Business and Pleasure Tommy Chair
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We Asked an Ergonomics Expert to Recommend the Most Comfortable Beach Chairs for Your Next Summer Vacation

These sturdy, posture-supporting seats will keep you in proper alignment all season long.
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Staying in one position for too long can leave your body strained and sore, and that's true whether you're hunched over your phone or stuck at your desk for hours of Zoom meetings. But the ergonomics of your beach chair are just as critical as those of your office seat—unless you want an afternoon engaged in the latest page-turner to cause aches and pains for the rest of your trip. "Poor ergonomics in a chair can place excess strain on your back, hips, and knees in any scenario," says Michael Patrick Barrett, Doctor of Occupational Therapy and adjunct instructor at Thomas Jefferson University. "Everyone should pay attention to the ergonomics of any chair they plan to sit in for an extended period."

When choosing a beach chair, pay close attention to the back, seat height, and armrests. "Our position while sitting should be as organic as possible and work with the natural curves of the body; this means the chair back should provide a strong support, particularly for the lower back, without forcing any extreme angles at the hips," says Dr. Barrett. Chairs that are too close to the ground, he says, can drastically change the angle of your hips, knees, and ankles. "These joints want to rest at about 90 degrees—anything more extreme in either direction means that your muscles have to put in some work while you're trying to relax," notes Dr. Barrett. "This is one of the main reasons a person may find themselves frequently changing positions or becoming sore while sitting for more than even 15 or 20 minutes. Any armrests should be just wide enough from the seat so that you're not pinched and don't have to lift your arms up or out to actually use them."

Expert Picks

Ultimately, beach chairs are not a one-size-fits-all product—no matter what the realtor who stocked your rental house wants you to think—so finding one that keeps you comfortable all day could take plenty of testing and a willingness to invest. "We all have different body shapes and sizes, so what is functional and comfortable for one person may not necessarily work for everyone," says Dr. Barrett. "Trying things out and getting to know your own body is key to finding a good fit for yourself. Anyone with existing issues in their back, hips, knees, or ankles will want to take particular note when shopping for a new chair so that relaxation time for their mind can also be relaxation for their body—and not exacerbate existing discomfort." With that said, we asked Dr. Barrett to recommend several options that work for most ocean and lake lovers—and you will quickly discover that the best selections aren't necessarily marketed for the beach. Don't overlook general outdoor chairs, such as those for camping or hiking, which work just as well in the sand. Ahead, some of Dr. Barrett's picks, along with his reviews of some of the more popular beach chairs on the market.

Ever Advanced Zero Gravity Recliner
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Ever Advanced

By elevating your feet to align with your heart, zero gravity chairs offer relaxing sensation of weightlessness. "Zero gravity chairs give people the option to fully recline, which can significantly reduce back strain and pressure," says Dr. Barrett. "This chair offers a wide range of locking angles and a moveable cushion to provide additional back support where you need it. It is a larger, heavier chair, though, so shorter individuals may find it cumbersome."

Shop Now: Ever Advanced Zero Gravity Recliner, $149.99, amazon.com.

Strongback Elite Folding Chair
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Strongback Elite

The intentional added lumbar support in Strongback chairs—in sizes designed for adults of all heights and children—helps prevent slouching. "The lumbar curve helps a person gently rest into the chair and aligns with the body's natural curves," notes Dr. Barrett. "Beware of chairs with a significant curve in the back that could push your arms forward or round your shoulders. That slumped forward posture works against the natural curves of the spine and can cause tightness across your chest."

Shop Now: Strongback Elite Folding Chair, $99.95, amazon.com.

Lawn Chair USA Webbing Chair
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Lawn Chair USA

Your grandparents had the right idea when they toted these traditional webbed chairs along to Little League games and fireworks displays. "Anyone looking for a no-frills option should consider this classic design," explains Dr. Barrett. "The tight webbed seat and back provide a surprisingly high level of support while seat height—approximately 16 inches, according to reviews—makes it easy to transition into or out of for most individuals. It's also very easy to carry at only four pounds—though these chairs have a low user weight recommendation from the manufacturer."

