If you’ve spent any amount of time playing pickleball, then you know that a good portable chair is a must. Everyone has different priorities but, for me, these the most important criteria:
- Chair that is easy to assemble and disassemble
- Lightweight and portable
- Feels sturdy and stable
After having been to several tournaments, now more than ever, I’ve found greater appreciation for a good portable chair. I discovered the CLIQ chair through my friend Jen Reifschneider when she magically pulled it out of her backpack while we were at a tournament in Oklahoma a few months ago. I didn’t think she brought a chair so I offered to let her sit in one of our mesh quad camping chairs. Brian and I always bring a couple of portable chairs to these events — one for him and one for me.
“I have one,” she says, as she pulls the chair out of her backpack — not unlike a magician pulling a bunny out of a top hat. After a few clicks, her chair is fully assembled and she’s sitting in it. I remind myself that it’s the thought that counts as I marvel with amazement and just a tinge of envy. That is a really cool chair!
I really wanted one but the price of the chair gave me pause. It’s hard to swallow paying $100 for a portable chair when you can buy a decent one for $10 (sometimes even $5 on sale). It took a month (and a decent sale) before I actually pulled the trigger. Naturally, we bought two of them.
When my friend Chris Wilson found out, he laughed at me at first, but he was eventually converted and bought two CLIQ chairs himself. It sounds silly to spend so much money on a portable chair at first but, when you realize that — unlike other portable folding chairs — this one can fit in your carry-on luggage so you’ll actually get more use out of it, it’s worth every penny.
If you’re not quite sold on the CLIQ chair, here are some other popular options:
The quad camping chair is probably the most common type of portable chair that you’ll see at parks and tournaments. Though they aren’t compact, they are highly portable and lightweight. You can also find them as cheap as $5 on sale. Most people I know have at least one (or a dozen) of these.
If you always travel with another person then you’ll find the camping sofa super useful. It’s just like the quad camping chair but for two people.
The Kijaro portable chair is just like the quad camping chair but with zipper pockets and cup holders. It’s not as compact as the CLIQ chair but it is portable, lightweight, comfortable and half the price.
Speaking of comfort, check out this collapsible rocking chair. I’ve never tried it but I suspect that I’d enjoy sitting in it if I did.
One of the aspects of portable chairs that most affect my comfort is the height of the seat. Sometimes, the chairs are too tall that I find my legs dangling and my feet unable to touch the ground (which is why I like the CLIQ chair). These low beach chairs are the perfect height for me but they’re probably not ideal if you have trouble sitting low and getting back up.
If portability is your highest priority, then camping stools might be the way to go. You can get this square one for $22 or a set of two tripod folding stools for $25 on Amazon. I’m not sure how comfortable they are but they are small and light enough to take everywhere.
Speaking of light, these OneTigris compact folding chairs are super light. You can get a 2-pack for $80 so they’re not that expensive either.
The same company makes a high-back version that is just as lightweight and portable.
I saw a bunch of people carrying what looked like buttons at the Minto US Open Pickleball Championships in Naples, FL last month. I couldn’t figure out what they were. I thought they were cushions for the bleachers (because you just need something softer to sit on sometimes). It wasn’t until I saw one fully extended that I figured it out. The price and portability of this telescopic stool are great attributes but not sure how comfortable it would be for long periods of sitting. If you’re playing more than you’re sitting then this would definitely be an excellent addition to your pickleball gear.
Finally, this Crazy Creek chair is perfect for when you don’t want to sit directly on bleachers or if you don’t mind sitting on the ground. The suspension design makes it so that you can actually recline while your weight supports your back/upper body.
With Father’s Day just around the corner, I thought you might find these gift ideas helpful. If your dad plays a lot of pickleball or travels to tournaments, he might appreciate receiving one of these portable folding chairs as a gift. I know I would!