This Is the Most Comfortable Portable Chair Ever Made

The NEMO Stargaze is unparalleled in comfort & design. But how does it hold up in the wild, and is it worth the price tag? We put it through the ringer to find out.

Design by Maggie Rossetti for Thrillist
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I grew up—and attended college—in Florida. We called camping chairs "furniture" and would sit in them until a hurricane blew them away or the fabric finally gave out from years of rain & sun damage. There is one chair, however, I can confidently say will never meet the fate of camping chairs past: the NEMO Stargaze. Arguably, the world's best car camping chair. 

I've owned the NEMO for almost a year now and truthfully, it's spoiled me. The chair is unfathomably comfortable and features an auto-recline mechanism that will suspend you whilst putting your head at a 90º angle with the night sky. If you'd be so kind, please allow me to regale you with the story of why I love this chair so much.

The Snapshot

What it is: A luxury camping chair made from aircraft-grade aluminum that sets up in minutes and fully reclines, allowing the sitter to effortlessly stargaze.

What it costs: $220

What's Included: The chair and a padded carrying case with an adjustable shoulder strap. 

Why it’s great: The NEMO Stargaze is what happens when a La-Z-Boy goes into the woods for a month and never leaves. The chair packs into the size of other camping chairs, reclines, sets up in under a minute, and boasts an adjustable headrest (I'm 6'0" and fit the chair perfectly). 

What would make it even better: If NEMO could make a smaller, more portable version without sacrificing comfort or integrity. The chair isn't a burden to haul around, but it's definitely not something I'd attach to pack and hike a few days with.

Quality Check

You're paying $220 for a camping chair and you're getting a $220-quality chair. This chair will not break on you so long as you treat it right and are under 300-pounds (the chair's recommended weight limit). The chair itself weighs a mere seven pounds and packs down to 23.5 x 6.5 x 6.5 inches when in the carrying case. As for materials, NEMO built this baby out of aircraft-grade aluminum, non-absorbent monofilament mesh which dries quickly and resists sun exposure, and included a no-spill cup holder and a stash pocket on the side.

Design by Maggie Rossetti for Thrillist

How to Use It

First, take out the base and build that. And by build, I actually mean connect the pieces. After you have what looks like a solid foundation, unfurl the chair, secure the small stakes on the back of the headrest, and lock the chair into the foundation. Voila. In three steps you'll go from standing (gross) to kicking back in shameless comfort (awesome). If you have to move the chair, make sure you use two hands so the chair's straps don't accidentally pop off the base. It isn't the end of the world if that happens, but one less thing to worry about.

The Results

I don't think I can ever go back to a regular camping chair again—don't even try to make me. Sitting has now become somewhat existential for me. Why did I waste so many years sitting in uncomfortable chairs? Was it ignorance or masochism? Whatever the answer might be, the Stargaze was nevertheless a revelation. This chair will accompany me on every car camping trip I go on, to the park, to the beach, and one day, to my hypothetical children's soccer matches where I'll surely be the envy of my hypothetical neighbor Bill and his subpar chair.

Our Verdict

If you consider yourself to be an outdoor enthusiast, someone who goes camping, enjoys beach trips, or just likes to hang out in the park and read, this is a must-have. The NEMO Stargaze combines function with elegance and comfort in a way many outdoor brands just can't seem to nail down. The price point will definitely scare some more frugal buyers away, but the chair is an investment and will pay for itself over time—after all, how many of those cheap camping chairs have you had to toss due to broken chair legs or ripped fabric?

Camping can be incredibly comfortable if you know what to buy beforehand. And you'd be wise to throw the NEMO Stargaze on that list.

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