Nemo Stargaze Recliner Luxury Chair
Dimensions: 27 x 36 x 44 in.
Weight: 7 lbs.
What we like: Fun to sit in, fully featured, and highly comfortable.
What we don’t: Pricey and requires considerable time to set up and pack away.
See the Nemo Stargaze Recliner
Camping chairs are a fairly static category with few noteworthy innovations each year, but New Hampshire-based Nemo came up with a very intriguing design in their Stargaze Recliner Luxury Chair. In contrast to traditional folding models, the Stargaze’s mesh body is suspended above its aluminum frame, allowing it to rock or recline depending on how you position your back and feet. The rest of the build is equally well-executed, including a sturdy construction, comfortable padding, and functional storage. It’s very pricey at $220 and takes a decent amount of time to set up and pack away, but the comfort, versatility, and all-around fun factor are hard to beat. Below we outline our experiences with the Stargaze. To see how it stacks up to the competition, see our article on the best camping chairs.
Table of Contents
- Comfort and Dimensions
- Leg Design and Stability
- Weight and Packability
- Key Design Features
- Build Quality and Durability
- Set Up and Take Down
- What We Like/What We Don't
- Comparison Table
- The Competition
Comfort and Dimensions
As its name indicates, Nemo’s Stargaze Recliner Luxury Chair is an unapologetically premium camp chair that places a big emphasis on comfort. In essence, the design combines the functionality of a recliner, hammock, and rocking chair in one, with a mostly mesh body suspended above an aluminum frame that allows you to swing back and forth, tilt back, or sit upright depending on where you place your back and feet. The swinging motion is smooth and gentle, it’s easy to lean back and fully stretch out, and the armrests and headrest are nicely padded, supportive, and highly comfortable. Finally, the mesh along the body is thick but impressively breathable: I’ve never experienced a sweaty back, even in temperatures in the 80s Fahrenheit, and the chair was quick to dry when I accidentally left it out during an unexpected downpour while camping in southern Utah.
In terms of dimensions, the Stargaze is generously sized and stacks up well to other popular comfort-focused camping chairs at 27 inches long, 36 inches wide, and 44 inches tall. Nemo doesn’t provide a ground-to-seat height spec (the distance from the ground to the bottom of the seat), but I measured it at 20 inches, which is relatively high for a camp chair but still pretty easy to get in and out of. The Stargaze does have a bit of a hammock-like feel due to a slight dip at the bottom—you have to fall into it to sit down and generate some momentum to get back up—but the armrests do have dedicated, labeled bars ("hold here to sit and stand") that offer decent support. And once you’re sitting, the Stargaze has a very natural-feeling and comfortable position whether you’re seated upright or fully reclined.
Leg Design and Stability
The Stargaze’s leg design sacrifices some stability to allow the rocking function, but it’s still pretty reliable and balanced overall. The four legs—connected to the upper portion of the frame via a horizontal, pre-bent pole—are thick, robust, and spread far enough apart that the chair feels secure even on rocky, uneven ground. At the top, the mesh seat connects to the arms via metal “Super Locks” and sits solidly in place—I’ve never had any issues with the locks disengaging unexpectedly or the seat detaching from the frame in any way. The Stargaze does fall a little short of more standard designs like Alps Mountaineering’s King Kong in terms of all-around support and structure, but Nemo incorporated all the moving parts very well and I’ve never felt tippy or off-balance.
Weight and Packability
Weight and packability aren’t top considerations for most campers—they matter much more for backpackers hauling their gear miles into the wilderness—but we appreciate when camp chairs are easy to carry and stuff away nicely in a trunk or roof box. In this case, the Stargaze checks in at 7 pounds even, which doesn’t feel overly cumbersome to shuttle short distances but is on the heavier end of the camping chair spectrum. For comparison, you can shave considerable weight and bulk with a simplified option like Nemo’s own Moonlight (1 lb. 14 oz.), which reclines but does not rock, or more traditional designs like REI’s Flexlite (1 lb. 11 oz.) and Flexlite Air Chair (1 lb.). That said, the Stargaze starts to look a lot more competitive when pitted against other premium and feature-rich models, including Yeti’s Trailhead Camp Chair (13 lbs. 5 oz.) and GCI Outdoor’s Freestyle Rocker (12 lbs.).
