I have wanted an Adirondack chair ever since I first sat on one, but I didn’t expect my first possession to come in inflatable form.
AeroRondack—as this air-filled version of the chair is called—may well be the most unusual piece of furniture ever to have graced my living room. To be fair, it’s not really meant for apartment dwellers, but rather for boaters and beachgoers with a propensity to veg out with a beer in hand. But it’s in my living room because inflatables fascinate me. Blowing up a kiddie pool or a beach ball is one thing: but blowing up well-designed furniture is another.
The first inflatables date back to the 1940s, but it wasn’t until cheap plastic production exploded in the ’60s that inflatable furniture reached the mass market. Today, most iterations come in oversize (and overpriced) shapes with rounded corners, puffy creatures that are whimsical though have always seemed closer to hip art than functional furniture.
Not so much with AeroRondack. The inflatable lounge chair is the brainchild of the company Bote, which started with inflatable stand-up paddleboards and has since developed an array of inflatables, from coffee tables to corn hole boards and couch-shaped pool floats. But unlike most inflatable furniture on the market, which consists of just a simple plastic envelope filled with air, Bote’s products use tens of thousands of polyester threads stretched taught between two parallel surfaces.
So, when the chair is deflated, the threads, known as “drop stitch fibers,” are crumpled up inside; but when you blow air in, they unfold like a thousand little accordions until they form a rigid surface. “It’s an amorphous building material,” says Bote cofounder and CEO Corey Cooper, explaining that the fibers help distribute the air pressure evenly across both surfaces, allowing for a level of air pressure that’s about 10 times greater than a standard pool float.
It took me about 5 minutes to inflate the chair, and a little longer for the armrests, which come with a separate inflation valve. I have since been sitting on it for about two weeks, and it has barely lost a breath. (To be honest, though, for a chair that costs $549—yes, this one’s overpriced as well—that seems like the bare minimum.)
As far as inflatables go, it sports an impressive level of rigidity for something that weighs only 16 pounds. It’s fairly portable, too, and with its military-grade PVC skin, pretty close to indestructible.
I wouldn’t get one for my balcony, but beach reclining—here I come!