In this article
When you imagine lazing in the summer sun, it’s easy to add an Adirondack chair to the mental picture. It’s a garden staple with that classic New England look; you’re as likely to spot one in an upstate B&B as on lawns and deckings closer to home. Leigh Salem, co-founder of Post Company, the design firm responsible for upstate resorts Inness and Callicoon Hills, says “a great Adirondack chair is simply built; has a deep seat, an elongated back, and a wide arm for holding drinks; and of course it can live outdoors.” The original design (patented in 1905 and known then as the Westport chair) was angular and slanted with a single plank back. The idea was to slide in and stay put. Modern Adirondack chairs have evolved to have different shapes and styles, but comfort — thanks to their wide seats and arms — is still key. To help you find the Adirondack chair you want to recline in with a book this summer, we asked nine people with great taste about their favorites (including a pair that one Strategist senior editor’s parents have owned for over two decades).
What we’re looking for
Most Adirondack chairs are made out of either wood or some type of plastic, but there are also metal options. One of the most popular plastics used for Adirondack chairs is Polywood, a proprietary material that includes recycled milk jugs and detergent bottles. Similar to Kleenex or Band-Aids, Polywood is both a brand name and a colloquial term for plastic lumber. Other terms you might see in reference to plastic lumber are high-density polyethylene, or HDPE, and high-impact polystyrene, or HIPS. HDPE is generally treated with UV inhibitors to prevent its color from fading in the sun. The great thing about plastic-lumber Adirondack chairs is that they are incredibly durable, require little to no maintenance, and can easily be hosed down. George Pisegna, deputy director at the Horticulture Society of New York, says they would be good for someone who doesn’t want to worry about caring for a really nice piece of wood furniture or someone who doesn’t have a lot of space to store it inside during the winter or offseason. Most of them can be left outside all year round without risk of their flaking or cracking.
That said, many of our experts told us that the ideal material for an Adirondack chair is a hardwood like teak or acacia — or cedar, which is technically a soft wood but is well known for its anti-fungal and anti-termite properties. Their reasoning is both aesthetic and practical: The original Westport chair was made of hardwood that develops a beautiful patina over time, and hardwoods are sturdy and hold up well to punishing outdoor conditions.
According to Pisegna, another reason for choosing wood over plastic — even if it’s recycled plastic — is that it’s more ecofriendly since furniture made from postconsumer plastic doesn’t biodegrade and isn’t necessarily recyclable at the end of its life. Pisegna bought a set of original Westport chairs at an estate sale years ago and keeps the wood in good condition by oiling it and covering the chairs in the winter. But he notes that many owners of wood Adirondack chairs stain, paint, or apply sealant to them to make them more weather resistant.
While it might feel good to really sink into an Adirondack chair, it can be challenging for some people to get out of their traditionally deep seats. Salem says this is the price you pay for extreme comfort. But if you’d rather not struggle to transition from sitting to standing, there are plenty of Adirondack chairs with shallower seat angles. There are also chairs with curved or concave backs, contoured or “waterfall”-front seats, adjustable backs that let you recline, lumbar support, and smaller dimensions that are good for (or designed specifically for) children.
Weight and balance
Part of what makes an Adirondack chair so comfortable is its sturdiness and weight. You should feel like the chair is stable and almost attached to the earth. The best Adirondack chairs shouldn’t tip or move when you sit down, and they should feel balanced and stable on grass, gravel, sand, or a rocky surface. Both wood- and plastic-lumber Adirondack chairs will have some heft to them, making them sturdy and more durable to leave outside year round. Almost all of the chairs on this list are on the heavy side, but we have noted those that are not in the details section.
Style, finish, and color
The color you pick comes down to where you are going to put your chair and the overall style and color scheme of your home. Keeping that in mind, we have tried to include many different styles, and we’ve also noted when a chair is available in multiple colors or materials.