In terms of packability, the Stargaze takes up a pretty considerable amount of space when stuffed away (folded dimensions measure 23.5 x 6.5 x 6.5 in.). I’ve had no issues fitting it into a full trunk or my van’s crowded rear storage area, but it does require some strategic packing at times. However, to be fair, the Nemo does fold down noticeably smaller than the aforementioned Yeti Trailhead (43 x 10 x 8 in.) and GSI Freestyle Rocker (35 x 24 x 5 in.), and I appreciate that the design has a relatively narrow shape that makes it easier to slide into tighter spaces. All in all, the added bulk feels like a reasonable tradeoff for the Stargaze’s impressive feature set, top-notch comfort, and high-quality build (more on this below).
Key Design Features
Simply put, the Stargaze comes with all the trimmings we’d expect from a camp chair at this price point. As we touched on above, one of the Stargaze’s hallmark features is the ability to rock or recline, both of which require very little effort. Additionally, both the headrest and armrests are nicely padded, and you get functional storage with a cup holder at one side and stash pocket at the other. The cup holder is nicely sized for stashing a standard soda or beer can, and the stash pocket can easily accommodate valuables like car keys and a large cellphone (my iPhone 11 Pro Max fits with room to spare). Rounding out the storage, the carrying case also boasts an additional interior pocket should you want to keep any items with the chair when stowed, such as a headlamp.
Build Quality and Durability
Nemo is known for their build quality and attention to detail, and that expertise comes across clearly with the Stargaze. The chair is noticeably well-built and robust, from the sturdy aluminum frame to the well-cushioned headrest and armrests. Further, as I mentioned above, the mesh body nicely balances thickness and breathability: I’ve haphazardly packed and unpacked the chair more times than I can count and am never worried about snagging or tearing, and the bottom and back have never grown sweaty even in very warm summer temperatures. And after about two months of consistent use, my Stargaze is showing no signs of wear: the body hasn’t started to fade despite regular sun exposure, the frame is in great shape with no scuffs, and all moving parts continue to operate smoothly. I’ll update this review if any issues arise, but all signs are positive that the Stargaze will last a very long time. Again, it’s a steep investment at $220, but the confidence-inspiring build does help justify the cost.
Set Up and Take Down
Due to unique multi-function design, the Nemo Stargaze Recliner took a decent amount of time to set up and pack away at first. That said, Nemo does include detailed and illustrated instructions inside the carrying bag, and I’m now able to get it set up in under 90 seconds. To summarize: Once unpacked from the bag, remove the frame and insert each metal piece (including the four shock-corded legs and two arms) into the closest hub socket. Next, remove the mesh body and align the two metal “Super Locks” at the arms with the top of the frame, then slide them into the grooves to lock them into place. Finally, insert the headrest support poles by sliding them into the fabric housings at the back of the seat and popping the upper ends into the pockets at the top. Pulling the pockets back far enough to secure the poles does take some grip strength, but it’s never been a major issue for me.
When it comes time to pack up, disassembling the Stargaze is just a matter of reversing the set-up process. My only major gripe is that it’s fairly difficult to get the chair back into its case each time—it requires intentional placement to orient each frame component properly so that the zipper on the bag is able to close, and the mesh body won’t fit unless it’s folded in a specific way (lengthwise first, then tuck the headrest downward). This isn’t too big of a frustration if you’re staying in one place for a while and can leave your gear out, but if you plan to move camp every night, the more involved set-up and take-down processes can get a little tedious. If you anticipate this being an issue, we recommend opting for a more traditional and easily foldable model like Alps' King Kong or REI Co-op’s Camp X, both of which can be popped open or stuffed away in a matter of seconds.
What We Like
- Excellent comfort and versatility: the Stargaze is nicely padded at the headrest and arms, offers a natural seating position that’s enjoyable to sit in, and has the ability to both rock and recline.
- Mesh body is very hardwearing and abrasion-resistant but still breathes well and dries quickly.
- Top-notch build quality, including a robust aluminum frame, thick and durable mesh seat, and confidence-inspiring components throughout.
- The chair comes with all the trimmings we’d expect at this price point, including functional storage, a reasonably sturdy design, and a well-built carrying case.
What We Don’t
- Incredibly pricey at $220.
- Setting up and packing away the Stargaze are fairly involved processes, and getting it into its carrying case takes some precision and patience.
- The bottom of the chair dips down slightly, which gives it a bit of a hammock-like feel and can make getting in and out a little difficult.
