A cheap office chair can make you feel like you’re in a cramped economy seat on a cross-country flight. But good office chairs are like going from economy to first class. They are made to keep your body supported and comfortable for a long time.
We looked into dozens of office chairs. Talked to four experts on ergonomics, and had test panelists with different body types sit and talk for over 175 hours. Since 2015, we’ve established that the Steelcase Gesture is the most delicate office chair for most people.
Who is this meant for
Getting a new office chair is like getting a new bed. Spending a third of your life in this furniture should make you feel good and not hurt your back. You’ll probably sit for at least 14,000 hours over the next 10 years if you have an entire desk job. This doesn’t count the nights you have to work late, the weekends you go into the office. The times you have to eat lunch in front of your computer, or any late-night gaming you might do.
We now know that sitting in a chair for long periods can be bad for your health, and a lousy chair makes the problem worse by putting you in positions that put you at greater risk over time. If you work from home, finding a chair that helps make your desk time comfier and better for your health is worth your time.
If you don’t spend much time sitting before a computer, you don’t need an office chair like the ones we suggest here. These chairs are made to be comfortable and easy to adjust. If you only sit down occasionally to check your email or play games, you can buy any chair that makes you feel good or that you like the look of. Many people are happy to work on a chair or sofa for a short time. This guide is for people who work from an office chair full-time.
Alan Hedge, an expert in ergonomics, told us that finding a good chair is like finding a good pair of shoes: You want it to follow specific design rules, and of course, you’ll think about the materials, quality, looks, but in the end, you should choose something that makes you feel good. We found chairs that fit various body types because everyone is different, but you should always sit in a chair before buying it.
Whether you require to purchase new or used furniture, you might want to try out a few chairs you can’t find in stores by going to a store that fixes up office furniture or an architectural salvage store like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. If that’s not possible, a comprehensive return policy of at least 30 days will help you decide at home. This guide has some notes about sizes to help you make this critical decision.
How we selected and tested
Before each round of testing, we look through manufacturer websites for new models, go through older versions of this guide to reevaluate our picks and chairs we’ve already ruled out, and talk to ergonomics experts to find out what to look for in an office chair that will best help your body for brief or long periods of sitting. For our last major round of testing in 2019, we used the following criteria to narrow the field of 50 candidates down to a final list of 10 to test:
All the experts we talked to said that everyone’s body is different and that finding the perfect, most comfortable office chair is a subjective task that also depends on the type of work you do, your body size, and how you sit. We looked at how comfortable office chairs were in their seats, backrests, and armrests. How our bodies felt after we got up from a chair was as essential as how it made us think while sitting.
Lumbar and back support
The most simple office chairs don’t let you change the lumbar and back support. They’re one size fits all. But Alan Hedge says adjustability is critical because people have different torso lengths and lumbar curves. A good backrest will support you whether sitting straight up or, as ergonomic experts recommend, leaning back 100 to 110 degrees.
Ease of reclining
According to our experts, reclining is essential for sustainable sitting because it lets you move your body more while sitting. You should be able to easily lean back in your office chair without feeling like you’re in a pilates class.
An office chair that can be changed in more ways will fit a broader range of people better and make it more likely that you’ll be happy with it. We look for chairs that can be adjusted at least in seat height, but we prefer office chairs that can also be changed in terms of arm height, tilt, and seat depth. Also, the best chairs let you change how far the chair tilts back and how much force it takes to tilt it back.
Durability and materials
Many small things can go wrong with a chair, like the arms coming off, a knob cracking, or a piece breaking off. Cheaper chairs are known to get strange squeaks and creaks over time. If a material feels cheap or looks like it will break when put under stress on day one, it’s likely to be entirely ruined by day 500. Especially seat cushions can wear out quickly. Cheaper foam can make an office chair feel saggy after 400 days, even if it felt firm on day one. The quality of the casters matters if you want to roll your chair around smoothly from time to time, like if you have a sit-and-stand desk or want to win a fire extinguisher roller-chair derby.
There is a big difference in quality between a $40 office chair made by an unknown company and an $800 chair made by a well-known company. Most importantly, office chairs under $200 are made with cheaper plastic and metal, have fixed armrests and seat depths, tend to look dull, and come with shorter or less-comprehensive warranties. Starting at around $300, you can get high-quality chairs with more ways to adjust them. And for $1,000, you get contracts that will replace almost any worn parts for over a decade, more color and accessory options, and higher-end materials like thicker foam padding and more precise lumbar support adjustments.
A typical chair with no brand name might be covered for one or two years, but most high-end chairs guarantee at least 10 years. We look for office chairs with a warranty of at least five years, preferably more. In the same way, many expensive chairs come with a guarantee that covers just about anything that breaks, but cheaper chairs have limited warranties that don’t cover normal wear and tear.
Comfort is more important to us than looks, but we know that many people who work from home are turned off by the dull blacks and grays of most office furniture. We question our panel of examiners about what they believe about the look of each chair they try, and we like it when they have options for fabric, color, and other customizations.
Based on what ergonomists told us, we didn’t buy two types of chairs at all:
Jenny Pynt told us to escape executive-style chairs that push the part of your spine between your shoulder blades forward. Pynt said This is often what so-called “executive” chairs do. It would help if you generally choose something that supports your back instead of shaping it.
Chairs lacking backrests or partial backrests
Pynt also mentioned a few other types of chairs that often cause problems. He said stools and other seats without backrests should not be used as full-time seating because you will recline no matter how good you are.
Because chair comfort is so personal, we asked people with different body types, from a writer who is 5 feet 2 inches tall to an editor who is 6 feet 2 inches tall, to test each chair in our New York office. Each panelist used a modified version of this ergonomic seating evaluation form (PDF) from Cornell University to rate the chairs on all of the above criteria, giving them a score between 0 and 10 for each.
We also took notes on how the staff of the chair had used in our offices for months worked over time. All the testers put the office chairs through the same basic tests to see how comfortable, supportive, adjustable, and long-lasting they were.
This means sitting in the chairs while typewriting on computers, playing video games, sending emails, going to meetings, or just leaning back to think. We sat in the right and wrong, turned knobs hard, and rolled them around the office without thinking for over two weeks.
I tested the HON Convergence, the HON Ignition 2.0, and the Fully Desk Chair again in my home office over a few weeks. All three chairs cost less than $400. Editor Ben Keough used his home office to test the HON Ignition 2.0 and the Fully Desk Chair simultaneously.
The Steelcase Gesture is the most pleasing and most comfortable office chair for most people because it can be adjusted to fit many different body types. During testing, people sat in other office chairs. One panelist said returning to the Gesture was like going to the spa.
Our panelists gave the Gesture the highest score for all of our criteria, and it’s made of high-quality materials that should last longer than its generous 12-year warranty. We think the design is appealing enough for most people and comes in many colors to fit any space or taste.
The seat cushion is a big part of the comfort of the Gesture. Our testers said that the Gesture had the right balance of firmness and softness compared to other chairs. It was also much better than budget chairs, which were almost as hard as sitting on a wooden chair.
Staff members at Wirecutter who own the Gesture confirmed that the cushion, back padding, and armrests are still as comfortable as the first day they were made. This chair is comfortable for more than just typing on your computer. It’s made to hold you in more than one upright position, unlike more straightforward chairs that are only made to keep you in one good place.
Editors, writers, and photographers with various body types took part in our tests. Everyone could adjust the Gesture to fit their body and work, whether awkwardly hunched over a desk taking handwritten notes, breaking ergonomic rules by sitting on the edge of the place or casually tilting back over a meeting.
The lumbar and back support of the Gesture is just as good as that of other chairs in this price range. This chair stands out, though, because it is comfortable to recline and move around in. Most chairs tilt when you lean back, but the Gesture’s back is also made to bend.
This is because your spine is in a different shape when you depend back than when sitting straight. You might not realize it, but leaning back in your chair is good. Rani Lueder told us that when you count back, you give your spine a break and open up the angle between your thighs and your torso.
When you move, you move the pressure around and help the blood flow. Our testers agreed that the Gesture’s recline was one of the most comfortable chairs we tried. The chair stays at that angle when you lean back, so you don’t have to keep leaning back with your feet or your core, as with most other chairs.
The Gesture can be set up in many different ways, and it’s easy to move around and find the right one for your task and body type. Using the knobs on the right side, you can move the seat depth forward and back, change the tilt tension, change how far the chair can lean, and move the seat height up and down. Also, the Gesture is the only chair we tested with ball-and-socket armrests that you can rotate and shift into almost any position.
You press down on a tab under the armrest to unlock it, and then you can turn the whole arm to create it comfortable for whatever you’re doing. Most good chairs have armrests that can move up and down, back and forth, and angle in or out. Cheap chairs, on the other hand, usually only let you move the armrests up and down.
