I Test Ergonomic Office Chairs for a Living, and These 10 Are Worth the Investment
If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, SPY.com may receive an affiliate commission.
Working from home can be convenient; however, the type of chair you select can seriously impact your comfort and productivity levels. “The choice of a chair is one of the most important decisions anyone can make for their workspace,” says Mark Gugliotti, D.P.T., associate professor of physical therapy at New York Institute of Technology. “The chair should fully support the whole spine, and facilitate a relaxed, seated posture.”
Today’s Top Deals
Fortunately, the best ergonomic office chairs provide these benefits — and more. “An ergonomic chair has adjustable seat heights, adjustable arm support, seat depth adjustment, a tilting or reclining mechanism, back support with height adjustment to fit the curvature of the spine, and offers neck and lumbar support,” explains Dr. Rahul Shah, board-certified orthopedic spine and neck surgeon in Vineland, NJ.
And this is especially important if your body tends to ache after sitting for a while. “For someone who has back pain, sitting in a comfortable chair allows you to hold your head comfortably over the pelvis without having the muscles do much extra work to bring the head in line over the pelvis,” Shah says.
Below, you can find the best ergonomic office chairs tested by SPY product reviewers. Keep scrolling to learn more about how SPY tested these chairs, and what features have the biggest impact on overall comfort and ergonomic support.
The Best Ergonomic Office Chairs at a Glance
1. Best Overall: Humanscale Freedom Headrest Chair – Starting at $1,499
2. Runner Up: Herman Miller Aeron – Starting at $1,095
3. Contender: Steelcase Series 1 – Starting at $495 at Amazon (On Sale!)
4. Most Unique Design – Capisco Chair by HAG – $984
5. Best Gaming Chair: Mavix M9 Gaming Chair – $999 at Amazon
6. Amazon’s Choice: SOHO Soft Pad Management Chair – $359 at Amazon
7. Best Natural Movement: Numo Chair by Aeris – $329
8. Best Under $500: J3 Ergonomic Office Chair – $399
9. Best Pedestal Seat: Vari Active Seat – $259 at Amazon
10. Best Stool: Humanscale Freedom Saddle Stool: $897 (On Sale!)
1. Humanscale Freedom Headrest Chair
The Humanscale Freedom Headrest Chair is expensive — super expensive — but it has everything imaginable in an office chair. In fact, the chair actually eliminated some of the other categories we would have normally assigned, such as best design, most comfortable, and most durable. Humanscale earns all those accolades and more. The base model of the chair starts at about $1,500, but I tested a more expensive model made with the brand’s Corvara leather, a smooth top full-grain leather that’s chrome-free. (FYI: most tanning leathers include chromium, a harmful chemical, but Humanscale uses synthetic vegetable tanning and clear water technology). In addition to being safe and sustainable, the leather material and polished aluminum trim are also durable.
But the chair does more than just look good. It provides a level of functionality that I haven’t found with any other ergonomic office chair. Instead of an assortment of bulky levers under the chair, the controls lay flush (underneath and on the back of the chair) so I don’t see them. However, the chair also reacts to my movements. For example, the self-adjusting recline mode is activated when I lean back in the chair, and the articulating headrest supports both my head and neck in any position, while the pivoting backrest and contoured cushions also move with me. The chair also has a waterfall edge and Coccyx cutout to reduce spine and lumbar pressure, and to keep my legs from getting tired. Also, the synchronized armrests are attached to the back of the chair so they both move up or down at the same time.
Why It’s the Best Ergonomic Office Chair: This chair has a beautiful, sturdy design that can be adjusted and customized to your preferences. Most importantly, it’s simply the most comfortable chair on this list, without question. The price tag might give you pause, but an office chair isn’t unlike a mattress — it’s a piece of furniture that you’ll use for hours every day, and thus worth the investment.
