The Best Adirondack Chairs Aren’t Just for Summer
Get a cozy recline all year round.
Updated Sep 14, 2023 10:01 AM
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If you’re looking to outfit your backyard space or get cozy around a firepit, there may be no piece of furniture more fitting than the Adirondack chair. First imagined by Thomas Lee in 1903 as the perfect place to take in the view of Lake Champlain from his cottage in Westport, New York, the same low-profile, high-back frame can now be spotted on porches, beachfronts, and campgrounds across the U.S. and not just in its namesake mountain region.
“The original design, which consisted of 11 pieces of wood, was made of hemlock plank with generous armrests and a sloping seat that positioned the sitter for optimal lounging,” explains Mac Plumstead, design director at Loll Designs. “Lee recruited a local carpenter, Harry Bunnell, to produce the chairs for East Coast vacationers. The chairs took off; Bunnell patented the design and continued to sell them for 30 years.”
And by 1938, it received the update we’re most familiar with when thinking of Adirondack chairs by Irving Wolpin, adds Plumstead. Below, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorites, ranging from traditional to contemporary and offering a variety of price points.
Material: Recycled HDPE plastic | Dimensions: 33-by-33.25-by-32.5 inches | Warranty: 5 years
What we like:
- No visible screws
- Waterproof, fade-resistant material
- Hidden bottle opener underneath the right arm
- 9 classic, neutral, and fun colors to choose from
- Pricey (but should last for years, especially if you add a cover)
Why we chose it: Modern-day twist on the classic that promises to endure the elements without you ever having to sand, paint, or stain.
While there’s nothing wrong with the original version of the Adirondack chair, there’s something about Loll Designs’s streamlined version that has caught our eye (and that of numerous interior designers like Kevin Dumais, who placed it on the front porch of his Connecticut home). “We implemented our discreet fastening system for a cleaner, more modern look, free of visible screws and fasteners,” shares Plumstead. “Our chairs are fabricated from recycled plastic, which helps the very environment we are encouraging people to enjoy.”
If you’re looking to add an air of sophistication to your backyard setup but still maintain casual comfort that invites guests to stay a while, this is the lounger we recommend. It offers a sloped recline, but not too far back to feel off balance, and the armrests will support you when getting in and out of the low seat as well as prop up an elbow or hold a drink. We love the way charcoal or black could add striking contrast among greenery, though the bright colors Loll Designs offers are all tempting choices. Its strong recycled plastic is mainly sourced from milk jugs.
If the price is making you think twice, especially for plastic, this chair by Highland Dunes (which we first spotted in Caroline McKay’s backyard) is a great budget-friendly alternative with the same modern flair. Did we mention it’ll cost you roughly $700 less?
Material: Recycled proprietary plastic | Dimensions: Varies | Warranty: 20 years
What we like:
- Built in the U.S.
- One of the first brands to create outdoor furniture from recycled materials
- You never need to sand, paint, or stain these chairs
- Designs can vary greatly in price
Why we chose it: Modern, classic, and transitional styles in a range of seat heights, widths, and depths.
If you don’t like to stray too far from tradition, check out Polywood. Made from proprietary, heavy-duty polyethylene lumber and a mix of salvaged landfill- and ocean-bound plastics (like milk jugs and shampoo bottles) held together by marine-grade hardware, these chairs are built to last. And a 20-year warranty eliminates any concerns about splintering, rotting, cracking, and fading.
You can shop a whole slew of fun finishes and designs (300-plus, to be exact, including miniatures for kids), such as foldable versions and a few sleek, modern models, too. There’s also the option to choose a range of sizes, from a super-low-profile seat to a higher, lifted style if getting in and out of an Adirondack chair sounds more like a challenge than a welcome reprieve after a long day of hiking. The Modern Grand Upright, for example, offers a seat height of nearly 18 inches and a roomier width of 24 inches, plus a reduced recline and extra elbow room; great for socializing but still plenty comfortable for taking in a view. Our favorite feature, however, is the fact that you can purchase a Polywood chair pretty much anywhere—they’re sold at Amazon, Wayfair, Home Depot, Walmart, and Lowe’s.
More Adirondack Chairs We Love
There are plenty other iterations of Adirondack chairs that we’ve come to adore as much as the Westport, though there’s nothing quite like one handcrafted by a furniture maker (we’ve heard it’s worth checking out Jack Greco’s custom-furniture showrooms and the Wood Carte in upstate New York). Scroll on to check out our ready-to-ship picks.
We love the modern flair of Ledge Loungers’s Mainstay Adirondack chair, offered in both a more traditional, roomier style (Regular) and tailored, compact silhouette (Fit). A combination of UV- and moisture-stable polyethylene resin (you won’t have to worry about splintering and warping after a dip in the pool) and rust-resistant stainless steel hardware, this seat is built to last. “Love the aspect of it being up high; it’s easy to clean and pretty comfortable after a swim, as the chairs don’t stick to your back. Would definitely recommend this chair to any new pool owner,” one reviewer writes. And aside from the built-in bottle opener and swivel glass holder, we like having the choice of 13 fun colors and five natural, wood-look finishes. Though you can’t go wrong with the crisp white.