Gesture’s Arm Support
Pynt says that a chair’s arm support is essential because if you lean forward from the vertical without arm support, your back muscles will have to work harder to keep you standing up straight, which can cause muscle stress and pain.” The Gesture’s arm support was helpful when we wanted to lean back to read, play games, or draw for a long time on a tablet.
Testers said that the chair looked simple but sturdy, which is excellent for a professional setting or when you want your home office to feel more professional. This chair is also made to last: Steelcase’s 12-year warranty (PDF) covers everything that usually goes wrong with chairs, including problems with the pneumatic cylinders that let you adjust the height. We’ve tested the Gesture for years, and it’s held up well.
70 fabric options and six leather
The Gesture is usually sold for more than $1,000. Still, if you don’t care about specific colors (the customized version has more than 70 fabric options and six leather ones), you can often find it for less than $500 at office liquidators online or in your area. If you buy something used, you lose the warranty, but the money you save may be worth it.
Even though the Herman Miller Aeron is made of mesh and has no padding, it is surprisingly comfortable. Some of our testers said it felt like sitting in a hammock because the material was so springy. The Aeron is better than foam-padded chairs in warm climates or for people who tend to get hot.
Its armrests aren’t as easy to move as those on the Gesture, and it’s not as easy to recline. But when using a keyboard and mouse all day, we found that the Aeron’s back and seat were just as comfortable as the Gestures. The Aeron has the same 12-year warranty as the Gesture, and because the chair is so popular, you can often find older or lightly used Aerons for a significant discount.
The Aeron doesn’t have a single size that can be adjusted to fit different people. Instead, it comes in different sizes (PDF). Getting the right size for a chair could be as crucial as getting the right size for clothes or shoes regarding how well it fits you. The size B Aeron we used for our test fit most people between 5’2″ and 6’6″ tall.
Even though you could not find a size that fits you completely, you should still look at the size chart and think about what makes sense. One of our testers, who was right on the line between sizes B and C on the chart. Found that the size B chair was much too narrow and too easy to push the backrest back accidentally.
The Aeron is comfortable for long work hours if you get the right size chair. Most people won’t get too hot or get a gross sweat stain on their back days because the mesh lets air through. Some of our testers liked the Aeron’s mesh better than the Gesture and other chairs for long hours of work because it was springy and let air through.
But the Aeron is made for working at a desk and sitting up straight. If you try sitting in an Aeron with your legs crossed, you’ll find it uncomfortable immediately. If you do this with a gesture, you might forget your legs are crossed until you get up. Again, the size of the chair makes a big difference.
Our size A and size B testers found it harder to recline and keep the tilt angle, but our size C tester said it was too easy to recline and hard to lock into place. Even though the chair has a tilt tension control knob. Some people like how the Aeron forces you to sit a certain way, but others might find the chair too strict.
The Aeron’s lumbar-support system has a fully adjustable dial and tilt mechanism that we found easy to use but a bit harder to adjust than the Gesture’s. In general, the Aeron isn’t as flexible as the Gesture. You can’t change the seat depth, so getting the right size Aeron is essential.
And the Aeron’s arms only move up and down, while the Gesture’s whole armrest can move diagonally in and out, as well as forward and back. To give you more space when you need it. The arm height is also hard to adjust. Instead of pressing a button under the armrest and moving the arms as you see fit. You have to use a switch on the back of the chair to unlock the arm, move it, and then lock it back into place.
You would set your arm height once in an ergonomically perfect world and leave it there. However, most people don’t sit all the time perfectly, and many people switch tasks throughout the day. Regarding how it looks, the Aeron has a design that has become an icon and has been copied many times. The people on our panel said that the gray model we tested didn’t look as big as the black one and might fit better in some homes.
You can also spend a little more on options like a polished or satin aluminum frame to make it look nicer. A 12-year warranty covers all repairs and parts for the Aeron. Unlike the Gesture, which conceals its moving parts, the Aeron shows off its skeleton. Looking at the chair, you can see which bolts you need to take off to replace a piece.
Based on the above details, the price from Herman Miller is about $1,400 as of this writing. You want fully adjustable arms that can move in and out and change the depth. That costs about $130 more. A representative from Herman Miller told us that most people don’t need or use the tilt limiter or forward lean. And our testing showed the same.