Fits like a glove
Buy: Humanscale Freedom Headrest Chair (Base Model) $1,499.00
Buy: Humanscale Freedom Headrest Chair (Leather) $3,650
2. Herman Miller Aeron
The Herman Miller Aeron is the closest you can get to a “famous” office chair. This is a coveted piece of office furniture with a cult following, and a price tag to match. SPY’s e-commerce editor Taylor Galla tested and reviewed the Aeron, and like virtually everyone else who has sat in this chair, she raved about the experience. According to her review, “[she’s] never felt better after work than [she] did after sitting in this $1,400 office chair for eight hours.”
The Aeron comes in three different sizes, A,B and C, with C being the largest. Like most premium office chairs, customers can choose from a wide range of finishes, materials and customization options depending on their needs and aesthetic preferences. So what makes this chair so special? It’s supremely comfortable and carefully designed to offer excellent support for your body during long workdays. For anyone that works from home or in an office, SPY has found that this ergonomic office chair really can help with back pain and other posture-related problems.
This chair is made with the finest materials and engineering, which is why Herman Miller backs it up with a 12-year warranty. You can find this chair for sale on Amazon — but for several hundred dollars more than you need to pay. Instead, we recommend shopping at Herman Miller’s online store or via Design Within Reach.
Buy: Aeron Office Chair at DWR $1095.00
Buy: Aeron Office Chair at Herman Miller $1645.00
3. Steelcase Series 1
We hesitate to call this $500 office chair a “budget option”, but compared to our first two selections, it absolutely is. So if you’re searching for the best ergonomic office chair under $500, this is a fantastic option (the J3 Ergonomic Chair featured below is also worth a closer look). The Steelcase is the only chair in this guide that has not been personally tested by the SPY.com team; however, due to its ergonomic features and affordable price tag, it’s one of the most popular options in the space, and so we wanted to include it as an option.
The Steelcase Series 1 prioritizes sustainable materials, durability, and adjustable features to support the user. According to Steelcase, the “Series 1 was thoughtfully designed with integrated LiveBack technology, adaptive bolstering and 4D adjustable arms.” Not only is this chair about 10 pounds lighter than the Aeron, but it also has a higher weight limit, with the ability to support up to 400 pounds.
Finally, while most premium office chairs aren’t available on sites like Amazon, the Steelcase Series 1 is available for sale via Amazon Prime, where it’s currently on sale.
Reasonable price point
Supports users up to 400 pounds
Lightweight and easy to maneuver
Comes in multiple color options
Buy: Steelcase Series 1 $375.08 (orig. $394.37) 5% OFF
Buy: Steelcase Series 1 $486.00
4. Capisco Chair by HAG
MOST UNIQUE DESIGN
Definitely, a conversation starter, the leather Capisco Chair by HAG, with its strange aluminum frame and unique design, took a little getting used to, I’ll admit. But now I love the versatility of it. The “T” or “plus-shaped” back allows me to sit in a variety of positions, including sideways and backward — and I often find myself sitting backward just because I can.
Because the chair uses a saddle seat (similar to a saddle used when riding a horse), it encourages better posture (that’s the part that took some getting used to). I can also adjust the chair’s height from 22.5 to 33 inches, making it ideal when I’m at one of my adjustable standing desks, Both the seat and backrest are cushioned and comfortable, and since the chair is armless, there’s nothing in the way to hinder my workflow. In addition to adjusting the chair’s height, I can also adjust the tilt and tension.
I had the chance to test out the black leather Capisco Chair, but HAG does have other models and colors available.
Buy: Capisco Chair by HAG $984.00
Buy: Capisco Chair by HAG $957.00
5. Mavix M9 Gaming Chair
BEST GAMING CHAIR
I like the Mavix M9 Gaming Chair because it’s a hybrid: it has a leather seat, back, and headrest, and a mesh lumbar support, making it ideal for people who like the luxurious look and feel of leather but also tend to get hot. It’s a good hybrid chair for gamers because it’s comfortable without the bulky look of most gaming chairs. In fact, the Mavix M9 has a sleek design and even looks good when pushed under the desk.
