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Backpacker Magazine – May 2009

Gear Review: Alite Designs Monarch Butterfly Chair

Get off the ground with this packable camp chair.

by: Shannon Davis

Alite Designs Monarch Butterfly Chair (
Alite Designs Monarch Butterfly Chair (

1 lb. 2 oz
Bad news: You will tip over the first time you try this chair. Good news: The radical design, which elevates you off the cold, wet ground, is worth the pratfall. The chair uses a hammock of ripstop nylon and mesh suspended from a shock-corded aluminum tent-pole frame, balancing the sitter about five inches above the ground on two contact points. It feels like you're leaning back on the hind legs of a four-legged chair, but after a few tries you'll find the fulcrum–and a kicked-back kind of comfort. Pros: Gets you off the wet ground; packs down to hoagie size. Cons: Tippy; not as versatile as other packable chairs.

Best For
Comfort-seeking gearheads with a good sense of balance; cush camping in wet weather

Tester Data
Shannon Davis
Duration: Nov. to Feb.
Conditions/locales: CO, VT, NH, MA, Wales
"It brings front-porch comfort to the backcountry.

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Reader Rating: -


May 05, 2012

I've owned this chair for over a year. Actually, both me and my wife have one each. She has no balance whatsoever and has never even come close to falling. I find them way more comfortable than regular camp chairs and much easier to carry. One time I actually put a scale under my feet while sitting in both a regular camp chair. I can't remember the exact numbers, but there were only like 3-4 pounds of push from my feet on the alite and way more (maybe 20 or 30) chair. Almost every day I come home from work and my wife is sitting in the driveway with neighbors in watching the kids. She is always in the alite. Buy it......seriously.

Eric Nelson
Aug 29, 2011

My backbacking and world trekker brought this chair on our backpack trip last week. I tried it our and fell in lust.I found it easy to get in and get out especially help to keep me off the dirty or wet ground and I can get up easier than sitting against a tree. Hey, when you're almost 50 you appreciate all the help you can getting up from a seat. I'm getting one at REI this week!

Aug 22, 2011

I slept in this chair for 3 solid hours waiting for day-break and a weather break on a motorcycle trip to Vancouver. Believe me you can nap just fine in this chair. My legs straight out in front of me, arms folded, motorcycle helmet on and woke up 3 hours later!

Jul 15, 2011

I'm with the other 99% of people here. I stumbled across a MEC gift card in my wallet from god knows how long ago, so I checked out what was there, looking for a small folding chair to go fishing from.

I saw this and kinda laughed at first, basically writing it off as an idiotic, unuseable design. But the store had a demo chair out, so I gave it a test just for giggles. Nuts to that theory of 'fall over the first time', I have yet to ever fall backwards in it. I found my balance almost instantly at the store, and sweet jesus is this a comfy chair! I've sat in god knows how many folding chairs over the years, and this one just... feels the comfiest. Needless to say, that chair was certainly coming to the cash register with me.

If you're worried about falling down, I think that might only apply if you have trouble walking in a straight line without tripping on your own legs. I've never sat in it while drunk, but generally speaking I never get drunk enough to be incapable of standing, so that shouldn't be an issue for me.

And if you want to nap, those select few people who mentioned as such... lean back against a tree or something. BAM, done. I could EASILY see napping while leaning back against anything, if for some bizarre reason I wanted to nap while sitting upright and forsaking actually lying down.

Jul 10, 2011

Discovered and tried out yesterday at REI. Anyone who needs an armchair to get any reading done ... this is the chair. I am less of a backpacker than a layabout hosteller but I expect this device to solve an acute and continual problem I've had travelling - namely just finding a place with decent soft seating to read, and in your average third world rice paddy exburb that search is often fruitless. so! Cheers and cheers to Alite. I was quite excited to have discovered this yesterday.

Jun 30, 2011

Just bought this chair & it ROCKS (it had better for $50)...Incredibly comfortable, stable unless you're a klutz, tiny when folded, and light as a feather. I'm a lover of campIng, music festivals, and sitting on my ass in blissful comfort. If you've got the $ to spare, I highly recommend. And why is everyone so obsessed with napping? Go curl up in your tent if you're so pooped!

May 13, 2011

has anyone tried using this chair after a few beers? is it safe to drink and sit?

ruiz-austin tx
Jan 11, 2011

this chairs awesome!!! great sturdy design, weighs only 18 oz. and packs down small, and oh lets not forget comfortable. what more can an avid backpacker/rock climber ask for when every little bit of space and weight counts. this chair is perfect for music festivals as well. packs down small enough to not be a burden to carry all day.
*to the design team of alite keep up the good work. I looking forward to seeing future creations

Apr 12, 2010

Purchased this chair for my hubby for his birthday. He loved it and so did I!!! We now own two.

Apr 12, 2010

I LOVE THIS CHAIR!! My kids are saving their money so they can have one! For all the napping comments ~ it would be awesome to have a neck rest and I would be able to nap but it doesn't so prop yourself against a tree! We are the envy of the other soccer parents that lug in their huge chairs when I can pull two out of my purse and sit and rock during the game! We also have a toddler and she naps comfortably on me when we are camping or at a game. AWESOME, AWESOME chair...go buy one!!!

Mar 18, 2010

I think there is a deffinate use for this chair. Like the descrition says, *(CUSH CAMPING IN WET WEATHER)* Paddlers and wet weather campers can see the value, esspecially if it packs well. Weight is always an issue, but comfort is king.

Mar 08, 2010

Yep. Tried this at REI and was super comfortable. Effortless to balance. Just sit down and put feet out. I'm sold.

Feb 28, 2010

The balancing is almost effortless. The hardest part is wanting to get out of it!

Paul at goFASTandLIGHT
Feb 12, 2010

Our customers love 'em. They really are an amazingly well engineered product, zoomed ot a best seller since introduction. We have a vid on the store website that shows how it works.

Jan 01, 2010

Why nap in a camping chair? I am sure all the other backpacking chairs, would not offer you a good sleep? Is that not what you sleeping bag and pad are for???

Oct 25, 2009

I don't bring this chair camping, but I do bring it to the beach, to sporting events, picnics, etc. Don't knock the design until you try it. It doesn't take any effort to use, and it is SUPER comfy!

Jul 07, 2009

If you want to nap bring a hammock not a chair

Jun 26, 2009

I have fallen asleep in this chair

Jun 12, 2009

I just bought two last week and it has to be one of the most comfortable chairs out there. The balance part is not too bad... quite comfortable like a rocking chair. It's not for everyone but it pack down so small. I been taking it everywhere in my daypack.

Jun 08, 2009

I'm with Steave. When I make camp I want to relax, not have to try and keep my balance in a 2-legged chair. I'm better off leaning against a log and sitting on my air mattress.

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