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The best office chairs in 2021

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Best office chairs
(Image credit: Herman Miller)

In a hybrid work environment, you'll need one of the best office chairs not just at your company's office, but in your home, too. After all, you're likely going to spend as much time in front of a computer at your house as you are in an office building. 

That's where our guide to the best office chairs comes in. We've selected chairs that are not only comfortable, but ones that are adjustable, too. No two people are alike, so a chair should be able to conform to your body. And, it should be supportive of your lower back, shoulders, arms, and wrists, so you don't suffer repetitive stress injuries. 

Ideally, the best office chairs should be affordable, which is why we've included models ranging from less than $100 to more than $1,500, just in case you want to splurge.

What are the best office chairs?

When it comes to the best office chairs, you can't do better than the classic Herman Miller Aeron. Although this chair has been around for many years, the company has not been resting on its laurels; it has constantly redesigned the Aeron to keep up with developments, and this chair is a marvel of material engineering. At more than $1,000, it's a big investment, but you get what you pay for: It is the most configurable and adaptable — and most comfortable — chair we sat in. 

We're also in the process of testing the Steelcase Leap, another pricey — yet extremely comfortable — office chair that's in the same price range as the Aeron. Stay tuned for our full review.

For those who don't have unlimited budgets, the Branch Ergonomic Chair is the best option. At $300, it's not too expensive, yet has but has adjustable arms, a tilting seat, and a mesh back with lumbar support. You can also get it in a few colors, too.

Read on for our picks for the best office chairs.

The best office chairs you can buy today

The Branch Ergonomic Chair (pictured) is one of the best office chairs at an affordable price.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

1. Branch Ergonomic Chair

The best office chair for most people

Specifications
Colors: Black, white, gray
Material: Fabric
Seat width: 20 inches
Occupant size: 5'2" - 6'2"
Weight Limit: 300 pounds
Size: 25 x 24 x 38-42 inches
Reasons to buy
+Numerous adjustment points+Reasonably affordable+Attractive design
Reasons to avoid
-Seat a bit firmer than Herman Miller Aeron

While sleeker than most other office chairs, there's nothing overly flashy about the Branch Ergonomic Chair, and maybe that's a good thing. Once we settled into this $300 office chair, we largely forgot about it as sat on it while working from home. But isn't that the point of any good office chair?

The Branch Ergonomic Chair has seven adjustment points (the height and width of the armrests, as well as how far forward you want them, seat height, backrest angle, and position of the seat relative to the backrest), which were easy to change. Our one critique is that its padded seat didn't feel as comfortable as mesh seats. 

Read our full Branch Ergonomic Chair review

Herman Miller Aeron office chair

Herman Miller Aeron (Image credit: Herman Miller)

2. Herman Miller Aeron

The best office chair if you're willing to pay the premium

Specifications
Colors: carbon, graphite, mineral
Material: 8Z pellicle elastomeric and aluminium
Seat width: 18.5 inches (large), 16.5 inches (medium), 16 inches (small)
Weight Limit: 350 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Very comfortable when sitting for long periods+Fully adjustable+Long 12-year warranty
Reasons to avoid
-One of the most expensive office chairs

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. 

Check out our comparison of the Herman Miller Embody vs Aeron if you've having a hard time deciding which is best for you.

It's perhaps no surprise that all of this comes at a price, as it starts at more than $1,000. 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. Our advice is to look for it on sale where offices are clearing out inventory.

Read our full Herman Miller Aeron chair review.

Hon Exposure (Image credit: Hon)

3. Hon Exposure

A good office chair for not a lot of money

Specifications
Colors: Black
Material: Fabric and aluminium
Seat width: 20 inches
Weight Limit: 250 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Adjustable arms and height+Lumbar support+Mesh back keeps cool
Reasons to avoid
-A little boring to look at-Seat somewhat hard

The Hon Exposure is like the Honda Civic of office chairs: It's dependable, it's affordable, it gets the job done, but isn't the flashiest of seating. The Hon Exposure, which costs around $200, has the usual adjustable arms and height, but also has lumbar support, which can be moved in and out to provide support for your lower back. 

We found the Hon Exposure comfortable, but a bit firmer than the Branch Ergonomic Chair, which also had a bit more style — but is also about $90 more expensive. In all, you can't go wrong with the Hon Exposure, but there are more exciting models out there. 

Read our full Hon Exposure office chair review.

Space Seating Professional AirGrid (Image credit: Space)

4. Space Seating Professional AirGrid

The best fully adjustable budget office chair

Specifications
Colors: Black
Material: leather/fabric
Seat width: 20 inches
Weight Limit: 250 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Adjustable arms+Adjustable seat tilt and height+Fabric back for ventilation
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't support as much weight as other chairs

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. 

