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Reviews > Camp Chairs and Seating > Chairs > Walkstool Comfort 55 > Test Report by Curt Peterson
Walkstool Comfort 55 XL Stool
Report Series by Curt Peterson
Initial Report - July 2008
Field Report - October 2008
Long Term Report - December 2008
Tester Background and Contact Information
Name: Curt Peterson
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight: 270 lb (122 kg)
Email address: curt<at>boopants<dot>com
Location: North Bend, Washington, USA
I live in the Cascade foothills, just 20 mi (32 km) from the Pacific Crest Trail via trails leading right from my backyard. My outdoor time in Washington is spent dayhiking, backpacking, climbing, fishing and skiing everywhere from the Olympic coast to rainforests to Cascade volcanoes to dry steppe. I played football in college and often evaluate products from a big guy perspective. My typical pack load ranges from 11 - 20 lbs (5 - 9 kg) and usually includes plenty of wet weather gear.
Despite what my wife and the calendar say, in my mind I still believe I'm just a few good workouts away from matching the physical prime of my early 20s. Unfortunately over the past couple of years my back has started to side with Father Time and my spouse. I still make an effort to pack light and my base load for summer trips is typically around 15 lbs (7 kg). Lately, however, I've been lightening my load not just to ease my on-trail time but to allow for a luxury camp comfort or two. It started when I got back into fishing a few years ago. For just a little over a pound (half kilo) my in camp experience has been immensely changed for the better as I cast flies to high lake trout on almost every trip. I've even taken a light hammock AND a tent - ultralight blasphemy - for the incredible comfort it provides. I've been looking into light camp chairs for awhile, especially something that gets me up off of the ground. Except for just a brief month or two, Pacific Northwest backpacking involves sitting on cold rocks, wet logs, or muddy ground. The opportunity to test the Walkstool Comfort is a welcome one. The test period will run into the soggy season so it should see a pretty broad range of use.
The Walkstool is basically the classic tripod camping stool on steroids. The Swedish ingenuity in taking a seemingly basic item and turning it into a work of mechanical art is definitely present in the Walkstool. Everything about it exudes quality. The materials are top notch and construction quality is flawless. All this adds up to what is likely the strongest tripod stool on the planet. Doubters of this need only check out the videos on the Walkstool website of just 7 Walkstools supporting a Volvo - a car that weighs about 3300 pounds (1500 kg)!!
The Walkstool is not simply a beefed up traditional tripod stool, however. It has a number of unique features. It is taller than most trail chairs, and in fact the Comfort 55 XL model I am testing is actually a little higher than a standard kitchen table chair. This makes it extremely comfortable to get up and down from. For me it definitely beats getting up and down from a ground level sleeping pad chair. It's also quite a bit wider than most tripod stools. This makes it a very stable and supportive chair even for my XXL self. The seat is mesh, so it breathes very well and absorbs no moisture. Another unique feature - and one Walkstool has a patent on - is the collapsible legs. With a quick and simple push of a button the legs collapse giving the option of two sitting heights: a short unextended stool that requires a bit of balance to sit on or the full height stable stool with the legs fully extended. The collapsed stool packs away nicely and easily would fit inside a pack. It does come with a light bag to carry the Walkstool in.
I look forward to testing the Walkstool - even with its considerable heft. On initial use and inspection it appears to be an incredibly strong, sturdy, impeccably made stool. All this comes at the expense of some weight (the Walkstool will be the second heaviest item in my pack) but it should make camp much more comfortable.
A quote from the Walkstool website: "We are not on the market to compete with 3-legged stools that you can buy 10 for same price as our Swedish models. We are on the market to sell the best 3-legged stool on earth (we are confident we do) to people that appreciate a product they can live with year after year."
Initial Report Summary
I’ve had the chance to use the Walkstool 55 XL a lot over the past couple months. From summer outdoor concerts to high ridges in the North Cascades, the camp chair has been used at least a few days a week during the test period so far.
For backpacking use, the Walkstool went on a short overnight with me near and on a 3 day backpacking trip in the North Cascades near Glacier Peak. Besides these trips I’ve carried it to summer outdoor concerts, spent a few hours on it as I tended a yard sale, and it has even been used at the dinner table a few times. This report will focus on the backpacking use of the stool, but I note the other uses to give an idea of how often it’s been packed, unpacked, and sat on.
Weather for most of the summer use and the Snoqualmie Pass trip was typical Washington warm summer weather. Temperatures in the 70s F (low 20s C) with essentially no rain. The recent trip to the North Cascades was a completely different story. The first day was nice – temperatures in the 70s F (about 25 C) and mild. The second day progressively got cooler and windier. By evening we were experiencing the onset of winter conditions. Winds that quite easily approached 50 mph (80 km/h) with sideways rain and hail. From 7pm to 7am we had this generally miserable weather. To be honest, during this very long night the stool was the least of my concerns. Keeping the tent upright and realizing that we were extremely exposed with no good options if it failed were my focus. The last day was mostly packing up and hiking out, so the stool spent most of the day attached to my pack.
