We spend a lot of time seated writing up guides like this one, so we naturally have a first-hand understanding of the value of a great office chair. Because of that, we’ve put together this list to help you find a comfortable chair that’ll help get you through the long workday.
TL;DR – These are the Best Office Chairs
1. Steelcase Think
Best Office Chair
You may have heard the advice to always buy good shoes and beds, since you spend so much of your life in one or the other. Well, with office work, the same can be said of an office chair. So, if you want to make a good investment in your comfort and posture, the Steelcase Think is the way to go. It’ll cost you a bit over $800, but it’s money well spent.
We’ve seen Steelcase chairs last for a decade, which you probably can’t say for a cheap office chair. If you had to replace a cheap office chair every couple years, it might add up after 10 years, and all the while you wouldn’t have had the comfort of the Steelcase Think. This chair offers a well-cushioned seat, a breathable mesh back, and adjustable lumbar support. The 4D adjustable arm rests will help you get them positioned right where you need for proper ergonomics at your desk. And, the seat can support up to 400 pounds without degrading. The wide variety of color options are just a nice bonus.
2. Autonomous MyoChair
Best Budget Office Chair
Most inexpensive office chairs – the generic models you run across in office supply stores – are pretty sad affairs that aren’t comfortable and offer the bare minimum of adjustability. That’s why it’s great to encounter a chair like the Autonomous MyoChair, which costs well under $200, yet looks and feels like a much pricier seat.
The MyoChair has all the essentials you look for in an office chair. The mesh backrest is comfortable that distributes your weight and adds breathability. You still get a thickly padded foam seat and it’s covered with a high-quality polyester shell. In addition, the chair has a balancing mechanism (which Autonomous emphasizes is Italian-designed) that lets you switch from upright to reclining in a single action. It also has the obligatory height and tilt controls.
And while this is a budget chair, for just $50 more than the base price, you can add a headrest and footrest, amping up the chair’s comfort factor substantially.
3. Humanscale Freedom
Best Ergonomic Chair
The Freedom is something of an icon among office chairs, and for good reason. It seems like an office chair, an alien designed from scratch. What you get is a chair with moving parts that work together in unexpected ways to automatically keep your body comfortable no matter what position you’re in.
The back slides up and down so you can position it appropriately for your back, regardless of the seat’s height. The same is true of the headrest, which you can slide to support your neck and head. Once configured, the seat, back, headrest, and even armrests all pivot and slide together when you lean in your chair so the whole assembly works together for maximum support.
And visually, the chair is striking. The frame is made mostly out of aluminum and, while you have a variety of options to choose from, the standard version is covered with contoured foam treated with Duron. There are dozens of fabric and a half dozen leather choices to customize the look of the chair.
4. Secretlab Omega 2020 Series
Best Gaming Chair
Not every office chair is all about business. While gaming chairs certainly can help you complete the TPS report, gamers put a lot of value on factors like comfort for long gaming sessions and durability to survive Pepsi and snack disasters. The Secretlab Omega 2020 Series is covered in a variation of PU leather (polyurethane leather, a kind of artificial leather) which Secretlab claims is four times more durable than regular PU leather, and greatly exceeds the industry standard for flexing and abrasion resistance.
These are great qualities for the rough handling gaming chairs often receive. Under the PU leather is Secretlab’s cold cure foam which delivers a firm and supportive, but not too hard or rigid, feel that is surprisingly comfortable. Complementing the seat is a pair of memory foam pillows you can position (or remove) as you like, and they offer welcome lumbar and neck support.
The seat is engineered with a lot of structural aluminum, including the wheelbase. In addition to the usual height adjustment, the seat tilts and reclines. In fact, it reclines from 85 to 165 degrees, which is virtually straight back. You could nap in this chair, and the side wings keep you in place. (If only this chair had a footrest.) Even the armrests are quite configurable, with controls to let them slide up and down, in and out, back and forth, and even orient them diagonally, which is rare among any kind of office chair.
It’s worth highlighting Omega’s somewhat longer-than-average five-year warranty. You get a three-year warranty out of the box, but you can score another two years by posting about it on social media. It’s not as long as Humanscale’s 15-year warranty, of course, but it’s solid coverage compared to most other office seating.
5. HÅG Capisco Puls
Best Standing Desk Office Chair
If you’re using a standing desk or a convertible desk, it can still be nice to have a chair once in a while to rest your legs. But, a standard chair will often be far too low to use while at your standing desk. The HÅG Capisco Puls solves this by coming with an extra tall pneumatic lift by default, giving you a seating height range from 21.3 to 30.9 inches.
The HÅG Capisco Puls will lend a unique style to your desk setup as well, and it can come partially or fully upholstered. The chair offers an 18.1-inch wide seat that can hold up to 250 pounds. It also offers up a backrest with flared out sides that can serve as perches for your elbows. Just don’t try leaning back too much when you’re at maximum height.
6. Herman Miller Embody
Best Executive Chair
You may know the iconic Herman Miller Aeron chair, but the Embody is actually the model that Herman Miller stakes its reputation on for high end, premium office seating. That’s apparent from the warranty – a generous 12 years – and the substantial weight of the chair, which tips the scales at 50 pounds. Take a quick look at the chair and you can see why it’s so heavy; there’s steel and aluminum everywhere.
More than anything else, the Embody’s signature feature is probably the backrest, which is designed to mimic the human spine, with flexible ribs that adjust to align with your back’s curve. It works in concert with the seating material itself, which is a combination of breathable foam and something Herman Miller calls a “pixelated support system,” which automatically conforms to your body’s movements and distributes your weight evenly in the seat. It all works as part of four layers of material – elastic bands that provide suspension, mattress-like coils for support, hexagonal rings that adjust to your movement, and a breathable mesh that encourages air circulation.
