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Kyle Hamilton Reviewed.com
Published 12:43 AM EDT Oct 16, 2019
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When you’re stuck at a desk and working on a computer all day, it is easy to forget about your physical well being. Back aches, wrist pain, and shoulder discomfort don’t have to be a daily part of your routine if you take the right precautions.
Number one? A proper supportive chair to encourage good posture. We spent months researching the top-selling ergonomic chairs to find which ones really have your back. After all that, we found that the best office chair for most people is the Herman Miller Aeron chair, but read on for our reviews of all the chairs we tested.
1. The best overall: Herman Miller Aeron
Configuration: Adjustable height, seat angle, and tilt-tension; fully configurable arms; tilt limiter
Special features: PostureFit SL lumbar support; can purchase separate adjustments
The details: Built for long stretches of sitting and a healthy sheen of stress sweat, the breathable mesh lets your back stay cool. The suspension on the seat and backrest keep you comfortable and supported throughout the day.
On the back of the seat is Herman Miller’s PostureFit SL: The SL stands for the sacral/lumbar region of your back—also known as the lower to middle back region. Two flexible pads on the Aeron support this region, so whether you find yourself sitting properly, hunched in concentration, or taking a quick nap, they will adjust to your new posture.
The seat-angle adjustment alleviated a lot of leg tension, as well as made us feel more productive with the forward sitting position. We unlocked the tilt limiter for the back rest to further stretch our legs and relax our spines.
One of our favorite features is the fully adjustable armrests. The firmness makes them feel durable and supportive, without any fear they’ll be knocked out of place with simple movements. We also like the design for adjusting them: On the back of the chair, there are levers that unlock vertical movement of the armrests.
This chair can also be as customized and supportive as you want it to be. During the purchasing process, you can further configure the Aeron chair for such things as the size of the seat, armrest adjustments and material, back support, and tilt angle. However, keep in mind that when you personalize, you also increase the price.
Get the Herman Miller Aeron chair from Amazon for $599
2. Best value: Autonomous ErgoChair 2
Materials: Fabric and mesh
Configuration: Adjustable headrest, lumbar support, tilt tension, height, seat depth and angle, and armrests; tilt limiter
Special features: Upper back tilt lever
The details: Usually, an office chair with this many features can break the bank. Fortunately, Autonomous has found the perfect medium, offering a high-end office chair with a price that’s hard to beat.
We found the thick, fabric-padded seat to be better cushioned and more comfortable than the other chairs in our roundup. The fabric cushion and mesh back work in harmony to support your back without smothering your body.
Regardless of body type, our testers nearly universally felt comfortable in this chair. This broad appeal stems from the unique reclining features: users can lean back without losing head, neck, or lower back support.
The ErgoChair 2 can also morph its shape to please just about anyone. For the vertically inclined, the seat depth can be extended so you can feel like you’re sitting in an adult’s chair. Anyone with back problems will appreciate the adjustable lumbar support, which uses the same comfortable fabric as the seat. Finally, for precise tasks and maximum attention to detail, the chair angle tilt mechanism lets you lean forward by adjusting the seat and backrest to tilt toward your workstation. This lets you get closer to the action without the risk of falling over.
High-end chair enthusiasts with a generous budget will get the Aeron, but the ErgoChair 2 is a close, affordable second.
Get the Autonomous ErgoChair 2 from Autonomous for $269
3. Steelcase Leap
Material: Genuine leather
Configuration: Fully configurable arms; adjustable seat depth and back tension; multi-tilt limiter
Special features: Built-in and customizable lumbar support; adjustable lower back firmness
The details: The Leap by Steelcase requires no stretch of the imagination to be considered a high-end office chair. With its leather padding, fully adjustable armrests, seat-depth adjustment, and the highly intuitive design of the built-in lumbar support, it embodies the word professional.
The version we tested came clad in soft, durable leather, demonstrating the high quality and excellent taste of Steelcase. The most noteworthy design choice of this chair is the stylish backrest.
Normally jutting out of the back, Steelcase hid the lumbar support internally, allowing the Leap to blend into even the most traditionally decorated office. Also built-in is a lower-back firmness control knob that allows you to have as much or as little back support as needed.
The biggest issue we had with this chair is the price. You can get a lot more chair for a lot less money.
Get the Steelcase Leap from Amazon for $935.99
4. Herman Miller Sayl
Materials: Fabric and elastomer
Configuration: Fully configurable arms; adjustable chair depth, chair tilt, back tilt, and back tension
Special feature: Unframed backrest
The details: When chair manufactures want a breathable material, they tend to look towards mesh. However, Herman Miller challenges that notion with the Sayl chair.
