For better or worse, we're going to be working from home for the foreseeable future, so it's worth picking up one of the best office chairs. Even if it's for remote schooling, a quality office chair is not just about comfort. It's also about health.
The best office chairs can be adjusted to your own requirements, allowing you to move the different parts of the chair around to fit your body. That way, you can sit for hours on end—though you shouldn't—and not worry about strain or injury. We've looked at chairs ranging from less than $50 to more than $1,500 to give you a variety of choices.
What are the best office chairs?
When it comes to the best office chairs, our top pick is the classic Herman Miller Aeron. Although this expensive chair has been around for many years, the company has not been resting on its laurels; it has constantly revised the design of the Aeron to keep up with developments, and this chair is a marvel of material engineering. You'll pay for this design, though: Priced at $1,395, it's a big investment. You get what you pay for with this chair, though: It is the most configurable and adaptable chair we looked at, and you can add features such as a headrest and a footrest that share the same design.
For those on a budget, the best office chair is the Furmax Office Mesh Chair with Armrest. It costs around $60 and has a mesh back with lumbar support, so you'll remain cool while your backbone remains supported. Its arms aren't adjustable, but it is available in a variety of colors.
In between are a range of models, such as the Hon Exposure and the Space Seating Professional AirGrid, which have adjustable armrests and seat angles. Both also have mesh backs, which are helpful keeping cool, but you can also get them with faux leather rears for a more executive feel.
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The best office chairs you can buy today
The Herman Miller Aeron chair may be the symbol of dot-com excess, but there's a good reason for that: It is damn comfortable. This top-tier chair allows you to adjust everything, including more esoteric things, like the tension of eight zones of the fabric (including the important lumbar support) and the tilt and angle of the armrests. It also supports working in two profiles: one for when you are leaning forward and another for when you are leaning back and reclining.
It's perhaps no surprise that all of this comes at a price. At $1,395, you could buy one of these chairs or 11 of our cheapest picks, the AmazonBasics Classic office chair. You only have one butt, though, and if you are going to be working from home for a long time, it would be worth giving your behind a nice place to rest.
If you don't want to spend your entire stimulus check on a chair, but still want to have a comfortable seat for your rear, the Furmax could be a good option. It has a thick, padded seat and a mesh back with lumbar support, so your back won't get sweaty, but will still get the firmness it needs. According to online customers, the height of the seat can be adjusted from 19 inches to about 24 inches.
The Furmax rests on five casters, so you can roll around your home office. You can adjust the incline and the overall height of this chair, but unfortunately the armrests are fixed. Then again, you can't have everything at this price. However, this chair is available in a variety of colors: There's the traditional black, but it also comes in gray, purple, red, and white.
There are lots of cheap office chairs, but which is the best office chair under $100? I tested the Furmax against the BestOffice chair, another top-ranked mesh-back chair with lumbar support on Amazon. The Furmax came out on top for comfort.
Sure, you could spend upward of a grand on a Herman Miller Aeron, but unless you're planning to work from home permanently, you don't need to go all out on an office chair. Instead, you need a decent adjustable chair that doesn't cost an arm, a leg and a spine. The Hon Exposure hits this sweet spot of price and adjustability.
The Hon Exposure, which costs around $200, has the usual adjustable arms and height. Unusual for a cheap chair, there is also lumbar support in the form of a crossbar and a pad that supports the lower back. This can be moved in and out to provide support for this critical region. The full back uses a fabric mesh, so you won't get a sweaty back when the heat is on. The chair can recline, too, so you can get in the most comfortable position for editing PowerPoint presentations.
Most low-cost office chairs aren't very adjustable; the mechanisms that make for adjustable lumbar support and tension zones aren't cheap to make. The Space Seating Professional AirGrid strikes a good balance, as you can adjust a lot of the features of this modern-looking chair and still spend less than $200.
You can adjust the height and position of the AirGrid's arms and tweak the tilt of the seat, the latter of which is an important feature for creating a comfortable sitting position when you lean back or forward. You can shift the armrests left and right, but you can't adjust the angle or the slope. The AirGrid also has a mesh fabric back, which makes for better ventilation on hot days. You don't get some of the fancy adjustments of some more expensive models, but you do get most of the features that make for a comfortable spot to sit.