Combine all those elements and you get a graceful, comfortable chair that is easy on your back and bum, even after hours in the seat. Visually, it’s also stunning – those ribs in the back make it clear this is no ordinary seat. While it’s not covered in leather almost any executive will appreciate the engineering and comfort of this seat.
7. Varier Variable Balans Kneeling Chair
Best Kneeling Chair
If you want something a bit different, you can always go with a kneeling chair. The classic design of the kneeling chair has been around since the 1970s, and the Varier Variable Balans kneeling chair sticks with the original design of Peter Opsvik.
The Varier Variable Balans kneeling chair has a curved base, letting you get a bit of rocking action into your seating. This lets you keep your body slightly more active. This seat comes at a high price, but it’s made of sturdy wood that Varier backs by a seven-year warranty. It may feel unusual at first, and may not be the only chair you want to have by your desk, but it could be helpful for your posture and health to switch out to a kneeling chair like this once in a while.
8. Varichair Pro Standing Desk Stool
Best Office Stool
Let’s get this out of the way right now for all the critics out there: Yes, even people who use standing desks need some sort of chair. It’s unhealthy to work in the same position all day long, and even though many experts recommend standing, that’s not healthy for eight hours a day, either. The remedy? Get a stool. The right stool lets you sit at an elevated workspace like a standing desk, or even use it as a leaning surface, so you can get some support while working in a “mostly standing” position.
The Varichair Pro Standing Desk Stool is exactly the right tool for this job. A single adjustment – a lever for varying the height – lets you go from a low of 21 inches (which is squat enough to be used as a chair at a regular desk) to a tall 31 inches, perfect for standing desks. The chair has a wide base which gives it stability to sit on, even if you’re perched at the maximum 31-inch height, and the pedestal articulates, which means the post can tilt slightly in all directions, keeping the base firmly planted on the floor. The padded seat is covered in vinyl and weighs just 26 pounds, which makes it easy to move between desks, such as if it’s being shared among a couple of standing desks.
9. Secretlab NeueChair
Best Mesh Office Chair
Mesh might not immediately seem like one of the better materials to use for a chair that’s going to see the rigorous use of an office environment, but the Secretlab NeueChair makes effective use of it. This seat uses a strong and abrasive-resistant mesh made from polyester fibers and DuPont yarn, so it can hold up to long hours of use while staying comfortable and breathable. The Secretlab NeueChair rides on 65mm caster wheels designed to stay quiet, and the seat itself is built sturdy with aluminum alloy to support up to 240 pounds.
Comfort is also at the core of this chair. You’ll find an adjustable lumbar support that can help you keep the natural curvature of your spine while you sit, as well as padded armrests to let you relax your shoulders while you work. If you want, there’s even an optional headrest add-on for full support when you lean back. Adjusting the height and angle of the chair is also simple thanks to controls built right into the armrests instead of underneath the seat.
10. Steelcase Gesture
Best High-End Office Chair
Steelcase is a formidable name in high-end office seating, and the Gesture is one of its most popular models. For good reason: The Gesture is among the most comfortable and durable office chairs money can buy, competing closely with alternatives like the Herman Miller Embody and the Humanscale Freedom.
Part of the chair’s comfort comes from the way that the backrest and seat are synchronized to move together; when you lean back, for example, the seat tilts along with the backrest. The overall effect is one that keeps your body in contact with the chair to optimally distribute your weight, and keep the right contours supporting your lower back. The Gesture has adjustments you simply don’t see in most other chairs, including the seat pan, which can be slid forward and back. That ergonomic approach extends to every aspect of the chair, including the armrests, which are four-way adjustable – up and down, in and out, front to back, and diagonal.
The Gesture is so configurable, the chair almost seems bespoke. If you order it directly from the Steelcase site, you can choose the upholstery (fabric or leather), color – there are over 60 options – along with the frame color scheme, whether to include lumbar support and even if the wheels should be optimized for carpet or hard floor. Of course, choose the version with a headrest. It’s comfortable and adjustable so you can align it perfectly for your own neck and head position.
What to Look for in an Office Chair
It can be intimidating to shop for an office chair, especially since prices can quickly go stratospheric. And some brands justify their prices in part by describing their ergonomics, construction, and materials in ways that obfuscate the fact that they’re just chairs, not Mars landers.
How do you know if you’ve selected a good chair? Sit down. If it’s comfortable and you don’t get fatigued spending time in it, then by definition, it has good ergonomics. Unfortunately, trying a chair out is not always possible, unless there’s a nearby office supply store with a good selection.
If you have to evaluate chairs from a long distance, look for adjustability. In general, you’ll want a good height range so you can sit with your thighs resting parallel to the floor – you can measure that height in your existing chair before you start shopping online.
A contoured backrest that offers lumbar support is also important, as is the ability to move the backrest itself to fine-tune it to your body. Any other adjustments, like a full recline or a seat and back which moves in some sort of high-tech synchronicity, are gravy.
If you want to be really comfortable, make sure the seat is wide and deep enough for your personal bottom – and if you are a plus-sized individual, ensure the chair can carry your weight. The max load can catch you by surprise in other ways. We know someone who had bought a fairly high-end chair for his home office, and one day his wife tried sitting in his lap to see his computer screen. That exceeded the chair’s capacity and it failed catastrophically.
Don’t neglect the seat’s surface and padding. Some chairs are generously padded and covered in some sort of upholstery; others use bare webbing. Either approach can be comfortable, but it’s very much a matter of personal taste. Is the upholstery – be it a fabric, vinyl, leather, or synthetic – breathable, durable, and easy to clean?
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Dave Johnson has been writing about gaming and tech since the days of the Palm Pilot. See him shout into the Twitter void @davejoh