I Tried the TikTok-Famous Face Cradling Beach Chair
My job is just… beach.
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There’s nothing quite like tucking into a silly little novel—one that smooths out the wrinkles of your brain—as the sun warms your skin and the sound of crashing waves echoes nearby. But enjoying a book on the beach is no easy feat. Enjoy your book from a beach chair and face the glare from the sun. Read on your stomach and fight the breeze as it rustles your pages. Read on your back and suffer from an unwanted arm workout. You can hide under an umbrella, yes, but what if you came for the Vitamin D?
This conundrum is the reason why I was particularly thrilled when the Ostrich Beach Chair graced my TikTok For You page. The Ostrich is not like other beach chairs, whose straightforward design is centered around lounging as the sole beach-going activity. This guy comes equipped with a padded face hole—similar to a massage chair—as well as two arm holes at either end. So when it’s time to get some sun on your back, you can extend the chair and lie face down with your head buried in the hole and your arms looped under, holding your book.
Ostrich pulled out all the stops and sent me the Deluxe On-Your-Back Chair to try, a direct descendant of the original On Your Back Chair but with added features, like an attached cooler bag compartment, cupholder, and umbrella carrying straps. To test its portability—let’s be honest, as a non-driver, I had no other choice—I toted this all-in-one piece of equipment onto the New York City Subway and made my way to the sandy shores of Long Island.
According to their website, the team at Ostrich made their chairs a bit larger than average beach chairs to accommodate the arm holes, as well as a few inches taller to provide ample space below for your book. The difference was obvious. While carrying the chair on my back, I couldn’t fit through the subway turnstiles and knocked into a few door openings. But for all that volume, there was very little heft. At just nine pounds, it still managed to feel lightweight, and I was not at all sore from carrying it.
Once I recovered from the embarrassment of lugging a beach chair through the Thursday morning rush hour, I finally made it to the beach. Plopping down, I first assessed the chair’s upright features. The armrests slid back and forth seamlessly, and I appreciated the addition of the comfy head rest, which doubles as a cover for the face hole. The cooler compartment was a nice touch, too, keeping my obligatory beach sandwich fresh and icy throughout its journey from the big city.
When it was time to flip over and even out my tan, I transitioned to the lay-flat mode, made possible by a kickstand jutting out from the back. Opening up the face cavity flips the head pillow over, creating a nice barrier for the underside. The design blocks out noise and any additional glare, allowing you to exist in your own little shaded world, and the plush cushion held my face swimmingly. I read about the scandalous dissolution of a marriage in Elena Ferrante’s Days of Abandonment and took selfies of my isolated head in peace. I would’ve also sipped a margarita through a straw, had one been available… and had I not technically been at work.
Like most of humankind’s greatest inventions, the Ostrich isn’t perfect. Perhaps it was due to the beach’s sandy topography, but the chair failed to lie completely flat, which left my body at a slightly uncomfortable 10-degree angle. Sandy forearms and a bit of book jacket wear and tear is also inevitable, as you're essentially resting both on the ground.
That being said, I enjoyed the overall reading experience—so much so that I might even whip out the chair in my living room. And while I couldn’t quite hear what my neighboring beachgoers were saying about me as I burrowed my head into the face hole like a sand crab, I’m confident there were exclamations of jealousy. Just try not to get so lost in the pages that you forget to reapply your sunscreen.