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Lightweight Backpacker’s Chair for Hunting November 2020
Dan Martinez

A major calamity befell my favorite deer canyon this year – the canyon where I’ve pulled out three decent bucks since 2014. The Sheridan fire swept through and basically denuded the hillsides. What was impenetrable manzanita, scrub oak, and juniper is now bare earth. I was heart-broken.

Still, I put that unit down as my first choice, because most of the unit was not touched, even though my favorite spot was totally torched. If you’ve followed those deer tales, you know that before the season starts, I set up two observation posts that I rotate between during the season. I bring in shade cover, a chair, and a rifle rest, and just leave them there for the duration of the season.

I did not get drawn for my first choice, but Ben and I were drawn for our second choice. This unit was way the heck out in the southeastern corner of the state. While trying to fill my Native Quail Challenge back in January, I found two bucks in this area in a single day – both within easy rifle range. Now I had only hunted this place for 1½ days with a shotgun in hand. With no pre-planned observation posts, I really had no idea how far I would be wandering in the search for deer here.

My favorite deer hunting technique is to get up someplace high, with binoculars in hand, sit, search, and wait. The minimum thing you need to do this, is some sort of a sitting pad. Hours of sitting and glassing with your butt on the ground is not sustainable. The next upgrade is to arrange some sort of back support. Even with a cushioned bottom, hunched over with no back support is not sustainable either. Often you can find natural back support, a tree, or a large rock. The trouble is that you cannot count on it to be in the best spot for observation.

Ben introduced me to this type of backpacker’s chair a couple of years ago. At first, I thought, “OK, cool but I don’t do much backpacking these days. Don’t need.”

The tripod chairs with backrest that I use in my fixed blinds weigh 5.4 pounds and in the transport mode are about 32 inches long. These chairs are not something that I want to haul around all day, hiking up and down the hills when I have no idea how far my wanderings will take me. Their large collapsed size also makes them difficult to strap onto your daypack, though I have done so.

Eventually, I saw the light, that this type of backpacker’s chair could be quite useful for hunting. The particular chair that I ended up buying is a house-brand chair from Sportsman’s Warehouse. The cost is just under $50. Not cheap, but surprisingly, they are rated for 250 pounds. Weight is only 2.1 pounds, and when collapsed into travel mode, fits into a bundle only 13½” long, and about 5” in diameter. No need to strap this onto your daypack because it easily fits inside.

Assembly is a little fiddly. The poles are all shock corded, but the two hubs spin freely. I can assemble or disassemble in about two minutes. When you are sitting in it, it does wiggle around a little, but you get used to that.

Because contact with the ground is four points, those points will sink into soft earth. The chair is best used on rocky ground, or actually, on top of rock outcrops. Ben’s chair is different. His has two bars that rest horizontally on the ground, so it doesn’t have that soft-ground sinking problem as much as mine does.

I’ve used this chair on two hunts so far, the spring javelina hunt, and on our recent deer hunt. Now that I’ve used it in the field, I’m convinced that when my plan is to wander all day, this is a must-have addition to my hunting pack. Comfortable seating with back support is key to effective long-term glassing.

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