And for gamers who need to find that sweet spot before they can play effectively, there are so many things that can be adjusted on the chair: head and neck support, back height, seat depth, 4D armrests, and even tension recline. But I think my favorite feature is that the seat has cool gel memory foam, which makes the chair feel comfortable even after long periods of time. There’s also an option to add a gaming chair mat.
Dynamic lumbar support
Read More: The Best Gaming Chairs for 2022
Buy: Mavix M9 Gaming Chair $999.99
Buy: Mavix M9 Gaming Chair $999.99
6. SOHO Soft Pad Management Chair
The Soho Soft Pad Management Chair is an Amazon’s Choice product for a reason. It’s stylish, lightweight, and comfortable. The best ergonomic office chairs usually have a more modern, utilitarian aesthetic, but the SOHO Soft Pad features a midcentury modern design that looks good in any space. I have the brown leatherette (vegan leather) version with a steel frame. The chair has cushy pads on the seat and back, which make it quite comfortable. I’ve had the chair for several years, and the pads have still retained their shape. The seat can be adjusted in height from 18”-21”, and the tilt can all be adjusted as well. The arms are removable, so I chose not to put them on the chair.
Here’s the bottom line: If style is just as important to you as comfort and back support, then this is the best ergonomic office chair for you.
Buy: SOHO Soft Pad Management Chair $359.99
7. Numo Chair by aeris
BEST NATURAL MOVEMENT
The Numo Chair by aeris is not a traditional ergonomic chair. In fact, just looking at it, you might not consider it to be ergonomic at all. But don’t let the chair’s looks fool you. The Numo Chair by aeris has four flex points and I found that whether I was leaning forward, leaning back, or sitting up straight, the chair was able to provide support. I have the black chair (made of glass fiber reinforced plastic) with wood legs (made of natural oak). Although the chair tilts back, the height is not adjustable and the arms are stationary.
Like the Capisco Chair, the Numo has a unique design, which won’t suit everyone. I thought the chair would be a good choice for someone who doesn’t like traditional ergonomic office chairs, and it also has a low profile, making it ideal for small spaces.
Buy: Numo Chair by aeris $329.00
8. J3 Ergonomic Chair
BEST UNDER $500
The J3 Ergonomic Chair by UPLIFT Desk is another hybrid ergonomic office chair that combines leather and mesh. The leather seat has a thick cushion and the waterfall edge in the front provides a comfortable seating experience even when I was sitting for several hours. However, both the back and headrest are made of mesh for breathability and improved airflow, which is ideal for people who don’t work in temperature-controlled environments. The seat is adjustable, as are the seat depth, arms, back height, headrest, and back tilt. The chair also has adjustable lumbar support. These are features typically found in chairs that cost a lot more, and that’s why it’s our top pick for ergonomic chairs under $500.
Chair weight: Not available
Seat height: 18.7” – 22.3”
Weight capacity: 250 pounds
Buy: J3 Ergonomic Chair at Uplift Desk $399.00
9. Vari Active Seat- Adjustable Ergonomic Standing Desk Chair
BEST PEDESTAL CHAIR
One thing you learn when reviewing the best ergonomic chairs? The most comfortable chairs actually come in some surprising shapes and designs, like the Vari Active Seat, which is the best fully articulating pedestal chair and a great option for standing desks.
Regardless of how comfortable your chair is, it’s not advisable to sit all day. The commercial-grade Vari Active Seat helps me work my legs and core while I’m sitting, since it has a fully articulating pedestal, which means that I can swivel up to 20 degrees in any direction — but no further, so I don’t have to worry about toppling over. When I’m standing at an adjustable standing desk, I can also lean up against the seat instead of actually sitting down. The seat has a comfortable foam cushion and can also be adjusted in height. It’s as close as I’ve been able to come to exercising while sitting, and the chair is easy to transport when not in use.
