20 Jan Gear Review: REI Flex Lite Chair (Video)
For the first item of review this new year, I finally had the chance to sit down and review the REI Flex Lite chair. I was gifted this chair last year for my birthday and was excited to try it out. When I finished my European trip and mentioned I should have had a chair with me, I was specifically thinking about this chair. Let’s see what I think about it!
The chair measures 4.5” x 15” when it is folded up in its own travel bag. Unfolded, it is 26” x 20” x 20”. The poles are made out of lightweight aluminum similar to what you find in tents. In fact, the joints are held together with elastic ropes like tent poles which snap into place as the pieces are extended out. The chair weighs only 1 lb and 10 ounces. The seat itself is made out of ripstop nylon mesh. The weight capacity is 250 lbs, or 113 kilograms. It comes in 13 different color choices.
What I Like
Having a chair with me on tours has been one of those necessary luxury items. I am fine without one, but having one is so much more comfortable than sitting on the cold park benches or worse, on the dirty ground. This chair is compact enough for me to throw it in a pannier or strap it to my handlebar or rack on any type of trip. Whether it’s an epic long tour or a short overnighter, it’s nice to have. Weighing only a smidge over a pound, this doesn’t really bog me down on any of my rides. I can see folks who are more sensitive about the weight complain that this is slightly lighter than the tent they are carrying. To me, some level of comfort is necessary when you’re traveling.
Having this chair has also been great to carry around not only when I’m traveling, but even outside of the travel or adventure mode. I would bring it with me in my backpack for a day out in the city parks. It is perfect for that spontaneous picnic or just chilling out at a friend’s backyard in the afternoon.
What I’m Not Happy About
The biggest detriment for this chair is the price point. At $72.50 it is way overpriced for what it is. I understand that it is made out of nothing but the best materials a lightweight, portable chair should be made out of, but it doesn’t seem to justify the price. To stick the customers with such a high price tag, I don’t think you’re going to get that high of a response. I could be wrong, but these chairs weren’t selling out of stock when I went to the many REIs to check them out. Unless you’re like me and received this as a gift, this can be one expensive chair to own if you don’t use it.
The chair also sits a few inches off the ground so getting on and off of it after a long day on the saddle may not be the most comfortable thing. You have to be careful lowering yourself on to it as you can’t just plop yourself without possibly falling out of it. Be prepared to work out that core of yours.
Another annoying thing about this chair is that the 4 legs has the potential to sink into the ground if the ground is soft enough. This means taking it to the beach is out of the question as you won’t be able to stabilize the leg to allow you to sit on it. Luckily for me, that hasn’t been an issue as all the campgrounds I’ve been to have been hard packed.
Other folks have complained about it being hard to assemble for certain colors. I have the Squash color and can say it was hard to assemble at first but once you figure out how to do it, it’s not bad at all. You do have to use some muscles to bend the poles into the nylon mesh pockets.
Should You Get One
If you’re in the market for a chair on your tour, I can’t recommend anything better at this point but the price is just too high for me to say you absolutely need one for a bike tour. Save your money for a REI used gear sale to pick one up. I’ve also seen other knock offs in the market at a lower price point. I’ll have to check one out and see how it stacks up in a separate review.
If you’re not scared away by the price, you won’t regret having this little thing to carry on your next bike tour or bikepacking trip. Your friends will look at you with envy when you pull that thing out and relax near the campfire as they are sitting on a cold hard rock.
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