Constructed of a breathable mesh back with a mesh-covered, high-density seat. You can adjust the arms, height, and back depth. Looks good and feels comfortable. Assembles in under an hour. Dual-wheel casters. Built-in support for lumbar region, head, and neck.
Slight assembly issues include the instructions (minimal) and hardware (not labeled).
Good, solid chair with breathable mesh back. Pneumatic height adjustment with a 17” minimum that’s especially popular with shorter buyers. Also features tilt tension adjustment, reclining back and lift-up arms. A very affordable, general-purpose choice.
Very poor instructions and a few problems with hole alignments during assembly. Weight rating is only 200 lb. Some feel the seat has insufficient padding.
High mesh back with padded leather seat and head pillow. Built-in leather padded lumbar support. Controls to raise/lower seat, rock back, and change tilt tension. 250 lb. weight capacity. Offers good neck and lower back support. Very comfortable for shorter people. Easy assembly.
The way the chair is designed, taller users may find it uncomfortable (lumbar support is off, armrests and headrest too low). Some buyers claim the seat isn't very durable over time.
Well-padded seat, arms, and back provide excellent comfort and decent support to the lumbar region. Pneumatic control for easy height adjustment. Also has tilt-tension to control stiffness when you lean back. Available in 3 colors.
Inconsistent quality control means some mechanisms squeak annoyingly. PVC wears more quickly than real leather, leading to worn patches. Fixed arms and back reduce ergonomic adjustability.
Race car style that comes in a variety of color combos. Has padded arms (that flip up), a padded headrest, and contoured padded segments. 250 lb. weight capacity. Fast and easy assembly. Specifically designed to offer support and comfort for hours of gaming. Smooth and quiet rolling. Affordable.
Some buyers felt that the chair becomes less comfortable over time. Assembly can be uneven (one side higher than the other), and the chair itself doesn't tilt back far enough.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
If you spend long periods working or gaming at a desk, an ergonomic chair is a must. Without one, you can not only get a sore back but your work (or play) will also suffer because you won’t be able to concentrate properly.
The best ergonomic chairs are designed to correct bad posture and thus naturally lead to better long-term comfort. However, with the huge variety of chairs available, it’s not easy to differentiate between those that are truly ergonomic and those that just look good but offer no positive benefits. You have to know something about ergonomics before you can even begin to make a decision. For example, what’s the difference between passive ergonomics and active ergonomics when it comes to finding the best chair?
We can help. At BestReviews, we have been investigating ergonomic chairs for you. We’ve picked several favorites that deliver great performance while keeping an eye on budgets. In the following buying guide, we look at ergonomic chair construction and features in more detail.
Passive: Traditionally, in order to make a chair more comfortable, manufacturers have added more padding for what you could call “passive” ergonomics. When you sit in an overly padded chair, your initial reaction is positive, but unless there is firm support, particularly in the lumbar region, it can become uncomfortable to sit in for longer periods. Good ergonomic seating of this type has supportive pads positioned at key points. The racing-style seat is a good example.
Active: Chairs with active ergonomics may or may not provide padding, but they do offer lots of adjustability, and not just for seat height. These chairs adjust in a whole raft of other areas, from how much flex the seat pad provides to movable back and head supports to variable armrest height, seat tilt, and reclining action.
Clearly the more adjustments you have, the better you can fine-tune the chair to your height and weight. However, increased flexibility usually means increased price, and most people have some budget constraints.
When it comes to chairs, if there is a single area that’s most important, it’s lumbar support. It’s the part of the body that gives you the most problems when you sit for long periods, so it’s the one experts tell us to focus on. Proper posture there makes you sit upright, with additional benefits to your whole spinal column, particularly the neck, where improper alignment is a common cause of headaches.
Maximum quality and comfort
Smart design and wide-ranging adjustability combine to provide an extremely high level of seating comfort. Breathable mesh maintains healthy airflow around your body. Headrest, back, armrests, and seat can be individually tuned to match your physique. Although assembly instructions come in for some criticism (and rightly so), the individual components are well made. The finished product provides great support and is very durable.
Mesh: One of the main choices is between upholstered and mesh chairs. While there is an element of personal taste involved, there are also real ergonomic issues. Mesh chairs provide for airflow all around the body and so should keep you cooler. Even in an air-conditioned office, a chair with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) upholstery can increase perspiration and thus reduce comfort. That doesn’t mean upholstery is bad: breathable and natural fabrics can offer similar benefits to mesh.
