to fit the Trailhead into it. Third, it comes with backpack straps, which is handy when you’re hiking to the beach, ball field, or camping spot.
YETI Trailhead Benefits & Drawbacks
The benefits of the YETI Trailhead Camp Chair come down to superior ruggedness, excellent build quality, fantastic comfort, and a great carry bag.
The biggest YETI Trailhead Camp Chair drawback is the price point. It’s expensive. You could buy multiple inexpensive camp chairs for the price of one YETI Trailhead Camp Chair.
The other drawback of the YETI Trailhead Camp Chair is that your investment in the chair might cause you to take better care of it — and worry about it more than a cheap chair. For instance, when you’re out camping and a kid wants to whittle on a stick, you might not want that kid sitting in your Trailhead Camp Chair. Or flinging gooey roasted marshmallows onto the FlexGrid Fabric seat. Just saying. So remember to stay chill. Who wants a camping memory of dad flipping out over his expensive camp chair? No one.
Here’s one more Pro Tip: Great gear is meant to be used and enjoyed — don’t forget that!
YETI Trailhead vs Hondo
YETI’s first camp chair is the folding-style YETI Hondo Base Camp Chair. Like the Trailhead, the Hondo is rugged and awesome. In terms of the design, it’s basically a heavy-duty folding lawn chair. The frame is made from two layers of age-hardened aluminum alloy.
Like the Trailhead, the Hondo has strong arm rests and uses a similar mesh fabric for the seat and back. It weighs 16.5 lbs vs the Trailhead’s 13.3 lbs.
The seat height is slightly lower at 16″ compared to the slightly higher Trailhead seat height of 16.75″. (For the exact specifications, YETI publishes the specs folded and unfolded on each product page with handy illustrations.)
Which is better, the Trailhead or the Hondo? Personally, I like the form factor and packability of the Trailhead over the Hondo. Both are great, both are comfortable, and both cost the same.
YETI Trailhead Alternatives & Competition
Aside from the obvious YETI Hondo Base Camp Chair alternative, there are a few other competitive camping chair options in this segment. If you’re looking for an innovative camp chair — or simply a higher quality camp chair that can hold heavy weight — consider these options:
Nemo Stargaze Recliner Luxury Chair — The Nemo Stargaze Recliner Luxury Chair is basically a swing recliner camp chair that excels when you want to hang out and enjoy nature. You can sit mostly upright but the chair also reclines to let you look up at the sky — or the stars, hence the name — or take a nap. One drawback of the Stargaze Recliner is that it’s not the kind of chair you pull up to a table to eat.
GCI Outdoor Brute Force Chair — The GCI Outdoor Brute Force Chair costs almost one-third the price of the YETI Trailhead, but it’s still rated to a competitive 400 lbs. The main benefit is its easily collapsible heavy-weight design while the main drawback is that it lacks the refined style and extreme ruggedness of the YETI Trailhead Camp Chair.
Cabela’s Big Outdoorsman XL Fold-Up Chair — If your primary concern is finding a large chair for a large person, the Cabela’s Big Outdoorsman XL Fold-Up Chair delivers a large seat at a very competitive price point. The prime benefit is that the generous seat gives you more than 5″ of extra space compared to the YETI Trailhead. It also sits a bit taller at 19″ off the ground. Any drawbacks? The overall design is not as rugged as the YETI Trailhead and it collapses down into a less packable size for travel — it’s a big chair! Alternately, Cabela’s offers a fold-flat version with a side table if you’re looking for a Hondo-style alternative.
YETI Trailhead Camp Chair Review Verdict
All-in-all, the YETI Trailhead Camp Chair is an ultra-rugged collapsible camp chair that’s refined and comfortable. It has the understated, well-designed style of a product created to be the best it could be, without compromise. The YETI Trailhead Camp Chair’s biggest drawback is the price, but its benefits are most everything else — comfort, stability, strength and style. Very highly recommended.
When price is not a major ranking factor, YETI (arguably) makes the best camp chair. However, when price is an important ranking factor, there are many different brands and models of camp chairs that are very good and offer competitive price-to-value ratios. In addition, some manufacturers and sellers offer many different form factors — low chairs, big chairs, ultralight chairs, etc. Jump up to our YETI Trailhead Alternatives & Competition section for a few recommended options.