tiistai 29. marraskuuta 2016

Product review: Helinox Chair One – A wonderful camping chair

On Saturday morning I closed the front door at 6:40 a.m. and steered my steps towards Kuusamontie (main road 20). After the lousy months of June and July, it seemed that summer had finally arrived in August. The sun was shining and the sky was almost clear. Hardly anyone was out this early in the day. In my backpack I had a brand new Helinox Chair One camping chair. A couple of weeks earlier I had spent a considerable amount of time in the outdoor gear store Partioaitta in Oulu sitting in one camping chair after another. In the end I chose the Helinox. It was the most expensive of the bunch (99.90€), but also the most comfortable one to sit in.

Chair One in carry bag
I swigged down my morning coffee at the supermarket in Rusko before continuing my way along Kuusamontie towards Kiiminki. I had no need for the camping chair yet, since after every couple of kilometres there were bus shelters with benches to sit on. After Jäälinjärvi (Jääli Lake) my stomach started to rumble. On the right side of the road there was a dry pine forest. I dug out the chair pouch from my backpack. Although I had somewhat familiarized myself with the Chair One already at home, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how light it was. The whole package weighs a little less than 900 grams. With the chair packed in its pouch, the whole pack has the outside dimensions of 35x10x12 cm.

Chair One parts
I opened the zipper on the pouch and dug out the two parts that make up the chair. Assembling the support frame i.e. attaching the chair legs and the seat supports in place was quick. The elastic cords inside the aluminium tubes were very helpful and the parts just snapped together as of their own accord. All that was left to do was to tighten the seating part at all four corners and – Voilà! I sat in the chair a bit hesitantly. The structure is so light that is was difficult to believe in its strength. The material used in the support frame of Chair One is TH72M alloy, which makes the chair both wonderfully light and strong at the same time. These are exactly the attributes that a hiker would appreciate. The same metal is also used in the arches of the best hiking tents. The maximum capacity for Chair One is given as 145 kilos.

Chair One frame
After finishing my outdoor meal I grabbed a coffee at the ABC petrol station in Kiiminki. I also took the opportunity to replenish my drink and chocolate supplies since there would be no ‘refueling points’ between Kiiminki and Haukipudas. The only shop on the way would close its doors before I made it that far. I went past the church in Kiiminki and arrived at Kiiminkijoki (Kiiminki River). The walkway running alongside main road 248 had recently been repaired and resurfaced. I was also able to see the lake better now than a couple of years ago. I met a sturdy man on his bike who stopped to talk with me. He told me he’d seen me with my backpack already before Kiiminki. He asked me if I was training for some kind of competition or had some other strange reason that motivated this long trek. I told him that I’d tried to trudge the triangle trek between Oulu, Kiiminki and Haukipudas twice already, but had had to cut my journey short each time due to various ailments.

After more than an hour and a half my legs were getting tired again. This time I put the Chair One up in a bus shelter. During the day I had gathered experience ‘by the seat of my pants’ of both the hard benches in the bus shelters as well as of the camping chair’s fabric that moulds to body shape. When it comes to sitting comfort the choice between the two is an easy one. Chair One is so comfortable to sit in that it beats even most living room furniture. In Chair One you are seated lower than in regular chairs. Even the bench in the bus shelter was about ten centimetres higher than my backside in the travel chair. According to the manufacturer, the seating height of Chair One is 34 centimetres. At first, getting up from the chair was a bit clumsy. However, it got easier when I started to trust the strength of the chair structure and simply leaned forward enough.

I continued my trek following the Kiiminkijoki (Kiiminki River). Eleven kilometres after Kiiminki the road and the river went their separate ways. I got hungry again, as the day’s journey reached the length of a marathon. I skilfully assembled the chair and placed it in an area covered by lichen. I sat down and finally found a weakness in the chair. The chair legs sank into the lichen and the whole contraption tilted ominously. The Chair One is not suitable for use on soft ground. I moved the chair on harder ground and dug out a sandwich from the backpack. I stretched out my legs and listened to the sounds of the forest. Light summer clouds drifted in the sky.

My legs didn’t feel too fatigued yet. I calculated that I would be home at around midnight. I continued to trek along Haukiväylä leading to Haukipudas. I crossed the Nelostie (main road 4) as well as the railroad and after a few kilometres I turned onto Haukiputaantie towards Oulu. In Kello I gave into my craving and stopped for a pizza and a beer at the Restaurant/Pizzeria Ala Turk. The evening was getting darker. During the last kilometres the soles of my feet were getting sore. I swigged down my evening coffee at Shell Pateniemi. I wasn’t home until at around half past midnight. According to the GPS, the journey to test the new camping chair came to a little less than 67 kilometres. According to the, in this case, more reliable device i.e. the pedometer, the distance was 64 kilometres. I’d finally conquered the challenge that twice before (in 2011 and in 2013) proved too much for me. Thanks to the light and compact camping chair, I was able to have comfortable and strength restoring breaks often enough.

Translated by Anna-Kaisa Tolonen from the original text.

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