The Golden Gate Bridge–inspired backrest is gorgeous to look at and is even better to sit in. With its incredible design and flexibility, it formed to our backs perfectly, no matter what kind of posture we had.
Get the Herman Miller Sayl from Herman Miller for $495
5. Steelcase Gesture
Configuration: Adjustable chair depth; back tilt tension, and height; fully customizable arms
Special feature: Uniquely flexible armrests
The details: With its intuitive design, the Gesture makes adjusting a breeze by placing every knob and lever on the right side of the chair.
However, what sets this chair apart from its competitors are the armrests. Designed with a joint similar to that of a human shoulder, the Gesture’s arms can move any way yours can.
We also commend the multi-tilt lever, which gives four different settings of backrest-angle adjustment, as opposed to the usual recline-lock lever. The fabric padding is comfortable and provides good upright posture, but overall feels a bit stiffer than other fabric seats.
Get the Steelcase Gesture from Amazon for $1,050
6. Raynor Ergohuman ME7ERG
Configuration: Adjustable headrest, arms, seat depth, and back tilt tension; fully customizable back-tilt angles
Special features: Adjustable backrest height and lumbar support
The details: At first glance this chair underwhelmed us. Fortunately, we kept looking and found some cool features.
The protruding lumbar support initially appeared uncomfortable, but we discovered that it forms to your body and adjusts as you push your back against it. Additionally, the height of the backrest is adjustable, so you can lower or heighten it based on where you want more support.
We found the ME7ERG to be intuitive and supportive, as almost every adjustment is built into one mechanism.
Get the Raynor Ergohuman ME7ERG from Amazon for $699
7. Steelcase Amia
Configuration: Adjustable height, depth, back tilt tension, and back tilt limiter; fully customizable arms
Special feature: Built-in adjustable lumbar support
The details: The Amia has a lot going for it. Reminiscent of the Steelcase Leap, it has sleek, built-in lumbar support. It also has fully adjustable arms, seat depth, and recline lock and tension. The chair’s back support exceeded expectations, but unfortunately, its stiff fabric cushions made this chair uncomfortable.
Get the Steelcase Amia from Amazon for $695
8. Knoll ReGeneration
Materials: Elastomer and fabric
Configuration: Adjustable height and seat depth; fully customizable arms
Special feature: Elastomer backrest
The details: The Knoll Regeneration simplifies the meaning of ergonomic. With its flexible elastomer backrest, there’s no need for all those levers and knobs. The back of the chair simply stretches or retracts based on where your spine applies pressure.
Although we like how minimalistic the chair is, the lack of locking mechanisms in the armrests are troubling. We like backrests to bend, but armrests should be stalwart.
Get the Knoll ReGeneration from Knoll for $604
9. Humanscale Freedom Task
Configuration: Adjustable arms and seat depth
Special features: Innovative backrest; optional headrest
The details: When you sit in a Freedom Task, it automatically adjusts as you recline. That means there are no knobs or levers to fiddle with, freeing up more time for productivity.
The armrests also have an interesting design. Instead of normal height adjustment buttons, you instead lift up the arms, and while you’re still lifting them, move them up and down to adjust. The armrests also recline with you since they are attached to the backrest.
Get the Humanscale Freedom Task from Amazon for $1,049
10. Herman Miller Embody
Configuration: Adjustable arms, seat depth, tilt tension, seat height, and tilt limiter
Special feature: BackFit adjustment
The details: The Embody turned out to be the strangest looking chair in our roundup. Herman Miller wanted the Embody to contour to the natural curvature of your spine. The backrest took a cue from our own anatomy—complete with a spine and ribs.
Even with its unique backrest design, we found the chair lacking in other departments. The seat felt a bit stiff and flimsy as we increased the depth. The armrests wobbled, and we needed two hands to adjust the width precisely.
Get the Herman Miller Embody from Herman Miller for $1,495
11. Uplift J3
Materials: Leather and mesh
Configuration: Adjustable seat depth, arms, back-tilt, recline tension, and height
Special feature: Removable headrest
The details: Your height will determine whether you like this chair. We found the headrest silky smooth to adjust, but you can’t change the height. So, unless it’s a perfect fit, the headrest will either bump the top of your head or push into your back. Fortunately, it’s removable!
The mesh backrest is comfortable and breathable while reclining. Regrettably, the downfall of this chair is the hard and stiff leather seat. It also tilts slightly upwards, leaving our legs hanging above the ground even at the lowest height setting.
