Introduction: Super-easy Paracord Camp Chair

Picture of Super-easy Paracord Camp Chair

Nature is a wonderful thing. Camping and backpacking are great ways to enjoy the beauty and wonder of the natural world around us, and I highly recommend both of these activities to everyone. There's something refreshing and downright magical about being out in the middle of nowhere, away from computers, cell phones, traffic and other day-to-day distractions.

However, if you're like me, the joy of communing with nature does not extend to sitting in mud or on a big pointy rock or ant-infested log. A comfortable place to sit is a big plus. Here's a trick I picked up while backpacking that allows for a way to relax in comfort without having to lug around a big heavy folding chair.

Step 1: You Will Need

Picture of You Will Need
  • Paracord
  • A Towel - you did bring a towel, didn't you?*
  • A Knife (or other implement that can cut paracord)
  • A PineconeTM**
  • A relatively horizontal Tree Branch
*A traveller should always know where their towel is
** You really shouldn't need to pack one, but if you don't have one, please PM me and I'll send you your very own for the low low price of $19.95 (S&H additional). Or, I suppose you could use a stick or a rock, or your car keys or something.

Step 2: Hang Your Cord

Picture of Hang Your Cord

After locating a suitable tree branch (relatively horizontal and stout enough to support your weight), unfurl enough paracord to loop over the branch and reach the ground again.
Tie the end of the paracord to a PineconeTM and chuck the pinecone over the tree branch. If you're at all like me, this will take a few tries. I find that cursing helps. YMMV.
Cut the paracord off close to ground-level. You should now have a piece of cord hanging over the tree branch, with both ends of the cord on or near the ground. Remove the PineconeTM from the end of the cord.
Unfurl another length of paracord, tie the PineconeTM on, and repeat the chucking and cursing process until you have two matching lengths of cord hanging over the tree branch. If you can arrange for the loops to be about two feet apart from each other, that's ideal, but as long as they're over the branch, you're ready to move on to the next step - Attaching The Towel.

Step 3: Attaching the Towel

Picture of Attaching the Towel

At this point, you should have four loose cord ends hanging in front of you. We'll be tying each loose end to a corner of the towel using a sheet bend knot. If you don't know how to tie a sheet bend, go to the final step for a brief tutorial, then come back here. It's OK, I'll wait for you.

Designate an end of the towel as "top". Designate one paracord as "left" and the other as "right". Take the "left" loose paracord end and sheet bend it to the corner of the towel on the top end on the left side. Repeat with the "right" cord on the right top towel corner. Be sure to tighten the sheet bends carefully.

Hoist the towel up so that the towel is hanging vertically at approximately shoulder-height for the person who will be using the chair. Lift a bottom corner of the towel to approximately waist-height and sheet bend the corner to the loose end of the paracord on the appropriate side. Repeat for the other corner. Tighten both sheet bends carefully. There will be some extra cord hanging off of the bottom end of the towel. Bundle and tie the excess cord so that it doesn't drag the ground.

Step 4: The Magic Loop (optional)

Picture of The Magic Loop (optional)

Take the bottom end of the towel, and pass it upward between the cords holding up the top end, letting it fall through to the other side.

This optional step crosses the paracords where they pass under the branch, which causes more surface area to be in contact with the branch when the chair is in use. This can help to reduce unwanted slippage of the cord.

Step 5: Test the Chair, and Make Adjustments

Picture of Test the Chair, and Make Adjustments

Now you're ready to try out your chair. Enter the chair the way you would get into a hammock and carefully ease your weight into it (even better, get someone else to do it, as RavingChild illustrates below). Check to make sure the height is good and that the sheet bends are holding fast. If the branch bends more than you anticipated, simply untie one end and retie the towel higher until the chair hangs where you want it to.

Step 6: Enjoy Your Comfy Chair

Picture of Enjoy Your Comfy Chair

By changing the angle of the hanging towel, you can go from an upright chair to a recliner with just a tug of the lines. You can also even it out and sit sideways if you prefer a wider seat. If you have a really big towel and two appropriately-situated tree branches, you can even make a hammock.
As an added bonus, at night you can untie one end of the towel, use the excess paracord ends to make a bundle, and hoist your food up into a tree to keep the local critters out. It would probably even make a pretty good cradle/bed, for those who camp with small children. It also works as a towel.
The uses are limited only by your imagination! Well, your imagination and the fact that it's a towel and some paracord, so you're probably not going to get it to play Blu-Ray discs, even if you have a really good imagination.

Step 7: Appendix: How to Tie a Sheet Bend

Picture of Appendix: How to Tie a Sheet Bend

Tying a sheet bend is really easy, and is the best knot for joining two cords of different thicknesses (or a cord and a towel, as the case may be).

To tie the knot, simply take the towel or the thicker of the cords and make a 180-degree bend in it. In knot-tying parlance, this is called a "bight". (Fig. 1)
Take the thinner cord and pass it from the back of the bight, through the hole to the front. (Fig. 2)
Wrap the cord around the bight, going around the short end of the bight line, (Fig. 3) all the way around the back, over the long end of the bight line, and back to the front. (Fig. 4)
Pass the loose end of the thin line under itself where it passes through the middle of the bight (Fig. 5), and pull both lines tight. That's all there is to it.