AmazonBasics Classic Office Chair (Image credit: AmazonBasics)

5. AmazonBasics Classic office chair

The best budget traditional office chair

Specifications
Colors: Black, light beige, light gray
Material: microfiber and aluminium
Seat width: 26 inches
Weight Limit: 275 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Adjustable height and tilt tension+Stain-proof and sweat-wicking microfiber cover
Reasons to avoid
-No arm, lumbar or seat-tilt adjustment

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.

Furmax Office Mesh Chair with Armrest

Furmax Office Mesh Chair with Armrest (Image credit: Furmax)

6. Furmax Office Mesh Chair with Armrest

Best budget mesh-back chair

Specifications
Colors: Black, gray, purple, red, white
Material: Nylon and aluminium
Seat width: 20 inches
Weight Limit: 265 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Inexpensive+Breathable mesh back+Lumbar support
Reasons to avoid
-Narrow seat-Nonadjustable arms

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. 

X-Chair X2 K-Sport Management chair

(Image credit: XChair)

7. X-Chair X2 K-Sport Management chair

An office chair with a massager and heating pad

Specifications
Colors: Black
Material: Fabric
Seat width: 20 inches
Weight Limit: 250 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Solidly built+Very adjustable+Optional heat/massager+Good lumbar support
Reasons to avoid
-Can take a while to get everything adjusted-As expensive as Herman Miller Aeron

If you pick up the X-Chair X2, be sure to spend the extra $100 or so on its optional heating and massage pad. It'll make your home office feel like you're sitting in the Brookstone store at the mall. 

Apart from that, the X2 Chair is very comfortable, with lumbar support, a mesh back and seat, and just about everything is adjustable, too. It's also a very sturdy chair with a solid metal base and casters. At around $800-$900, it's not cheap, but a bit less expensive than a Herman Miller Aeron. 

Read our full X-Chair X2 review.

Steelcase Leap (Image credit: Steelcase)

8. Steelcase Leap

The best office chair for people with back issues

Specifications
Colors: barley, black, blue, gray, marble and red
Material: microfiber and aluminium
Seat width: 20.4 inches
Weight Limit: 400 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Live back technology adjusts as you move+Armrests can be moved in multiple directions
Reasons to avoid
-One of the more expensive office chairs

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.

Hon Volt Task Stool (Image credit: Hon)

9. Hon Volt Task Stool

The best office chair without armrests

Specifications
Colors: black, crimson, navy
Material: leather/fabric
Seat width: 20.4 inches
Weight Limit: 300 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Simple, clean design+Fabric, leather seat options
Reasons to avoid
-Lack of armrests may not be comfortable to all-No adjustment to relative positions of seat and back

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.

Gates Genuine Leather Executive Chair (Image credit: Zuri Furniture)

10. Gates Genuine Leather Aluminum Base High-Back Executive Chair

The best leather office chair

Specifications
Colors: black, cream, dark gray, orange, white
Material: leather
Seat width: 22.5 inches
Weight Limit: 395 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Full back support +Tilts back 30 degrees+Locks in reclining position +Available in orange and white
Reasons to avoid
-Not very adjustable

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.

Songmics Pro (Image credit: Songmics)

11. Songmics Pro

The best standing-desk office chair

Specifications
Colors: black, blue, gray
Material: Fabric
Seat width: 16.1 inches
Weight Limit: 265 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Handles on side for balancing +Column tilts up to 8 inches in any direction+Raised rear of seat encourages healthy posture
Reasons to avoid
-No rollers

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 long should you sit?

Even if you have the best office chair in the world, it's unhealthy to remain seated for hours on end. A number of studies have found that sitting for prolonged periods can have negative effects on your body, such as higher rates of heart disease, obesity, and cancer. 

To that end, a number of experts recommend you stand up every so often. The Mayo Clinic, for example, suggests that you stand up every 30 minutes, or invest in a standing desk. Either way, get up and stretch your muscles. One strategy is to set a timer; some of the best smartwatches, such as the Apple Watch, will also automatically remind you to move if you've been sedentary for too long.

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. Seats and backs made of mesh tend to fare the best in this regard.

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. 

Another critical feature is lumbar support. This piece of an office chair helps you maintain the curve of your lower back, so that you don't strain yourself by sitting for long periods (not that you should). Like other parts of an office chair, this should be adjustable so that you can move it up or down, or increase or decrease the amount it pushes out.

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

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. Generally, the more expensive the chair, the more things you'll be able to adjust. 

How we test the best office chairs

By sitting in them, of course! To evaluate each office chair, we sit in them for a few weeks each, and go about our day. We notice not just how comfortable the chair is, but how easy it is to adjust its various features. 

Since no two people are the same, we test the chairs out with a 6-foot male and a 5-foot 4-inch female, to see if there are any differences when it comes to overall comfort. 

We also take note of the chair's design, its appearance, and its overall cost before rendering a verdict. 

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Mike Prospero

Michael A. Prospero is the deputy editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing the home, smart home, drones, and fitness/wearables categories, as well as all buying guides and other evergreen content. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine or some other cooking gadget.