A New Office Chair Makes a Difference
While we advocate the benefits of standing, the time you spend sitting in an office chair is equality important, especially due to the increased strain on your back and lack of movement sitting causes. Finding the right chair for your home or work office can dramatically reduce the side effects of your extended sitting time, help you maintain better posture and generally increase comfort. Lower back pain is one of the highest complaints and ailments suffered by office workers or professions that involve a lot of time spent sitting. Make sure your chair is great if you spend any extended period of time sitting.
Reasons to get a new Chair
- You’re Simply Uncomfortable Sitting - comfort is key when you’re trying to work and be productive at your desk. If you’re experiencing a lot of discomfort and pain when you sit, your chair can be part of the cause and part of the solution...
- Current Chair has a Deflated Or Unsupportive Seat Cushion - a common sign of a poor quality chair or a chair that is simply worn out. A deflated seat cushion can cause incredible discomfort and lead to a lot of lower back pain. As your hips rotate forward from the lack of support your spine forms an even more acute angle compared to a supported chair with good posture.
- Your Chair is Generally Worn Out - with heavy daily use your chair can develop rips and tears, especially in padded armrests. It is also common for the gas strut for height adjustment to lose force and the backrest tension can also lose its resistance as well.
- Broken Adjustment Controls - especially common on cheap chairs seeing heavy use is height, tilt, and tension control breaking. This can obviously be problematic and frustrating to deal with on a daily basis.
- You Want Better Features - there is an incredible variety of features available in today’s office chairs and many important ergonomic features are missing even from top-selling highly reviewed chairs. Once you've learned about these ergonomic features you may be thinking you need a new chair. We don't blame you.
Office Chair Features
Office chairs are available at nearly any price but there are some key features to look for when shopping for a new office chair that you should be aware off. The essential features listed below are just that, essential. If you’re looking for a quality office chair that you’ll be comfortable sitting in, you need these things. Nice-to-haves are extra features that can make a difference but aren’t totally necessary to have when buying a new chair.
- Adjustable Armrests - one of the most commonly missed features on office chairs today and one of the most important to have. Many chairs come with armrests but aren’t adjustable. Being able to adjust your armrests is essential in supporting your arms for typing or writing. Without them, it makes it very easy to develop shoulder pain.
- Adjustable Lumbar Support or Pressure Sensing Lumbar - many chair designs feature lumbar support but seek out chairs with either adjustable lumbar position or designs that sense pressure and automatically support your lower back. A chair with good lumbar support makes it much easier to maintain good posture and helps prevent your spine from arcing.
- Soft Front Seat Edge - It’s important that the front edge of the seat is rounded off and well padded. This prevents pain. numbness and blood flow issues on the underside of your thighs.
- Adjustable Lean - Many chairs have some lean allowed but it is especially nice to a few settings to choose from. Depending on your weight or height you may want a different amount of lean.
- Adjustable Seat Position (forward and back) - Everyone’s body is different so having the ability to slide your seat forward and back is great for fine tuning your seat position relative to the backrest as well as allowing you to have good support the full length of your thighs. Chairs without this feature can, for some people cause discomfort underneath your thigh and make it feel like you’re constantly slipping forward out of your chair.
- Side to Side or Forward and Back Armrest Adjustment - this is a rare feature most commonly found on high-end Herman Miller or Steelcase chairs but once you’ve used them you come to appreciate this feature a lot. Depending on the broadness of your shoulders you may want to bring your armrests closer or further away to allow your elbows and forearms to lie in a natural position.
- Headrests and Tall Seat Backs - these can be great features if you’re trying to focus on good posture as they will help stabilize your shoulders and neck and give your upper body something to register against while sitting.
- Ventilated Design - the vast majority of office chairs have ventilated backrests and seats but isn’t a requirement unless you have had experience overheating in a traditional leather or non-ventilated chair design.
- A Large Height Adjustment Range - this is great to consider if you plan to have more than one person using the chair. Some chairs struggle to go low enough or high enough for some people.
For this review, we have considered all the major bestselling, highest reviewed chairs available at both physical and online retailers as well as new up and coming chairs that have yet to see popularity. We have also included established high-end brands as well as newcomers focused on saving you money. We then thin out this group based our the presence of key ergonomic features we listed above that help your time spent sitting as comfortable and as pain-free as possible. We then consider value for money each chair, further refine the group and develop categories spanning different budgets, feature sets, and chair designs. While we tend to like chairs that maximize value for money without missing any key ergonomic features but we will also suggest a variety of alternatives.
The Best Office Chairs
“Best Value Office Chair”
- Quite Possibly the best office chair for the money due to the inclusion of all the features you would realistically want in an office chair.
