OR - Sling-Light chair by Joe Schaffer
by Joe Schaffer
April 15, 2013
NAME: Joe Schaffer
HEIGHT: 5'9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79.4 kg)
HOME: Hayward, California USA
I frequent California's central Sierras, camping every month; up to 95 nights a year; about half the time solo. I work part time at an outdoor store. As a comfort camper I lug tent, mattress, chair, etc. Summer trips last typically a week to 10 days; 40 lbs (18 kg), about half food related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day. I winter camp most often at 6,000' to 7,000' (1,830 to 2,135 m); 2 to 3 nights; 55 lbs (25 kg); 1 to 4 miles (1.6 to 6.4 km) on snowshoes.
Manufacturer: Freeform R & D
Web site: www.SlingLight.com
Product: Sling-Light chair
Weight: 18 oz (510 g)
Frame width: 16" (40.6 cm)
Frame length: 25" (63.5 cm)
Seat height from ground: approx. 8" (20 cm)
Seat width: 12" (30.5 cm)
Factory specs (from website):
Weight: 18 oz (510 g) + headrest 4 oz (113g)
Weight capacity: 250 lbs (113 kg)
Maximum engineered load capacity: 450 lbs (204 kg)
MSRP: $109.95 US
This flat-stow chair features a 0.75" (19 mm) aluminum tube, rectangular frame with a 0.75" (19 mm) tubular-frame-12" (30.5 cm) pivoting seat strut hinged to the frame bottom. A 22" (56 cm) pivoting A-brace of 0.438" (11 mm) aluminum tubes hinged at the frame top join to an apex for a single point of ground contact about 0.5 square inch (3 cm) in area. A 21" (53 cm) nylon webbing from this point to the chair frame bottom sets outward brace travel. The chair frame bottom serves as the front ground contact of about 12" (30.5 cm) wide. This structure suspends a 30-inch-long (76 cm) nylon fabric seat stretching from the top of the chair frame to the end of the seat strut. Two layers of nylon sandwich an insulating layer in the seat/back. Pivoting the seat strut forward and the apex brace rearward to the limit of the webbing prepares the chair; which from the side has an A-frame profile with a seat strut. The seat is then about 8" (20 cm) off the ground, remaining free to pivot to the user's preference. An accessory headrest clips to the chair frame and relies on leverage to stay firmly in place.
I've carried this chair with headrest for the first 7-day trip I had it, and after that without headrest about 493 days; sitting on granite, ground, sand and snow.
For about 20 years I carried a 6.5 lbs (3 kg) chair that remains heavenly comfortable but went to the back of the storage closet when the time came to quit or get lighter. Finding lighter chairs was easy enough, but I had trouble finding any that met my comfort criteria. The Sling-Light was love at first sit!
This chair is so light I fix it to the pack using nothing but a wrap of the lid straps. I find it comfortable enough for brief napping--no active balancing required. Everything's off the ground but my feet. (I cannot abide putting me or my stuff on the dirt.) I can lean back and stretch out; crouch forward in a squat supported by the seat; and enjoy the full range in between. The chair requires no assembly of any kind; folding flat or open in literally seconds. It isn't as comfortable as my behemoth chair; but in a ratio of comfort units per weight, this chair rocks.
The insulated seat/back blunts the nipping of brisk air. The fabric has slightly more friction (gripping) than fabric-store nylon I'm used to, helping to hold my body in place.
I generally find every advantage has an evil twin, and I can note issues attending a chair weighing about the same as a pint (0.5 L) can of beverage.
Getting in and out requires habituation to following directions. Decals show where to grip the frame. Ignoring them leads to peril. Balance and muscle control must be maintained until the body is eased into place. My process of egress is to thrust the body forward with enough momentum to gain balance over the feet. I've seen people unable to perform this maneuver, having to roll sideways onto their hands and knees. Should the campfire spew a shower of cinders, I sometimes can't get away from the conflagration as expeditiously as might be desired. In one (so far extraordinary) circumstance a snake brought itself to my attention, inferring by its behavior that I was in its way. Thrusting toward the hissing animal seemed inappropriate and I found myself unable to respond in a manner showing any form of grace.
I've come to accept that this chair likes level and firm ground. The bottom of the chair frame should not be lower than the rear brace. If it is, my body tends to slide forward until released like a bag of potatoes slipping off a tailgate. The rear brace contact is a single point; and the front contact is narrower than much of me. On unstable ground, I find the chair can tip sideways with little notice.
My hips are just the right width to compress through the frame and get stuck if I sit too deep, a discomfiting posture neither difficult nor dignified to resolve. Too far forward causes complete loss of support. Thus my comfort in this chair requires finding an appropriate position. I have known people who found the learning curve onerous.
The rear brace must be fully extended. When not, my chair has collapsed in varying measures of calamity.
The rear brace webbing anchors to the chair frame bottom in a loop around the tubing. Several times I've had to make repairs resulting from the loop getting pinched in two between the tubing and granite. When that has happened, there has not always been enough help from the ground to prevent the brace from skidding backwards. I don't cherish maintaining field inspection on anything, but I check the front webbing loop every time I open the chair.
When shoeing very far I'll take the Sling-Light. On short hikes I suffer the weight of a more traditional camp chair with greater stability, seat higher off the snow and upright posture. I find packing snow in front prevents sinking; but the rear brace must be augmented with more displacement, such as a snowshoe or frisbee. The chair has floated without such augmentation, but several times the rear brace without notice or evident provocation pierced solidly packed snow with spear speed. The result was a dousing of hot chocolate; and bent braces that can be seen in the picture above. I also find the lounging profile not consistent with cold temperatures where I don't often want to sprawl.
Sand presents the same issue to lesser degree regarding the rear brace; and won't sustain the front. Sand also can get into the hinges, though after hundreds of uses I can't detect any indication of impending failure.
The lightest whiff of unexpected, unkind and untoward breeze has blown my unattended chair into the campfire.
The headrest doesn't work for me. I often wear a full-brim hat. Leaning back shoves the hat out of place. This cannot be tolerated. Also, I find no convenient means to fix the accessory to my pack.
In 2012 a friend and I conjured harnesses to enable our chairs as backpack frames, which does not appear on the manufacturer's website as an intended use. My rigging and 3,100 cid (50 L) bag weigh a scant 12 oz (340 g). As my lightest alternative pack is 3 lbs (1.36 kg), the chair has indirectly lopped off over 2 lbs (.91 kg) of summer kit weight.
Sling-Light quick shots:
d) Agility required
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