Chair weight: 23.84 pounds
Seat height: 25.5” – 35”
Weight capacity: 250 pounds
Buy: Vari Active Seat at Office Depot $295.00
10. Humanscale Freedom Saddle Stool
The Humanscale Pony Saddle Seat is another healthy option when sitting. The ergonomic stool has a triangle-shaped cushion that supports the hips and reduces tailbone pressure. Since it’s lower than the typical chair, the thighs are lower, which helps to increase circulation. This is another chair that takes a few times to get accustomed to sitting on it. However, I can feel a positive difference when I’ve spent some time on the chair. It’s also easy to move around in the chair and the triangle design lets me sit in any direction. I have the black leather chair, which is stylish, and durable.
Buy: Humanscale Freedom Saddle Stool $897.00 (orig. $1096.00) 18% OFF
How We Chose the Best Ergonomic Office Chairs
To choose the best ergonomic office chairs, we consulted several experts to better understand what kind of support our bodies need. However, one thing matters above all others in this product category: comfort. That’s why all of the chairs in this piece (with one exception) have been tested by a SPY reviewer for comfort.
Here are the top features to keep in mind when choosing the most comfortable office chairs.
The ability to adjust the seat’s height can play a major role in your level of comfort. “The seat height should be adjustable from 16-21 inches off the floor, and the pneumatic lever for adjusting should allow this movement with ease,” says Dr. Jerry Bailey, chiropractic and functional medicine physician at Lakeside Holistic Health in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. “Feet should sit flat on the floor with the thighs horizontal/parallel with the floor, and the arms at rest with the height of the desk and armrests.”
This view is seconded by Gugliotti. “Proper adjustment for seat height should allow for the feet to rest flat on the floor while the hips and knees are positioned at 90-degree angles.” When shopping for the best ergonomic office chairs, be sure to pick a chair that’s suitable for your height. Some of the models featured above come in multiple sizes, like the Herman Miller Aeron chair.
You need a comfortable seat if you’re going to be sitting all day, and that’s why the seat material is so important. “The material should be padded and supportive enough to provide comfort in the sitting position for extended periods of time,” Bailey says. “Cloth provides the best breathability to prevent sweating on warmer days.” (However, some people, like me, prefer the look, feel, and durability of leather/vegan leather options.)
“Reinforced seat cushioning may also help prevent low back and hip pain, so keep that in mind when considering proper ergonomics,” adds Conrad.
Seat Width + Depth
This is one case in which bigger is not necessarily better. “If your seat is too big, or too deep, you will be leaning forward more while typing, which can affect your posture,” says Dr. Allen Conrad, BS, DC, CSCS, at the Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in North Wales, Pennsylvania. And he says this prolonged hunching will also lead to neck and shoulder pain.
However, it also needs to be big enough to comfortably hold you. “A seat depth — measure from seat front to backrest — that fully supports the buttocks and posterior thighs will also assist in preserving a neutral low back position,” Gugliotti says.
“Standards are about 17-20 inches wide, and if you measure slightly wider than those measurements, you will need to find a wider seat,” Bailey says. “Depth (front to back) needs to allow the user to have their back against the backrest while leaving anywhere from 2-4 inches behind the knees at the front.” Ideally, he says the chair should allow some forward or back tilting so you can find the right position.
Backrest Lumbar Support
If you suffer from herniated discs or sciatica coming from your low back, Conrad says you need a chair with reinforced lumbar support. “Lumbar disc herniations are a painful back condition affecting the disc spaces between your spinal vertebrae,” he explains. “When injured, they become stiff and swollen, and this results in an irritation of the sciatica nerve.”
And Conrad says that finding a good ergonomic chair with extra lumbar support, can ensure you don’t make the condition worse. “Having additional reinforced padding behind your low back will help reinforce the natural S-shape curve of the spinal column, and make it more comfortable for prolonged sitting with degenerative herniated disc injuries.”
But even if you don’t have back problems, lumbar support can help to stave off this problem. “Supporting the inward curve of the low back is essential to prevent slouching and any strain to the lower back,” says Bailey. “There should be an adjustable lumbar support to adjust as the day progresses and fits to the user in case several people may use the chair.”
In fact, Shah recommends adding a lumbar support made of memory foam. “They are ergonomically designed to provide maximum support to the spine while relieving pressure and helping to improve posture,” he explains. “For optimal support, these pillows should be placed horizontally against the base of the back of the chair so that it is flat against the lower part of the back and allows for the back to conform to it.”
Read More: The Best Office Chair Cushions
The backrest is also an important component of a good ergonomic chair. “The backrest should measure between 12-19 inches wide and it needs to be separate from the seat and lumbar support while being adjustable in height and angle,” Bailey says. “It needs to support the curvature of the spine while still keeping the lumbar support in play.
Shah agrees and adds, “Chairs with built-in adjustable supports for the back (and neck) will work towards alleviating extra muscle work.”
Tilting and Swivel Options
The ability to tilt the seat and swivel 360 degrees on the casters provides more functionality, which is essential if you’re spending hundreds of dollars (or more!) on one of the best ergonomic office chairs. “When considering proper office chair ergonomics, you help improve safety, efficiency and comfort,” Allen says. And if you suffer for lower back pain, he says a chair will tilting options can make it more comfortable. “By using an ergonomic forward tilt option, your lumbar spine will avoid extension, which can help with pain and stiffness.”
In addition, Allen explains that a forward tilt posture provides another benefit. “It will also reinforce the postural muscles of your core to engage, which will help hold your spine in proper alignment, providing better ergonomic support.”
And if you’re like most people, you don’t just sit in one spot. “The chair should rotate with ease without straining to allow the user to reach areas around them,” Bailey says.
Some people like armrests, while others consider them obstacles to working. However, they do serve an important purpose. “Chairs that have arms work to allow one to rest their forearms and elbow on the chair and allow for one another point of support in keeping the head over the pelvis,” Shah says.
And Gugliotti adds, “Adjustable armrests can be extremely beneficial and should support the forearms in a position parallel with the floor; this will allow for a bend at the elbow of approximately 90 degrees.”
And here’s another consideration: the height of your desk is also important. “The tabletop height should ideally be in line with the armrests and in close enough proximity for the keyboard/mouse to be approximately 10-25cm from the ends of the armrest,” Gugliotti says.
All of the chairs above (except the Steelcase), were tested based on the criteria outlined above, along with an evaluation of their design, performance, and overall value for the money.
This post was last updated on Friday, April 8, 2022, and will be updated as we review additional ergonomic chairs.
About the Author: Terri Williams
Terri Williams has tested and written about home and tech products for a variety of digital publications, including Popular Science, Architectural Digest, CNN, NBC News, USA Today, Tom’s Guide, Popular Mechanics, The Daily Beast, The Spruce, and several other websites. For SPY.com, she has also reviewed the best air purifiers.
About the Experts
While evaluating the best ergonomic office chairs, SPY also talked with a number of orthopedic and health experts to better understand what sets the most comfortable chairs apart from more ordinary seating options. For this review, SPY consulted the following experts in March 2022:
Mark Gugliotti, D.P.T., Associate Professor of Physical Therapy at New York Institute of Technology
Dr. Rahul Shah, Board-Certified Orthopedic Spine and Neck Surgeon in Vineland, NJ
Dr. Allen Conrad, BS, DC, CSCS, with the Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in North Wales, Pennsylvania
Dr. Jerry Bailey, Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Physician at Lakeside Holistic Health in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Get the Latest from SPY on Twitter…
More Top Deals from SPY
Best of SPY