Here at Trail and Kale we review the best in outdoor gear to help you enjoy spending quality time outside, including activities such as traveling, camping, hiking, running or watersports, so I was excited to get my hands on the GCI Outdoor Freestyle rocker, which is one of GCI’s most popular rocking camp chairs.
If you’re looking for a comfortable chair you can take camping, tailgating or to watch a soccer or ball game where you’ll be sitting for long periods of time then it’s not surprising that having a folding rocking chair is appealing.
This GCI Outdoor freestyle rocker review explains the key features, pros and cons of this popular rocking camp chair, together with my experience using it.
I’ve also included a video (and photos) at the bottom of this review which demonstrated the rocking mechanism and how the chair collapses and unfolds.
Key features of the Freestyle Rocker camp chair
The Freestyle Rocker is a folding rocking chair targeted at people who enjoy car camping, but you could find it equally useful as a lawn chair, sitting by your backyard firepit or taking on the road anywhere where you may enjoy sitting in an outdoor rocking chair.
The rocking action is supported by a pair of shocks that act as the back legs while also providing a smooth, controlled rocking motion.
The chair also features a mesh backrest, fabric cup holder and padded armrests.
This folding rocking chair is easy to set up by pushing the arms down – it takes all of 2 seconds.
Folding the GCI rocker down is quick and simple, too, and also takes a couple of seconds. You do this by pulling up on the handle on the right side of the seat, which folds the chair back to being flat.
Check out my video review below for a demonstration of how to do this, as well as the image gallery at the end of this review for more pictures.
It doesn’t fold down particularly small so there’s no working out how to fold legs or pack it down to fit into a carrying bag. In fact, it doesn’t have a carrying bag or a strap, you just carry it using the built-in handle.
At a weight of just under 12lb, it is not particularly light or the type of portable chair you’re going to want to carry great distances. But if you’re using it for camping, watching sports or at home on a porch or in the backyard then this likely won’t be too big a deal.
The solid powder-coated steel frame construction also mean it’s a sturdy chair to sit and relax in – assuming you’re under the stated weight capacity of 250lb, and it won’t easily blow away in a breeze!
If you need a chair with a higher weight capacity, GCI also sells a larger version of this chair, the GCI Freestyle Rocker XL, which has a 400lb capacity and a wider, taller seat.
If you are looking for a lighter, more portable camp chair that folds down smaller, then check out the other suggestions in our best camping chairs buyer’s guide.
GCI Kickback Rocker vs. Freestyle Rocker
GCI Outdoor makes a range of different rocking camping chairs, including another popular rocking chair, the Kickback rocker, as well as others you may have heard of such as the Firepit Rocker and Roadtrip Rocker.
If you’ve been researching the range of GCI Outdoor chairs you’ve probably also come across the GCI Kickback rocker camp chair.
For this reason it’s helpful to understand the similarities and differences between the two types of GCI outdoor rockers, given their similar price point (at $65, the Kickback retails for $10 less than the Freestyle).
The main difference between the two is the Kickback folds down smaller, more like a traditional camping chair, and has a carrying strap for greater portability.
It’s GCI’s lightest and most compact chair, a little lighter than the Freestyle at 10.6lb, and the same 250lb weight capacity, but sits a little lower to the ground.
The Kickback also has fabric armrests and a phone holder as well as cup holder.
Personally I prefer the design of the Freestyle rocker as it doesn’t have the same leg style with feet sticking out at the front of the chair – I can see myself rocking down onto my foot with the Kickback’s leg and appreciate that the Freestyle’s front legs curve up away from the ground.
Using the GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker
For the purpose of this review I’ve mainly been using this GCI chair in our backyard, including chilling next to our Solo Stove firepit.
It sits well on hard and soft ground, including grass and gravel – it doesn’t sink into soft ground in the same way as other camping chairs we’ve reviewed can do.
That being said, while it’s good for soft ground, it isn’t my chair of choice for taking to the beach or sandy areas, mainly because I’d be concerned about sand getting into the rocker mechanism.
Like our other camping gear, it’s best not to leave it out in the hot sun or wet weather for long periods.
As the chair material is made from polyester, it can become brittle and faded over time if it’s exposed to excessive sun, snow or rain – and I expect you could see some rust as well if you don’t care for it.
This is one of the reasons why I appreciate how easy this chair is to set up and put away – you can bring it out of your house or car, set it up and sit down within seconds.
There’s no sliding the mesh onto a frame, or folding it out and attaching each leg one at a time (as can be the case with more compact portable chairs on the market).
Equally, you can fold it in seconds to bring it back inside your home or put away in your vehicle after using it.
I’m also a big fan of the rocker motion. It’s smooth and not like you’re swinging freely and having to put effort in to sit still, when desired.
When sitting for long periods (say, by a firepit or watching a sports game) it’s nice to move around a bit rather than being fixed in one position for long periods of time.
From a comfort perspective, I would love to see more cushy padding on the armrests. There is padding, but wider, softer armrests would be a nice touch.
For this price, having a quality, sturdy chair with a wide seat and a rocking mechanism is a great deal, especially if you’re not bothered about having an ultra-compact or lightweight seat to carry for long periods of time.
Cost and Where to Buy
The GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker normally costs $75, which I think is a great deal for such a sturdy, easy to use chair. It’s available to buy direct from GCI Outdoor directly, which is where you’ll find the widest color selection – plus, they’re currently offering 10% off:
You also have the option of selecting the XL version (RRP $85) and buying a version with a fold-down side table.
Alternatively, you can buy this chair at the following stores:
4 new from $69.99
16 used from $64.64