BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
Constructed with breathable mesh back and seat to boost airflow. Easy-to-adjust arms, height, and back depth. Assembles in under an hour. Built-in support for lumbar region, head, and neck. Eco-friendly design with 97% recycled parts.
Slight assembly issues include the instructions, which are minimal, and hardware, which isn't labeled.
Upgraded seat includes 0.5-inch added thickness and high-density molded cushioning. Wide seat design is accommodating to many occupants. Contoured lumbar area provides reasonable support. Wider wheels minimize noise artifact during rolling.
The chair is comfortable but may not be suitable for prolonged periods of sitting.
Solid chair with breathable mesh back. Pneumatic height adjustment with a 17-inch minimum that’s especially popular with shorter buyers. Features tilt tension adjustment, reclining back and lift-up arms. Sleek design is ideal for most office setups.
Very poor instructions and a few problems with hole alignments during assembly.
Professional spin on classic desk chairs given its head support and mesh back. Made with high-resilience foam cushioning that maintains even support. Includes several adjustability features, including arm rests, headrest lift and lumbar support.
A few buyers stated the chair arrived with a peculiar chemical smell that required off-gassing.
The adjustable headrest and armrests ensure that users maintain their posture. The chair is also sized to ensure that the feet stay firmly planted on the ground which maintains your posture and allows you to work for longer periods.
Armrests do not flip out for more room.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Get emails you’ll love.
Learn about the products you’re wondering if you should buy and get advice on using your latest purchases.