You don't need to spend a fortune to get a decent place to park yourself, and the AmazonBasics Classic office chair is our top budget pick. This chair costs a very reasonable $120, but it has the features most users need. The microfiber cover allows moisture to wick away, so you won't get a sweaty back. It offers full body support, so you can lean back and have your head and neck supported. The height is adjustable, and the five rotating rollers mean that it should work fine on both carpet and wood floors. You can also adjust the tension of the seat and back tilt, controlling how easy it is to recline the whole seat.
What you don't get is much adjustability. Apart from the height of the seat from the floor and the tilt tension, everything is fixed; there's no lumbar adjustment, no armrest adjustment and no seat-tilt adjustment.
If you struggle with back pain, you want a chair that adjusts to you. While many chairs can be tweaked to your requirement, the Steelcase Leap takes an alternative approach: It shifts as you use it. The back bends, the lumbar support shifts and the entire chair tilts as you adjust your position; you set these by using three controls that allow you to tweak how you configure the chair for your spine, lumbar region and posture. That makes this chair a great pick for people with chronic back or spinal issues, as adjusting these controls can make a chair much more comfortable.
The Steelcase Leap isn't cheap, though; at $860, it is one of the more expensive chairs we looked at. That might be a sound investment if you use it a lot and want something that can be adjusted to suit your mood.
I like armrests, but not everyone does. Some people prefer to let their elbows fly free. For them, the Hon Volt Task Stool is our top pick. Sometimes called a drafting chair (because it is often used with a drafting table that requires a lot of left-right movement), this chair also includes a foot ring at the base of the column, making it easier to balance.
The seat and half back of the Hon Volt Task Stool is covered with leather, although a fabric version is available. You can adjust the seat height and the foot ring height, but there is no way to change the relative positions of the seat and back. However, the design of this chair encourages you to move your upper body more often and lean forward, so that may not be a big issue for most people.
Want a chair that makes a statement? Check out the Gates high-back executive chair. This large and impressive-looking chair is covered with leather and offers full back support, so you can lean back and survey your corporate empire. Five rollers allow you to move around with relative ease, although, at 55 pounds and supporting up to 350 pounds, this is one of the heavier chairs on the market.
You can't adjust a lot about this large chair, except the height and tilt tension, but you aren't likely to take a backward pratfall if you lie back, as the seat is designed to tilt back 30 degrees and lock into place. That means you can lie back, put your feet up and relax in comfort as your minions scurry around you — or your kids run around you, depending on whom you share your home office with.
If you want to make a real statement (and you're not worried about coffee stains), go for the orange or white versions.
Even if you use a standing desk, you'll need to sit down sometimes. That's the purpose of the Songmics Pro, a seat that is more stool than chair. There is no back and no armrests; it's just a simple seat that can tilt and rotate as you use it. Two handles on the side give you something to hold on to if you need to lean over, and you can adjust the height of the seat between 24.8 and 34.6 inches. In addition, the seat can tilt as you move, tilting up to 8 inches in any direction.
It won't suit everyone, though; the small seat won't be comfortable for heavier users, and it has a maximum rated weight of 265 pounds, much less than more conventional chairs. Plus, the lack of rollers means you can't zip around the office on it.
How to choose the best office chair for you
After price, there are two main criteria for choosing an office chair: comfort and adjustability. Comfort is pretty easy to understand: A comfortable chair should offer a seat that is yielding but that also provides the base firmness your behind requires. It should also wick moisture so you don't get sweaty on warm days. The seat should be wide enough that people of larger stature can sit comfortably on it and not feel like they are squeezing into a kids' chair. The armrests should be contoured for the elbow and upper arm to lean comfortably on and be made of fabric or softer material that won't jar the elbow when you bump into it.
Adjustability is the other major factor. A good office chair should allow you to adjust pretty much everything, including the following:
- Seat height
- Seat angle
- Seat depth
- Armrest height
- Armrest width
- Armrest angle
- Backrest angle
- Backrest height
- Footrest height (if present)
That's important because every person is different; getting a chair that allows you to adjust all of these things lets you configure it to your unique body shape.
Be sure to check out all of our guides to get you ready to go back to school: