Planning a beach trip and wondering if you can use your camping chairs on the sand?
You’re not alone!
The answer is yes, you can use camping chairs on the beach, but you might have trouble keeping it stable and staying upright.
It really depends on the design of the chair.
Do camping chairs sink in sand?
Some camping chairs will sink into the sand while others may stay put.
Loose, dry sand is prone to shifting, so any type of chair will sink more easily in this kind of surface.
On the other hand, damp sand or hard-packed shorelines are much better for keeping camping chairs steady.
Camping chair construction and design styles
Most camping chairs are foldable, meaning their legs are held together by a locking mechanism.
The exact construction depends on the brand of the chair, but in most cases, the legs of the chair are usually comprised of two main parts: the vertical leg supports and the horizontal leg braces.
The vertical leg supports run from the bottom of the chair seat to the ground, providing stability and support for the weight of the user.
The horizontal leg braces connect the vertical leg supports together, creating a sturdy base for the chair to rest on.
Typical design styles include:
V or X-shaped legs
This design places the vertical leg supports at an angle, creating a V or X-shape that helps prevent sinking into loose sand.
These designs connect all four legs together beneath the base of the chair but above the ground, helping to distribute weight evenly and reducing the risk of sinking into sand.
These are almost exactly the same as the square-connected legs and also cater to ultralight design, but the two back legs join together closer up, making for a triangle-shaped support system.
Single bar-connected legs
These are typical the ultimate ultralight camping chairs, which often use a single horizontal bar beneath the base of the chair to connect the four legs and add the bare minimum amount of stability.
Fanned out legs
These are similar to the V and X-shaped chairs, however you seen them more on ultralight camping chairs and include less poles—such as the vertical ones found on each corner.
Spreader bar legs
These designs have the two front legs and two back legs connected by a bar, making them less foldable/portable but much more stable on soft ground like sand.
What’s the best camping chair design for sitting on sand?
With all these camping design styles, you’d think there would be a best option for sitting in the sand.
The best camping chair design for sitting in the sand is one that distributes the weight as evenly as possible and as low to the ground as possible, which would be the spreader bar design.
Most beach chairs have the same design, and it makes sense.
Unlike other camping chairs, the bar-legged design doesn’t have four separate legs that can sink into the sand.
Instead, it has two long poles running parallel to each other beneath the seat of the chair and connecting all four legs together.
This helps to distribute weight evenly and reduces the risk of sinking into loose sand.
Unfortunately, these are the least portable option, because spreader bar chairs pretty much just fold flat.
This doesn’t mean you can’t use other camping chair design styles in the sand.
It just means you may need to look for extra features that make it sturdier.
The runner-up for best camp chair design style to use in the sand would probably be the V or X-shape design.
The reason for this is that it has so many poles to support and distribute your weight as evenly as possible.
Camping chair features to consider when going to the beach
You may not like it, but these camping chair features will help it hold up better in the sand.
Bigger size. Larger camping chairs tend to be better for sitting in the sand because they distribute weight more evenly.
Heavy-duty construction. Look for camping chairs made with heavier materials, such as steel or aluminum.
More poles. The more poles a chair uses to connect its legs, typically the more your weight will be distributed over a larger area.
Higher backrests. Taller backrests help keep you upright, especially if there are waves or a windy day at the beach.
Lower seat. This helps to keep your centre of gravity closer to the ground and prevents it from tipping over
Grippy feet. Look for camping chairs that have bigger or grippier feet on their legs, as this will help keep them from sliding in the sand when you’re seated.
Camping chair features that don’t do well in sand
Now that you know which features you want in a camping chair when taking it to the beach, here’s what to avoid:
Small size. Smaller camping chairs don’t distribute your weight as evenly and tend to be more prone to tipping over.
Lightweight construction. Lightweight camping chairs are great for portability, but they typically don’t do well in the sand because they can easily sink in or tip over.
Fewer poles. Fewer poles mean less support and distribution of weight.
Collapsible legs. This design tends to be less stable on sand because it has fewer poles connecting all four legs together.
Low backrests. Low backrests don’t keep you as upright as you’d like, especially in windy or wave-ridden environments.
Hollow feet. Chairs with hollow feet sink into the sand easily, which causes them to be less stable.
Narrow feet. These are less stable on sand because they tend to sink into the ground rather than grip it.
Tips for making your camping chair more stable
No matter which type of camping chair you have, here are a few tips for making it more stable when sitting in the sand:
Pick a spot with firm sand. Look for areas where the sand is more compact and less likely to move around, such as wet sand closer to the shoreline.
Dig in the feet. Digging the feet of your camping chair into the sand can also provide more stability and help keep your chair from sliding around.
Bring a beach mat. Placing a beach mat underneath your chair will help distribute your weight more evenly and keep it from sinking further into the sand.
Place your cooler behind your chair for extra support. If you have a big enough cooler full of heavy items, you can place it behind your chair to prevent you from falling backwards.
How we use our ultralight camping chairs in sand and soft ground
The truth is that bigger and heavier camping chairs do better in sand simply because of their weight distribution and stability.
However, we still prefer to take our ultralight camping chairs to the beach or any other soft ground area because of their portability.
Luckily, there are ways to improve the stability of an ultralight camping chair with a few easy hacks.
We have single bar-connected camping chairs because minimizing weight and bulk is a must for us.
Unfortunately, that means sacrificing stability.
But we’ve found a way around it.
Here are our chairs with a supportive groundsheet that widens the base of the chairs and helps spread the weight more evenly to avoid sinking:
Check out our guide to how to stop your camping chair from sinking into the sand to find out exactly what chairs we have that come with the groundsheet, plus other DIY hacks you can use for your existing chairs.
We also use these hacks on other soft terrain—including grass, gravel, and even snow—to get the most out of our ultralight camping chairs.
With the right weight balance and some helpful hacks, you can enjoy sitting on your ultralight camping chair in the sand without having to worry about sinking or tipping over.
So go ahead and take a seat—just don’t forget your beach umbrella!
Elise is an experienced backcountry canoe tripper and winter camper from Ontario, Canada. She loves cooking up a storm over the campfire, taking in all the backcountry views, and enjoying a piña colada or two while relaxing at camp. She’s also certified in Whitewater Rescue (WWR) I & II and Wilderness First Aid (WFA).