Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Camp Tables and Seating > Chairs > Hillsound BTR Stool > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

Owner Review by Richard Lyon
June 1, 2020


Male, 73 years old  
Height: 6' 3" [1.91 m]
Weight: 205 lb [(91 kg])
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Outside Bozeman, Montana USA, in the Bridger Mountains

I've been backpacking for half a century, most often in the Rockies. I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.  I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500 - 3000 m).  I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp.  Though always looking for ways to reduce my pack weight, I still tend to include my favorite camp conveniences. I always sleep in a floored tent and like hot meals. Backcountry trips are often planned around skiing or ski touring in the winter or fishing opportunities in warmer weather.


The BTR, an acronym for Better Than a Rock, is a fold-up tripod stool said by its maker to be the "ultimate lightweight" chair for camping, backpacking, hunting, fishing, and bikepacking. I'm not a hunter or biker but I indulge as often as I can in the other three activities. I believe I've found my seat!

Hillsound3Manufacturer: Hillsound Equipment Inc., Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Dimensions, listed and measured: 14 x 13 in [36 x 33 cm] seat; 17.7 in [47 cm] height
Stowed dimensions: listed and measured, 3 x 3 x 13.4 in [7 x 7 x 34 cm]
Weight: listed, 14.1 oz [399 g], measured, 14.2 oz [403 g]
Fabric: Nylon mesh
Poles: Aluminum alloy 7001
Load capacity, listed: 240 lb [110 kg]
Color: Black. Also available in Alpenglow Orange and Glacier Blue. Color refers to the extended portion of the stool's legs.
MSRP: $59 US
Listed features: PhantomLock™, Detachable seat, Bungee cord fastening for tidy storage
Warranty: Two years to the original buyer for defects in workmanship or material
Note: The BTR is also available in a 14-in [36 cm] high version, listed weight 12.2 0z [346 g], MSRP $55 US.

Hillsound includes an instruction sheet with the stool, but that isn't really necessary as the product converts from its storage mode to a sit-able stool intuitively. I pull the foot of each leg to its full extension, indicated by a firm click. Then I rotate the legs counterclockwise to form triangle base, ensuring that the mesh seat is taut. For good measure I press the seat firmly to check that all is in place before sitting down. This is the PhantomLock™ system. Through this writing I have not had the seat collapse.

To return the stool to storage, I simply do these steps in reverse, concluding by cinching the bungee cord using its tiny loop and hook.

The seat is affixed to the legs with small plugs, one for each leg. It takes a bit of effort to detach, but with some practice it becomes easier. Hillsound2

Hillsound or its lawyers include in the instructions and on a tag affixed to the seat a long list of safety warnings, some obvious and some frivolous but all worth reading and heeding. Among the more useful are:
  • Don't force assembly or disassembly
  • Don't stand on the seat
  • Avoid uneven or slippery surfaces
  • To the extent possible keep the mesh seat clear of dirt, snow, ice, sand, and grit
  • Store dry and away from excessive heat

Pandemic precautions have limited trail maintenance trips and backpacking this spring, but the BTR has been a regular item in my pack during cross-country skiing and ski touring this past winter and, more recently, the almost daily short hikes that have been necessary to avoid cabin fever. On the trail the stool is inside my pack; I've dropped too many water bottles from side packets to risk storage there. On some day hikes and trips to the local ski hill [before it closed in early March] the stool remained in the car but was utilized for an apres-ski beverage in the parking lot before leaving for home.

I have used the stool on hardpacked dirt, hardpacked snow, pavement, cement, flat rock, and flagstone, at temperatures from 0-80 F [-17 to 27 C], most of the time in dry weather but a few times amid snow, rain, sleet, or a combination of two or more of them. If anything is wet when I return to the car, I assemble the seat for air drying en route home and if necessary in the garage.

The BTR in fact weighs forty per cent more than the backpacking chair it has replaced in my pack; see separate Owner Review on this site. But for its performance and at still less than one pound [454 g] in my opinion its manufacturer still has a valid claim of providing the ultimate lightweight chair [see above].

It's easy to use and can be set up quickly almost anywhere I can find a small triangle of hard level surface. The first couple of times I used the BTR I had to fiddle a bit with the extended legs to get an equilibrium, but with that little practice it's become virtually second nature. Testing with hand pressure, accomplished in seconds, prevents an unwanted collapse. Once assembled the stool allows natural fidgeting and turning without mishap. The seat is comfortable and secure. To summarize in the simplest terms - it sets up quickly and it works.

Storage is equally simple. The folded-up BTR slides into any corner of my smallest daypack. It doesn't really need to be a corner -- anywhere I can cram it in vertically. In a pinch I can tuck it horizontally at the top of the pack, secured by the pack cover.

Little care has been necessary over the past six months. If the legs have gotten wet, I'll wipe them before stashing the BTR in my pack and as noted allow air drying on the way home. I've occasionally brushed loose dirt or debris off the seat, and twice have removed the seat and soaked it in warm soapy water, followed by a rinse and air drying, mostly as preventive maintenance.

As summer approaches and the spring runoff ends I look forward to adding the BTR to my fishing kit. I've carried it on a spring creek trip or two already. The BTR stows easily in the zippered compartment on the back of my fishing vest. A stool is handy on angling outings at lunchtime or whenever I give the fish a rest break.

I've found no cause for complaint so far. Simple, versatile, functional, packable, and lightweight, it's certainly better than a rock. Hillsound, which I have praised in the past for its traction aids, has made its opening foray into camping gear with a genuine winner.

Read more reviews of Hillsound gear
Read more gear reviews by Richard Lyon

Reviews > Camp Tables and Seating > Chairs > Hillsound BTR Stool > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

All material on this site is the exclusive property of
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson