Warmer weather provides the perfect opportunity for a beach trip, and if you have back pain, the right chair can make your visit much more comfortable. In general, the best beach chairs for bad backs support your spine with the help of a deep seat and a firm back, but some feature a zero-gravity design, allowing you to recline, which takes pressure off the lower back
“The most important thing is to find a chair that will provide good support for the spine,” says Steve Hruby, Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) and founder of Kaizen Progressive Health. “This can be done by looking for a chair with a firm back and a deep seat, which will help to keep the spine in a neutral position.” And while ideally you should look for a chair with extra lumbar padding, you can also add your own; Eric Finger, board-certified orthopedic physical therapist and founder of Move Empower Concierge Physical Therapy has an easy fix that doesn’t cost a lot of money. “Rolled-up towels work just as well as lumbar pillows and are one less thing to carry while you are at the beach or poolside.”
According to Hruby, a zero-gravity beach chair that reclines is also a fantastic option, as it’s designed to suspend your body in a neutral posture when you tilt backwards, giving you that signature “weightless” sensation. Finger agrees: “Using a chair that reclines will help unload the lower back, relaxing tight muscles of the hips and alleviating lower back pain.”
As far as types of chairs you’ll want to avoid, Hruby warns against round chairs (also known as “scoop” chairs), as they position the spine in an unnatural curve. You may also want to stay away from chairs with rigid, straight backs, as they can cause strain on your lumbar muscles.
A good beach chair with back support can also include other useful features, like a built-in cooler, storage pouch, or backpack straps for maximum portability. (You may also want to pay attention to the weight to ensure that it’s lightweight enough to carry). Here are the best beach chairs for bad backs — some even come specifically recommended by experts.
1. This Low-Gravity Chair With Lumbar Support
While chairs that are low to the ground typically aren’t the best for accommodating back pain, the STRONGBACK low-gravity beach chair more than compensates with its wealth of lumbar-supportive features. Lumbar support is integrated into the ergonomically shaped steel frame, which is complemented by padding at the lower back for extra comfort. Along with a seat that’s 21 inches deep, it’s designed with a sturdy back that aligns the spine and hips while you’re seated and padded armrests that provide extra cushioning. However, because it has shorter legs, it may make it harder to sit down and get up — an important consideration to keep in mind.
Made from heavy-duty 600-denier polyester, the STRONGBACK beach chair stands up to heavy beach winds, and the wide feet won’t sink in the sand. There’s also an attached drink holder to conveniently store a canned or bottled beverage. Last, this chair has a weight capacity of 300 pounds, but only weighs 8.5 pounds itself and is designed to be easy to transport — just fold up the chair, place it in the included carrying pouch, and sling the two straps over your shoulders.
According to a reviewer: “I go to the beach a few times a week living in Southern California, and this chair has been my trusty sidekick. My wife usually lies on a towel, so I like that it is low profile to keep us on a similar level. The back support is amazing. Most chairs like this your back sinks in and makes for some soreness later on. This chair is one of the best purchases I’ve made over the past year.”
- Available colors: 4
2. This High-Off-The-Ground Chair With Lumbar Support
Another option from STRONGBACK, this beach chair sits higher from the ground, making it a helpful option for anyone who has a hard time standing up after sitting in lower positions. Like the low-gravity version, it has lumbar support integrated into the steel frame, along with lumbar cushioning for extra comfort. Perhaps most helpful, it’s available in two sizes for people of varying heights — this Guru chair is designed for people 5 feet 8 inches and under, while the Elite chair is constructed for those over 5 feet 8 inches. Opting for a height-specific chair can help ensure that you sit with your knees at a 90-degree angle to your hips, which can help relieve lower back pain.
At 27 inches, this chair offers plenty of seat depth, and the ergonomic design aligns the hips and back for proper posture. The wide, no-sink feet keep it from getting stuck in the sand, and the two integrated cupholders let you keep cold beverages nearby. Made with 600-denier polyester, the chair has a 300-pound capacity and weighs 10.5 pounds. It can be collapsed and stored in the included travel bag, which has two shoulder straps for carrying.
According to a reviewer: “Most comfortable chair ever! Not too low or high. Easy to get in and out. Perfect for the beach or watching a game on the fields.”
- Available colors: 4
- Available sizes: Guru chair (for people 5 feet 8 inches and under), Elite chair (for people 5 feet 8 inches and over)
3. A Budget Chair With A Built-In Cooler
For those in the market for a cost-effective option, this outdoor chair from Coleman is an excellent choice with a lot of high-quality features — and it boasts a 4.7-star overall rating on Amazon after 46,000 reviews. And while it’s technically labeled a camping chair — not a beach chair — Hruby specifically recommends it for people with back pain. The fully cushioned, 24-inch polyester seat and back offer support to your spine, while the high-profile steel frame helps keep your body aligned. Keep in mind that there’s no integrated lumbar support — so you might want to provide your own — but the armrests are height-adjustable, a unique feature that upgrades the comfort factor. Plus, one reviewer noted it’s “stable in the sand,” so you don’t have to worry about it sinking in or tipping over.
Besides a side pouch and drink holder, this high-off-the-ground beach chair also has a built-in cooler that holds up to four cans at once. With a weight capacity of 300 pounds and a total weight of 7.75 pounds, it’s the most lightweight beach chair on the list, helping big time on the portability front — just collapse it, put it in the included carrying bag, and sling the single strap over your shoulder.
According to a reviewer: “The chair is very comfortable and ‘fits’ well. I have been able to use it on my deck for a long number of hours with comfort. This says a lot for a person who has had back surgery. Recommended.”
- Available colors: 4
4. The Rocking Chair That Helps Alleviate Muscle Tension
Another one of Hruby’s picks is this beach chair from GCI that rocks — both figuratively and literally. The unique aluminum-framed mechanism gives this chair the freedom to rock back and forth, which can help relieve muscle tension as well as assist you in getting out of the chair. With a weight capacity of 250 pounds, the chair features a 24.4-inch-deep seat and padded armrests for added comfort. A cupholder on the front leg provides a spot to place your can or bottle.
While the manufacturer doesn’t list what kind of fabric the chair is made of, several reviewers attested to its durability. A mesh panel on the back adds extra ventilation, which is great for hot, sunny beach days, but there’s no integrated lumbar support so you may want to add your own. Weighing a total of 10.8 pounds, the chair can quickly be folded flat for easy transportation. It doesn’t have a carrying case or shoulder straps; rather it has a sturdy handle for toting by hand.
According to a reviewer: “It's a very comfortable rocker. At the beach, you can sit in the sand AND STILL GET UP WITH EASE. It did not sink into the sand much, so there was no slanting left or right. The rocker action is relaxing. It's great for anyone, but especially those of us who are aging or heavier than we used to be. [...] Well worth the price.”
5. A Zero-Gravity Chair That Takes Pressure Off The Lower Back
A zero-gravity chair such as this one from Amazon Essentials will keep you in total comfort all afternoon. Finger recommends this design because it allows you to recline at any angle — just lean back, and your legs will lift to align with your spine, taking the pressure off your lower back. Constructed with a durable steel frame and weather-resistant Textilene fabric, this chair includes a removable headrest pillow that provides extra neck support, and one reviewer reported it can be moved down to cushion the lumbar area.
With a capacity of 200 pounds, this foldable chair weighs 17.8 pounds, making it a little heavier and bulkier, so keep that in mind if portability is a concern (and note that there are no handles or straps for carrying). If you plan on hitting up the beach with a buddy, you can even buy this chair as a two-pack that comes with a convenient side table.
According to a reviewer: “Very comfortable chair. fully reclined it really helps to relieve my lower back pain and is very relaxing. Love it!”
- Available colors: 4
6. This Chair That Folds Into A Backpack
With a 4.7-star overall rating after 2,000 reviews, this is one of the best backpack beach chairs on Amazon, and it has the convenience of two padded straps that allow you to sling it over your shoulders for seamless transportation — no carrying case required. While it has a weight capacity of 300 pounds, the chair only weighs 11 pounds itself, so it can be easily toted to and from the beach. The wide seat is made out of a durable polyester fabric, and there is also a built-in neck pillow that provides extra support and cushioning. Made from lightweight aluminum, the chair has a sturdy back and four reclining positions that can relieve pressure on your lower back, but note that the seat is only 17 inches deep.
There are two compartments: a drink holder on the side, as well as a large storage pouch you can access while traveling. (Following Finger’s advice, you can even keep a small towel inside the pouch to use as lumbar support when you get to the beach.)
According to a reviewer: “This is my new beach chair. I like that it is higher off the ground than most. I have had 2 back surgeries and a knee surgery. It is easy for me to sit down and get up from it. It’s easy to carry, not heavy and sturdy. I love it!”
- Available colors and styles: 4
Steve Hruby, D.O.C. and founder of Kaizen progressive Health. https://www.kaizenprogressivehealth.com/
Eric Finger, board-certified orthopedic physical therapist and founder of Move Empower Concierge Physical Therapy. https://moveempowerpt.com/about/