An Ode to the Beach Chair I Fell in Love With on My Family Vacation
A hammocklike silhouette with marine-grade materials.
Published Jul 1, 2023 1:00 AM
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I’ve spent nearly every summer since I was born posted up on one beach or another in the Chesapeake Bay. With the very same folding chairs my mother and father picked up from a small shop on the boardwalk many years ago. Needless to say, they’re covered in rust and starting to fade. So last year, I decided it was finally time to break from that family tradition and try something new: Sunflow’s beach chair. In a couple of days, when driving down Route 1, the elevated design will be packed in the trunk. Read on for why, after a full 365 days of use, it’s now my go-to.
While I may not be as enticed by tropical palettes and patterns as my Parrothead parents, there’s still a reason that Tommy Bahama chairs are so popular. Lightweight and comfortable, those durable seats offer everything you need to stay near the ocean from sunrise to sunset, down to a cup holder and zippered pockets for extra storage. But with Sunflow’s bundle option, I realized I could have all that and more—and in a chic cabana stripe, to boot.
All it took was sinking into Sunflow’s hammocklike silhouette one time to know why it had such a successful debut on Shark Tank in 2020. Its aluminum frame and marine-grade, water-resistant fabric (30% polyester, 70% PVC plastic) means it won’t corrode from saltwater exposure. And sure, it’s on the heavier side, weighing nearly 10 pounds, but I’ve had no issues trekking across sand dune paths, deck stairs, and even the hills of Central Park thanks to its adjustable backpack straps. That added feature is helpful for my petite, five-foot frame; the chair hangs a little low, but I’ve been able to keep it tight and secure instead of flopping around while I walk.
Of course, for $198, you’d expect this to be the perfect chair—trust me when I say paying $98 more for all the attachments makes it exactly so. I could take or leave the sunglasses case, but the dry-bag zippered pocket has come in handy more times than I can count when high tide comes unexpectedly crashing in. It keeps my phone and other digital devices safe and out of ocean spray, sand, and sun. Throughout the day, my beverages will rotate among a stainless steel carafe and cold brew and a bottle of water, and a carbonated can. Not all of these fit into a universal cup holder, but Sunflow’s is fully adjustable; you can cinch it down for skinnier containers or have it open wide, up to a circumference of 11.5 inches, to comfortably keep even a huge Hydroflask sitting upright. Then once I decide to recline all the way to the farthest, fourth position (basically like lying down) to catch optimal rays, I’ll grab the UV-50 sun shield—which is fully adjustable, too—without having to fuss or bring an umbrella for moments of shade.
One thing to keep in mind is that properly opening and closing the chair takes some getting used to, especially after decades of working with a fold-and-chuck-across-your-shoulder kind of situation. My biggest word of advice is to read the directions—and then read them again. Even if you think you’ve fully expanded it, you probably haven’t. Here’s a tip: The top button will ease the back of the chair up (keep the logo facing toward you), and you’ll want it to be fully extended before officially opening it.
If the cost is a little steep, and you’re still not convinced, I will leave you with this: This chair effectively made me the envy of my entire family last year—so much so that one cousin purchased a chair for themself promptly after our beach vacation concluded. You better believe I will be adding a pillow and beach speaker to my repertoire this year, too.