Five Best Office Chairs

You spend hours at a time sitting at your desk, so you want to have the most comfortable chair you can get for your money. If you get aches and pains while you work, it might be time for an upgrade. This week we're checking out five office chairs that offer the best combination of value, comfort and ergonomics.

Photo by Masahiko Ohkubo.

Herman Miller Aeron

The Aeron chair set a new standard for ergonomics and comfort when it was first released, making it one of the most famous office chairs in the world. It also set a new bar in terms of cost: new models having a starting retail price of $1200, although they can usually be found for less if you buy second-hand. The Aeron's design is so popular that companies around the world order them by the hundreds, and the chair even has a permanent instalment at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was initially designed in 1994, so even though it still looks modern and comfortable, recent studies have pointed out that the Aeron may not be the best ergonomic choice over long sitting sessions. But there's no doubt the Aeron is comfortable, adaptable, highly customisable and still has a huge fan base.

Herman Miller Embody

The Embody is Herman Miller's next-generation office chair, and it was designed by one of the original designers of the Aeron. It takes a more modern approach and hones in on ergonomics and full back support. Any complaints about the Aeron's ergonomics were largely addressed in the Embody, which can be independently adjusted and moved separately from the base and arms. It's still a pricey model at over $1700, but it's easily one of the most comfortable chairs you'll ever sit in. The back conforms to your shape using what Herman Miller calls "Pixelated Mesh" and multiple points of flexibility all along the length of the chair back. Some people complain the Embody has subpar lumbar support and more complicated settings compared to the Aeron, but most will tell you it's the best chair they've ever owned.

Steelcase Leap

The Steelcase Leap earned praise for affordability, superior construction and customisability. It's a bit more of a task chair than others, but the design makes sure your whole back is supported. Its design includes a special breathable foam padding that airs itself out through special slots that ensure you won't get too hot during long work sessions. Rather than conform to you, Steelcase designers give you individual control over everything from the arm height to the seat depth. They retail for around $1000, but they can be found for less, especially if you buy second-hand. I was lucky enough to sit in a Leap every day at my last job, and it's just as sturdy and customisable as the marketing promos say.

Raynor Ergohuman

The Raynor Ergohuman series was designed primarily for people who sit in their chairs for long periods of time. The design may not win any artsy awards, but its customisable components, add-ons and independent control over the seat height, arm height, headrest and rocker tension are impressive. It has breathable mesh and leather upholstery, a high back and comfortable headrest. The Ergohuman also features a slightly wider seat pan than most chairs, and it's ideal for taller folks who want decent back support. Raynor just unveiled the Ergohuman v2, which offers a number of improvements in design, ergonomics and weight capacity. The v1 will run you around $900 at retail, while the v2 has a list price of around $1000.

IKEA Markus

The $399 IKEA Markus is a high-backed chair that comes in a variety of colours and your choice of leather or padded fabric. The Markus lacks some of the features and customisability you'll find in the others, but it has been praised for being remarkably comfortable (I was thinking about getting one myself before I got my Embody). It's height adjustable with tilt and lock, but don't expect to independently adjust the armrest or change the seat depth. The curved design, mesh back and shallow seat pan enforces good posture, making it a great bang-for-your-buck office chair.

This week's honourable mention goes to the simple exercise ball for its comfort (once you're used to it), flexibility, and the fact that it naturally enforces proper posture. Plus, the fact that they're widely available for little cash (at least compared to the other five mentioned here) makes them an attractive option for home office workers on a budget. Also worth mentioning is the Herman Miller Mirra, one of the more affordable Herman Miller chairs that also has space-saving and comfort options.

Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favourite, even if it wasn't included in the list? Let us know in the comments below.

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Comments

    You forgot no 6... Your legs in the vertical position wearing comfy shoes of choice.
    Much more comfortable and could possibly save your life... ;)
    Just sayin!!

      Yeah - standing desk for the win. I'm converting my study around at the moment, and I must say, after a few hours standing and working, I feel a good kind of tired...

    Bit silly really. 4 of the 5 cost around $1000, with only one (the IKEA one) coming in at reasonable price.
    Methinks most folk won't spend a grand on a chair.

      I have an Aeron at work and I actually have been tempted to buy one for home.

        Ditto. It might be worth putting a thousand bucks into a good chair for home instead of replacing it every few years, and the one I have at work is awesome.

          You both have been "thinking" about it - what has stopped you?