- Relatively heavy at 7 pounds and bulky when packed down.
|Nemo Stargaze Recliner||$220||Comfort||27 x 36 x 44 in.||20 in.||7 lbs.||300 lbs.|
|ENO Lounger DL Chair||$125||Comfort||23 x 32 x 37 in.||3/10 in.||4 lbs. 10 oz.||250 lbs.|
|Big Agnes Big Six Armchair||$200||Comfort||24 x 26 x 40 in.||20 in.||4 lbs. 2 oz.||300 lbs.|
|GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker||$65||Comfort||24 x 25 x 35 in.||19.7 in.||12 lbs.||250 lbs.|
|Yeti Trailhead Camp Chair||$300||Comfort||30 x 36 x 25 in.||17 in.||13 lbs. 5 oz.||500 lbs.|
|Nemo Moonlight||$140||Lightweight||26 x 20 x 20 in.||10.5 in.||1 lbs. 14 oz.||300 lbs.|
*Editor's Note: "Height" refers to the measurement from the ground to the seat bottom.
Nemo’s Stargaze is a unique addition to the camping chair market and our favorite high-end design this season. However, if you like the shape but don’t necessarily want the ability to rock or recline, hammock brand ENO sells a unique alternative in their Lounger DL Chair. As with the Stargaze, the Lounger’s seat is suspended above the frame and offers a deep, relaxing feel. You also get a functional feature set that includes a cup holder, two cargo pockets, and a pillow, and we love the adjustable leg system that can be extended to 10 inches at camp or folded down to 3 inches for beach outings or concerts. The biggest knock against the Lounger DL is durability: with a fairly thin 210-denier nylon seat, it’s noticeably thinner and less confidence-inspiring than the Stargaze. But if you take reasonable care, the ENO is a comfortable, lighter-weight, and fun option for $95 less than the Nemo.
For a little less than the Stargaze, Big Agnes’ Big Six Armchair is another highly comfortable and well-made option. We especially like the high back and cradle-like seat that offer a deep but natural seating position. The Big Six is also considerably lighter than the Nemo at just over 4 pounds and easier to set up and pack away (although the shock-corded pole layout does require some assembly). However, the Big Six is fairly bereft of features, including two cup holders but no stash pockets or padding at the head or armrests. In the end, given the Nemo’s additional functionality and bigger feature set, we think it’s the better value in this price range.
If you like the rocking function of the Stargaze, it’s also worth considering GCI Outdoor’s Freestyle Rocker. In this case, GCI utilized a spring-action tube at the back of the chair, which is great for stability but can become squeaky and has a higher potential of failing over time. In addition, the Freestyle Rocker is heavy at 12 pounds, fairly bulky for hauling, and boasts smaller dimensions than the Nemo, including a noticeably narrower seat. Given these complaints, we consider the Nemo the more well-executed rocking design, but the GCI nevertheless is a viable budget option for a considerable $155 less.
At the ultra-premium end of the spectrum, Yeti offers an intriguing alternative in their Trailhead Camp Chair. Right off the bat, we’ll note that the Trailhead lacks the fun factor of the Stargaze with a fairly traditional, foldable design, and it’s also pricier at $300 and heavier at 13 pounds 5 ounces. That said, the Trailhead has one major advantage over the Nemo: ease of use. Compared to the relatively complex Stargaze, the Trailhead expands and stows away in seconds and takes very little effort to set up and pack away. If you’re someone who prioritizes convenience and a quick set-up above all else, the Yeti might be worth the added investment. But for similar comfort and durability in a cheaper and more versatile package, we prefer the Nemo. Finally, if you like the traditional shape and design of the Trailhead but don't want to spend an arm and a leg, Alps' popular King Kong is a much more budget-friendly (albeit less luxurious) alternative.
Last but not least is an in-house option to consider: Nemo’s own Moonlight. For a significant $80 cheaper than the Stargaze, the Moonlight retains the ability to recline but lacks the rocking function of its pricier sibling. Other differences include smaller dimensions (including a narrower and much shorter seat), no headrest or armrest padding, no storage or cup holders, and a simplified carrying case. In addition to costing less, the Moonlight undercuts the Stargaze considerably in weight at 1 pound 14 ounce and packs down much smaller. If you’re limited on space or plan to carry your camp chair for longer distances, the Moonlight has a lot of appeal. But if you can accommodate the Stargaze, we think the additional features, comfort, and functionality are worth it.
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