Best Beach Chair

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Timber Ridge
Test Winner: Timber Ridge
Amazon Link
What’s the key to getting the most out of your beach days, or even a whole summer of them? While we’d all like to think we can just throw down a blanket and the sun, sea, and sand will do the rest, the reality is different. How do you keep the sand out of your drinks, what if you need shade, can you really spend a whole day sitting on the ground, and where did you leave your keys? Beach chair solutions have come a long way since the wistful days of a couple of wooden deck chairs facing the sea. These days you can have everything you need in a beach chair: personal items within reach, both your belongings and yourself off of the sandy ground, comfort, shade, and portability!

Standout Picks

Tommy Bahama
With Tommy Bahama’s striking colors, prints, and tropical branding, relaxation is built into the name, but don’t be fooled by the chair’s laid-back, simple look. It’s the beach vibe you want with all the features of a top-class piece of outdoor equipment. These chairs pack a punch - a firm user favorite.
Amazon Link
Rio Brands 5
Rio Brands are a well-known name in beach equipment, with aesthetic an important part of its brand throughout its long history. Offering consumers the widest variety of chair designs among our picks, here we’ve chosen the Classic 5-Position as an all-rounder, with Rio models featuring again later in our list as niche products. Find a classic beach look, key beach chair attributes, along with a few special ones; a near direct contender for the Tommy Bahama in terms of design and features.
Amazon Link
Timber Ridge
A slight departure from the traditional beach chair, the Timber Ridge scores highly for comfort, quality, and style, and we thought it was worth including for its rare ‘zero gravity’ credentials, whilst still being a viable beach option. ‘Zero gravity’ allows head to toe body support when fully reclined - a rarity with our smaller picks and will be the priority in a chair for heavy tanning users. The size and weight, of course, makes it more cumbersome, but worth the weight for some.
Amazon Link
$128.99
Rio Beach Big Boy
Another Rio choice but worth including as a favorite in its class, and not just for heavyweight users. This chair doesn’t concede great design features to its load-bearing credentials. You’ll find many of the same features as its sporty backpack cousin, the Rio Classic 5-Position, but with added space and comfort.
Amazon Link
Quik Shade
The QuikShade chair itself might not look like much, and admittedly its main draw is the large canopy. However, it’s a popular choice and has scored consistently highly. You’ll find this one at the well-designed and simple end of the market rather than with the all-in-one beach thrones.
Amazon Link
$61.08
Best Choice
Undoubtedly a good choice for those who want a one-stop-shop solution for beach relaxation without multiple pieces of equipment. Sport-Brella’s signature umbrella, as well as the near-unique adjustable footrest, means you can take that essential shade with you wherever you are on the beach.
Amazon Link
$64.99
Kelty Low Loveseat
The Kelly Low-Love Seat is another of our niche picks, the main draw being the two-person capacity - rare in this style of seat. It won’t be for everyone but it’s one of the best options if you want a shared chair or just more space.
Ostrich On Your Back
The Ostrich is another standard low, portable beach chair, yet with one particular distinguishing feature which, along with its high scores, makes it worthy of our list. Despite some mixed experiences with the durability of the chair, the ability to lie face down in comfort will mean its an essential for some beach-goers.
Amazon Link
$99.99
Oniva Picnic
A nice choice for those who like to stay put and have everything to hand. And we mean everything. The Picnic Time is definitely the winner in the combined accessories and portability stakes, as you can pack it with your things and fold it up before carrying it as a handy backpack.
Amazon Link
$173.95
Coleman Utopia
Perhaps our simplest option, yet still a favorite and with a fun aesthetic is the Coleman Utopia Breeze. A light, uncomplicated chair can’t be underestimated when the main aim is fuss-free beach relaxation.
Amazon Link
$36.88

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Fit

Given that you’re buying a chair which will be used on the beach, what it’s made of and how it’s put together should be one of the most important areas for consideration. The combined elements of seawater, sand, and wind native to a beach, as well as prolonged sun exposure, mean that these chairs needed to stand up to a fair amount. Rust and sun protection should be key concerns for longevity and safety.

In the main, quality beach chairs, and all those that we looked at have an aluminum or steel frame. These metals are lightweight, allowing for portability. They usually need to be treated to be rust-proof, so look out for these words or a powder coating. It’s not essential, but we found that those which weren’t rust-proof needed a lot more care to make sure they were clean and dry after use. Many chairs feature plastic elements in the frame. This is another durable material, but be wary of the thickness on clasps and hinges as poor quality plastic could snap if forced or with continued use.

Materials

The seat fabric needs to be a strong polyester or nylon in a high denier. Again, you might find that these materials have been treated or coated. Some chairs feature UV resistant fabric, which will slow down fading and signs of wear. In terms of sun protection for yourself, this can be a bonus in a chair, but typically as most of it is covered (by the user) when in use, we find that this protection is mainly important in sun umbrellas.

The other consideration with material and construction is your comfort. In terms of the frame, continuous, rounded legs tend to work better than thin, separate ones on sand as it’s an uneven surface and your weight will also be better distributed. Some mesh materials are less sticky against the skin in the heat, as are wooden or rubber armrests instead of plastic ones.

Features

Because a beach chair is so much more than a chair. For many, what comes with the chair will be the deciding factor in which one to buy. Much of the time you won’t be, or won’t want to be, near amenities, so having drinks and snacks to hand means you don’t need to keep making trips to the car, shops, or house.

The placement and convenience of these features on the chair itself is also important. For example, are the pockets big enough for what you want to carry? Can you reach them? Most insulated cooler bags will also need to fit an ice pack to really chill your food and drinks so they need to be large enough. If you need shade, it’s worth considering a chair with an umbrella attached, as personal umbrellas tend to be smaller and more compact than separate, large beach ones. The tradeoff to remember here is, of course, those extra accessories will also add extra weight to your chair, so while you’re enhancing your relaxation experience, think about what you actually need.

Another key function of pockets, holders, and tables is, of course, keeping your drinks and belongings safe, clean, secure and out of the sand. Look for Velcro, zippers and perhaps discreet placement if you know you’re carrying valuables.

Portability

Similarly to minimizing unnecessary trips for supplies, it’s likely that you don’t want the chair itself to be heavy or cumbersome in case the journey to your beach spot is a long one. Portability is probably the main thing that separates outdoor chairs from indoor ones as they’re designed to be mobile. Even if you’re settling in for the long haul, you never know how far you might need to carry your chair when you arrive and leave.

The key things to look for are how the chair collapses or folds and how it’s carried. The weight of the chair itself is important, but we found that a convenient method of transport eased the load of most chairs regardless of weight. Furthermore, if you only want to buy a light chair, you’ll miss out on some other great features which tend to add weight.

Top 10 Picks

1. Tommy Bahama

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Tommy Bahama
Amazon Link

With Tommy Bahama’s striking colors, prints, and tropical branding, relaxation is built into the name, but don’t be fooled by the chair’s laid-back, simple look. It’s the beach vibe you want with all the features of a top-class piece of outdoor equipment. These chairs pack a punch - a firm user favorite.

Read more

Durability
With a rust-proof aluminum frame and UV stabilized, 600 denier coated polyester seat, it ticks the water-resistant and sun protection boxes.

Features
One of the main reasons for its deserved popularity, the Tommy Bahama includes all of the expected features. Along with those, the back legs when laid flat double as a large, collapsible towel rail - a user favorite. There are two large (enough for a towel), zippered pockets on the back, one of which is insulated and fits 7 12 oz cans or 3-4 water bottles. The pillow is adjustable or removable with Velcro straps. The plastic, contour-molded armrests also feature a Velcro-fastened pocket on one side, with separate compartments for keeping phones and wallets to hand. However, as with its nearest rival the Rio Brands, there is no cup holder.

Positions
Five positions, including flat.

Load
300 lbs - fairly large compared to our other similar picks.

Measurements
One of our lightest chairs at 7.5 lbs - a bonus considering its load capacity. Measures 24 inches armrest to armrest when in the upright seated position, and sits 9 inches from the ground. It’s relatively small, with a 30-inch seat-back height, but worth the trade-off for most for being so compact.

Portability
Widely thought of as a market essential, the Tommy Bahama can be folded and carried as a backpack with padded straps, or by its rubber handle.

Summary
This chair hits all the key beach chair features. This, along with savvy branding, leaves no question in the consumer’s mind, solidifying Tommy Bahama’s place as a fun, simple go-to. While it will only see frequent users through a few seasons, the range of styles means that consumers are happy to come back and buy these chairs year after year. Deservedly popular.

Amazon Link

2. Rio Brands 5

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Rio Brands 5
Amazon Link

Rio Brands are a well-known name in beach equipment, with aesthetic an important part of its brand throughout its long history. Offering consumers the widest variety of chair designs among our picks, here we’ve chosen the Classic 5-Position as an all-rounder, with Rio models featuring again later in our list as niche products. Find a classic beach look, key beach chair attributes, along with a few special ones; a near direct contender for the Tommy Bahama in terms of design and features.

Read more

Durability
Rust-resistant aluminum tubes, waterproof and fade-resistant 300 denier polyester seat fabric. Rio brands also claim that it’s rip proof, largely borne out in tests. Another feature Rio pride themselves on is the hardwood and scratch-proof armrests.

Features
As we’ve said, most of the expected and useful features: two large, zippered pouches on the back, one insulated; a large, built-in towel rail; and the hardwood arm-rests as mentioned. Admittedly, they’re a small but ingenious solution to sticky plastic under your arms and add to the retro look. The other crowning glory for Rio is its patented anti-pinch technology for unfolding and packing. The main and most obvious missing features here are the cup holder, armrest pocket, and pillow - perhaps game-changers for some buyers.

Positions
The five positions are right there in the name, and something Rio Brands promotes many of its models based on, but it’s near-standard practice for this type of chair. However, fully-flat, along with the usual array of reclined positions, is always a plus.

Load
250 lbs

Size
Another mid-weight model, its 8 lbs are likely due to the hardwood armrests, which will be a willing concession to make for many consumers. At 8 inches from the ground it’s a fairly low-sitting chair, so may be difficult to get in and out of for some. Slightly narrower at around 20 inches between the armrests, but again, worth it if the quality hardwood is for you.

Portability
Another backpack style, with padded straps. The bonus here is that anti-pinch technology - the promise of a smoother set up and pack away process will be the clincher for many users.

Summary
The Rio is a classic and trades on its big outdoor brand name and special features. While it misses some marks on the accessories front, it’s got all the stylish and classic charm of an old-fashioned fold-out chair, with a healthy dose of modern convenience. Go for this one for simplicity and function with an understated look.

Amazon Link

3. Timber Ridge

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$128.99
Timber Ridge
Amazon Link

A slight departure from the traditional beach chair, the Timber Ridge scores highly for comfort, quality, and style, and we thought it was worth including for its rare ‘zero gravity’ credentials, whilst still being a viable beach option. ‘Zero gravity’ allows head to toe body support when fully reclined - a rarity with our smaller picks and will be the priority in a chair for heavy tanning users. The size and weight, of course, makes it more cumbersome, but worth the weight for some.

Read more

Durability
Powder-coated steel frame and polyester seat material. Fairly easy to maintain and wipe clean, but as the Timber Ridge isn’t a dedicated beach chair, the metal isn’t rust-proof and will suffer if left in outside in rain or water.

Features
As one of our less portable choices, there aren’t a plethora of accessories and extras with this one. However, the cup holder and pillow are detachable, the headrest and back adjustable height, and the armrests are molded wood with position-locking clamps. The seat and back are also fully foam-padded.

Positions
The Timber Ridge’s winning quality and main reason for it featuring in our list is its versatility and comfort, regardless of position. The recline is smooth and so can be adjusted to whichever angle suits, with fully flat supporting the whole body of course. Furthermore, elastic-laced bungee suspension makes for even weight distribution.