According to the 3,000-plus reviews, this chair might be the biggest bang for your buck. Constructed from solid hardwood and finished in a glossy coat of paint, shoppers were shocked by how comfy this Birch Lane seat is. Most who bought one initially made additional purchases after being impressed by the ease of assembly and quality, especially since it’s under $100 right now. A few do note, however, that they keep theirs covered between seasons to prevent the screws from rusting, whereas others share theirs have endured multiple winters without worry.
To gather around the firepit in their paver-covered Los Angeles backyard, Working Holiday Studio founders Whitney Brown and Carlos Naude tapped these solid, FSC-certified teak chairs from Crate & Barrel. Two big slats adjoin together at the back and seat for an extra-wide profile, and the slope style is held up with even bigger back legs.
While it’s not as durable as the others listed here, it’s definitely our go-to budget-friendly buy. Most Adirondack chairs are an investment, but if you’re not ready to spend hundreds, perhaps even a thousand, on one (or a few), then this lightweight option may be your best bet. It comes with fun details like built-in cup and phone holders, which make it ideal for casual backyard hangs.
For a wood feel without the maintenance, Keter’s Lakeside collection includes a waterproof, UV-protected chair with a modern straight-edge back, comfortably contoured seat, and less recline. Made in the U.S., this lounge chair has a 400-pound weight capacity and features a design the brand promises won’t topple over.
To elevate the lounge experience, add the ottoman onto Neighbor’s take on the Adirondack. (It checks the essential boxes: sloped silhouette, low height, curved back, and sturdy armrests.) Both are sustainably made with rot-resistant teak sourced from FSC-certified forests.
Adirondack chairs are known for their distinct high back, but Rosecliff Heights’s streamlined take looks even taller. Featuring only two slats, this chair’s straight lines are emphasized by its sharp-looking arms and sides. “These chairs are very sturdy, and the seat is nice and wide. I also really like that they don’t sit too low to the ground to make it difficult to get out of, as some Adirondack styles tend to sit a little too low for me,” one reviewer writes. And because they’re made from weather-resistant, UV-treated polystyrene, they should last season after season, whether you place them on a porch or around a firepit.
For a chair that looks as if it’s been naturally weathered away by the ocean, this coastal version of the Adirondack chair is simplistic in construction but gorgeous to look at. Its recline is deeper than the others, but the whole thing is sturdy and made from cabbage-bark wood.
When we think of Adirondack chairs, the materials that first come to mind are wood and plastic, but this bestseller from Pottery Barn is neither. Constructed from aluminum, the rustproof metal marvel can be be paired with a weather-resistant cushion in a range of high-performance fabric covers, including those from Sunbrella, to up the comfort factor and add a little patterned flair to the simple black or white powder-coated frame.
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Material and Durability
“Not all Adirondack chairs are created equal. Shoppers should look for what they’re made of, sizing, style, and color options to fit their lifestyle and aesthetic,” advises Brian King, Loll Designs’s brand and marketing director. “Traditionally these chairs were made from wood, which looks nice but requires lots of maintenance year after year.”
Of all the wood options, teak is a top choice over painted woods, as it naturally patinas and resists water; it will eventually need to be sanded down and resealed. Plastic actually might be the most popular, though you’ll still want a chair tough enough to not wear overtime compared to a typical lawn chair. Look for HDPE—a fancy way to refer to high-quality plastic—for something sturdy. One thing to note: The material often has a direct correlation to weight, though all Adirondack chairs are generally on the heavier side compared to other outdoor furniture.
Adirondack chairs are traditionally low, hovering just a few inches above the ground, and slope back into what many describe as the “perfect recline.” Defining features include a tall, usually curved back, slatted construction (there are compatible cushions out there if this isn’t your cup of tea), and large, wide arms that hug the sides for extra support. This chair is the antithesis of compact and usually takes up a solid amount of room. It’s yet another reason why it’s typically so comfy.
Silhouettes aside, the Adirondack chair is popularly sold in a range of colors other than the classic natural finish. That’s part of the beauty of going with a durable plastic, as it allows for a greater range of color, notes King, since “color is a deeply personal choice.” At Loll Designs, charcoal gray remains a bestseller, though “nothing says Adirondack more than a beautiful apple red chair on the end of the dock at the lake,” he adds. Who can argue with that?
The Last Word
The best Adirondack chairs are pretty versatile. This is the type of seat that feels right at home, no matter where you live or whether it’s on a porch or in the backyard around a firepit. Our favorites won’t fade easily in the sun or wear in the snow, are sturdy, and offer a place to kick back and relax season after season.