Sunday, July 10, 2011

Search for the ultimate camp chair

It must now be recognized and belatedly admitted that the camp chairs we bought -–by mail order—several years ago are deficient in so many, many ways.  In our defense, those were heady times.  We were taking a little more time away from the business, learning fly-fishing.  We were camping in campgrounds (after years of shunning them) and close enough to our new Trooper to recognize its unexploited cargo space.  So, in a moment of weakness, with creaking old bones from several nights on backpacking pads, we entered REI and purchased thick, thick sleeping pads.  As the season progressed, we added a four person tent (grandchildren might come, and the old tent stunk), a Tarp (to shelter the table during rain storms), and, really now, a battery lantern to read by.
Thus reduced to decadence, there was only one further step (short of a cutesy sign with our name on it) -- CAMP CHAIRS.   It was winter and real camp chairs were closed out and the era of the “Bag Chair” was yet to dawn. There was little choice but to resort to trusted mail order outfitters.  Need I remind you that this was also before Edie Bauer opened mall stores and Herters still sent out 400 pages of taxidermy kits and genuine Adirondack Pack baskets (not purses)?  Outfitters could be trusted to OUTFIT.
THE OFFENDING LAFUMAHere it is, “The Lafuma”.  Really?  THE Lafuma, purveyors of the iconic waxed cotton and leather climbing packs?  They are making camp chairs?  They are green?  Two please.
Nestled under the Christmas tree.. Yeah, what else do you buy a woman who fly-fishes and has no interest in cosmetics, jewelry or frilly stuff?  …under the Christmas tree they looked great, but under my …err…butt, they were horrendous from day one. They were too narrow, the armrests too high and skinny, the seat and back stretched and sagged and needed constant adjustment.  They did, however, fold flat and store neatly behind the Trooper seat, conserving space for decadent camping equipment as yet not imagined.  They rattled along with us for years, seldom actually used, but sometimes offered to folks dropping by to ask what we caught them on..
So last year we bought an AIRSTREAM.  The ultimate in decadent camping you might say, but then you probably haven’t seen the inside of some of those other marble lined, rope lighted bordellos ….OK, another rant.  So yesterday we spent our 202nd night in the Airstream in the company of some of the most capable, most fanatic, not to mention nicest Airstreamers in the country.    Our LaFumas stunk up the place. Visitors shied away at the sight of them and sat on the picnic table, some diplomats offered us theirs. Obie the Clown got stuck in one at the group photo shoot and refused suggestions to take one along and put it in his act.

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS:  There are camp chairs and there are campfire chairs.  Under your sun shade, you might prefer a “zero gravity” adjustable chaise in one of its many forms and colors (although Obie’s blue and silver one seems the pinnacle of good taste.)  These recliners can be as elaborate (and weighty) as your tow vehicle will accommodate.  But we go self-propelled to the campfire and attempt to stay somewhat upright, so light weight chairs are de riguer. 
It becomes obvious that at least four comfortable chairs are required to entertain and one must ponder the appropriate mix of chaises and straight chairs for the respective guests. 
The Traditional Airstream chair is the ZipDee. If you buy a better class of Airstream new, they throw in a pair (in exchange for the Rolex and the beamer you hocked for the down payment).  You hear two things about the ZipDee chairs. They last forever and they have a bar that cuts off circulation to your lower limbs. And, oh yes, they are close to $100 bucks a pop.  You can usually pick up a discounted one in Jockey Red for a few dollars less if you want to be eternally linked to the idiot that thought red would  go great with the Airstream crowd.
There are designer wooden ones in catalogs with stylish awning fabric choices, but they are usually posed in front of that restored Airstream with no license plates that appears in all the videos, so who knows how they sit.
Ikea has announced price cuts.  Surely they have something serviceable and they have Large parking lots …
I love the bag chair with the elevated leg rests (sorta looks like a grounded heron).  I love it because in it my youngest grandgirl snuggled in my lap during her first fireworks show and it really doesn’t seem like the Fourth without that chair.  It is however, horribly slow  to get in and out of and even slower to pack up.
At the aforementioned rally we successfully converted  one of those friendly Scottie people into an Airstreamer by pointing out that he already had chairs with broad aluminum beams quite out of place in the white and aqua world of Scotties.  They  were real comfy; I must inquire when he gets back from picking up his new shinny thing.
Until then, the search goes on….

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