- Clearly labeled controls - something almost no other chair we've see has
- Large 19" x 19" seat
- Height adjustable armrests
- Unique height adjustable backrest
- Adjustable seat cushion tilt forward and back
- Available in 7 colors
- Easy assembly
“Best Budget Office Chair”
- The Topsky Mesh is the least expensive chair we've ever reviewed that has adjustable armrests, adjustable lumbar support and the soft seat front edge, the three essential features to look for in an office chair.
- Similar design to the Herman Miller Sayl, a chair we love but costs 7 times more than the Topsky
- Backrest is available in two colors, Black and Gray
- Consistent glowing reviews with multiple retailers
- Relatively high weight limit of 330 lbs for such a low priced chair
Poly and Bark
“Best Budget Office Chair for Ergonomics”
- Truly Innovative design (especially when viewed from the side) that is focused on lower, upper and neck support.
- Great value when considering the thoughtful minimalist design and chrome steel features.
- Adjustable armrests and tilt
- Deep seat for extra comfort and thigh support
- Easy and quick to assemble
“Best Design Office Chair”
- Designed in Europe the Futu is a different take on a higher end office chair that has many unique features and patents associated with its design
- Clutter free seat bottom separates it from many other office chairs with no levels, knobs and mechnicals exposed.
- Adjustable forward and back seat position
- Height adjustable armrests
- Adjustable lumbar support
- Available in 7 unique neutral colors.
“Best Design Office Chair Runner Up”
- The Sayl with armrest, lumbar and seat position adjustment is mush more expensive than the basic Sayl chair but so worth the difference.
- Innovative seatback design that cradles your back and allows a perfect level of lower back support.
- Relatively wide seat that adjusts forward and back for perfect positioning.
- Very practical integrated tension adjustment and three presets for leaning back in stages.
- Durable and well proven office chair
“Best High-end Office Chair”
- The Steelcase leap is a very high end office that offers the highest level of adjustment of any office chair we've ever reviewed.
- Armrests alone are adjustable in 4 independent ways: height, forward and back, side to side and pivot.
- Adjustable backrest lumbar allows pinpoint support
- Adjustable seat position forward and back with a built in tilt on the front to soften the edge of the seat.
- Among the highest quality you can expect in an office chair
“Best High-end Office Chair Runner Up”
- The Embody is an office chair for someone without a budget and looking to make a truly long term investment in their health and comfort.
- One of the most iconic office chair designs that is functional and beautiful without any compromises
- Adjustable seat depth allows you to extend or shorten the seat with a cool feature
- Armrests are height adjustable and can pivot inwards or outwards depending on the broadness of your shoulders
- Backrest has tension to increase or decreased lumbar support with a turning of a knob
“Best Drafting Office Chair”
- The Modway Veer One of the most popular and affordable drafting chairs out there right now.
- Drafting chairs pair great with a standing desk or any fixed height desk higher than the normal desk height of 30 inches.
- Adjustable flip up armrests are great for support when you need it and can disappear when you need space to move.
- Not as adjustable as other chairs on our list but there aren't really many drafting chair options with the ergonomic features we look for
Compare the Best Office Chairs
As you can see from the table below, office chairs vary quite a lot when it comes to general specifications. If you have a chair in mind, consider the height range, seat and backrest dimensions and how they relate to your body and the height of your existing desk.
17"-21" 19" 19" 22" $135 Topsky
17.5"-21" 20" 17" 19.5" $80 Flash
17.3"-20" 20.25" 17" 21" $102 Poly and
18"-21" 18.8" 21" 23" $248 HÅG
15.8"-21.7" 18.1" 17.7" 23.6" $495 Herman
15.5"-20" 21" 16" 18.3" $770 Steelcase
16"-21" 20" 18.3" 27.3" $955 Herman
16"-20.5" 21.3" 15" 26" $1,295 Modway
21.5"-29.5" 20" 19" 22" $138
Getting Started With Your new Chair
So you've got a new chair, don't make the mistake of using it improperly! Especially when buying a chair with many available adjustments, it can be easy to form bad habits with your new chair. Follow these best practices for adjusting your chair.
- Setting Your Chair Height - You should adjust the height of your chair so that your thighs are close to parallel with the floor. This will allow your body to be in a neutral position and minimize the effect of sliding forward out of the chair.
- Setting Your Armrest Position - This comes down to personal preference and comfort but a good starting point is having your forearms parallel to the floor and ideally in line with the surface of your desk.
- Backrest Tilt - Setting this feature is mostly personal preference but remember backrest tilt is a great feature to add extra movement to your time spent sitting. Occasionally leaning backward can help get your blood flowing. Don't overlook this feature and try to form a habit of using it.
- Follow Adjustment Instructions - most of the chairs on our list have been painstakingly designed with ergonomics in mind and include instructions on how to adjust your chair for maximum comfort. Don't skip reading this.