Like upgrading from your laptop’s tiny screen to a roomier external monitor, it doesn’t take long to realize a rigid desk chair isn’t cutting it in your home office. And that’s a detail worth nailing: The right office chair increases comfort while you’re putting in hours behind the desk. But, like a good mattress, that doesn’t come cheap. We’ve been using the Steelcase Leap for about two months now and our ass and back have noticed.
What It Is
Steelcase is one of the leaders in designing ergonomic office equipment, much of which also looks great in a home office. The Leap is a five-wheeled, reclining, fully customizable desk chair—from fabric colors to wheel style—that looks sharp and welcomes you to dial in the right fit for your body. The signature feature of the chair is the segmented back, which Steelcase calls LiveBack technology. It changes shape by conforming to your body’s natural spine shape, almost like an exoskeleton of supportive vertebrae.
Why We Like It
After a few weeks, we can say this chair is extremely comfortable. It works so well you almost forget about it. You’re aware of sitting down, obviously, but it never feels restricting and nothing aches. A trend in ergonomic office seating has been moving away from knobs and levers as the chairs become more responsive and automatically adjust to body movement without much fussing from you. If you’ve ever sat in older office chairs you understand—manning the levers can feel a bit like operating a tank. Can it be complex? Yes, but there is no better way to get a customized fit than getting in there with your hands.
So, Steelcase included a cheat sheet. Pivot both armrests in towards your body and each reveals easy to follow diagrams on manipulating the Leap’s six adjustments. The 66-pound chair arrives basically fully assembled, and in a pretty massive box. After wheeling it into our home office and without reading any manuals, we had the fit dialed in after a few minutes. And if you share your office space, that built-in guide means anyone can tweak the fit on the fly.
The seat and backrest each have their own adjustments. We like a deep seat that offers more support behind the knees and the Leap flexes to fit that. Each armrest moves up and down, forward and back, and towards or away from you—so you can find what works for you. When you need to get up, it’s easy to brush them aside if you have to. Reclining is easy and happens with both feet on the floor. There is a good amount of flex on the edges of the seatback to accommodate some mid-day twisting or if you’re reaching to get something behind you (or to pet the dog).
We tested a standard black chair, but you can pick from dozens of fabric, leather, and frame colors, each of which comes with their own price increases. While pricey, the chair comes with a 12-year warranty.
The seat back’s foam hugs your back nicely, but it can get a bit warm. The back’s adjustable lumbar support clicks into about 10 or so spots as it climbs up the spine. It feels comfortable but adjusting it requires coordinating two tabs simultaneously, which can be annoying to do properly.
[From: $900; store.steelcase.com]