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The Best Office Chairs…

The Best Office Chairs

Our mission was to find an office chair that’s customizable enough to offer support with multiple posture adjustments throughout the day. One week of sitting, swirling, and slouching later, we found the three chairs that could effortlessly accommodate sitters of all heights, shapes, and sizes.

The 3 Best Office Chairs


Most Customizable Chair

Steelcase Gesture Chair

Steelcase

The most comfortable, customizable, and best-looking chair we tested.

Pros
Adjustable back
Easy to customize
Attractive design

Cons
Price
Back support too subtle for some

Why we chose it

Adjustable back

The Steelcase Gesture was best at accommodating us when we rested back, leaned to the side, and perched forward. Our testers were instantly comfortable (even before toggling the many adjustments). That’s thanks to its flexible “3D LiveBack”: a curved, flexible back that moves with you. The slits in the plastic bend and tilt with your lower back, and a sliding lumbar support strap supports that one spot in your spine that always rests just off the chair. The Gesture also has a satisfying sturdiness that demonstrates its well-built construction — no flimsy plastic or creaking hinges here.

Gesture Close-Up for Office Chair

Easy to customize

Steelcase claims to have “deconstructed the chair” and returned “to the essence of the sitting experience.” We’re not sure about all that, but the Gesture is definitely more customizable than any other chair we tested. The armrests are meant to mimic natural arm movement, so they can shift and rotate in any direction. All other adjustments are on the right side of the chair, so you won’t be blindly tapping around for the seat tilt only to accidentally plunge the seat down instead. To adjust seat depth on other chairs, you have to lift a lever while also lifting part of your body and sliding back and forth. On the Gesture, adjusting seat depth is handled with a simple dial — no half thigh lifting or scooting necessary.

Attractive design

Testers were immediately drawn to the chair’s square frame and sleek profile, and we liked that you can choose from an endless range of custom colors and materials. We chose the espresso-colored leather — testers thought that it would fit perfectly in a mahogany-rich library. But if you want something more suited for a station on the USS Enterprise, you also have the option of orange fabric with a platinum metallic frame.

Points to consider

Price

While the Gesture was hands-down our favorite chair, it was also one of the priciest, starting at around $900 and going all the way up to $1,300 depending on your choice of custom colors and materials. While a good office chair is an investment, the Gesture might be overkill if you’re looking for something a little simpler.

Back support too subtle for some

The Gesture’s sliding lumbar support strap is a bit tough to slide up and down behind you, and the difference it makes is subtle. The most common complaint made by customers on Amazon was its lack of lumbar support, particularly for people who suffer from back pain. If that sounds like you, the Raynor Ergohuman might be more appealing.

Best for
Back Support

Ergohuman High Back Swivel Chair

Eurotech Raynor

Tiered Support that meets your back in all the right places.

Pros
Robust back support
Breathable mesh
Comfortable headrest

Cons
Non-traditional aesthetic
Back support too much for some

Why we chose it

Robust back support

For sitters who crave a big chair with lots of back support, it’s hard to do better than the Raynor Ergohuman. Rather than curving to mimic the spine like the Steelcase Gesture, its individual back plates invert the spine’s curve to meet your back in all the right places. The lumbar support section, for example, protrudes gently into your lower back and moves with you to support your back even when perched in your seat. Amazon reviewers frequently note that the chair eased their back pain, allowing them to sit comfortably for eight-hour days.

Ergohuman Close-Up for Office Chair

Breathable mesh

The Ergohuman’s seat and back are made of flexible mesh fabric that allows air to circulate — good for those of us who run warm. The breathable material is also less likely to stick to your body should you happen to get up suddenly.

Comfortable headrest

We weren’t sure if we’d like headrests — only a few of our chairs had them, and they looked excessive. But the Raynor’s sits nicely into the nape of the neck and supports it without the need to lean back. You likely wouldn’t use it when sitting forward, but after straining your neck to look down at a phone or focusing into a laptop, that rest feels great.

Ergohuman headrest for Office Chair

Points to consider

Non-traditional aesthetic

Though the Raynor Ergohuman’s tall, mesh back and curved stainless steel spine is comfortable, it also resembles something out of an alien’s dentist office. For more professional environments, this chair’s aesthetics may be too audacious.

Back support too much for some

Most of our testers appreciated the Raynor’s head-to-tail back support, courtesy of its separate, adjustable plates. But some felt the chair was actually too supportive, like they were being pushed out of their seat. If you prefer a less rigid back to your chairs, either Steelcase chair may be a better fit.


Best Basic Chair

Steelcase Leap Chair

Steelcase

As comfortable as the Gesture, but with fewer adjustments.

Pros
Supportive back
Easy to adjust
More affordable than the Gesture

Cons
Less comfortable for tall people
Limited armrest

Why we chose it

Supportive back

Of our two Steelcase favorites, the Leap doesn’t look as high-tech as the Gesture, but it’s almost as ergonomic. It uses the same 3D LiveBack design paired with a sliding adjustable lumbar strap, but also goes a step further and includes a dial for lower back firmness. Testers also commended its well-cushioned support and said that it was comfortable enough to use for long hours.

Leap Close-Up for Office Chair

Easy to adjust

The Leap’s unassuming appearance masks some unique functionality, such as a dial that tightens or loosens the LiveBack bars of plastic along the lower back, allowing the sitter to increase or decrease lower back pressure. Other adjustments are fairly intuitive, but if you’re not sure which lever to pull, there are well-hidden guides under the armrests.

Leap Armrest for Office Chair

More affordable than the Gesture

Brand new, the Leap can retail anywhere from $600 to $950. But because it’s been around for so long, you can usually find it used or discounted for significantly less, around $300, in local furniture stores or on sites like eBay.

Points to consider

Less comfortable for tall people

The Leap’s biggest flaw is that it doesn’t go very high. Its maximum height was a full 2 inches shorter than other chairs, and our taller testers disliked how much pressure that put on their feet. For anyone over 5 feet, 6 inches, sitting in the Leap means that your feet will be flat on the floor with your knees slightly angled.

Limited armrest movement

The Leap’s armrests are slightly more limited than our other favorites. They still go up and down and offer a comfortably wide perch, but they can’t swing out wide like the Gesture.

Guide to Office Chairs

How to Find the Right Office Chair for You

Choose a price range

Office chairs typically bucket into two price ranges. Either they’re under $100 with limited adjustment options, or they range between $500 and $1,200 with a wide capacity for customization. Basically, the best is expensive, and anything affordable will feel pretty basic.

Consider the time you’ll spend in the chair

A great chair isn’t cheap, but it can be worth the money if you spend most of your day in it. However, if you don’t spend much time at your desk, a more basic chair may be all you need. How much time you spend in your chair largely determines which features you should seek out and prioritize.

“If your job requires you to be sitting for most of the day, then specific chair features become more important. Those include lumbar and total back support, adjustment so that one’s feet can be supported by the floor or a footrest, and armrests that adjust both vertically and horizontally.”

Sit, slouch, and shift while testing

A good office chair keeps you supported as you change postures, the way you do when working for hours at a time. For that reason, it’s best to experiment with leaning, straightening, and shifting in any prospective chair before you buy it. Ultimately, the best office chair for you comes down to your own preferences regarding feel.

Office Chair FAQ

Is there a “right way” to sit in an office chair?

Technically, there actually is. OSHA has a few tips — like keeping your elbows close, wrists rested parallel, feet placed on the floor, and shoulders relaxed. You’ll also want to be sure your monitor is tilted slightly up, so your neck isn’t craned forward.

However, Gary Allread, program director at Ohio State University’s Spine Research Institute, says that the most important thing is to keep moving: “Change is good, because, in this case, it allows different muscles to be used to provide the support while other muscles can rest and recover.”

Is sitting really unhealthy?

Recent health think-pieces claimed that sitting all day can lead to obesity and raised blood pressure. While that sounds scary, the solution to those health risks associated with sitting is simple: Stay moving. Experts recommend a combination of both sitting and standing throughout the day and taking frequent breaks to walk around. An adjustable standing desk is a great way to keep you from sitting — or standing — for too long.

The Best Office Chairs: Summed Up

Our Other Home and Office Reviews

A great office chair can boost your comfort and productivity, but it’s just one piece in the puzzle of how to feel your best at home and at work. Read about some other products we’ve found to help make the daily grind less grind-y:


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