The Ultimate Backpacking Chair
I’ve said it before: I love multi-use gear. Not only can it save a little bit of weight over carrying single-use items, but you can get more utility out of an item and extend its use. This is particularly beneficial for items that can get constant use and become a must-have item. Some of my favorite multi-use items are those that transform their usage for both day and night, providing maximum utility, such as the humble bandana (pot gripper, first-aid item, sweat rag, face mask, etc.), trekking poles (hiking sticks, selfie extender, tent poles, hammock spreader bars, etc.), and closed-cell foam pads (sit pads, pack frames, canoeing knee pads, insulation, etc.). The Ultimate Backpacking Chair (UBC) from 2T Outdoors may just be another item to add to my list.
- Manufacturer: 2T’s Outdoors, made in the USA
- MSRP: US$50 (base price)
- Dimensions: 54 × 60 in (137 × 152 cm)
- Weight: 6.2 oz (176 g)
- Capacity: Up to 325 lbs (147 kg) load limit
- Custom builds with your choice of fabric
- Elastic shock cord and cord locks tension the edges (useful for pack cover and gear hammock closure)
- Comes with tree straps, Whoopie slings, and toggles
Over the past few months I’ve been testing another item that has a lot of utility, the Ultimate Backpacking Chair or UBC from 2T’s Outdoors. I’ve seen hammock chairs before, and honestly, they didn’t really interest me because my camping hammock itself makes a great chair (and other variations!), so why would I pack a second one? The utility of the UBC has certainly made me give these a second look. The UBC is one of a few multi-use “mini” hammocks that can adapt and convert into multiple items, including:
- A chair (handy, but can be tricky to set up; watch for wedgies!)
- A gear hammock (super useful; lots of variations)
- A pack cover (I don’t normally use one while hiking, but I do when I set my pack on the ground)
- A hammock under cover (I’m a fan of weather covers. You’ll need some additional shock cord to make this work)
- A hammock top cover or vapor barrier (useful in freezing temps)
- A ground cloth (I personally wouldn’t use it for this because the material could get damaged)
- A wash basin (a really cool idea!)
- A high-visibility signal/hunter orange (depending on fabric choice)
- A child hammock (it’s actually a great size for small kids or toddlers who might want to bunk next to you)
Like a bandana, the UBC requires a little practice to modify the gear into some of these options. For example, using it as a top cover requires loosening one end channel so it properly drapes around your insulation. One of my favorite uses is as a gear hammock. I’ve strung the UBC above my hammock so it doubles as a loft and a ridge line, giving me handy access to items. I also like the gear hammock slung off to one side. It reminds me a lot of the gear shelf or saddles bags on the Warbonnet hammocks when used this way.
I like to hammock camp in the fall, so having a bit of hunter orange as a high-visibility “don’t shoot me” signal is often necessary (or legally required) in some areas during the hunting season. In fact, some states require a certain number of inches of hunter orange in order to be legal. One reason I requested the high-visibility orange when I received the UBC was so it could easily fulfill this requirement.
When I was in Basic Training in the Army, we were obligated to pack ponchos on our field exercises, but we weren’t allowed to wear them. The only thing we could do with our ponchos was “turtle” our packs to keep them dry when it rained (which was daily) while we stopped along a trail or at a certain exercise. The UBC reminded me a lot of this experience and it works great as a pack cover, not only when hiking, but also to tuck around and “turtle” your pack when placed on the ground.
The chair has two options, either set up level like a typical hammock and used as a mini seat, or set up with one end dramatically higher than the other and used as a lounger. In lounger mode, watch out for the wedgie. On my first few attempts, I would spread the fabric and sit down only to find that the fabric in the center bunched up when I sat, creating a nice, firm ridge that ran up my…well, you get the picture. It was one of those “zoiks!” moments, but I learned quickly and didn’t make that mistake too many times.
Recommendations and Review
Suspension & Anchor System
The Whoopie Sling, strap, and toggle system work great, and if you are familiar with these systems, you’ll have no issues. In terms of connecting the UBC as a gear loft, it was easiest to connect it directly to my hammock using the Whoopie Slings with either a toggle or a mini carabiner.
To set up the chair modes, some users may find the toggle system difficult to master at first. Adding some climbing-rated carabiners, or even switching the suspension to use a strap and cinch buckle system may be easier. In this case, you could use the same suspension system as your regular hammock (if you do that sort of thing 😉 and then you’d only have to carry one set of straps.
When backpacking, I rarely use the chair mode in camp as my regular hammock serves that purpose for me well enough. However, during trail breaks, the chair is nice to have. I don’t bring the extra set of suspension as I can use one set for both my sleeping hammock and the UBC. When at camp, I clipped the UBC to my hammock suspension, so having two sets of suspension wasn’t something I needed.
As I mentioned above, this UBC is one of the most modular, versatile, multi-use gear items. It’s smaller size makes it work in ways that are more difficult with a larger hammock.
Price and Value
At US$50, I think the price is a little high, since you can get a basic hammock for around US$20. The additional notions add some value to the otherwise simple design, and its multi-function approach certainly garners additional notice. For me, the sweet-spot would be somewhere between US$30–40 for a base price. The price is reflective of the inclusion of the full suspension system, which could be a $20 or $30 item at other stores. It would be nice to have an option to select suspension options or skip it altogether if you don’t need it (e.g., you might use some suspension you already own).
This item matches well with nearly any hammock camping system, especially for folks who ask the question, “where do I store my backpack?” It’s also a great item for those looking to drop a little weight from their pack, eliminate a separate pack cover, camp chair, etc.
The fabric I selected is nearly identical to the high-thread count, mini ripstop silnylon found in my (now defunct) GoLite Poncho Tarp. It has a nice look, and the slippery sil feel will be familiar to many.
Construction and Craftsmanship
The build quality is high: nice straight stitching, good construction on the seam allowances, neat trimming, and quality notions. I noticed only a few unclipped threads.
In chair mode, it is an “okay” experience. Unlike a full-width hammock, you can’t lay back in it, but if you switch it into the lounger mode, you can get some back support. You’ve got to watch out for the wedgie, but otherwise it is a comfortable chair.
The silnylon fabric is prone to condensation and moisture collection, which is a trade-off in having a multi-purpose design.
The hammock was actually a great size for my under 4-foot-tall son, so if you’ve got little ones, this makes a great child hammock as well 🙂
- EDC Hammock from UK Hammocks
- Bushman Hammock Chair from Arrowhead Equipment
- 5-in-1 Jerry Chair from Molly Mac Gear
- Jeff’s Gear Hammock from Jacks R Better
- Gear Sling from Eagle’s Nest Outfitters
Disclosure of material connection: The author (Derek Hansen) was provided with a free sample from the manufacturer for testing and evaluation purposes. The comments in this post (written & spoken) are of my own opinion, which I formed after personally handling the gear. I was under no obligation to publish a review of this item.