How heavy is heavy duty? What’s a reasonable weight to expect a camp chair to hold? How do you know how much weight a chair will hold?
Camp chair weight load ratings vary enormously and are often hard to verify. A cheap, poorly made camp chair may have a weight capacity as low as 50kgs, whilst a high-end heavy duty chair may have a weight rating up to 200kgs or more. To put that in perspective, 50kg is the average weight of a 12 yr old child, whilst 200kg is more than what most motorbikes weigh, or in human terms one hell of super sized adult.
Many things combine to give a camp chair its overall strength, which in turn delivers the weight load capacity. Typically, the load rating is established using a compression test at the manufacturing facility. This kind of factory bench test is fine, however the issue is a factory test is in a controlled environment, using an even, vertical force. It does not induce the lateral or torsional forces that come from typical real world use. So the test which matters most is the real world test, using the same forces and loads that the chair actually needs to endure during day to day use. In addition to this, a close inspection of the chair and it's components gives a good indication of its strength.
The chair frame design is one of the most significant factors impacting load capacity. Excessive lateral and torsional movement in the frame increases stress and leads to component failure at joins, footings and mount points. Quad leg frame designs are the strongest and provide the stiffest base. Chair fabric is another key consideration; common 300 Denier Polyester tears and separates easily, whereas a heavy duty 600 Denier Polyester provides more strength and is UV resistant meaning it tolerates sustained exposure without becoming brittle. Other factors such as the quality of rivets and fittings, the type of anodising or steel powder coating used and the overall quality of workmanship also adds to the strength.
Regardless of the chairs strength, any camp chair design will eventually break if it is subject to repeated violent use. Simply sitting in and getting out of a chair in a 'normal’ fashion reduces frame stress, not leaning back on the back legs also helps spread the load evenly. If you are a 200kg bloke and sit gently in a camp chair it could last for years, however if the same bloke takes a running leap at the chair it will likely last one use.
So in short, the simple way to test a chairs weight load limit is to sit in it, to have a look at its build quality and to look for user reviews. As an example the Tuff Arse ultralight G-Banger collapsible chair is rated to 130kgs. To test this claim a simple real-world demonstration was conducted in public to see what would happen - check out the video below.
Testing Camp Chair Weight Load Capacity:
1. Quad Leg Design:
Look for a Quad leg design to add to the camp chairs frame strength. A Quad leg frame means there are two vertical front legs in addition to the standard two rear legs.
2. Steel Frame & Diameter:
A heavy duty mild steel frame of 22mm diam carries greater strength than a standard 17mm or 19mm, quality of steel can also vary greatly.
3. Frame Coating:
A well powder coated steel frame or anodised aluminium frame will prevent rust, corrosion and frame dis-colouration. Poor powder coating will seperate and flake with time. Quality of frame coating is only apparent after months of outdoor use. Product reviews by users are the best evidence of this.
4. Frame Brace Hubs:
Cross frame brace hubs add to the chairs torsional and lateral stability. The PVC brace mouldings are used at the frame cross points and stiffen these joins preventing the wobble which normally occurs when only rivets are used.
Heavy duty fabric like 600 Denier Polyester is more UV resistant and will last longer and resist tearing. Lightweight fabric like 300D will tear and deteriorate easily.
6. Arm Rest Mounts:
Arm rests are a common fail point. Reinforced stitching at the front and sturdy straps and anchor mounts at the rear add strength. Rear arm rest straps add both strength and make the arm height adjustable. Arm rests held only by arm rings tend to fail.
7. Quality of Workmanship:
Quality parts are nothing without quality workmanship. The overall workmanship is evidenced mainly from ongoing use, so look for existing user reviews and small tell tale signs like how snug the rivets are and how well the chair folds up.