Not all camp chairs are created equal, for years I've been buying nearly disposable $15-20 chairs at a big box sporting goods store. Did they work? Yes. Did they work well? No. I don't think I've ever had a single chair that didn't bend one of the cheaply made aluminum rods, or break a plastic hinge. They weren't even that comfortable, since they kept breaking, I stopped bringing them with me on my trips, and I was reduced to sitting on the ground (or a bucket, cooler, or pelican case.) Needless to say, the ground is a treacherous place. It's full of dirt, mud, rocks, and poisonous things that are trying to kill you whenever you glance away. It's not a pleasant place, and after a long day of exploration, it isn't the place you want to be sitting. Luckily there's a solution: Autohome USA's new prototype butterfly chair.
Now, here's the deal, it's not cheap, but it's not so insanely expensive that it's going to be completely unobtainable. With a projected price of under $200, it's going to be a big ticket item, but it's not a $600-800 camp chair that overlanders so often get made fun of for owning. From what I can tell from the pre-production model that I'm sitting in as I write this, it is going to be worth every penny—it's well made, and constructed of fine materials. My favorite part is the complete lack of plastic—all of the hinges and fittings on this chair are made from stainless steel that has been media blasted to ensure a nicer touch, and to ensure there aren't any sharp edges.
The frame of the chair is perhaps the most impressive feature, it's constructed entirely of stika spruce that was left over from the piano manufacturing industry. By doing this, there are no additional trees being cut down to make chairs, and it will hopefully award them with a certification from the Forest Stewardship Council for using recycled forest products. My initial thought was that "left-over" wood wouldn't be as high of quality, but upon closer inspection, I've noticed that isn't an issue. Every piece of wood in the frame is well finished, with no knotting, or discoloration. Another point of strong mention is the stability of the chair, considering I'm not exactly the smallest guy in the world, I sometimes notice that chairs seem to have some "play" or "wobble" to them, which generally creates an uneasy sitting experience. Autohome has created one of the more solid camp chairs I've sat in.
The ballistic nylon which is held in place by the weight of your body over the extremes of the chair frame feels durable, but if you're sitting in the sun, it doesn't breath the best—I'd love to see a canvas version offered.
With my extensive testing of the butterfly chair, I did note two serious issues.
- If you get up from your chair, I can assure that you'll be seat-jacked by someone you thought was your friend (or his dog.)
- Unless your libation is empty, you'll just plain refuse to get up under any circumstance.
- Absolutely, during my testing process, it was difficult to stay awake.
- It depends, I love the chair, it's great. But even if it's one of the more affordable high-end camp chairs, you should only buy it if the $200 is not coming out of your travel fund. If it isn't, you'll be very happy with the quality of the product.
How to set up the Autohome Butterfly Chair in less than 10 steps:
Step One: Remove the brass quick-release.
Step Two: Unfold enclosure.
Step Three: Remove chair frame from bag.
Step Four: Set chair frame on the ground.
Step Five: Easily unfold the frame.
Step Six: Remove ballistic nylon chair fabric.
Step Seven: Locate corner pockets.
Step Eight: Drape pocketed fabric over the extremes of the chair frame.
Step Nine: Enjoy stunning good looks of chair.