It’s increasingly clear that working remotely can become the new normal, so if you haven’t already, now is the time to consider upgrading your home office. Whether you’re trying to improve an existing environment or make a temporary situation seem more permanent, one of the main upgrades to make is to swap out this dining room chair for a real office chair that won’t mess up your back.
In an effort to discover truly comfortable office chairs, we spent over a month testing 11 different options in terms of price, function, and style. We compared the important features, like the back and the back, and looked to see if the more expensive options were really worth the extra money. In the end, two chairs sat comfortably on top:
Best Home Office Chair under $200
A quick look at the winners
The Steelcase Series 1 has achieved the highest ratings overall, standing out as one of the most ergonomic, customizable, and high-quality office chairs on the market. At $ 415, Steelcase Series 1 outperformed most of its pricier competitors in the test categories, scoring just under a point below our highest-rated $ 1,036 Steelcase Leap chair, making it on best bucky and a clear winner for our best overall office chair.
The Alera Elusion Series multifunctional chair, at $ 174, has become our top budget pick, taking on (and in some cases far exceeding) office chairs that retail for more than five times their price. , particularly in the comfort and fit categories.
Dive into the winners (Best Budget Leather Office Chair)
Best Overall Office Chair: Steelcase Series 1 ( amazon(dot)com
On its website, Steelcase provides a wealth of information on what makes a quality office chair. The basics: it should “squat down with you: help you change position while sitting; adjust to your natural back contour; move as you do”, while allowing your arms to remain straight on your desk and eyes at the same level than the screen while lying down. After spending nine business days testing three different Steelcase models, we feel safe to say that Steelcase knows what it is talking about.
While all three Steelcase chairs scored highly in our test suite, the Series 1, Steelcase’s most affordable option, combines exceptional comfort and value better than any chair we tested.
At first glance, the aesthetic of the chair is modest, with simple, clean lines and compact size. Compared to other products we tested, which sometimes had sharp corners, oddly elongated backrests, and large armrests, we found the Series 1 to be one of the best office chairs in our pool.
But when it comes to chairs, it’s more important that they feel comfortable on your back than your eyes. We are pleased to announce that with Series 1, Steelcase combines work in such a beautiful way. After three days of sitting in the chair, we felt that the seat had the perfect balance between comfort and stability. While we were initially concerned that the thick plastic cotton tuning would feel stiff, this was not an issue. The mesh back was flexible and supportive throughout the testing period. The backrest, which Steelcase refers to as “Integrated Liveback Technology,” may not look like some of the padded backrests on the market, but it outperforms padded backrests because it moves with you as you work and change positions.
As we learned during the chair testing process, the backrest and seat comfort are negligible if the chair does not allow you to customize it to fit your specific body. This is where Series 1 really shines. While some of the other office chairs we tested only offer adjustable back heights and angles, almost every aspect of the Series 1 is adjustable. And as a bonus, it’s really easy to make every adjustment with minimal guidance – while many adjustable models require graphics, videos, and guides for proper setup, the Series 1 generally moves and the body is aligned in a very intuitive way.
Arm height adjusts within a 5-inch range to help relieve tension on your upper back and shoulders; Arm width adjusts 4 inches total; The depth of the arm can be retracted 2 inches to allow the user to get close to the work surface and in tight corners; Seat depth adjusts in the 2-1 / 4-inch range to accommodate different leg lengths; Lower back height set at two and a quarter inches; Arm covers independently rotate 40 ° inward and 40 ° outward, depending on your preference; Seat height adjusts within 5 inches. If this list doesn’t mean much to you, here’s the bottom line: This chair is highly adaptable.
At $ 415, this chair costs less than half the price of many of the other chairs we tested, but offers more comfort and flexibility than all the chairs we’ve tested at any price, making it a clear winner in a market. expensive.
Best budget buy: Alera Elusion Series Mesh Multifunction Chair ($; amazon(dot)com
The $ 415 Steelcase 1 Series may provide the best bang for your buck, but it’s still a massive $ 415 buy. While most of the under $ 300 chairs we tested were closer to a pile of sandbars than high-end office chairs, the Alera Elusion Series Mesh Chair multifunctional chair featured superior comfort and adjustable flexibility (it ranked third in that compact category, beating only the best of what we generally have and the Steelcase Leap Chair) has A very reasonable price of $ 147.99.
Elusion was one of the most comfortable chairs we have tried. Its thick, padded seat stands up to expensive chairs, and its breathable mesh back was one of its best features.
While some adjustments to this chair are easier to make than others (although none of them work as well as the Series 1), Elusion offers all the customizations you need in a chair. During the testing process, it became clear that height and width adjustable arms were key, and this is another area where Elusion has been successful. Although Elusion armrests are highly adjustable, they are not as easy to adjust as Steelcase armrests. To adjust the width of the armrest on Elusion, you need to reach under the seat and turn the handle until you reach the desired position. The buttons for the height of the armrest feel stiffer and more difficult to adjust than the mechanisms of any Steelcase chair, but with a little force they are easier to move. While Elusion was not the most adjustable product we tested (especially regarding the angle of the armrest, which was not adjustable), both the height and width of the armrests were ultimately much more adjustable than the armrests of some of the its more expensive competitors.
One of the least desirable aspects of this chair is the assembly process. Of all the chairs we had to put together, Elusion took the longest – 43 cumbersome minutes (after dismantling the box) to assemble the chair, not including adjustments. Given the number of chairs that arrive fully assembled, you have to wear a little fat to save some money with Elusion. The instructions were incredibly vague and we wasted a lot of time trying to install the armrests. But since the assembly is just a one-time drawback resulting in a very comfortable chair, it wasn’t a deal breaker, especially at this attractive price point.
While the Alera Elusion does have some limitations to its level of fit (most notably in the armrest angle and back height classes), its overall comfort level makes it one of the best options for the price, even after having take length into account in the assembly process.
How we tested
The testing process for these office chairs took almost two months. We disassembled and assembled each chair, paying particular attention to the amount of time it was unloaded and built. For chairs that require assembly, we recorded the time it took to assemble each chair. Once each chair has been completely built, we review all the included fitting materials and adjust the chair to the appropriate specifications as much as possible.
Once the chairs were assembled and adjusted properly, we sat in each chair for three consecutive 9-hour workdays in the same office environment and conditions every day. We carefully observed how each chair performed in different positions while accommodating different tasks throughout the workday (writing, writing, phone calls, and video meetings). We also recorded general comfort after several days of sitting and working in each chair. In general, we rate based on what would be most important to the user: comfort and adjustability, construction, and length of warranty.
To determine the most accurate overall scores for each of these three largest categories, we divided the test into 10 subcategories:
Comfort and adaptability
Seat Comfort – We noticed how the seat feels when we first sat down, then we reassessed it at the end of the three-day mark.
Backrest Comfort: We first notice the feel of the backrest when sitting, then we re-evaluate it at the end of the three-day mark.
Armrest Comfort: We looked at how the armrests felt when they first sat in each chair and then re-evaluated them at the end of the three-day mark.
Adaptability: To assess the adjustability of each chair, we look at the different characteristics of each chair that could be modified, rate the individual adjustability of each feature on a scale of 1 to 15, and then average these numbers to obtain a fit score general. We analyzed adjustability on a scale of 1 to 15 for each of the following office chair features: seat height, seat angle, seat depth, armrest height, armrest width, armrest angle, angle backrest height.
Lumbar and back support: We looked at the level of lumbar support provided by each chair (if applicable) when you first sat in the chair. We also looked at the level of back support provided by each chair, paying particular attention to how well the back rests at a variety of chair angles and positions. Like other tests, we re-evaluated at the end of the three-day mark to determine the final score.
Ease of reclining: First, we looked at whether each chair allowed the user to recline. Next, for chairs that included a recline feature, we made sure each chair was placed in the most flexible or easiest position, and then we noted how easily the chair tilted while sitting in the natural position.
Ease of Assembly: For chairs that require a certain level of assembly at the time of delivery, we record the amount of time it took to disassemble and assemble the chair, from start to finish (not including time spent correctly adjusting the chair) .
Chair Material Quality – We made our first impression of the fabric, armrest materials, and finishes for each chair. We paid special attention to how robust each chair was on first impression (i.e. did it creak or did it look like it might collapse?). We also write down these details after three days of sitting in each chair.
General aesthetics: We evaluate the general appearance of each chair in comparison to other chairs on the market and in our test kit. We have also written down a variety of color options for the upholstery, metal, plastic, and other materials used to make each chair.
Is there a guarantee? We evaluate the duration and warranty coverage of each chair.
How we evaluate
We defined the maximum number of points each product could earn for each category and sub-category test mentioned above, including a greater number of total points for the features we identified as most important to the overall user experience of the office chair.
Comfort and adaptability, maximum 80 points.
The maximum comfort and support was 65 points: seat comfort (15 points), backrest comfort (15 points), armrest comfort (15 points), lumbar and back support (15 points) and ease of reclining (5 points ).
The adjustability was a maximum of 15 points, obtained by giving 8 individual legibility tests.
Other office chairs we tested
Herman Miller Iron Chair ($; amazon.com)
This was one of the most aesthetically pleasing chairs we have tried and has a high degree of comfort and constructability across the board. The main disadvantages here were the high price and the relative lack of adjustability.
The Hon Ignition 2.0 Chair ( amazon.com)
While this chair scores relatively high for fit, it lacks adequate lumbar support and has an uncomfortable backrest. Although the angle of the backrest is adjustable, it was one of the chairs with the lowest steps in terms of ease of reclining. If you want to be able to comfortably move between sitting upright and leaning back, this may not be the best chair for you.
Steelcase Gesture Chair ( amazon.com)
Steelcase chairs were among our favorite products we tested. Steelcase Gesture scored excellently for construction, ease of assembly and quality of materials. Its lifetime warranty also gave it high marks, however, not as comfortable as the other Steelcase chairs we tested. If you like a very organized and supportive back, this could be a good option for you. If you prefer looser (and cheaper) mesh wallpaper, choose Steelcase Series 1.
Steelcase Leap Chair (amazon.com)
As mentioned above, this Steelcase chair was actually the highest rated chair in our test group and it remained exceptionally comfortable even after three days of use. But despite being more than double the price of the Series 1, the only areas the Leap Chair beat out were the backrest and armrest. Ultimately, product value is an important factor in the product recommendation process, and the much higher Leap price kept it from being our first choice.
AmazonBasics High Back Leather Executive Chair (amazon.com)
The best we can say about this chair is that it has very comfortable armrests. Regardless, the lack of adjustable armrests (and just about every other aspect of the chair) made it one of our least favorite products. This chair also scored low for design – it started creaking on the first day, and after three days of use many of the nails fell off the chair. Even if we accept that this may be due to user error during setup, none of this has happened to any other chair we have assembled, so poor quality and assembly instructions are at least in part to blame.