Get the Uplift J3 from Uplift for $289
12. Uplift Pursuit
Materials: Fabric and mesh
Configuration: Adjustable arms, height, recline tension, and back-tilt lock
Special feature: Intuitive armrest and headrest design
The details: We felt productive when we sat in the Uplift Pursuit. We like the way the backrest and seat form to your body. Adjusting the headrest and armrests are intuitive and easy.
Our biggest gripe with this chair were the armrests. We liked the approach of adjusting them without any buttons, however, they are made with hard and inflexible plastic. This made some of our testers feel uncomfortable, especially for those who rest their elbows on armrests.
Get the Uplift Pursuit from Uplift for $329
13. AmazonBasics High-Back Executive Chair
Configuration: Adjustable height and recline lock
Special feature: Built-in lumbar support
The details: The Amazon High-Back Executive is a great way to dip your toe into the chair market without spending a lot of money.
We get it: most of the top ergonomic chairs are expensive. This AmazonBasics is much more affordable, and it’s covered in soft pleather that feels luxurious without costing a fortune. Embedded in the backrest is a lumbar support that really helps for those long sitting sessions. Lastly, we found the controls easy to learn, as there are only two: height of the chair and unlocking the recline.
Get the AmazonBasics High-Back Executive Chair from Amazon for $105.69
How we tested
Hey there, my name is Kyle Hamilton, product test technician and chair enthusiast at Reviewed. As someone with chronic back issues, making sure I’m getting the best support while sitting makes a world of difference. Trust me when I say that once you’ve started to sit in a chair that has great lumbar support, you’ll never want to go back to sitting in a regular chair ever again.
How we tested office chairs
After weeks of research, we narrowed our search to just a few finalists. Over a span of three weeks, we had our amazing Reviewed employees vigorously sit, adjust, and break in every chair we threw at them. We looked at everything the chairs had to offer, such as material, adjustability, durability, and overall comfort. We then took a look at our survey results and decided which chairs made us stiff as a board, or made us feel like we were sitting on a cloud.
See the full roundup of desk and office chairs tested on Reviewed.com
What if you don’t want to buy a whole new chair?
Upgrading your desk chair isn’t the only way to keep your back happy and posture optimal, though. There’s a much more affordable route you might want to try first.
Reviewed’s Audience Development Manager, Rachel Moskowitz, hurt her back as a teen. Her first job at 16 years old was working at an Italian restaurant as a busser. She spent what seemed like all of her time there and eventually moved up to waitressing. She loved the people she worked with, and she loved the job (though she could live without all of the food and wine stains on her clothes!). But if you’ve ever worked in the food industry, you know how hard it is. You have to remember orders, deal with cranky or stingy customers, and there’s a lot of physical labor involved.
Rachel ended up working in various restaurants throughout high school and college. Between carrying huge crates for catering and massive trays of food, it really took a toll on her. Her back in particular wasn’t happy and began to get irritated by the tiniest of tasks such as vacuuming or leaning over the sink to do dishes. Because she didn’t want to have back problems her whole life, she started going to physical therapy—and while it got significantly better, she still had to make sure she wasn’t pushing the limits with any activities that she did.
When she transitioned to office work, the back pain continued to flare. So she decided to spend some time using the LoveHome Memory Foam Lumbar Support Back Cushion on her chair at the office. While she felt like an old person bringing the cushion to work, she was relieved to find that it blends in very subtly. It’s relatively small, comes in many colors to blend with almost any chair, and easily clips around the back of the chair. It also has adjustable straps so that you can use it with just about any make or model of desk chair.
Once it was in place, Rachel found she completely forgot that it was even there—the only thing she noticed was her lack of pain. She could sit at her desk for hours at her computer and her back felt like it was on a cloud. The memory foam molds to the curve of your back and provides tremendous relief.
Others in our office eventually noticed Rachel’s cushion and started asking her to share the Amazon link with them. By the end of the week, a couple more of us were using identical support pillows.
The LoveHome back cushion is such a simple-to-install and portable product that it made Rachel’s transition to her current job much easier (non-supportive office chairs seem to be a trend everywhere!). It’s perfect for alleviating back pain in these uncomfortable office chairs, but that’s not the only situation you can use it in.
Anytime you’re sitting all day—or at least for long periods of time—you’ll be happy you have this support pillow. It can provide support during long car rides (Rachel likes to bring hers on road trips) and it’s great to use if driving is part of your job description. Rachel’s dad owns a trucking company and many of his truck drivers use them for their long hauls. Just about anyone who sits for long periods of time can benefit from this product, even if a full-blown ergonomic chair feels out of reach financially.
Get the LoveHome Memory Foam Lumbar Support Back Cushion from Amazon for $25.99
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