Load
The other benefit of this chair’s dedication to sturdiness is its chart-topping 350 lbs load.

Size
High and adjustable 28.9-inch back from seat to headrest, 21.3 width between the armrests and 19.5 inches from the ground in the seated position. At 24.3 lbs the chair weighs nearly three times as much as its closest rival, but again, this will be a willing trade for some buyers.

Portability
As expected, the larger, heavier Timber Ridge isn’t one you’re going to move without at a moment’s notice, and it doesn’t come with any sort of handle or bag.

Summary
At a substantial weight, size and having been designed to mainly be stationery, the Timber Ridge certainly won’t be for everyone. However, for those looking to spend the whole day at the beach, and like to mainly recline, it could be invaluable over struggling with a less supportive model. The added bonus if you’re willing to take comfort instead of portability is that this chair can then be used in a variety of outdoor situations.

Amazon Link
$128.99

4. Rio Beach Big Boy

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Rio Beach Big Boy
Amazon Link

Another Rio choice but worth including as a favorite in its class, and not just for heavyweight users. This chair doesn’t concede great design features to its load-bearing credentials. You’ll find many of the same features as its sporty backpack cousin, the Rio Classic 5-Position, but with added space and comfort.

Read more

Durability
Rust-proof aluminum and 600 denier polyester for beach use.

Features
Added bonuses for this chair are an adjustable pillow and detachable cup holder. There is also one storage pocket. The armrests are waterproof and molded for comfort.

Positions
Despite its heavy-duty nature, the Big Boy has four positions; upright and three reclining angles.

Load
As expected, the Big Boy can hold up to 300 lbs; not our sturdiest choice, but certainly the most load-bearing for its size and portability.

Size
The Big Boy is billed as extra wide, and while not the widest we’ve found it’s at the higher end of the scale at 22 inches between the armrests. A key measurement is its 13-inch height from the ground, this will make all the difference for users who find lower models difficult to get in and out of. We think the 9.5 lbs weight is a steal considering this chair’s capacity.

Portability
Folds into a backpack with padded straps. Again, this kind of ease of transport is what makes this such a viable option for those who just want some extra space as well as those looking for more support.

Summary
We’re not surprised the Big Boy is so popular. It disguises load-bearing capacity and accessibility with the design features buyers expect and the portability of a smaller chair. Proof of this chair’s success is its transcendence from the niche, larger load market to the mainstream.

Amazon Link

5. Quik Shade

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$61.08
Quik Shade
Amazon Link

The QuikShade chair itself might not look like much, and admittedly its main draw is the large canopy. However, it’s a popular choice and has scored consistently highly. You’ll find this one at the well-designed and simple end of the market rather than with the all-in-one beach thrones.

Read more

Durability
Steel frame and 600 denier polyester fabric. The seat material is thicker than expected for added durability.

Features
The canopy fully covers the chair and beyond and is fully adjustable for maximum shade. It’s attached on two corners so will stand up to wind better than a single pole umbrella. Otherwise, the QuikShade has a cup holder in each armrest and an attached, fastened pocket underneath the seat.

Positions
Upright seated only.

Load
A respectable 225 lbs for a lightweight chair

Size
Fairly wide at around 25 inches between the armrests. The chair sits at more of a normal seat height of 18 inches off the ground. Not our lightest chair at 9 lbs but the umbrella will add some weight.

Portability
The simple, collapsible design makes it easy to unfold and pack away. However, there is only a simple strap handle for carrying.

Summary
Along with a sturdy and removable canopy, this might be the answer if you’re looking for a quick and easy solution for a variety of outdoor uses. While it misses out on some of the other chairs’ features, the QuikShade remains popular as a go-to.

Amazon Link
$61.08

6. Best Choice

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$64.99
Best Choice
Amazon Link

Undoubtedly a good choice for those who want a one-stop-shop solution for beach relaxation without multiple pieces of equipment. Sport-Brella’s signature umbrella, as well as the near-unique adjustable footrest, means you can take that essential shade with you wherever you are on the beach.

Read more

Durability
Stainless steel and UV-resistant mesh textile fabric make this chair feel very strong and reliable. This chair has a 250-pound weight limit, but it is important to assemble the chair correctly, otherwise, it could feel and perform flimsy. It is important to have a dry place to store this chair. It has been known to rust or run-colors if left outdoors in the rain.

Features
Separating the Best Choice chair from the rest of the pack is the overhead canopy. Unlike the pillow headrest, it is not removable, but the canopy can be folded behind the chair when you don't need it. The armrests themselves don't feature cup holders, but there is an accessories tray that has 2 cup holders, a place for your phone, and dedicated slots for books or magazines.

Positions
This chair only offers two positions from seated to reclining. When reclined, the chair is about 61-inches long.

Load
250lb

Size
The width is middling at just over 20 inches between armrests, and it sits slightly lower from the ground, at about 14-inches (without the umbrella). It is a more substantial item at 20-pounds, but with the canopy and footrest abilities, the weight may be worth it for some.

Portability
Featuring a standard outdoor chair construction, the chair is totally collapsible, you just have to take off the accessories tray. Unfortunately, this chair does not come with a carrying case of any kind. Depending on how far you will be traveling by foot, the 20-pounds could eventually catch up to you.

Summary
Whilst not a full recliner or an upright chair, the inclusion of the umbrella and the adjustable footrest make this chair a worthwhile pick for our list. While some won’t like the weight of this chair, a few standout features make the Best choice, literally the best choice and a worthwhile option.

Amazon Link
$64.99

7. Kelty Low Loveseat

Where to buy
Kelty Low Loveseat
Amazon Link

The Kelly Low-Love Seat is another of our niche picks, the main draw being the two-person capacity - rare in this style of seat. It won’t be for everyone but it’s one of the best options if you want a shared chair or just more space.

Read more

Durability
Steel and quilted, 600 denier fabric. One of the standout features with the Kelty is that the seat material is in a mesh design to minimize stickiness on hot days.

Features
Aside from the obvious capability for multiple users, the Kelty isn’t packed with features. There is a cup holder at each end, but this might be enough for those whose main priority is a comfortable seat for two.

Positions
The Kelty is an upright, seated model, and doesn’t have any other positions. However, another small but appreciated feature is the slight backward lean, which takes the chair slightly further into the recliner category, rather than being just a seat.

Load
The 400 lbs capacity will be fine for most couples and singles who want more space. However, it’s worth bearing in mind if you’re used to heavy-duty single chairs, as the Kelty doesn’t stack up to double the weight of some of our picks in that category.

Size
The chair is 44 inches wide to comfortably seat two (or more!) and has a 13.5-inch backrest for a comfortable recline with the slight lean. At a product weight of 15 lbs, the Kelty doesn’t lose many points there considering it’s got double the seat capacity of our single choices.

Portability
The chair folds up into a tote bag, which, due to its relatively larger size, can be useful for other equipment when not transporting the Kelty Low-Love Seat.

Summary
The added benefit of this one is that although it’s larger and heavier than others, there is something to be said for only having one chair, leaving capacity to carry other supplies and equipment.

8. Ostrich On Your Back

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$99.99
Ostrich On Your Back
Amazon Link

The Ostrich is another standard low, portable beach chair, yet with one particular distinguishing feature which, along with its high scores, makes it worthy of our list. Despite some mixed experiences with the durability of the chair, the ability to lie face down in comfort will mean its an essential for some beach-goers.

Read more

Durability
Steel and 600 denier polyester seat fabric. Occasionally found rust with heavy-use if not cleaned and dried properly.

Features
The Ostrich’s main feature addresses an age-old problem for those who like to tan their backs whilst still reading or using mobile devices. Their patented, cushioned face cavity and arm slots allow full visibility and mobility through the chair fabric and frame, rather than to the side or around it, whilst lying face-down. Also features a cup holder.

Positions
Five positions - seated upright, flat and various reclining angles.

Load
The unexpected 325 lb capacity makes the Ostrich an even more attractive option when combined with its face-down comfort.

Size
It’s considered extra wide at just over 20 inches between the armrests, and relatively tall at 33 inches from the ground to the top of the headrest. The Ostrich weighs 9.5 lbs.

Portability
Another key selling point for Ostrich is their backpack design for ease of transportation. The ability to carry the chair this way certainly makes it feel lighter than its 9.5 lbs weight when strapped on. However, the frame can be uncomfortable when carried for a prolonged period.

Summary
Worth choosing for the face cavity alone if you like to read, if that’s not important, we’d recommend going with one of our other low chair choices as the Ostrich doesn’t offer much else. Includes other pluses such as heavy load capacity and deceptively lightweight.

Amazon Link
$99.99

9. Oniva Picnic

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$173.95
Oniva Picnic
Amazon Link

A nice choice for those who like to stay put and have everything to hand. And we mean everything. The Picnic Time is definitely the winner in the combined accessories and portability stakes, as you can pack it with your things and fold it up before carrying it as a handy backpack.

Read more

Durability
Aluminum frame and ribbed, padded, polyester canvas fabric. The Picnic Time feels sturdy and even boasts a built-to-last lifetime guarantee.

Features
One side features a set of two fold out shelves, with a side tray including inset cup holder on top, and a small pocket in the armrest. Attached to the other armrest is an insulated cooler bag - the biggest of our chair picks at 15 inches by 16 inches. All the features are detachable. There is even a loop for an umbrella, although this must be purchased separately and is fairly expensive on top of the chair price.

Positions
Not the Picnic Time’s strong point as its base is really just an upright chair.

Load
As you might expect with a chair that’s designed for heavy use and prolonged use, the load capacity is higher than most at 350 lbs.

Size
Unusually for its features and purpose, this chair is only 19.5 inches wide between the armrests. It sits at 33 inches from ground to the top of the backrest; as it’s not a recliner it’s worth keeping in mind that it sits fairly high from the floor and not much of this height comprises a headrest. Weight is 12 lbs.

Portability
Surprisingly portable for such a high specification chair. It’s not by any means flat when folded like some other models, but more compact than you would expect - about the size of a medium backpack.

Summary
All about setting up camp; either only making one trip from the car or staying put all day. What it lacks in reclining options it makes up for in comfort and amenities. We like its secondary use as a functioning backpack when folded up and carried.

Amazon Link
$173.95

10. Coleman Utopia

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$36.88
Coleman Utopia
Amazon Link

Perhaps our simplest option, yet still a favorite and with a fun aesthetic is the Coleman Utopia Breeze. A light, uncomplicated chair can’t be underestimated when the main aim is fuss-free beach relaxation.

Read more

Durability
Powder coated steel so stands up to repeated use without issue.

Features
Just like its weight, the Coleman is light on features. However, despite being such a simple chair, it does feature a back pocket and cup holder. The curved armrests do cause the cup to sit at a slight angle and aren’t the most comfortable in terms of arm support.

Positions
Again, this chair doesn’t offer much in the way of versatility. It sits at a slight recline and very low to the ground. This is great for spreading out your legs to offer a bit more than an upright seat, but beware if you have accessibility issues.

Load
For such a light chair the Coleman has a fairly decent load-capacity at 250 lbs.

Size
Surprisingly wide at 21 inches between the armrests, it matches many of our other picks for space. However, the Coleman's unique selling point is its extremely lightweight - just 5.3 lbs. This puts its other features, and lack of, in perspective and will be enough for many buyers who just need a simple beach chair.

Portability
The Coleman folds up length-ways and comes with its own one strap carry bag, making it's very lightweight even more bearable.

Summary
The perfect choice for a good value, easy beach chair if you just want something to throw in the car or over your shoulder. However, it isn’t so reasonably priced that we questioned its quality, and it scores highly there for being simple but well-made.

Amazon Link
$36.88

Sources

  1. Barbara Stein, 10 Best Beach Chairs In 2019, Blog