Best overall wood Adirondack chair
Material: Teak wood | Comfort: Flat back and seat | Weight: Not listed | Style: Also available in 7 Polywood colors
If you don’t want to drop several thousand dollars per chair and don’t have the time to build one yourself, there aren’t a ton of options for wooden Westport-style Adirondack chairs. But this squat version from Crate and Barrel is one of the better examples available to buy online. Interior designer Lauren Ashley Allan recommends it as “a sculptural take on a summer staple.” She likes the chair’s modern lines, plank-style rear legs, and streamlined double-slat seat and back. Plus it’s available in both teak and seven colors of Polywood. You can also buy a matching ottoman in any of the colors and materials.
The teak version of this chair comes unfinished and will eventually weather to a silvery gray. But if you want to preserve its golden wood color, Crate and Barrel also offers teak-wood protector and a weather-resistant cover that fits this specific chair, both of which are sold separately. It is worth noting that the Polywood versions of the chair are significantly less expensive. But all teak furniture is pricey, and if you’re looking for wood that will truly last season after season outdoors, you can’t find a better material.
Best (less expensive) wood Adirondack chair
Material: Acacia wood | Comfort: Curved back and slightly curved seat | Weight: 23 pounds | Style: 3 colors
Although it’s not easy, it is possible to find a wooden Westport-inspired Adirondack chair for $100 or less — you just may have to do a bit more maintenance (i.e., staining, sealing, or covering it in bad weather) to keep it looking pristine. This one is made with FSC-certified solid acacia wood, which means it comes from a responsibly managed forest and is extremely hard and durable. (However, teak is still more durable and more weather resistant and has a more consistent grain pattern than acacia, which is why acacia is typically less expensive.) This chair has a slightly curved, slatted back and a contoured seat for added comfort and is available in natural, black, or gray. Its low price (roughly eight times cheaper than the teak Crate and Barrel chair at full price) makes it much more feasible to buy a set.
Best plastic-lumber Adirondack chair
Material: Polywood | Comfort: Curved back and curved seat with waterfall front | Weight: 43 pounds | Style: 12 colors
Laura Fenton, author of The Little Book of Living Small, says she loves classic wooden Adirondack chairs, especially those with a curved back for comfort. But for longevity, her recommendation is to buy a chair made of Polywood. She loves they can be left out year round and still look new season after season without any need to paint or seal them. “I personally like them in black, which sort of disguises their plasticky-ness,” she says. Polywood’s Modern Adirondack chair has a curved back, a contoured waterfall seat, and comes in 12 colors. In addition to this chair, Polywood makes a wide range of Adirondack styles, including ones that fold, ones with rounded backs, and even Adirondack glider chairs.
Best (less expensive) plastic-lumber Adirondack chair
Material: Polywood | Comfort: Flat back and seat | Weight: 36 pounds | Style: 6 colors
Strategist senior editor Jen Trolio’s pick for an affordable but sturdy plastic-lumber Adirondack chair comes from Target’s Polywood range. She says that her entire family find the chairs easy to slide in and out of and that the wide arms replace the need for a side table since you can just balance a drink on them. “Mine sit on a covered porch all year round and are extremely easy to clean — you can wipe them down with no problem and they won’t warp or rot from humidity and moisture,” Trolio says. “I chose them because they are a modern update on the traditional silhouette.” Her only note is that her black chairs can reach thigh-burning levels of heat in direct sun, so she advises choosing a lighter color. Luckily, you have three lighter shades to choose from out of a total of six other shades.
Best easy-to-clean Adirondack chair
Material: HDPE | Comfort: Flat back and curved seat with waterfall front | Weight: 34 pounds | Style: 8 colors
Both Pisegna and Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo agree that L.L.Bean’s Adirondack chairs are comfortable and a great deal at under $300. And Corsillo’s parents have owned this long-lasting chair for decades. “I like sharing the chair with another person by sitting next to them on the arm of the chair while they sit in the seat,” Corsillo says. “I have never seen one tip over, and while the seat is rather deep, they aren’t too hard to get out of, even for older family members.” HDPE is completely waterproof, so to clean the chairs of pollen or dirt, Corsillo says her parents simply spray them with a hose. According to L.L.Bean, the HDPE used to make these chairs contains 20 percent recycled plastic. “In all the years my parents have owned them, the material has never flaked or cracked,” Corsillo adds. “You can literally do nothing to maintain them and they will still last — and look new — for a very long time.”
Best metal Adirondack chair
Material: Aluminum | Comfort: Flat back and seat | Weight: 28 pounds | Style: 1 color
“Masculine and minimal, this Adirondack chair is a versatile piece,” says New York–based interior designer Yoan Walter, who loves the chair’s “clean lines and slate finish.” Made from aluminum, the chair can be cleaned easily with a cloth. While it can withstand light drizzle, it should be covered up or even moved inside during harsh weather conditions (but it is relatively light, so this shouldn’t be too much of a task). With a slight slope, the chair allows you to recline comfortably but isn’t so deep you’ll need to scramble to get upright again. For added comfort and a little personalization, Pottery Barn sells matching cushions in 28 different shades, so you can choose one that best suits your space.
Best adjustable Adirondack chair
Material: HIPS | Comfort: Adjustable flat back and curved seat with waterfall front | Weight: 45 pounds | Style: 5 colors
Devin Shaffer, lead designer at Decorilla, and Allison Audrey Weldon, founder of skin-care brand Sangre de Fruta suggest buying an Adirondack chair with an adjustable reclining back to reach the highest level of comfort. “I love when the back is adjustable so you can recline further for stargazing or a sunny catnap,” she says. Unlike most of our experts, however, Shaffer does not recommend buying Adirondack chairs made out of wood because he prefers the longevity and lack of maintenance that comes with plastic lumber. He says this is the only Adirondack chair he will suggest to his clients after convincing them not to opt for wood. He loves it first for its aesthetics and range of five colors and second for the three potential seating positions: upright, lounge, and fully reclined. According to Shaffer, HIPS is 100 percent nontoxic, waterproof, and durable. “What’s insanely cool about HIPS is that it can be molded and manufactured to have a variety of forms and texture. For this chair, it’s done brilliantly with a woodgrain-inspired finish,” he says.
Best Adirondack chair for kids
Material: Acacia wood | Comfort: Flat back and seat | Weight: 24 pounds | Style: 3 colors
Allan owns two of these low-to-the-ground acacia-wood Adirondack chairs for her children. She bought them because the bold geometric shape matches the rest of her home décor and because having their own chairs helps her kids feel included when hanging outside with friends and family. “These chairs make them feel like they have special spots,” she says. Another reason she chose them is that they are made from sustainable acacia. Despite being good for Allan’s miniature loungers, the chairs are pretty heavy, so you can feel safe letting fidgety kids climb on them without worrying they will tip over. They come in a natural finish, gray, or a rustic aquamarine wash.
Best (less expensive) Adirondack chair for kids
Material: Sanmu wood | Comfort: Flat back and curved seat | Weight: 7.5 pounds | Style: 2 colors
For families that prefer more traditional-looking Adirondack chairs, this Kidkraft option is a good and affordable choice. Since it’s actually designed with kids in mind and sized for children between 3 and 8 years old, it is much lighter than the Lanty chair. This makes it easy to move around and store in the offseason. Made of Sanmu wood, a type of fir tree similar to pine, it is not as naturally durable as teak or acacia. But it is finished with a child-friendly water-based stain to protect it from the elements. It’s available in a natural-wood color or white.
Best lightweight and stackable plastic Adirondack chair
Material UV-protected plastic | Comfort Cuved back with lumbar support and curved seat with waterfall front | Weight 7.25 pounds | Style 3 colors
The lightest chair on this list comes recommended by Pisegna for people who are looking to buy more than a few Adirondack chairs that can be easily carried and stacked. He also notes that these plastic-injection-molded chairs from Home Depot are actually pretty comfortable and come in several colors. While the chairs are waterproof and would not be damaged by rain, they are very lightweight and should be stored inside during storms with high winds.
Some more outdoor décor to complete your patio
• Lauren Ashley Allan, interior designer
• Liza Corsillo, Strategist senior writer
• Laura Fenton, author of The Little Book of Living Small
• George Pisegna, deputy director at the Horticulture Society of New York
• Leigh Salem, co-founder of Post Company
• Devin Shaffer, lead designer at Decorilla
• Jen Trolio, Strategist senior editor
• Yoan Walter, New York–based interior designer
• Allison Audrey Weldon, founder of Sangre de Fruta
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.