Frontrunner Xpander Chair Review
The Frontrunner Xpander chair for overlanding, probably the most touted chair for the overlander, you can find numerous Youtube videos about them and plenty of reviews, here is own personal experience and thoughts on the Frontrunner Xpander having added two of them to our overlanding setup in the summer of 2021.
Why we bought the Frontrunner Xpander
One word – space. Starting a budget overland build is an exciting experience, gradually over time you begin to add to and build up not just your vehicle but the entire set up and while seating arrangements may not be at the top of the list straight away there come a time when you’re glad you invested in some chairs, the rear bumper just doesn’t cut it anymore!
Having researched camping chairs online thoroughly our main concerns were size and weight – especially size when packed. The first generation Shogun/Montero Sport is a midrange 4×4 and does not have anywhere near the same internal space as a Defender for example or larger Shogun so two chairs had to pack down as small as possible.
The Xpander is comfortable enough to sit on and relax while maintaining a useful height to allow you to sit around a table too.
Larger chairs like the range from Oztent are great and we also considered chair solutions from Dometic but all were of the design where, once folded and bagged they were a meter in length and not the smallest folded down, great if you have the space but not for us.
So the main reason we settled on the Frontrunner Xpander was packed down size which, if you know anything about these chairs is their strongest selling point.
We’ve sat in a few camp chairs over the years and it has to be said that the Frontrunner Xpander is not the most comfortable chair to spend a serious length of time on – nor is it the worst chair either, far from it. On a comfort level vs design and for it’s packed size you will be lucky to do any better, remember we are not talking a Royal standard of seating arrangements here, just functionality and purpose.
The Xpander is comfortable enough to sit on and relax while maintaining a useful height to allow you to sit around a table too [unlike lower camp chairs].
We’ve had no issues with durability thus far, there are mentions out there that screws at the leg hinges can work themselves loose but this had not happened to us [at least not yet] in any case, an item that folds like this will need checking from time to time as nothing remains brand new forever.
The fabric is premium and looks the business in jet black, the tubular steel is robust and so far is holding up well to regular overlanding. There are pockets on each side of the chair which to be honest we never really use, the pocket for your drink doesn’t really perform all that well and seems like an after thought or perhaps because ‘most other chairs have them’, the phone pocket or ‘media pocket’ is useful just as long as you remember to take out your phone before folding up the chair…
- Weight: 9lbs / 4kg
- Fabric: 600D polyester
- Frame: Tubular steel, black powder coated
- load capacity 235lbs / 115kg
- Folded size: L 6.1cm (2.4″) x W 44.5cm (17.5″) x H 41.7cm (16.4″)
- Unfolded size: L 52.1cm (20.5″) x W 44.4cm (17.5″) x H 78.7cm (31″)
- Height: 43.2cm (17″)
Packing & Storage
Packing and storage really is where these chairs come into their own, unlike many others designs these chairs fold flat, the mechanism is quite clever yet simple at the same time making the Frontrunner Xpander’s easy to erect and easy to fold back down.
With a folded size of only 44.5cm x 41.7cm [1/16th of folded out size]these chairs can easily be stowed away in your rig, either in a purpose made compartment, behind the driver or passenger seat or in a bag [ie scuba dive bag or similar]. The amount of space these chairs save compared to other more traditional designs is impressive and great if you need to be space conscious.
Does anything come close?
Yes. Darche have a couple of models that are similar in portability in the way that they fold [check out the Darche Firefly and the DCT33 model] both are slightly larger folded for storage but a viable alternative to consider. We looked seriously at the Firefly model from Darche as the price was similar to the Xpander but XP-Edition wanted €45.00 euros delivery – sorry guys but we couldn’t justify it.
Unless brands like Darche [and others] establish a stronger presence [or availability] in the EU market then Frontrunner will remain the primary go to for this kind of chair IMO. There are of course other brands which do make similar models but availability in Europe is non existent.
Good value? Well this one all depends on your budget, at €82.00 per chair [in 2021] we think that yes, they are good value. It’s true that they are up there with ‘some’ of the most expensive but the way we looked at it was that this was not just for the chairs themselves – we were buying a solution for our specific needs.
Yes you can get a much more comfortable chair for the money but when it comes to portability and packed away size the Frontrunner Xpander is number one.