Guide to Outdoor Seating for Picnics

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Not sure what kind of outdoor seating you'd like to bring to your next picnic? We have a great rundown of the various types of picnic chairs available.

outdoor picnic seating

For those of us with bad backs, sensitive bottoms or high expectations, the seating options at most picnics are probably not as great as they should be. Even the most luxurious picnic blanket is still a blanket: definitely not a seat. But bringing your own chair or cushion can seem daunting, especially since additional furniture can be cumbersome to carry.

Fortunately, there are a lot of options out there that can work for you. In response to a growing demand for portable outdoor seating, Picnic World stocks many varieties of picnic chairs that are lightweight, easy to assemble and disassemble, and—most importantly—comfortable. You deserve a chance to kick back and relax, so take a look at this guide of different types of picnic chairs.

Outdoor Seats vs. Picnic Blankets

Picture the perfect picnic setting. There's likely a plaid picnic blanket on a lush, green meadow under the shade of a large oak tree with a wicker basket and some wine glasses.

outdoor picnic seating

While this kind of picnic is definitely the most iconic, it's not the only way to enjoy a picnic. In fact, if you were to go to the park on a beautiful day, you'll notice countless variations of the picnic, with some people towing their food in plastic bags or drinking out of plastic cups.

One thing you'll definitely notice is the variety of seats people use. The reason for this is simple: picnic blankets aren't always the most comfortable things to sit on. If you're a traditionalist or have a very pliable body, a picnic blanket is often the best way to enjoy a picnic. Unfortunately, many people have ailments or personal preferences that prevent them from comfortably sprawling out on a blanket.

Enter outdoor seating.

Even though there's something whimsical about sitting on a blanket while on a picnic, it's not always the most practical. However, just like everything in this guide, how you sit and enjoy your picnic is entirely a matter of preference, so if you're interested in finding the best option for you, read on.

4 Things to Look for in Outdoor Seating

When deciding exactly what type of seat you want for your picnic or outdoor event, there are four key factors to take into consideration.

Comfort

Think of the most uncomfortable seat you've ever sat in. Then imagine sitting in that seat for two hours while on a romantic date with your loved one. Your comfort level can be the difference between an unforgettable picnic and a picnic that leaves your lower back sore for days.

Unlike the hard wooden benches found at parks, manufacturers like Picnic Time and Picnic at Ascot have made strides in bringing you the most comfortable chairs. Many picnics chairs are made out of a variety of materials like fabric, plastic and even polyester. Before deciding on a seat, make sure it's made out of the material you find most comfortable.

Portability

The next thing to look for is portability. Because picnics are meant to be meals on location, it's vital to have a seat that gives you the ability to easily transport and set up. Even though that massage chair in your living room may be the most comfortable piece of furniture you've ever sat in, it's not feasible to bring it along on your next picnic up in the mountains.

outdoor picnic seating

When considering the portability of a chair, be sure to think about the size of your trunk and how much the chair weighs because there's nothing more annoying than lugging a heavy chair up a hill when all you want to do is relax.

Style

Style may not be important to everyone but to some, it's key in establishing the ambiance of a picnic. For example, a folding stool might be out of place at a romantic picnic whereas a camping chair might fit in perfectly at a barbecue.

Think about all the situations you will use the outdoor seating for and pick a style that fits your personality best. Of course, if you don't care what it looks like or whether it clashes with the style of your picnic, select whichever meets your other requirements.

Affordability

Last, but not least, is the price. As much as it would be great to live in a world where we could buy things without worrying about the pricetag, the vast majority of us aren't quite there yet. How much you're willing to spend on a comfortable, stylish and portable chair for picnicking is entirely a personal preference.

Types of Outdoor Picnic Seating

folding stool

Folding Stool

The first type of outdoor seating to consider is the folding stool. This is the easiest to transport, especially since it often includes a shoulder strap and weighs less than 3 lbs. Although it's mainly popular with hunters who have to sit in one spot for hours at a time, a folding stool works just as well for picnickers and campers.

While portability is one of its major assets, some people find the folding stool lacking in comfort. It doesn't offer much in the way of back support, but it'll get you off the ground and keep your legs from getting cramped. The Texsport Folding Tripod Stool closes into a small bundle in one smooth motion and comes in an attractive green color.

camping chair

Camping Chair

Especially popular with sports fans, camping chairs tend to come with a few bonus features that make picnicking and tailgating a breeze. You'll often find cup holders, arm rests and storage pockets built into their design. Camping chairs also provide back support and have great stability and weight capacity. The Gigatent Side by Side Camping Chair has all of those features, plus it's a set of two chairs. Even better, the whole thing folds up so you can carry it in the included shoulder bag.

director's chair

Director's Chair

Ready to seriously class it up? Perfect for socialites, executives and people who are large and in charge, director's chairs are like the first-class version of the basic camper's chair. They're made to look ritzy; the sturdy dark fabric contrasts nicely with the frame's sleek lines and polished metal.

Most director's chairs come with a nice side table, storage pockets and a cup holder. The Deluxe Tall Director Chair is great because it's lightweight, easy to fold up and carry, and very sturdy, despite its exceptional height.

stadium seat

Stadium Seat

Though stadium seats are normally used as additional padding for uncomfortable metal seating at sporting events, they can double as super-portable chairs that will let you stretch your legs out. Just cinch the belts tight enough that they can support you as you lean back and relax. Of all the stadium seats we sell, the stylish New Hudson Stadium Seat by Picnic at Ascot is one of the most popular, thanks to its classy design and matching fleece blanket (included with purchase).

beach chair

Beach Chair

Yet another option is the beach chair, such as this one by Picnic Time. These are typically characterized by their ability to fold forward (as opposed to fold inward like director's chairs), their emphasis on lounging, and their tendency to be very close to the ground. These are some of the most comfortable chairs available because they're designed for you to sit out on the beach and relax, so they also work extremely well for long, languorous picnics.

The classic version of these chairs have horizontal fabric or plastic that stretches across the back, but many of the modern versions have much more comfortable fabric backs.

built-in benches

Built-in Benches

Your final option is a bit more nebulous than the previous types of outdoor seating because these seats come attached to a portable table. These are basically classic picnic tables you find at any park except for the fact that they conveniently fold up for quick and easy transport. Each built-in seat on these benches supports up to 200 pounds, so this could really be a feasible option for a family.

To see some more seating options for picnics, browse through our picnic accessories.