Bent Johnson

Dec 05, 2022

The 12 Best Office Chairs

There’s a good chance you’ve given more thought to the mattress you sleep on than the chair you sit on. That’s fine! Sleep is extremely important. But if you spend several hours—more than eight at your desk, it’s a good idea to give the humble chair more attention. It’s not just about finding a comfortable seat. The right materials can whisk away body heat, and adjustability options can tailor the chair to your body.

Best for Most People

Branch Ergonomic Chair

A good chair often means one that comes with a variety of adjustments. Branch’s Ergonomic Chair fits this bill. It’s surprisingly easy to assemble in minutes (the instructions are great), and there are tons of little tweaks you can make. You can push the armrest back and forward, up and down; the seat can extend out or be pushed all the way in; you can lock the recline. There’s even adjustable lumbar support. It does all this while managing to look sleek, without an outlandish price. (There’s no headrest, but you can pay to add one.)

The double-woven nylon mesh backrest feels nice to lean against. The seat is made of high-density foam—it’s firm yet comfy—and it doesn’t trap heat as much as other foam seats. It’s a great chair for a variety of body sizes; Either 6’4″ Or 5’1″.

Best Budget Chair

Union & Scale FlexFit Hyken Mesh Task Chair

The humble Hyken is frequently available for just $170 during big sale events, making it one of the most affordable good options out there. It reclines, has a breathable mesh fabric on the back and seat, and it’s sturdy. You even get a headrest and lumbar support. After three years of continuous sitting, Reviewers say the mesh has compressed a bit, but it’s still comfy. However, it may not be the best option if you need a wider seat.


Branch Verve Chair

Take everything about the Branch Ergonomic Chair and upgrade it a notch—that’s the Branch Verve. It looks more elegant (especially in the lovely Coral color), it keeps my back straighter, it’s quite comfy, and it can make nearly the same adjustments with a higher level of polish.

The armrests only go up and down, and they’re just about the only fault I have with this chair. (I also wouldn’t have minded if they were a smidge wider.) This wasn’t a huge issue for me, but if you’re picky about armrests, Branch says it will have some add-ons available over the next 12 months, including 3D-adjustable armrests and a headrest, so you can upgrade the chair later if you think it needs those fixtures. Branch’s Ergonomic Chair is excellent for most people, but the Verve is the more refined seat if your budget can stretch.

Best Upgrade

Steelcase Gesture

Steelcase’s Gesture is comfortable, no matter how you’re sitting. Tuck one leg under the other, cross your legs at the knee, or sling one over the armrest, and you’ll be fairly well-supported. The adjustments also have a wide range, so you can precisely tailor the whole package to your body and posture. Unfortunately, it isn’t as breathable as other cheaper chairs, and the upholstered fabric hasn’t held up as well as other pricey chairs. That said, there are several different fabrics you can choose from, and Steelcase also has one of the best warranties around (12 years).

Best for Airflow

X-Chair X2 K-Sport Mgmt Chair

Thick foam seats often trap your body heat, especially during the hotter months of the year. That’s why I like the X-Chair. It doesn’t just have a mesh backrest, but the seat is mesh, too, allowing for excellent airflow. It also feels like you’re sitting on a hammock. Every part of my body feels well supported, and you can adjust nearly everything on the chair. Pull the seat up and push the armrests up, down, and side to side, or angle them in or out. The lumbar support feels like a cushion, and it adjusts as you move in your seat. If you want to rest your head, you can pay extra for the headrest. It has held up extremely well after two years of continuous sitting.

★ A cheaper alternative: The Nouhaus Ergo3D Ergonomic Office Chair ($370) is another all-mesh chair. It seriously looks similar, but the ElastoMesh seat isn’t as comfy as the X-Chair’s mesh. It’s otherwise quite adjustable, roomy, and even comes with two sets of wheels (casters or rollerblades) so you can choose which works best for you based on your room. If you’re in a particularly hot environment, it won’t trap heat and will keep your whole body cool for a fraction of the price.

Great for Easing Back Pain

QOR360 The Ariel

You might be wondering why a “chair” for easing back pain is a stool with no backrest. Well, that’s because the QOR360 targets the sitz bones in your pelvis to ensure you’re sitting upright. The base of the stool rocks around slightly so your body will continually shift a little throughout the day, but most importantly, it made me want to get up and move. That might sound like a bad thing, but movement is one of the best ways to counter the woes of sitting in a chair all day.

For the Aesthetic (and Hassle-Free)

Herman Miller Zeph

There are dozens of color customizations, and it looks nothing like many of the chairs in this guide. But you can only raise the seat up or down. That’s it. You’ll find nothing else to adjust here. Turns out, that’s OK! This lack of adjustability is by design as the Zeph is designed to mold to your body. I sat on this plastic one-piece seat for a month and didn’t experience any of the back pain I sometimes feel from switching to a new chair. It feels supportive for my 6’4″ frame (my 5’1″ partner likes it too), and it even makes a decent recliner. I strongly suggest you get the seat pad and arms, which add a smidge more comfort, though this will jack the price up to $645.

