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Hands-on Gear Review
Moon Lence Review
Cons: Fabric stretches over time, not as durable as other contenders
Bottom line: A pretty good balance of comfort and usability on a budget - you get what you pay for.
The Moon Lence wins our pick for Best Buy on a Tight Budget. If you're looking for a larger version of a camping chair that's still a great buy, check out our overall Best Buy award winner, the Kijaro Dual Lock. While it's not as comfortable or durable as its body double, the Helinox Chair One, the Moon Lence makes a pretty good showing, and packs down nearly as small. Just about anywhere you'd consider taking the Chair One, the Moon Lence could go. While we rank gear solely on how well it performs during our rigorous testing, price is undeniably a factor for many folks. And with a price like that of the Moon Lence, you could outfit a small family for the same prices as some of the more expensive portable chairs in this review! If price and portability are your two main concerns, read on to find out if the Moon Lence is a great choice for both your life and wallet.
RELATED REVIEW: 14 of the Best Camping Chairs
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
At first glance, the Moon Lence appears to be almost identical to the Big Agnes Helinox Chair One. They are nearly identical in size, shape and weight, and their overall appearance even looks nearly the same! In fact, from what you can see from internet stock pictures and specs, the only significant difference between these two chairs seems to be the number on the price tag. That numerical difference is significant enough to make us wonder - what IS the difference between the Lence and the Helinox Chair One, and which one should I buy? Naturally, we picked up both and tested them rigorously side-by-side to see how they compare, so you can have all the information before you decide which chair is best for you. So read on, curious soul!
Straight out of the gate, lounging in the Lence and the Chair One felt the same. We were initially impressed with the comparable comfort of the Lence. We found it to have the same taut fabric, breathable mesh windows, overall size and similar height from the ground. The poles and legs, while not quite as sturdy and stable-feeling as those of the Chair One, seemed adequate - and still better than a few of the other less-stable chairs we reviewed, like the REI Flex Lite or the Helinox Chair Zero. We were stoked on the Moon Lence! But that's not the end of the thorough gear testing standards you've come to expect from OutdoorGearLab.
We took this chair to the beach and lounged in the sun, we brought it camping in the Sierra spring, and used it with friends during backyard barbecues. Each time we used this chair, we found it a little less comfortable than the last time. The longer we used this chair, the more the fabric stretched. The mesh stretched first, lending less and less upper back support, and the canvas stretched next, creating an ever-deepening butt bucket. The seams however, didn't appear to stretch with the rest of the fabric, creating some discomfort and pressure points - particularly across the mid-lower back. We also discovered that the poles seemed to get looser and more rickety with each lounge and plop. If we leaned too far out of this chair to roast our marshmallows or grab our beer, it started to become less stable and we found more twist and give in the metal frame. Though it started out so well, we found the comfort of this chair deteriorated surprisingly quickly over time. We give it a 5 out of 10 for comfort.
The Lence is practically as portable as the Chair One. Being fractionally larger when packed and weighing a mere two ounces more, you can pretty much take the Lence anywhere you would take the Chair One!
Compared to the rest of the portable camping chairs we reviewed, at two pounds the Lence is fifth lightest (just barely heavier than the Chair One and Alite Mantis which tied for third lightest) and packs down larger only than the Helinox Chair Zero and the Therm-a-Rest Treo. Overall we give this chair a 9 out of 10 for portability.
While the poles and seat appear nearly the same as those of the Helinox Chair One at first glance, upon closer inspection, we noticed numerous small differences. The poles of the Lence look just about the same thickness as the Chair One, but as you put them together, the fit seems less snug. Our testers also found wobble in the pole joints)(and in the connections with the plastic joints) at the corners where the poles meet. Additionally, the poles felt a little less stable each time we used the chair.
Our testers noticed the material of the seat - particularly the mesh - stretching through use. This, combined with a weight rating nearly 80lbs less than the Chair One didn't give our testers a lot of confidence in the durability of this chair. While it did withstand a 170lb man putting it through the 'plop test'; that man also reported that he didn't feel overly confident that the chair wouldn't break while he performed the test. Overall we give this competitor a 5 out of 10 for durability.
Ease of Set-Up
Just like the Chair One, the Moon Lence comes as two "pieces" with relatively easy assembly. The poles are all connected by bungee cord and snap together quickly. Pockets on each corner of the seat fabric hold the poles in place. One small difference we noticed about the pole pockets, as they compared to the pole pockets of the Chair One, was that they were significantly wider than they needed to be to fit the poles in which sometimes prevented the poles from easily finding the bottom of the pocket required to form a secure base. Additionally, the Lence logo is printed at a 90 degree angle on the side of the chair, which more than once resulted in one of our testers putting it together sideways before realizing what they had done.
Take down was just as simple as the Chair One, and even with the awkward rolling of the heavily reinforced corners, it's a simple matter to fit this chair back into its zippered pouch. Both set-up and take-down can be done in under a minute, which is fairly standard for the portable camping chairs in this review, and of course more time consuming than the simple folding sport chairs we reviewed. Overall, we give the Lence a 6 out of 10 for ease of set-up, as the majority of contenders bested it (with the exception of the REI Co-Op Flex Lite, Onepack Ultralight, and Therm-a-Rest Treo**).
Just like the Chair One, and most of the other portable camping chairs, the Lence doesn't have any unique features that make it stand out. At first glance, we thought the extra 'fins' on the feet might help this chair stay on top of soft ground better than the simple cylindrical feet of most the other portable camping chairs. However, upon testing, the Lence sank into sand just as easily as the rest of them.
If you're looking for something in between a behemoth folding sport chair like the Alps Mountaineering King Kong, and the itty bitty ground-level backpacking chairs like the Crazy Creek, you've come looking in the right place. This chair is ideal for taking a comfortable seat a little farther from home - a day at the beach (though you will sink in the sand!), a weekend backpacking trip, or a car camping venture. Its overall compact size and easy to carry weight make it an excellent choice when portability is key. If you plan to use your chair a lot and have the extra dough to spend, we would recommend the Helinox Chair One instead, but on a budget, the Lence is a pretty alright alternative.
Value is where the Lence really stands out. By this point you've read all the reasons why this chair isn't quite as comfortable or durable as its competitor, the Helinox Chair One, but you're clearly still wondering which is better to buy. If you can't quite justify spending over $100 on a camping chair, we feel that the Lence is a pretty decent alternative, which is why we've named it our portable camping chair Best Buy on a Tight Budget. At the low price of around $35, you can even purchase several of these chairs for less than you would spend on a single Chair One. If that sounds like a sweet deal to you, and you don't mind replacing your chair a little more often, then the Lence might be the one for you. If you're still not sold on the comfort of the Lence, but really like the price, check out the Onepack Ultralight or the Kijaro Dual Lock for some similarly-priced chairs with different levels and types of comfort.
Out of the eight chairs in this review that we considered "portable", the Moon Lence stands out as having a great combination of value and portability. Though not nearly as portable as the Helinox Chair Zero, which weighs a full pound less, the Moon Lence is still much easier to tote around than some of the heavy, traditional camping chairs in this review, which weigh as much as 13lbs! Similar in appearance to the Helinox Chair One, we initially found the Moon Lence to be equally as comfortable, but over time discovered that the material was prone to stretching, making this chair less comfortable and less durable than the Chair One. However, with the same set-up and weighing only 2oz more, we think the Moon Lence is nearly as portable and equally easy to use as the Chair One. Overall, the Moon Lence is a decent chair, and the low price tag of about $35 just might make this the right chair for you!
— Maggie Brandenburg
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