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Head to Head: Nemo Star Gaze vs. Blue Ridge Chairworks Outer Banks

I think we can all agree nothing beats a warm fire on a cool night with a tasty beverage and a comfortable place to sit. I’ve tried all manner of camp chairs over the years, some good, many not worth the materials they’re made of. In the last few months I’ve come to love two chairs in particular and as great as they both are, they couldn’t possibly be more different.

Blue Ridge Chair Works Outer Banks Chair, $240

The original Blue Ridge Chair is a personal favorite of mine and has been around since the 1980s. It packs flat, sets up in seconds, and makes for a comfortable sitter, but I wouldn’t say it’s luxurious. For the discerning camp lounger the Outer Banks Chair is the most comfortable offering in the Blue Ridge lineup.

Made of the same ash wood as all of their furniture, the Outer Banks is designed to keep you seated for as long as possible. Dual drink holders ensure you stay put until nature calls, and the 18-inch wide seat and 26-inch tall back offer ample real estate to sprawl out. The back can be reclined in four positions with the top frame member lightly padded for optimal comfort. It makes for a great nap chair—ask me how I know. Like all of the furniture from Blue Ridge Chair Works, the quality of materials and craftsmanship is top shelf. The UV-resistant poly-canvas fabric is available in four colors, and I have little doubt the Outer Banks won’t last a lifetime and beyond. It’s not small or light at 12 pounds, but you won’t care about those digits once you sink into it. blueridgechair.com

Nemo Equipment Stargaze Luxury Recliner, $220

Last year I had the honor of joining a handful of outdoor journalists on a visit to the Nemo Equipment headquarters in the quaint hamlet of Dover, New Hampshire. In a corner of their design studio were a handful of camp chairs in various states of disassembly and modification. We were told Nemo’s design gurus were creating the ultimate camp chair, but we were not even permitted a teasing glance of their progress. A year later, that chair was released to the public as the Nemo Equipment Stargaze.

Available in three models ranging from light to luxurious, I opted to evaluate the latter—why wouldn’t I? As I knew it would be, the Stargaze Luxury Recliner isn’t just another riff on the folding chair. With a unique frame made of aluminum struts joined with high-density plastic hubs, the frame assembles in seconds. The chair sling attaches to the frame with two robust aluminum clips with additional aluminum stays joined in the back panel to add rigidity and height to the headrest. Start to finish the setup takes less than a minute with practice.

The advantages to Nemo’s forward-thinking design are evident the minute you spill yourself into the perfectly shaped seat. Unlike other chairs, no part of your legs or back contact any hard frame components. Your body is gently cradled in the nylon mesh sling with no pressure points, your head nestled comfortably against a soft pad. In a word, it is—sublime.

As the name implies, the Stargaze is a proper recliner, but it can also be angled in a more upright seated position. Most chairs would require the user to fiddle with buckles or straps to fine-tune the right degree of tilt. With the Stargaze all you have to do is lean forward or back, and the sliding buckles hold the chair in your preferred position—no adjustments needed. Rounding out the other features the Stargaze Luxury Recliner is fitted with a small pocket and drink holder and the entire system fits within a high-quality transport case. nemoequipment.com

The verdict

This really boils down to where you fit within the old-school versus new-school spectrum. The wood and canvas styling of the Blue Ridge Outer Banks Chair will no doubt speak to the traditionalist. It has a timeless aesthetic, and the craftsmanship is in itself reason enough to want to own it.

By contrast, the Stargaze is cutting edge and looks like it was sent to us from the future.  Beyond the fancy appearance, the Nemo recliner is extremely comfortable. The self-adjusting suspension is pure genius, and the quality of the materials will ensure it too lasts a lifetime of regular use.  The one advantage the Stargaze has over the Outer Banks is packed size. Although the Blue Ridge chair is a folder, it is big.

There is no winner here. Both of these camp recliners make for a fantastic place to while away the evening hours with a beer in hand as the stars gather overhead.

Christophe Noel is a journalist from Prescott, Arizona. Born into a family of backcountry enthusiasts, Christophe grew up backpacking the mountains and deserts of the American West. An avid cyclist and bikepacker, he also has a passion for motorcycles, travel, food and overlanding.