ParaGunner1324 (author)2014-01-11

Cool. I think I will use a tarp instead. The towel might tear under weight

HelenaTroy (author)2013-06-06

really hoopy, frood!

Unicornz (author)2013-04-21

That's awesome!!!

TekgodCMS (author)2010-04-01

You are one hoopy dude.. I mean, you are a frood who really knows where his towel is. I'll have to add this to my Guide.

finton (author)TekgodCMS2012-12-09

Damn! Beat me to it by only 2.5 years... I'd face the Zombie Apocalypse with Douglas Adams and RavingMadStudios anyday.

Thanks. I also make a mean Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster.

Love the references which I only understood because my Babel Fish was able to translate them. This will come in very handy I'm sure when I'm next out camping/hiking in a woodland area. Thanks :)}

looker1995 (author)2011-05-07

I have sat sideways in a hammock while camping and hiking. Same principle, taking advantage of items you already have with you. This is a great idea- Thanks!

Eromanga (author)2011-02-24

Brilliant. Will definitely be trying this on next time I'm out bush.


nerfer192 (author)2010-08-26

what leatherman is that?

It's a Core - basically a newer version of the older SuperTool model (I also have one of those). It's a great tool, and I highly recommend it.

inkerbel (author)2010-06-22

Very cool! My kids are going to love this when we go camping. Added bonus: if the kids are old enough to tie the knots themselves, it will give them something to do when they start whining that they're bored!

Good luck, and have fun camping! Wish I could go this year....

dopeonarope (author)2010-06-13

best knot diagram ever!... that was really easy to understand. thank you

Thanks very much!

bluelimahorse (author)2010-06-10

Great idea. I made one modification. I didn't like my legs being shoved together by the support ropes so I rolled up a short stick in the bottom edge then tied off the corners with the bend hitch. This kept the ropes from forcing my legs together and made it a little easier to get in and out of. I also hate cutting paracord if I don't have to. So it helps to learn how to tie the hitch so you run the towel corners through the knot. Then you can keep one long piece of para cord for the taller tree down the trail. One safety note, as I found out, make sure your towel has a good, intact seam around the edges. I was doing fine with the old beach towel when the side edge tore. No harm done. This is going with me on my next backpacking trip.

Excellent idea about the stick. I'm totally trying that next time. Also a good point about not cutting the paracord. I had considered doing it that way, but opted for the easy way out.

psymansays (author)2010-05-07

 That chair looks comfy!

Beats carting a folding chair around, that's for sure.

.  Oh, no! Not the comfy chair!

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

bellinghammakerspace (author)2010-04-09

You can do the same thing and make a hammock. I have done it with sheets (don't last long) and old blankets (better) and even old curtains (best)

Curtains is a new one on me, but it does sound like a good idea. May have to try that one. Just don't tell my wife what happened to the drapes.

NachoMahma (author)2010-04-01

.  Great job.
.  In windy situations, it might be better to use something a little heavier than an old pinecone to get your rope over the limb. RavingChild looks to be just about the right size. :)

Nah, I haven't been able to chuck him over a tree branch since he turned three. Guess I need to work out more....

Or have another...

No thanks, one is plenty....

.  Wouldn't take a million bucks for the one I have. Wouldn't give two cents for another just like her. ;)

Very well put.

l8nite (author)2010-04-03

great looking chair and it looks really comfortable as well. Im not sure Id trust my 250lbs to a towel but for the kids it'll work

RavingMadStudios (author)l8nite2010-04-04

Thanks, it is pretty comfortable. I don't know about the upper weight limit. It works OK for my 200 lbs, but I guess it would really depend on the towel and how good your sheet bends are....

paganwonder (author)2010-04-01

Agree with Nacho, I usually use the 4 yr old if I can't catch the dog!

Hmm... what kind of dog?

Flat Coat Retriever who is none too bright and usually easily lured in by vague promises of snacks!  

I think I might have a bit more trouble throwing my Rottie. She might climb the tree herself if there was people food up there, though.

Truehart (author)2010-04-02

Wow, in all my years of camping I would have never thought of something like this.  I've used a hammock many a times, but when it came to a chair, either you brought one or you used a cooler/log/bear that happened to be passing through your camp (I wouldn't recommend the last one, bears don't like to be sat upon).  Very nice 'ible.

Truehart (author)Truehart2010-04-02

Also, are you going to enter this in the contest?

Thanks very much. I like to travel light, gear-wise (more room for beer that way), so this has come in very handy at times. I have entered it in the contest, I'm just waiting for the mods to give their OK.

orisj (author)2010-04-01

I love it!

RavingMadStudios (author)orisj2010-04-01

Thanks very much!

About This Instructable




Bio: Jack of all trades, master of a couple. Eclectic interests combined with a short attention span make me just knowledgeable enough to be really dangerous.
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