Sometimes you want to go somewhere you know there aren’t any park benches or picnic tables. The ground isn’t an option for you and you can’t count on an appropriate rock or log being handy. This makes the park, viewpoint, bird sanctuary, etc. less accessible for a lot of people.
The obvious answer is to bring your own seat. Except, a lot of time the place you’re going isn’t right next to parking and lugging a full size camp chair is unappealing or physically difficult. Especially if you are already juggling other gear like a tripod, camera bag, ice chest, beach tote, etc.
A folding stool is the solution. Typical camp stools can be found numerous places online and in sporting goods stores. The plus side is that they are usually inexpensive.
But they have a few drawbacks. Many of them are flimsy, so they don’t last long or threaten to collapse under anyone other than the petite. Even if they are fairly sturdy, they often have small seats and are a bit low to the ground. And the traditional style camp stools don’t fold up compactly for easy carrying.
My mom gave this stool to me for Christmas (it was on my wishlist for photography purposes) and I finally had need of it a couple days ago. It was everything I hoped it would be.
The Alps heavy-duty stool not only has a high weight limit, but it’s much more comfortable for tall people, photographers who get up and down a lot, those with painful joints that make low seats troublesome, or anyone who is going to be sitting for an extended period of time.
The stool has a triangle seat that is 19″ on each side and is 19″ high. (Many people find triangle seats more comfortable because they cup your bottom and don’t cut off circulation.) The stool comes with its own carry bag with shoulder strap and weighs five pounds.
A lot of triangular stools have a single connection in the middle where the three legs cross underneath the seat. While that style tends to be quite a bit lighter for carrying, they can be very tippy. This style, with the legs extending straight down from the corners, with cross supports, is a lot more stable.
These features make the hefty $50 price tag and 5 lbs. weight worth it to me. It’s well made and I expect it to last for many years, potentially the rest of my life.
For photographers, the advantage of a stool over a chair is that it’s easier to swivel around if you aren’t taking photos in just one direction.
The other advantage for photographers is the compact size and portability, even when there are park benches in the area. The benches aren’t necessarily placed exactly where you want to setup.
There have been a few times I’ve been out for a sunset and twilight shoot. That means I’m going to be there for an hour and a half to two hours and I don’t want to be on my feet that long. So I’ve setup my tripod next to a less than ideal bench, or setup my tripod away from the bench and then go back and forth as I wait for changes in the light.
Now I’ll be able to position my tripod where I want it and set my stool right next to it. I sure wish I had it during the lunar eclipse last fall. That time I ended up lugging my camp chair around with me.
The other day I used my new stool at Paramount Open Space Park. There aren’t any benches in the woods and I wanted to be among the trees for a while to see if I could get some bird photos. Without the stool to rest on in between wandering around I wouldn’t have been there long enough to see the wonderful great blue heron that eventually flew in.
If you shop around, stools with larger and higher seats have become more common compared to when I first started looking and set my sights on this one. So this brand isn’t your only option. Just make sure you buy one that’s well made, has a carry strap, and is sturdy enough for your intended uses.
Disclaimer: I don’t have any relationship to the manufacturer or linked retail sales site. I just think this is a very nifty piece of park gear.