I am making a strange observation over the past years: People want to sit on chairs in the backcountry. Which makes me wonder: What is wrong with sitting on the ground or on a tree stump?
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Carrying more stuff from home
As Ultralight Backpackers we try to minimize the amount of stuff we carry into the outdoors, so that the hiking part of our trip is more enjoyable. In the minds of many they envision us as freezing at night, getting wet in the rain, and forgoing any and all comfort in our pursuit to save some weight on our backs. That is nonsense. Ultralight backpackers sleep warm and comfortable, stay dry in the rain, and carry comfortable backpacks and clothes on their trips. The one thing we rarely (never?) carry, however, is a chair. Not an “ultralight” one that’s “only” 510 g, nor a stool which is 350 g. That’s a substantial amount of extra weight to carry around the whole day, just so that you could sit down for a while in the evening in camp. We just sit on the ground.
What’s wrong with sitting on the ground?
The idea of carrying a chair into nature is so strange to me, but then I also am standing at home at my desk since 10+ year. If you walk three kilometres from the bus stop to the campground and the plan is to sit till midnight at the campfire 🔥 and drink beer, then yeah, maybe a chair is ok. But for a backpacking trip? Hardly. I simply don’t get why people would want to carry a chair on a backpacking trip, when sitting on the ground, on a pad or inside your tent porch, does an absolutely great job of keeping your ass dry and comfortable. Do you really need to have a chair in which you can lean back? Why not just lay down?
During breaks I often don’t even bother taking out a pad, and just sit down on the soft ground next to the trail, or a fallen tree if it presents itself. Comfortable. Easy. Simple. Fast. No extra weight. No assembly required.
I like rocks, fallen trees and my CCF pad
Maybe I’m wrong with my opinion, and sitting on a chair in the outdoors is actually far superior to sitting on my piece of ZLite or Flexmat, a fallen tree, a rock or in my tent porch. Who knows - I certainly don’t, as I don’t own any outdoor backpacking chair and so can not speak about the benefit of sitting in one. It does, however, feel like a fad and an absolutely unnecessary item to carry into the outdoors. It feels like one of the Instagram-able items you take along on your hike, just so that you can post a photo of you sitting like at home, just in nature. For the ‘gram, and not because it is more enjoyable.
And maybe that is my main problem - that people try to make nature feel more like home. I go outdoors to be away from home, experience the fresh wind on my face, hear the birds singing, feel the soft ground under my feet. The last thing on my mind, since I go actively outdoors since a dozen or so years again, is a chair. If along the trail there’s a nice bench with a good view, sure, I sit down on it, take a gulp of water and maybe some nuts, and then I continue. At camp I sit not that much, either. I move all the time, to get water, make fire or cook food, pitch the tarp and change into dry socks and clothes. I sit so little at camp, that carrying a comfort item like a hiking chair or stool into nature feels so utterly unnecessary to me, that I wonder if other people sit for hours in camp? After a day of hiking, once I have ate and took the last photos of the day, I am happy to simply lay down under my quilt, and fall asleep.
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