James StanburySee other accessory reviews written by James Stanbury
The Outwell Merlo Summer is one of the most comfortable sun loungers we've tested – but there is just one little problem, says our expert
Life on the open road is enough to make the heart sing, but when the sun is shining it's great to take time out, pause for some fresh air in glorious surroundings and get the sun loungers out for a while.
We reviewers are a fussy bunch. Not only do we want products that are good value for money, but they also need to be light, strong, durable and practical, while offering comfort and versatility.
We've tested many reclining camping chairs, some with 'stepless' backrests that you can lock in any position. We've found relaxer chairs with cupholders and trays. And while loving all the extra features, we keep coming back to the fact that it's a compromise between buying bulky, heavy reclining chairs with all mod cons and travelling light!
So what else have we tried? Many people are happy with traditional sun loungers – and they'll be even happier with the Quest Elite Riviera Lounger, because it has a taller seat height than most, so you could rise effortlessly and elegantly from it, without spilling your tea.
Some reclining chairs will allow you to sit upright, for dining, then recline into one of the many backrest positions, putting your feet up on a separate matching footstool. Potentially, these might offer the best solution when storage space is tight.
So, which sun loungers and recliners are best for you?
To find out, we tested a good selection of reclining camping chairs, including the Easy Camp Tera at £39.99, the Quest Elite Riviera Lounger at £76.99, a traditional sunbed with a difference. It's up against the Outwell Victoria at £85.99, a sunbed with desirable extra features such as a sunshade and comfy padding. The Easy Camp Pier at £39.99 looks odd, but promising – we like trying new things. We also tested the equally unusual Argos Malibu Rolling Recliner at £34.99, a chair that becomes a hammock.
Next up was the Outwell Merlo Summer, costing £67.99, and the Kampa Opulence Amalfi, £74.99, the latter proving to be our ultimate 'best in test' when it comes to recliners.
In this review let's focus on the Outwell Merlo Summer, the cheerfully striped sun lounger that's reassuringly expensive at £67.99.
For that money, what do you get? Well, on paper, this design shouldn’t really work. Although its mechanism is ingenious, why would you pay almost £68 for a sun lounger that’s set in one position, when fully adjustable models cost about the same? One possible reason is the ultra-compact pack-down size: this unit fits into a 31cm x 27cm x 110cm carry bag.
But perhaps a more important reason is the sheer comfort that the Outwell Merlo Summer provides: you don't miss not being able to adjust the position, because it feels spot-on to begin with.
Rather impressively, the Merlo Summer lounger supports a maximum load of up to 125kg (19 stone 9lbs 8oz approx), and also has a net-style cupholder and a zipped storage compartment.
Other than its price, the biggest drawback is the hefty 8.5kg weight.
|Size in use||60cm wide x 170cm long x 88cm high|
|Size when folded||31cm x 27cm x 110cm|
|Frame material||Powder coated steel|
|Seat fabric||100% polyester|
If you just need a really comfortable sun lounger for holiday reading and relaxation, the Outwell Merlo Summer is a good option, but it's not perfect.
Potential deal-breakers are the hefty 8.5kg weight and the fact that you can't lie flat or sit up. The Outwell Merlo Summer does just one job, and it does it well – so it's earned a three-star rating from us.
- Comfortable reclining position
- Holds people up to 125kg (19 stone 9lbs 8oz)
- Compact size when folded
- Backrest is not adjustable
- No good for lying face-down
- Heavy at 8.5kg