But if you lean forward a lot, the tilt limiter and seat-angle add-on, which costs $100, might be worth it. The Gesture and other non-mesh chairs are more complex to clean than the Aeron. The mesh is easy to clean, and if you have pets, that sheds a lot. Hair won’t stick to a mesh chair like the Aeron as much as it does to fabric cushions.
The classic Aeron design sold before 2016 is still great for most people. And it’s still easy to find at office liquidators and Craigslist. Sometimes brand new for less than $400. Buying used, or old stock is an excellent option if you can’t afford a brand-new Aeron or don’t want to spend $1,000 on a chair. You lose the Herman Miller warranty with use. But if you’re not too bad at DIY projects. You can replace almost anything on the Aeron with used parts you can find on eBay.
The Herman Miller Sayl starts at less than $600 is a good compromise between a cheap and a high-end chair. It can be adjusted in the ways that most people need. And it’s comfortable, with a firm foam seat and a plastic mesh back that lets air pass through. But it doesn’t have a chair’s advanced adjustments and ranges like the Steelcase Gesture. For example, you can’t change the depth of the seat or move the arms.
Even though it expenses half as much as other Herman Miller chairs. It has the same warranty and tracks a record of durability. Also, if you think the Gesture and Aeron are too plain. The Sayl has a unique look that will either draw you in or turn you off when you see it. The Sayl was comfortable enough to sit in all day, and our smaller testers liked it the most.
S-shaped spine support
As you move into the chair, the rubber moves back and stretches with you. As the day goes on, it gives your S-shaped spine plenty of support. You can buy an adjustable lumbar support control that slides up and down on the back. But most of our testers didn’t find it necessary because the Sayl naturally makes you sit up straight.
The seat is made of high-quality fabric and has a firm cushion that lasts a long time. If you choose a softer, cushier seat, the Gesture could be a better choice. The Sayl has all the modifications you require but doesn’t do much more.
Most people will want adjustable armrests which can slide up and down, in and out. Or diagonally in and out to help support their arms while doing different tasks. You can change how much the Sayl tilts back and how tight the tilt is. But it takes a few turns of the tension knob to feel a difference. And one of our size C testers thought it was too easy to lean back.
Most people will find that Sayl’s established seat depth of 16 inches is enough to support their thighs. But if you need to change the depth. You can push the seat out to 18 inches if you want to. The Sayl has a similar 12-year guarantee as the Aeron and is made by a company with a history of making dependable, durable chairs. This chair is created of softer plastics and less metal than the Aeron, but it will still last.
Since 2018, Sayls has been the standard chair in Wirecutter’s Los Angeles office. The Sayls we’ve tried over time have mostly kept their smooth adjustments and good looks, but sometimes moving the arms can be clunky. During testing, we were worried that the plastic back would tear, but it has turned out to be surprisingly substantial. Some people like the chair because of how it looks.
The rubber back, not in a frame, has a strange look that will catch the attention of everyone who enters your office or home. You can choose from different colors for the back suspension and the base. And various colors for the seat fabrics. Design is, of course, something that depends on the person.
Some panelists liked how alien and space-age the chair looked, while others didn’t like it. During testing, we called it the “Tron chair.” We recommend the Sayl, which has arms that can be moved up and down and a fixed seat depth. But no extra lumbar support. Depending on the fabric of your seats. The total cost is about $670, almost half the price of a fully loaded Gesture or Aeron.
The best budget option we’ve tried is the HON Ignition 2.0. It usually expenses about $300 but has been on selling for much less. It’s comfortable and has the best lumbar support for any chair we’ve tested, costing less than $500. Compared to most chairs that cost the same or less. The Ignition 2.0’s parts feel more durable and of higher quality. With less wobbly armrests and smoother-rolling wheels.
Gray or black mesh
The back of the Ignition 2.0 chair is either gray or black mesh. And it doesn’t look as boxy as other low-cost chairs. The Ignition series of task chairs from HON includes the mesh-back Ignition 2.0, which we tested. The fully upholstered Ignition. Which costs about $100 more than a Big and Tall Ignition. Which can hold up to 450 pounds but usually costs more than twice as much as the Ignition 2.0.
In this price range, it’s hard to find comfortable shoes all day, but the Ignition 2.0 is an exception. The seat cushion is thick and soft. An improvement over our previous budget pick, the HON Exposure, and the similarly priced Fully Desk Chair. Which had seats that were a little too firm. You don’t have to break in the middle. And at the end of a long day, it still feels supportive, unlike too-soft seats where you’d sink in over time.