Shop Now: Lawn Chair USA Webbing Chair, $69.99, lawnchairusa.com.

Earth Ultimate Four-Position Outdoor Chair
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Earth Ultimate

The comfortable padded back and aluminum frame make this four-position outdoor chair a solid choice for supportive seating, while the 17-inch-high seat makes it easier to go from sitting to standing. "But its unique support is provided by its front legs, which extend up to four additional inches," says Dr. Barrett. "This adjustment allows users to gently change their sitting angle without changing their hips. That's perfect for finding a good position to take stress off of your hips, knees, and ankles."

Shop Now: Earth Ultimate Four-Position Outdoor Chair, $119, earthproductsstore.com.

Yeti Trailhead Camp Chair
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Yeti

Known for its ability to withstand anything (including the elements), this chair also has a seat height of around 16 inches (and a built-in cup holder for your cool drink!). "Built with durability in mind and rated to support up to 500 pounds, this chair offers a high level of support for your back and hips," says Dr. Barrett. "It's also high enough off the ground for the average person to rest their feet comfortably on the ground without any extra knee or ankle strain. Definitely worth looking into!"

Shop Now: Yeti "Trailhead" Camp Chair, $299.99, yeti.com.

ALPS Mountaineering Ultimate Recliner
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ALPS Mountaineering

A padded headrest, seven armrest positions, and extended reclining possibilities make this chair as supportive as the high-end desk chair you (finally) splurged on during quarantine. "This chair's sturdy aluminum construction belies the highly adjustable back, offering a range of sitting options similar to what one would find in an office chair," explains Dr. Barrett. "The gently contoured seat and back support the natural curves of the hips and spine."

Shop Now: ALPS Mountaineering Ultimate Recliner, $119.99, amazon.com.

Business and Pleasure Tommy Chair
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Business and Pleasure Co.

While the pretty floral print and wooden frame of this chair are a chic addition to your beach day station, the fabric won't provide as much spine support as sturdier chairs, so consider whether or not this works for your needs before investing. "Three reclining positions means you can adjust to find a more comfortable position to keep your hips, knees, and ankles in better alignment," says Dr. Barrett. "However, the loose canvas back won't provide much support, particularly for taller individuals who will find their head and shoulders pushed forward by the top bar. Weaker materials may sag once you sit into them, pushing your hips down and your shoulders forward into that slumped forward posture."

Shop Now: Business and Pleasure Tommy Chair, $249, businessandpleasureco.com.

Telescope Casual Original Mini-Sun Chaise
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Telescope

A low chair may be the go-to for most beachgoers, but it's not an ideal choice for anyone with lower body pain or stiffness—if that's you, choose another option; if not, this chair could be your ideal match. "The tightly stretched fabric secured by multiple rivets helps keep you back aligned, but at only seven inches high, this chair will be difficult to sit into or rise from for those with hip or knee pain—and may place extra pressure on your joints when sitting for prolonged periods," says Dr. Barrett.

Shop Now: Telescope Casual Original Mini-Sun Chaise, $275.47, amazon.com.

Coleman Camping Chair
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Coleman

The seat height on these iconic chairs can take the strain off your knees and joints, but if you're looking for a posture-improving chairback, you may not find it here. "These camping chairs offer good positioning for adult knees and ankles thanks to their height, though they may leave feet off the ground for children," explains Dr. Barrett. "Unfortunately, the seat and back are made from a highly flexible material that offers little support for your back and hips, encouraging a rounded posture rather than a straight back."

Shop Now: Coleman Camping Chair, $32.69, amazon.com.

Tommy Bahama Classic Lay-Flat Folding Backpack Beach Chair
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Tommy Bahama

If the backpack-carry feature of this chair allows you to tote it without straining your back, then you could prevent a vacation's worth of discomfort stemming from awkwardly bringing it from the house to the shore. Still, this design isn't right for everyone looking for a restful spot for a marathon sun session: "This chair's short height and narrow seat width may make it uncomfortable for many adults, though it may be suitable for children or teenagers," notes Dr. Barrett.

Shop Now: Tommy Bahama Classic Lay-Flat Folding Backpack Beach Chair, $59.99, amazon.com.