One popular approach is to offer an upholstered seat pad and a mesh back, what some consider a “best of both worlds” approach. However, high-quality mesh seats with tension adjustment can be equally comfortable. Mesh also offers greater durability. It doesn’t wear like fabric, and spilling your coffee on it won’t ruin its appearance!
Height adjustment: This is almost always pneumatic, which is fast and easy. It’s important that the seat can be raised or lowered to suit your build (more on that below). Tall and short people often struggle with cheaper chairs.
Weight capacity: This is another important element. We would allow a margin of 10% to 20%. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, look at chairs rated to hold at least 200 pounds. This should ensure that the overall structure of the chair has the durability you need.
Armrests: These may or may not be fitted (and they are optional on some ergonomic chairs). Some experts suggest they’re beneficial because they tend to stop you from slumping forward. However, fixed armrests can be worse than not having any. It’s important to check that they’re the right height for you or they’ll feel like they’re getting in the way. Height-adjustable armrests are the optimum solution, though flip-up armrests are a good alternative.
Headrest: This isn’t a common feature, but it is particularly pleasant when you get a few moments to be able to relax and lean back. Make sure the headrest is independently adjustable from the back of the chair and allows you to keep your head in line with your spine. It shouldn’t push your head forward.
Lots of padding might seem very comfortable, but it doesn’t necessarily make for the most ergonomic chair. Under the skin, it must have sufficient adjustability to fit you properly.
Inexpensive: In our opinion, the very cheapest ergonomic chairs are best avoided. They have neither the build quality nor structural dynamics to live up to expectations. That doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to buy a chair. Popular mesh models start from around $50 (though armrests are likely either absent or fixed).
Mid-range: You’ll find enormous choice in both padded and mesh chairs with wide-ranging adjustability between $100 and $200. Pretty much everyone can find what they need within these parameters.
Expensive: Premium-quality ergonomic chairs are often superbly engineered pieces of furniture that can accommodate all body sizes and shapes. One even has a place in the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). However, this level of design and comfort demands considerable investment. These chairs often cost over $500 and sometimes exceed $1,000.
A five-point base offers the best support and stability and is recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The following considerations can help you choose an ergonomic chair that fits you properly. It’s a good idea to have someone help you take appropriate measurements (you can use an existing office chair or ordinary dining chair and make adjustments to your measurements as necessary).
Work and play
If you’re looking for a high-comfort gaming chair that will double for the home office, this racing model is an excellent choice. Segmented padding provides a high level of passive ergonomic support. There’s pneumatic adjustment for height, control for recline, and flip-up armrests. Available in seven colors to match your décor, it’s fun and functional furniture at a very competitive price.
The Dragonn Ergonomic Kneeling Chair looks pretty basic, but the design of this type of seating focuses on putting you in the right position to maintain proper posture. It takes a couple of days to get used to, but many people swear by this type of chair. The Space Seating AirGrid Manager’s Chair is typical of a number of high-quality, mid-range models, though the eco-leather seat pad, adjustable arms, and heavy-duty base give it better ergonomic credentials than some competitors. The Herman Miller Embody Chair is a marvel of modern engineering that looks like it might have come off the bridge of the USS Enterprise. It offers unrivaled support and adjustability, plus it comes in 16 color options. It’s backed by a 12-year warranty, which is remarkable — and so is the price!
Q. What does “ergonomic” mean?
A. Dictionary definitions vary slightly, but in essence it’s the science of improving the design of products that people need to interact with. The aim is to make items that require less effort to use while increasing comfort, thus leading to greater efficiency and higher productivity.
Q. Can I sit in an ergonomic chair for longer periods of time?
A. You can, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Experts recommend that to minimize back strain, you should stand and move around for a short period every 30 to 60 minutes. It’s easy to forget, particularly when you’re focused on work. Try setting a timer on your computer or phone to remind you when to take a break.
Q. How long should an ergonomic chair last?
A. It’s difficult to be accurate because there are so many variables. The quality of the original construction, the size of the occupant, how enthusiastically they move around (does the chair get used for office chair racing, for example). Five to seven years would be a reasonable expectation. Longer than that and wear and tear will probably have a negative impact on the effectiveness of the ergonomics.
Wheels can take a lot of punishment, but if they do break, replacements should be easy to find. Most are simple to attach.
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