      What's silly is that these articles always display the list price of the chairs from the contract manufactures like Herman Miller an Steelcase when the fact of the matter is that most companies (or even people) buying those chairs pay about 25-30% of the listed price....so less than that IKEA chair which shows the actual retail price. And they are guarranteed to function for 12 years or more in three shift (24 hour a day) use. Try to get that out of the more expensive IKEA chair or a cheap piece of crap Chinese chair from OfficeMax or Staples.

    How about the bean bag chair?

    For those of us who can't afford this stuff, the VILGOT is a great cheaper chair from IKEA. You can get optional armrests for it; I'm currently trying going without armrests for a change and it has helped my posture a lot - it makes it a lot harder to slouch in your chair.

    One day I'll probably upgrade to a Herman Miller... *sigh*

    Milan Direct is a great place for cheap, quality office furniture, bought a wonderful chair for $230 earlier in the year and haven't looked back.

    How about the five best *affordable* office chairs next?

      After extensive research on my part, I've found that it could be better to save up for a more expensive chair and it will be better for you in the long run. In fact it's difficult to find any kind of comfortable and DURABLE chair with these features for less than $400. I'd consider that a starting price. Specialist office furniture stores (not franchises, independent ones) have a good range of chairs and prices, and will beat the quality of any Ikea or Officeworks model.

    I always think the same thing when I see the prices for these chairs: for a thousand bucks, I'd kind of expect a consultant of some sort to come with the chair to set it up correctly for the individual so they realise the full benefits.

      By the time I went back to the store, the chairs were sold out. I boguht a regular looking ergonomic office chair instead, though if I see another kneeling, I'll likely give it a try.

    Black Size B Herman Miller Aeron Chair is my weapon of choice. eBay has plenty if them refurbished for less than $500 delivered. It's a Tax deduction too....come on, admit it, you've probably spent more on speakers! (This comment was not intended as a troll....)

    Another case of disgusting IKEA australia tax
    Markus AU$399
    http://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/50137208/
    Markus US$199
    http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00103102/

    $200 difference for a chair ??

    Also how about 5 best office chairs that regular people can afford ?

    As much as i want a standing desk i cant stand up that long, but i cant afford a Kangaroo Elite ( http://www.ergodesktop.com/content/kangaroo-elite ) to go to a sit /stand as a training for more long term standing, so im stuck with chairs for now. I know standing desk or really good chair is more an investment, than frivolous spending, but sometimes reality gets in the way, especially when your not sure you can cope with the standing for long enough to be of use.

      Of course if i knew i could cope i might be more inclined to sell a kidney to buy one :)

    a grand... and no cup-holders? seriously?

    For my money they all fail as they all have arm rests - ergonomic ally, possibly the worst thing for extended work at a desk.

    Yeah can we get a list of the 5 best office chairs that my employer will actually want to purchase?
    And not laugh at me for suggesting?

    I thought armrests were a big ergonomic no-no?

    guys if you're complaining about price believe me (bad back from bad chairs and posture) spending $1000 on a chair is FAR better than having back problems down the track. Try getting back treatment for less than $1000 I dare you.

    All this stuff about standing...
    I've been experimenting with sitting on the floor, or lying down. The idea is that it could be better for creativity. Hasn't worked out well yet though because it's hard to transfer your work practice like that... I'm still trying to work out what're the best positions for my mouse, keyboard and Cintiq on the ground.

    +1 on the comments on armrests. If you can't get in to a comfortable position near the desk because of the arm rest it can cause all sorts of problems.

    I have an Aeron at home but would not buy it again. I would buy a embody after trying one for a week in the office.

    Thanks to this article and google, I ordered a Raynor Ergohuman V2 Deluxe yesterday from officefurnituredirect.com.au for $749 inc GST & Delivery.

    Do you have any recomendations for chairs that support bigger weights? ie over 150kg?

      How about the gym?

    Always best to have the most comfortable office chair you can find- price should not be an issue

    http://www.businessplus-office.co.uk

    I don't understand why the Embody is on this list. I have one and it is the most uncomfortable, least ergonomic chair I've owned. The lumbar support is in the wrong place and is too hard. The back and seat are comprised of interlocking plastic ribs that poke into you.And it's impossible to adjust the chair into any position that allows comfortable sitting, particularly over any length of time. I always quickly get a sore back whenever I use it.

    Hi @Wade ,
    officefurnituredirect.com.au has a link to heavy duty chairs. I just checked and there are chairs with weight capacity of up to 200kgs and double padded for extra comfort. Price is $500 ish. Hope this helps! :)

    Investing 3 times in price for a chair that is 10 times in quality is good maths

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