Since I was a baby, most of my weekends from May to September have been spent on one beach or another. The minute the weather tips over into the 70s, I start planning beach days that begin at 8 a.m. — to beat the dreaded traffic — and don’t end until sunset. Long days in the sun require a good setup and, until recently, I thought I had perfected mine. So back in April, when a very outdoorsy friend bought me this camping chair as a birthday gift, I wasn’t convinced it would hold up to 12-hour days in the sand. I’ve logged thousands of hours lounging in countless beach chairs over the years, and looking at the Simmer chair collapsed in its tiny carrying case, I was doubtful it would hold up against my trusty Tommy Bahama chair, which I had relied on for several summers in a row.
But I tried it anyway on my first beach trip to Coney Island in May, and it was a lightweight-yet-sturdy beach companion. Unlike traditional beach chairs, which you have to carry on your shoulder or back, I clip the Simmer onto my tote bag. It clocks in at less than five pounds and, once folded down, takes up about the same amount of space as my Hydro Flask. And since I’m already dragging a cooler full of drinks, an umbrella, and a beach bag filled with books, towels, and sunscreen, not having yet another thing to carry on the train, then trudge through the sand makes a huge difference.
The chair assembles like a pop-up tent. The collapsible frame is made of steel poles that slot together using bungee cords. Once the frame is set up, you slip on the seat. After putting it together, I was sure the spindly legs would sink all the way down into the sand once I sat down, but it is so supportive that it actually kept me several inches off the ground. The seat cover is made from mesh and nylon, so I thought it would be uncomfortable during marathon sunbathing. But the material turned out to be breathable and moisture-wicking. It dries fast in the sun and never sticks to my sweaty, sunscreen-slathered skin. Plus, it’s quite roomy. And while it doesn’t recline, the seat is flexible enough that I can easily lean back a few inches and stretch my legs out to relax while I work on my tan.
Since the inaugural trip, this is the only chair I’ve brought with me to the beach this summer. It has come with me everywhere from Riis to Brighton Beach and on trips to Fire Island. Of course, ALPS Mountaineering isn’t the first brand to come up with this design. We’ve written about Korean brand Helinox’s ultralight, collapsible slingback chair in the past, which is perhaps the most famous. And while my chair is about twice the weight of the Helinox, it’s less than half the price. Since I’m not carrying it up a mountain or on a ten-mile hike, I’d rather spend that extra money on mango nutcrackers.