We liked how the mesh seat back was springy. And we think the Ignition 2.0’s soft plastic armrests with light padding will last a while. Even though the Ignition 2.0 isn’t as comfortable as the Gesture or the Aeron. It does an excellent job with the basics. Most office chairs say they support your lower back, but most of the time, they don’t.
Adjustable lumbar support
The optional, adjustable lumbar support on the Ignition 2.0 works and is noticeable. When our testers moved the back support up or down, it stayed in place and gave extra support where they put it. Because it’s a big piece of plastic, you can feel the lumbar support right away through the mesh back. It takes away some of the seat’s springiness. But that’s true of all chairs with this design, and we think it’s worth it for more ergonomic seating.
The other main strength of the chair is that it can be adjusted differently to help you get the right fit. You can change the seat’s height. Move the armrests up and down, away from or toward your body. The parts don’t go as far as those on the Gesture, Aeron, or Sayl. Still, many cheap chairs don’t have adjustable armrests. Some of our testers said it was a deal-breaker after sitting in 10 chairs.
Because the seat height begins at about 17 inches. Which is an inch higher than on the Gesture or Aeron size B chair. It’s not a great fit if you’re short. Tracy Vence is 5 feet 4 inches tall. And I both found it impossible to sit in the chair at its lowest height and keep our feet flat on the floor. A footrest can solve this problem quickly, but it will cost you more.
The Ignition 2.0 arrives with a limited warranty that lasts a lifetime. This warranty covers faulty materials or work but doesn’t cover small parts that wear out over time. Still, the Ignition 2.0 will last a little longer than most chairs in this price range. Most of the frame is made of rugged, smooth plastic. The wheels move quickly on the hardwood.
The seat cushion is coated with a densely woven fabric. But it looks less high-end than the Gestures because the weave is less tight. The back of the Aeron has a tight weave that feels like a trampoline for your backside. On the other hand. The back of the Ignition 2.0 is made of mesh and feels more like a camping chair you can sink back into.
We had a strange problem with the two Ignition 2.0 chairs we tested. When we got up from the chair after sitting in it for a while. The seat made a “whooshing” sound, like when you get up from a plastic-covered center on a humid day. The impact is subtle enough that you’ll possibly learn to forget it after a while. But it could be not very pleasant to some.
Wirecutter editor Tracy Vence owns this chair, but she hasn’t heard this sound. It may not be in all Ignition 2.0 units, though, since she hasn’t said anything about it. Most of these problems are small for a chair that costs $300 and can hold up to 300 pounds. Most chairs in this price range only last a year or two before falling apart. The Ignition 2.0, on the other hand, seems sturdy enough to last at least five years.
The Modway Articulate may be the best office chair for the money because it has all the features we look for in a chair, no matter how much it costs. We haven’t seen anything with so many adjustments for the price. We often say that Modway chairs are a good value for the money.
As was already said, an office chair needs armrests that can be adjusted in height. The round, height-adjustable armrests on the Articulate give your forearms and elbows a lot of room to move while you’re sitting down. The adjustable backrest and seat cushion makes it easy to find a comfortable and supportive sitting position.
The Articulate’s controls are easy to understand because they are clearly labeled. You often must reach under your seat and try every lever to see what they do. The Articulate levers and knobs are all labeled, making using this chair as straightforward as possible. The Articulate is sold in seven colors, while most cheap office chairs only come in black.
Ergonomic office chair:
The Articulate has a mesh back that lets air in, the passive lumbar support. And a generously padded and shaped seat “thick seat cushion made of mesh.
Articulate was made with productivity in mind so that it can be used daily. This executive office chair is solid and comfortable. It can hold up to 331 pounds and comes in different colors.
The Articulate computer chair is easy to change to fit your needs. It has height-adjustable armrests, a tilt-and-lock system, a 360-degree swivel, and a swivel that goes all the way around.
Update your office space with these computer desks and workstations that can be used in many ways. Five dual-wheel casters make it easy to move on carpeted or hardwood floors.
Measurements of an office chair:
The product is 26.5″ long, 26″ wide, and 34″ to 39″ high. The armrest is 27.5″ high to 32″ tall. Backrest Height- 22 H inch. The thickness of the cushion: is 6 inches. The height from the floor to the top of the backrest is between 37 and 41.5 inches. And the distance from the seat to the backrest is 22 inches.