The Sunflow is a chair that brings the comfort of indoors to the beach.
Welcome to Beach Week, a celebration of the best place on earth.
Beachgoers generally fall into two distinct categories: towel people and chair people. The former are content to lay on a towel or blanket on the sand, either under an umbrella or exposed to the sun, and generally find this position to be comfortable. The latter prefer the comforts of home, but by the ocean. After years of trying (and failing) to be a happy towel person, I caved to beach chairs and have never looked back. Over the course of my beachgoing years, I’ve cycled through a variety of chairs, but like Goldilocks, none of them has ever been quite right—until I met the Sunflow, which is now the only beach chair for me.
Like the Scrub Daddy, another product that has changed my life in ways both big and small, the Sunflow came from Shark Tank. According to the brand’s origin story, the chair and its attendant bundle were developed after founder Leslie Hsu and her husband Greg Besner tired of wrangling the various accouterments required for a day at the beach: towels, chairs, umbrellas, and the like. Seeing an obvious gap in the market for a stylish and easy to use beach chair, Hsu and her husband partnered with a design firm whose resume includes products for Herman Miller, and created a chair that, frankly, blows everything else I’ve ever deigned to sit in out of the water.
Let’s get this out of the way first: the Sunflow is not cheap. The Bundle clocks in at $268 and includes a chair with an attached canopy, a cup holder, a dry bag for all of your belongings, and a towel that ingeniously hooks to the back of the chair so that it won’t blow away. There’s also a backpack strap that makes carrying it easy enough, and the whole kit and kaboodle weighs under 10 lbs, which means it’s not a huge pain to schlep, but it’s hefty enough to feel like it’s quality. I understand that $268 for a beach chair feels like a lot of money, especially when in the Northeast, where I live, beach season is a fleeting few months. But the amount of money I’ve spent on chairs in my past that have since broken or otherwise collapsed feels about equal to what this bad boy costs. And because this is by far the most comfortable chair I’ve sat on in some time, and it comes with everything I could ever need or want, it’s worth it.
Because I live in New York and I don’t have a car, the ultimate test of any beach chair for me is portability. I’ve previously shunned backpack-style chairs in the past because of their width; dragging myself, a tote bag, and then a chair on the subway for the hour and a half it takes me to get to the beach is sort of hellish, and strapping a chair to my back that is essentially a turtle shell, more so. But I was delighted to discover that the Sunflow and I fit through the turnstile with little issue on my way to the beach. (On the way back, however, I endured a humiliating few minutes where I found myself stuck in the turnstile and had to remove the chair from my back so that I could break free. We can likely chalk that up to user error.)
Once I made it to my final destination, unfurling the chair was easy. I pressed a button at the top of the chair, and then the whole thing sort of opened up with ease, much like one might deploy a stroller. The dry bag that’s handily attached to the chair held my necessities, like my phone, some Chapstick, sunscreen, and my AirPods. The towel attached nicely to the top of the chair itself and did not fly away, as I suspected it might, when I went down to the water. And the canopy did everything I wanted it to do, which was to protect me from the sun at every possible opportunity, without muss or fuss.
My only quibble with the chair’s accessories is that I had difficulty figuring out how to attach the cupholder to the chair itself, though that, again, was likely my bad and one day soon, I will figure it out. That I could not use the cupholder did nothing to mar my experience. Otherwise, the best praise I can give this chair is that I spent four hours reading two and a half books and did not once feel any twinges of back pain.The armrests are positioned exactly where I’d want my arms to rest—how nice! I reclined. I almost fell asleep—a rarity. I sat back up again and used the towel as a pillow and felt as if I were at an expensive hotel, which is all I ever want from any experience.
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