Overall, the Walkstool presents two completely opposite experiences. While being carried in my summer pack, it is the single heaviest thing I carry. In my fall setup, my pack itself and my cold-weather sleeping bag weigh more, but not by much. From this perspective it’s a luxury item that can be hard to justify in a lightweight setup. As a comparison, I can bring a lazy hammock setup that weighs less than the Walkstool and I rarely bring it because of the weight. On the flip side, once in camp the stool is fantastic! I never realized quite how much I pace around and do most camp activities standing. With the stool I slow down, enjoy the views, and relax much more.
Packing is very straightforward. It collapses and deploys in just a second or two. As fast as three buttons can be pushed and a snap closed it’s packed away small and compact. I chose to carry it on the outside of my pack in a side pocket, but I could have easily fitted it into the pack itself. Opening it for use is even faster. Undo a snap and pull on each of the three legs and it’s ready to go. No lining up buttons to holes. No settings to get the length right. Just pull each leg out and they snap into place and it’s ready to use.
In camp the Walkstool was just about perfect. It quickly became the center of camp, and it wouldn't be long after I got up before my hiking partner would take it over. While actually in camp I'd guess that one of the two of us was on it at all times. The first camp on the North Cascades trip was really dusty, but the Walkstool had no problems with it. The legs didn't get messy to open and close and the stool itself didn't sink into the sometimes deep dirt. The third day of the North Cascades was soaking wet and again, the Walkstool didn't sink into the mud. There are hard rubber feet on the ends of the legs that apparently do a great job on everything from mushy ground to hard granite. No sinking, no slipping. The mesh seat is also nice - especially in hot weather. It doesn't absorb any water at all, so even being left out in the rain all night it was a dry place to sit after just a quick shake removed the surface water.
When I got the stool home from the North Cascades trip it had been through a lot. It spent the entire time out in the storm, so it had seen super dry dust, torrential rains, ice, and very strong winds. I decided it would be a good idea to pull the legs out and make sure it wasn't harboring dirt and small debris that could affect the legs opening and closing. Pulling out the legs entirely is pretty simple. It involves two buttons per leg instead of just one to open and close them. From there it's pretty easy to wash the legs, blow out the tubes, and inspect the entire thing for dirt. Overall it was in almost perfect condition and showed no signs of being any worse for wear.
During the final two months of testing the conditions will change dramatically. The stool will see sub-freezing temperatures and I'll hopefully see how well it does on early winter snow!
Field Report Summary
Long Term Report
Long Term Report
I used the Walkstool Comfort 55 XL about a half dozen times during the last couple of months. Finishing up graduate school and the beginning of the holiday season conspired to make most of my outings dayhikes, but it actually got used for more hours per day of hiking than it did during my overnights. A few days were to lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and surrounding area for backcountry fishing trips. I'm typically a pretty mobile fisherman, preferring to work around a lake or up and down a stream. The Walkstool made me the laziest fisherman I've ever been. My typical hike would involve arriving at a lake, rigging my rod, opening up the Walkstool and then parking for a few hours. If the Walkstool had a backrest I almost certainly would have fallen asleep. I didn't catch many fish, but I sure was comfortable!
I did get the Walkstool on another overnight trip as well. With the colder temperatures and the heavier pack weight I found it easy to blame the Walkstool for my heavy pack. This probably wasn't fair, but it's simple to pick on the gear that's not really a necessity.
The weather on the trips was pretty much all fair and mild. There was no precipitation, which was welcome after the storminess of my last Field Report trip. One trip did occur after a couple inches (few centimeters) of snow was already on the ground. This was one of my most pleasant discoveries of the benefits of the Walkstool. When the ground is covered with snow, the logs are covered with snow, and even the rocks are covered with snow, a high and dry chair is incredibly welcome. The snow was only a couple inches (few centimeters) deep so the legs didn't have any problem finding solid purchase on the ground underneath. My guess is that it would be more challenging on deep snow, but this was not something I was able to adequately test. The cold temperatures - right around freezing - didn't seem to affect the Walkstool at all. The legs opened and closed as they always do and the plastic and rubber components didn't seem to be negatively impacted.
The Walkstool remains ridiculously durable. It looks like it did when it was new with just a few scratches on the aluminum legs. I am able to rock on the stool, twist while seated, and plop down on it with little care that it will bend, collapse, or be damaged in any way. I can definitely not say the same thing for other camp stools I've used.
Long Term Report Summary
Long Term Likes
The Walkstool is one of the most well-built items I've ever hauled into the backcountry. It takes a seemingly simple item and makes it the best it can be. The quality and comfort come at a price, and in this case it is weight, but for base camp trips or destination backpacking journeys, the Walkstool has earned a spot in my pack. For super light summer trips where the goal is to cover miles it might not make the cut, but it's nice to have an item like this for family trips, fishing trips, or remote base camp hikes. It is easily the best camp chair I've ever used and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to test it. My thanks to Walkstool and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity!
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