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There is nothing quite as relaxing as sitting in a rocking chair on your porch. Unless, of course, your rocking chair experience is accompanied by creaks, groans, and the imminent prospect of your rocking chair collapsing and possibly impaling your leg with a shard of wood.
The best outdoor rocking chairs are designed in a way that people of any size can relax in them for years to come. However, heavy duty outdoor rocking chairs are not only for big people. If you want your rocking chair to last as long as possible, you owe it to yourself to buy a heavy duty version!
Why is a heavy duty rocking chair actually the best outdoor rocking chair?
If you’ve been around our blog for long, you’ll know that we recommend heavy-duty items to everyone. High capacity options (including rocking chairs) have many advantages over their run-of-the-mill counterparts, including:
- Superior materials and build quality. The most common way that companies make items “heavy-duty” is simply to use more material, or higher quality material. This translates to things like thicker legs, more padding, better seams, stronger joints, etc.
- Lower stress when you have plus-size visitors. I remember, when I was younger, my mom was always stressed when my Aunt J. visited. We literally didn’t have a chair made for someone her size. Which means she sat in any chair we had…while we sat in fear. Having chairs that are capable of holding higher weight means that anyone can sit in them with peace of mind.
- They last much longer. If you get a rocking chair with a weight capacity of 500lbs or more, most people will never come close to maxing it out. This lower level of wear and tear means that your item will last much longer.
- Better value for your money. While heavy-duty rocking chairs tend to be more expensive (they’re typically higher quality and handmade after all) they can also last several times longer than the average plus size patio chair. So if you’re concerned about long term value, buy heavy duty!
With all of those arguments bouncing around I set out to find the ultimate outdoor rocking chairs for my porch! Here’s what I ended up with:
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Types of Heavy Duty Rocking Chairs: Material & Style
The two main decision you’ll need to make when choosing a heavy duty rocking chair is to decide how it’s made, and what it’s made out of!
Materials: The materials your chair/chair set is made out of can affect it’s comfort, longevity, looks, etc. The best outdoor rocking chairs don’t splinter, don’t fade, are impervious to weather, yet still look great!
Wood: As the oldest and most classic material, wood deserves the first spot on our list. The advantages of wood are: it’s extremely strong, it looks great, and it’s comfortable. Unlike most materials, it’s not cold when you sit on it and (in my opinion) looks much better on a porch. Not to mention wooden rocking chairs typically have a lower impact on the environment! The main drawback of wooden chairs is their longevity. While they can last for many many years if properly cared for, they don’t typically fare well under the scorching sun, in the rain, or with temperature swings. I have a set of heavy-duty wooden rocking chairs but they don’t leave the protection of my covered porch.
Plastic & Resin: When it comes to man-made materials, there are literally dozens of options to choose from. However, the two strongest and best options are resin and faux wood. Both are plastic-based options and have several advantages over wood. Non-wood constructed rocking chairs tend to be much more durable when left out in the weather, need less upkeep, and don’t give you splinters! You do forgo the mental comfort of a wooden rocking chair (and you probably won’t be excited to pass a resin chair down to your grandkids) but chairs such as these are often cheaper due to the simplicity of their construction. For the majority of people needing an outdoor rocking chair, this is the material of choice.
Metal: Metal rocking chairs for the outdoors are the final choice and they come with some pretty significant benefits and drawbacks. Metal rocking chairs have the possibility of an extremely high capacity (although wood and plastic can support up to 600lbs), withstand the weather well, and have more aesthetic design opportunities than other materials. The main drawback is that, if you want to be comfortable, you need cushions. Cushions take away from the visual of a traditional rocker and don’t weather well. In general, metal is my third choice of the three (with resin being number one and wood number two).
Rocker Types: While material is important, deciding on the material also informs the type of rocker you can get. The options are:
In this review I focused on tradition and glider type outdoor rocking chairs as they are the most ubiquitous and durable.
So, without further ado, let’s talk about the best outdoor rocking chairs for big and heavy people!
Highwood Weatherly: Best Overall Outdoor Rocker
“Classic” was the first word that came to mind when I saw these chairs for the first time. However, upon closer inspection I noticed that there are many amazing features built into this chair that take it far beyond the comfort, capacity, and durability of a traditional rocker.
Wait, it’s not wood?
No, it’s not. All of Highood’s collections are actually made of a proprietary alternative-wood substance that they have (fittingly) dubbed “highwood.” Think of it as really high quality deck material. Some of it’s benefits include:
- No splinters, cracking, splitting, or color loss that is common with tradition wood chairs.
- Chairs are nearly impervious to weather and last much longer.
- Believe it or not, Highwood is actually an incredibly eco-conscious choice as it utilizes mostly recycled plastic!
One of the other advantages that this rocker has over wood is that it will never need to be sanded, stained, or repainted!
Add to that it’s extremely impressive 500lb capacity and plus-size 20.5″ wide seat and you have the best outdoor rocking chair that money can buy! By getting this rocker you are in the territory of investing in pieces that will last for many years rather than something that will be thrown in the trash next season. So, if you’re in it for the long haul, pick up a couple of these today!
Best all-wood High Capacity Rocking Chair
If you’re traditioal to the point that nothing but wood will do, you’re in luck. Amish Casual is the maker of an extremely comfortable plus size rocker that will be at home on any porch and will support an incredible 600lbs!
The seat is the widest of any single rocker in our review at 23.3″ and will fit all but the biggest bums. As an added bonus, Amish Casual ships the majority of their chairs as natural wood (no paint or stain). You can choose to either use the rocker as is or color it in the palette of your choice!
Perhaps my favorite feature of this chair is the rolled/curved front area of the seat. In many rockers, the sharp front edge of the seat will cut into the fleshy back of your leg after sitting for a while, especially if you’re short. In this chair, on the other hand, can remain comfortable for hours of front porch eating, guitar-picking, conversation, hot/cold beverage sipping, etc!
So if you want wood (and need the high capacity) this is the plus size rocking chair for you!
Plus-Size Resin Rocking Chair
If you want a great looking chair that will last forever, this is it. When I was looking at these chairs I was approached by an older gentlement who literally yelled at me to BUY THEM! He was pretty deaf and didn’t mean to yell, but he went on to explain that he had these exact chairs which had been sitting on his porch for nearly 15 years and still looked as good as they did when he bought them.
While resin chairs, such as these, are known for their ability to withstand the elements, the extra thick material of this chair makes that especially true here. In addition to providing it with a 600lb capacity, the thicker material means that these chairs are unlikely to break or crack from cold or normal use.
These chairs are extremely comfortable, have a high capacity, and will last longer than the porch you put them on (not really…but they’re durable). Which, all in all, ranks them up there as the best outdoor rocking chairs made of resin!
Extra Wide Rocking Chair for Big and Heavy Person
If you don’t need quite the capacity of the Amish Casual chair above (but need extra real estate for your behind) then this rocker is a great option. While techincailly a bench (and marketed as a two seater) this can be an excellent outdoor rocking chair for big and heavy people.
In terms of features, this rocker is very standard. It is made of wood, has a comfortable curved seat front, and a straight back. It is the straight back that makes this a viable option for a single user since there are no curves or seat-spots to deal with!
So if you need more than the 23.3 inches offered by the second place rocking chair, get one of these and extra the spacious 39″ wide seat today!
500lb Capacity Outdoor Rocking Chair
If you need something a bit more contemporary and comfortable, these low sitting rocker from highwood are (in my opinion) some of the most comfortable on the market. In fact, if they were a bit lighter, I would be replacing my heavy duty beach chairs with them!
The have all the advantages of the highwood-material while being a bit more comfortable and relaxing in their seating position.
If you have mobility issues or it’s just a struggle to get up/sit down due to your size, you might want to give these chairs a pass. Although, if you have to be stuck in a chair, there are worse places than an insanely comfortable rocker on your porch!
Features of the Best Rocking Chairs for Big People
So before you pull our your card and purchase any of the above rockers, here are a few last things that you should consider:
- Seat Height: If you have trouble getting to your feet, be sure to measure the seat height of a rocker you have and compare it to the one you’re considering buying. Even the best outdoor rocking chair isn’t useful if it uses up all your energy to get in/out of it!
- Seat Width: Just because a chair has a high capacity doesn’t mean that it actually has an extra-wide seating space. Be sure to measure a chair you have (and maybe your backside) to be sure that you will have adequate space.
- Arm Rest Width: Personally, I detest thin armrests. If you have big arms, choose something with wide enough arms rests that you won’t be left with an arm-rest-imprint on the bottom of your arm.
- Back Angle: Be sure to take into account how far back you want to recliner as well as your need for lumbar/back support. While I would encourage you to get the most comfortable chair you can to avoid the need for cushions, taking the back style into account can help you out.
- Legs: If you want to put a rocker on anything but a smooth surface. You’re not looking for a rocker. You’re looking for a glider (which you can buy here).
Those aren’t meant to slow you down, just to help you make the best choice possible. So take a look at them, consider them, and then scroll back up and get a couple of your favorite outdoor rocker! Enjoy the porch!