It’s worth noting that the seat pad is made of 50 percent recycled polyester yarn and generates zero fabric waste. (It’s also easy to remove and clean.) The padding is thin, and while I wouldn’t say it’s supremely comfortable, I’ve had no qualms. The Zeph is compact, making it a great option for smaller spaces. Oh, and don’t forget the 12-year warranty.

Best for Tight Spaces (Also Eco-Friendly)

Humanscale Path

Maybe you work in a nook. Maybe you work in a hallway. Maybe you share home office space with one or two others. If space is at a premium in your WFH arrangement, you don’t have room for a big, luxurious chair. So get this small, luxurious chair instead. Measuring 20 inches wide and 21 inches deep, the Path is one of our most compact picks. Its minimal design features tiny arms that don’t jut out. Even better, the fully configurable chair can be ordered with no arms at all, which makes it more manageable in tight spaces and also lowers the price.

Humanscale is one of the more forward-thinking office furniture companies when it comes to sustainable design. Each Path chair contains almost 22 pounds of recycled materials—mostly plastic bottles and ocean plastics—and the many textile options include an Eco Knit material made of 100 percent post-consumer recycled polyester. The recycled fabric is comfy, cool, and easy to get clean. The chair arrives in a minimal cardboard box with the three chair pieces (legs, seat, and back) wrapped in compostable bags. Like Humanscale’s, this Path task chair earns high marks for its minimal ecological impact. It’s also just a comfortable chair, with Humanscale’s ergonomic reclining mechanism on the back and a smoothly supportive cylinder beneath the seat.

A Luxury Pick

Herman Miller Embody

It might take you a week or two (maybe even a month) to get used to the Herman Miller Embody, but it’s well worth it. Its upright positioning supported my back and eased lingering back pain from sitting in a cheap gaming chair. The seat feels rigid at first but eventually becomes surprisingly pillowy, and the armrests stay firmly in place. It does a great job of whisking heat away from my body, though not as well as mesh backrests and seats. It’s one of the most adjustable chairs around: You can pull out the seat, change the height and angle of the armrests, and tweak the Backfit adjustment to follow your spine’s natural curve.

But what’s amazing is that after more than two years in this chair, it feels just as good as new with barely any squeaks. Herman Miller offers a 12-year warranty that covers every part of the chair, and it arrives completely assembled.

Best Gaming Chair

Secretlab Titan Evo 2022 Series

I don’t recommend most gaming chairs—that’s coming from someone that sat on one for several years. They mostly go after a particular racing car aesthetic and are often quite adjustable, but they’re not terribly comfy, breathable, or ergonomic. For most people, the above chairs will work better. But if you absolutely must have the gaming chair aesthetic, then the Secretlab Titan Evo is classy enough for the home office.

It sets itself apart from similarly priced competitors with its durability and flexibility. It’s comfortable for marathon gaming sessions, thanks to the adjustability it offers (particularly the lumbar support). The headrest pillow is magnetic and stays attached to the chair, which is a nice touch. But the firm cold cure foam molds to your body and may not suit everyone. This material also doesn’t deal well with heat—it can get hot in the lower back area.

Best for Recliners (and Eco-Friendly)

Humanscale Freedom Headrest

Designed by the famed Niels Diffrient, this chair gracefully supports my back like a mother gently laying a baby in a crib. If you’re a recliner, this is the chair for you. By design, there aren’t as many adjustments you can make compared to other spendy chairs; the idea is that the chair will adapt to your own body. For example, there’s no way to lock the chair so it won’t recline, but it never reclined when I didn’t want it to. You can adjust the lumbar support, seat height, armrest height, and seat depth—I often had to readjust the headrest, as it tends to slide down—but otherwise, this chair pretty much lets you set it and forget it. It even comes fully assembled. Did I mention the 15-year warranty? The armrests are just about the only part I don’t like as much—it’s easy to adjust them accidentally when you shift in the seat.

If you don’t care for the headrest, there’s a version without it. And sustainably, this is a net positive product, meaning the company does more good than bad by making one of these chairs.

Budget Friendly

Pipersong Meditation Chair For $349

Have a problem sitting normally? If your legs need to be bent and twisted for you to be comfortable, you’ll want to check this chair out. It has a 360-degree swiveling footstool that can accommodate pretty much any sitting position you want. I can go from kneeling to cross-legged to one leg up, one leg down. It’s possible to sit regularly too, with the footstool behind you and your feet flat on the floor. It’s the only chair I’ve found that’s designed for odd sitting habits. There are no armrests, which I didn’t mind because that’s what makes it possible to sit in many of these positions. The actual stool and chair back could stand to be bigger and taller, respectively.