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Technique: How do you Sit on the Ground (Comfortably)?
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Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
Lawn Chair on 06/03/2014 19:25:44 MDT Print View

OMG - I saw that guy in the backcountry at the bottom of the North Rim Grand Canyon in 2005! I couldn't believe it...

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Technique: How do you Sit on the Ground (Comfortably)? on 06/03/2014 21:00:52 MDT Print View

I thought we resolved this a while back :)

sitting 1

Even if you find a tree or rock there is no reason to lean against them... practice leaning forward

sitting 2

sitting 3

I suppose that if one is going to carry a chair, stool, air pump, knee pads, etc. then you might as well get one of these...

pack propped

So you can do this...


Or this (ditch the shelter unless it is raining or snowing)...

no tent

Of course, when I get old, I might have to spring for a lawn chair.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Technique: How do you Sit on the Ground (Comfortably)? on 06/03/2014 21:11:12 MDT Print View

I liked the second to last picture from your blog Nick. Because your pack is mostly blocked from view, and green, it looks like you are advocating using a spiny yucca plant as a seat back. Very badass.

Edited by millonas on 06/03/2014 21:11:47 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Technique: How do you Sit on the Ground (Comfortably)? on 06/03/2014 21:45:19 MDT Print View

Well the spiny seat thought is deflating.

I thought it was some sort of mystical desert aureola.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Prof Nick's Lectures on 06/03/2014 22:00:48 MDT Print View

>I thought we resolved this a while back :)

Ya, Nick, I caught your last lecture on this same subject. I think you missed the part where your audience commented that some of us do not have the same sitting flexibility and options that you do. My PT'ist takes a dim view of any posture that reduces the lordosis in the lumbar region, and your "sitting forward" recommendation does exactly that--it takes a lot of the healthy curve out of the lower back. Sitting as you do in the top photo is not recommended for everyone, although we're impressed you can do it and be comfortable. Gotta SYOS (Sit Your Own Sit).

The pack-as-backrest is brilliant, gotta try that. And the bottom photo of the full-on chaise recliner is the ultimate. Thanks for the inspiration. I'm going to start carrying a rock about that size so I can make a similar camp setup.

Edited by Bolster on 06/03/2014 22:07:20 MDT.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Not Answering is Answering on 06/03/2014 22:15:51 MDT Print View

I just realized I got an answer to my original question: How do you sit comfortably on the ground without a chair, a rock, or a log to lean against?

Few answers to that question, but loads of recommendations on how to improvise a chair, or recommendations on what chair to take. So I think I've got my answer by omission: there really is no agreed-upon comfortable way to sit on the ground. A few folks can sit lotus position. Otherwise, people are recommending: it's better to improvise a chair.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Sit pad on 06/04/2014 00:08:51 MDT Print View

What's your solution to comfortable sitting on flat ground, sans chair, sans rock, sans log?

I take a cut-down chunk of an old Therm-A-Rest Z-lite pad, which also goes under my feet at night. That encourages me to sit at rest breaks, even if the ground is rocky or damp.

Rest breaks usually go like this: take off pack, set pack down, take out sit pad, extra socks, and water bottle, put those down, sit down on pad, take off shoes and socks, put the shoes on the ground a couple feet away, stretch out and rest my bare legs and feet on the empty shoes. If a tree or rock is handy, that's a backrest, sometimes just the pack laying on the ground is enough of a backrest, but usually I do without.

Resting with my feet at about the same elevation as my butt helps with recovery. I don't even like sitting on logs or rocks like a chair any more, my feet and legs definitely don't feel as good after.

In camp, I sit in a variety of positions, mostly on flat ground. Sitting cross-legged for a while helps me stretch, which leads to fewer aches, pains, and cramps.


-- Rex

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Not Answering is Answering on 06/04/2014 09:37:24 MDT Print View

>> So I think I've got my answer by omission: there really is no agreed-upon comfortable way to sit on the ground. A few folks can sit lotus position. Otherwise, people are recommending: it's better to improvise a chair.

Take up yoga. One of the many benefits include improving flexibility so that you can sit on the ground comfortably. I'm perfectly happy sitting on the ground.

I take a small piece of Lawson's 1/8" foam pad; I use it as a sit pad, door mat, food prep pad, etc. Handy to have, washes/dries fast and easy.

Steve Meier
(smeier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Nano 7 hammock on 06/04/2014 11:20:29 MDT Print View

For 7 oz my 'sit on the ground comfortably' strategy is to hang in my Nano 7. It is super comfortable as a chair and provides the dual benefit of allowing me to swing my legs up and get some of the swelling out of my feet. 15 minutes and I am ready to go again. Best addition I've ever made to my hiking regimine.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Technique: How do you Sit on the Ground (Comfortably)?" on 06/04/2014 13:41:55 MDT Print View

Yeah, I never found a way to sit comfortably in camp without a chair. Logs and flat topped rocks are rare in the high alpine terrain I tend to hike in. I tried sitting on the ground and found it gave me both back pain and knee pain. I tried sitting on my BV450 but it was both short and uncomfortable. I finally broke down and bought an REI Flexlite chair, and find it to be worth the weight penalty to carry it for the comfort it gives me in camp.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Technique: How do you Sit on the Ground (Comfortably)? on 06/04/2014 20:28:27 MDT Print View

find in situ chair sources ;) hiking through ski country helps..

Edited by JakeDatc on 06/04/2014 20:30:06 MDT.

Gordon Gray
(GordonG) - F

Locale: Front Range, CO
dual purpose chair on 06/06/2014 13:34:58 MDT Print View

I also am unable to sit cross legged. Have been trying since I was a kid in elementary school during sotry time.

So I have been thinking.....

I wonder if it were possible to make a chair with trekking poles separated and then some fittings and a fabric sling. Dual purpose, ya know?

I understand that you would need some pretty burley poles, so, this is just a thought or topic for dicsussion.

Im talking about a lil chair like this:

You could use small, tough fittings similar to PVC pipe connectors. You know, kinda like the stuff that one your tent poles:

Hmmmmm. I know. I know.

Edited by GordonG on 06/06/2014 13:44:11 MDT.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Technique: How do you Sit on the Ground (Comfortably)? on 06/06/2014 17:36:32 MDT Print View

I had a go at making a 'chair" out of trekking poles but failed to come up with something that wasn't too fiddly .
About the only practical solution that I came up with was something very similar to the ( pre-existing I think) Jerry chair.
Jerry's chair

Steve Martell
(Steve) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Washington
Re: Technique: How do you Sit on the Ground (Comfortably) on 06/06/2014 18:43:46 MDT Print View

Picture yourself in a small shelter (Gatewood Cape) during a prolonged rain storm. After this experience I carry a chair on almost all my trips now--worth the extra 6.5 oz IMHO. I've modeled mine from a "Kifaru Field Chair"--although it's much lighter, a little bigger and much cheaper.

 photo securedownload_zps00958c3f.jpeg

Lying flat--back side view

 photo securedownload_zps94098455.jpeg

Setup and ready to use--back angle can be adjusted to a variety of positions

 photo securedownload_zps152c25b6.jpeg

Stored--ready to be slid into pack or o/s pocket

Edited by Steve on 06/10/2014 12:37:08 MDT.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Do like. on 06/06/2014 22:57:58 MDT Print View

OK Steve, I admit, that's pretty impressive, and I'm feeling some odd emotion akin to envy.

Have any of youse tried the strap "chair" yet? I'm still chuffed about it. Likely not as comfy as Steve's but way lighter. Not sure it would get me through long rain storms, but probably good for 30 minutes at a time, which is 30 minutes better than what I have now, which is nothing.

I slipped a T-A-R Lumbar Pillow into the strap "chair" at the back, and it was obscenely comfortable. Unlikely to take the pillow though, as it's +3.6 oz.

Edited by Bolster on 06/06/2014 23:11:55 MDT.

Phillip Asby
(PGAsby) - M

Locale: North Carolina
Middle age on 06/12/2014 08:56:38 MDT Print View

I've tried to not use a chair - and just spent too much time too uncomfortable.

I might try yoga since my flexibility stinks (although my core strength is quite good - do enough full body strength movements and you can't avoid it...) but still think a chair is probably worth it...

I use an Alite MonarchAlite Monarch

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Technique: How do you Sit on the Ground (Comfortably)?" on 06/12/2014 18:16:59 MDT Print View

the Big Agnes cyclone chair weighs six ounces. You use it with your sleeping pad, and it is very comfortable. However, I'm always worried about getting a puncture in my sleeping pad, so I used to use the chair with a light sit pad alone. Still pretty comfortable.

In the end, I decided that I didn't want to carry the extra six ounces, so I don't use this chair anymore. but it was the best solution that I found for this problem.

If you take reasonable precautions, using this chair with a sleeping pad is safe and really comfortable.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Re: Jerry/Kifaru chair on 06/13/2014 23:29:34 MDT Print View

Franco and Steve - How did you construct your chairs with the crossed poles? I tried making something like the Kifaru chair for my trekking poles but only having an online picture that wasn't too clear, it was hard to tell exactly how it was made, and my version didn't seem to hold the poles in any fixed position (they tended to slide apart as I sat back on the chair).

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
chair on 06/14/2014 00:13:41 MDT Print View

takes a bit of work, but very comfortable.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Re: Technique: How do you Sit on the Ground (Comfortably)? on 06/14/2014 05:05:39 MDT Print View

"What is your preferred way to sit on the ground (with no chair)?"

Depends on the weather. If it's not raining, after my internal "take a break" alarm goes off, I'll begin to scout around for a nice spot to sit down. By nice I mean moss, grass, a log, a tree stump, or a flat rock. My favorite is probably a big mossy log or rock where the moss from the ground has grown like a big rug over everything. I'll check for bugs and such, then I'll just plop down right on the ground. If it's sunny and dry out, I won't get wet at all. If it's cooler and maybe rained the day before, it might be a little damp, but I usually don't care. I wear either thicker nylon hiking pants or thinner nylon running pants, so at worst the seat of my pants will be slighly damp, and this dries off after like 5-10min of hiking after my break.

If it is my ideal spot of mossy ground/log, then I use the log as back support. Otherwise I am fine without back support sitting cross-legged or with my legs propped up in front of me. If I need to rest my body more, I'll lay on my side with one elbow as support and alternate between elbows--but it's rare that I am this tired. If I am really tired, which again is rare, then I will break out my ground cover(s)--cut up garbage bag (40g) and/or small foam pad (57g or 40g depending on what backpack I am using)--and just lay down, maybe take a nap, and use my pack as a pillow.

If it is raining or if I am in a location that is less than ideal (i.e. no moss or grass), then I will look for a big tree to sit under. I big pine tree is usually the choice, and will have a bed of old pine needles under that helps with padding. I have found trees big enough and with enough branches to eat lunch under during moderate rain and be fairly dry. On some rare occasions there are other natural shelters I have also used to sit under, like under cliff overhangs or under lop-sided boulders. Depending on how soaked the ground is or how wet I already am, then I may or may not take out my ground cover--it's about 50/50.

If I am in an area, like a big hill or very rocky terrain, that lacks these more ideal rest stops to sit on the ground, then I will just sit on bare stone. If the stone is rough or of my rear end gets cold in cooler seasons then I will take out my foam pad--this is also about 50/50. If it is raining and I am stuck in this less than ideal terrain for a break, I'll just keep hiking until I'm back in the woods again--which is usually not that long, given my location.

Then of course there is just plain good luck. Sometimes on marked trails here there are trail shelters or benches, and I will pass them around the same time as I want to take a break.

In the winter when there is snow on the ground, well this makes things all the more easy. I just look for a spot that is flat, poke around for anything that might not be good to sit on under the snow, get out my small foam pad and sit down. I suppose I might as well explain my two different foam pads while I am at it, since I've already given a complete breakdown of my sitting on the ground routines and preferences. So my go-to packs are a Zpacks Zero (frameless, obviously) and a Zpacks Arc Blast. My foam pad for the Zero is a smaller foam rectangle that acts as my pack's support and so I don't feel my gear poking me in the back, and also acts as a sit/kneel pad as well as supplimentation to my sleep system (e.g. under my legs or as a stand-alone torso pad). My foam pad for my Arc Blast is slightly larger so that I can roll it up a bit and strap it to the base straps. Same applies to how it functions, only that with this pack I don't need any back support, of course.

This concludes the most detailed account of how I sit down out in nature I have ever written (or thought of at once), because what else am I going to do with a toddler that is taking their afternoon nap right next to me? Moving might wake them up, and I've already checked my email and reddit, so this will suffice as the next best time killer I guess?

I have never felt the need to own a portable backpacking chair, and consider my breaks to always be very comfortable in general when they are spent on the ground. No feeling sore or stiff or uncomfortable... well, ever, that I can recall.