What We Like
Easy to carry and use
Two pouches, including an insulated cooler
What We Don't Like
Storage pockets aren't roomy enough for towels or a beach blanket
Higher price point than other beach chairs
A great beach chair makes a trip to the shore even better. But what exactly makes a beach chair great? About this matter, we have strong opinions and many requirements. It’s not enough for the seat to be comfortable—that’s a given. A truly great beach chair offers us a place to stash our sunscreen, snacks, and assorted sundries. It’s got to be easy to carry and designed to last from one sunny season to the next. In our search for greatness, we hit the sand with the Tommy Bahama Deluxe Backpack Beach Chair (in the orange “Hula Marlin” colorway) in tow. Read on to find out whether this is the chair we’d want with us on a deserted island.
Design: Extra-wide seat, plenty of storage
Out of the box, the first thing we noticed about the Deluxe Backpack Beach Chair was its size. An extra 2.5 inches in width makes it noticeably roomier and more comfortable than other versions of the chair we’ve used before on countless beach trips. The extra-wide seat is just one of the many new features that set this chair apart from similar models. The chair still boasts the standard features we’ve come to love, like an armrest drink holder that keeps beverages within reach and safely above sand level. It also offers an attached pillow and a bar where you can hang your towel.
After setting up the chair, one of the very first things we did was drop our keys and phone in the armrest pocket next to the drink holder. Having essentials like these stored somewhere accessible saved us the frustration of digging through a beach bag to find them—or worse, losing them in the sand. The beach is meant for relaxing, not sifting through your belongings, so we’re all for thoughtfully designed gear that helps keep us organized.
The extra-wide seat is just one of the many new features that set this chair apart from similar models.
On the back of the chair are two storage pockets. We found the top pocket was perfect for storing sunscreen, sunglasses, and a sarong, but it wasn’t big enough for a towel or beach blanket. Meanwhile, our drinks stayed nice and cold thanks to the insulated cooler pocket below. We honestly feel like the cooler pocket is the best invention. It’s just big enough to fit a few drinks and snacks. On a recent beach outing, we threw in a small freezer block, and it worked like a charm, keeping everything extra chill for about three hours.
You’d probably need to tote an extra beach bag or cooler if you're hitting the beach with a large group, but if it’s just you and a buddy or your kiddos, you can throw a towel around your shoulders, put on this backpack chair, and go hands-free.
Materials: Lightweight yet tough and durable
The aluminum and steel frame is rated to hold 300 pounds, and yet it’s collapsible and surprisingly lightweight given its sturdy construction—the product of good engineering.
The fabric of the chair is a super-strong polyester. We flopped down onto it after a swim and then got up for a short frisbee session. When we returned, it was already dry. The armrests are hardwood, which really elevates the look of the chair, making it feel resort quality.
Performance: Easy to tote and use
This Deluxe design seems to open and collapse even more smoothly and intuitively than previous non-deluxe versions of the chair we’ve tried. Straps located underneath the seat convert this beach chair into a backpack when folded. The straps are adjustable, making it comfortable for kids or adults to wear.
Our drinks stayed nice and cold thanks to the insulated cooler pocket.
There’s a lug handle at the top of the chair, which is nice if you prefer to tote it by hand rather than as a backpack. This is particularly useful if you’re also carrying an actual backpack or, say, a child on your back.
When unfolded, the chair adjusts to five positions including flat, which is possible thanks to the towel bar doubling as legs (again, props to the engineering on this chair). Personally, we didn't use the flat position; if you do, your legs are still bent a little at the knees, so it’s not terribly comfortable. We’re guessing this position is an attempt to convert the chair into a chaise lounge. The problem is, it’s not a chaise lounge—it’s a chair, and that’s really enough.
Color Options: Available in bright colors and tropical motifs
The Hula Marlin chair we tried out is a bright pop of orange. You can spot it a mile away. Okay, not really, but when returning from a long stroll down the shore, we found the chair to be easily distinguishable amidst a sea of other beach chairs. If bright orange is just not your thing, Tommy Bahama offers the deluxe chair in Blue Marlin and in Pineapple and Windsurfer patterns. The price range fluctuates slightly depending on what you select.
The aluminum and steel frame is rated to hold 300 pounds, and yet it’s collapsible and surprisingly lightweight given its sturdy construction.
Price: Worth it
At about $80, this Tommy Bahama offering is more expensive than other beach chairs on the market. Some brands even offer sets of two seats for this same price. However, given its quality construction and helpful features, we think the Deluxe Backpack Beach Chair is well worth the splurge.
Tommy Bahama Deluxe Backpack Beach Chair vs. Pacific Breeze Lounger
There are so many variations of folding beach chairs, but we tested and compared two of the top-rated options—the more traditional Tommy Bahama beach chair and the alternative Pacific Breeze Lounger. The chairs are similar in price, but the Pacific Breeze Lounger comes in a two-pack.
We found that both chairs are lightweight and wearable, with adjustable backpack straps for easy carrying. The Tommy Bahama is a classic beach chair with five adjustable positions. The Pacific Breeze lounge chair is a padded lounge mat with an adjustable backrest that goes directly on the sand.
Both are comfortable but in different ways. The Pacific Breeze Lounger gets high marks because users can stretch out and read or sunbathe on it. That said, sand creep is real with the Pacific Breeze, so you need to be fine with getting sand on the mat and brushing it off as needed. The Tommy Bahama model is roomy and, since it sits off the ground, might be better for older people or those with trouble squatting down and getting back up.
The Tommy Bahama has two pockets, one of which is an insulated cooler pouch, whereas the Pacific Breeze Lounge only has one top pocket. The Tommy Bahama also has a number of extra features including drink and cell phone holders, a towel bar, and an attached pillow. The Pacific Breeze Lounge is more minimalist in design, foregoing bells and whistles.
See more reviews of our favorite beach chairs available for purchase.
- Product Name Deluxe Backpack Beach Chair
- Product Brand Tommy Bahama
- SKU SH481017
- Price $79.50
- Color Hula Marlin, Blue Marlin, Pineapple, Windsurfer
- Dimensions (opened) 31 x 23 x 28 in.
- Dimensions (with towel bar extended) 31 x 31 x 28 in.
- Seat to Ground Distance 8 in.
- Weight Limit 300 lbs.
- Materials Aluminum frame, steel seat, polyester fabric, and hardwood arms