The best desk chairs are ergonomically designed to maximize comfort, while providing the proper support to guard against injuries.
There are three main things to consider when purchasing a new desk chair - comfort, desk type, and budget. Comfort is the number one consideration because, let's face it, a desk chair's number one job is providing an ergonomic design that makes sitting for extended periods of time comfortable and safe.
Speaking of threes, there are three types of desk chairs: 1) standard chairs - used with a standard desk or work table that's 29-30" high; 2) drafting chairs - used with an adjustable height standing desk; and 3) bad chairs - used by people that will eventually suffer a repetitive strain injury (RSI). Typically, RSI results in pain in your back, neck, arms, hands, or wrists, sometimes manifested as tendinitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.
First, the bad chairs - these are chairs that lack an adjustable height, a solid roller system, and lumbar support for the lower back. Without these capabilities, you will not have the proper support, which puts your body in the wrong position for extended periods of time where you are doing the repetitive tasks associated with work-at-home activities. So conversely, desk chairs that do possess these characteristics can be considered a good chair, but not a great chair. A great office chair also has an adjustable seat-pan tilt, arm height adjustments, and lateral arm position controls to help ensure your body is consistently in the best ergonomic position for work tasks. Unfortunately, the features of a great chair come at a price, and budget considerations are a real world consideration. Bottom line, get the best chair you can afford and make sure that you at least purchase a good chair that will provide comfort and protection against injury.
The next consideration is whether you will be using your chair with a standard height desk, or a standing desk. We've all used standard height desks for a long time, and they serve their purpose well, coming in a variety of designs to fit different space requirements. You can achieve the same ergonomic design benefits using a standard desk as you can with a standing desk, but new evidence suggests that a standing desk can provide additional health benefits by promoting greater activity throughout the workday, and by allowing your body to have greater freedom of movement, which benefits your circulatory system. Regardless of which desk type you choose to use, we've got you covered.
As mentioned above, the main design considerations for purchasing a desk chair include height adjustment, roller systems, lumbar support, adjustable seat-pan, arm height adjustments, and lateral arm controls. In determining the best desk chairs available, we took all that into consideration, plus build quality, user experiences, and affordability.
Photo by Herman Miller
The Herman Miller Mirra 2 desk chair has adjustments that let you fine-tune just about anything to achieve the most ergonomic sitting position, while sporting looks that make it a modern classic. Its breathable mesh back is effective in keeping the user cool, while encouraging good posture and providing excellent support.
It has a flex front seat that can be adjusted for depth to aid in circulation for the legs, a flexible seat back that contours to the users back, and an adjustable lumbar support to prevent slouching and encourage healthy spine alignment.
There's also a seat height adjuster and a smooth tilt mechanism that enables the user to tilt forward to work, or lean back to relax. Fully adjustable arm rests minimize the risk of pain in the neck and shoulder areas.
You can pay a lot more for a premium chair, but it would be hard to out-perform the Mirra 2 at any price. Constructed of high-quality materials with an impressive 12-year warranty, and boasting an impressive range of adjustability, the Mirra 2 is an easy choice as the best premium desk chair.
Photo by Oline
The Oline ErgoPro provides a lot of premium features for the price, and does it in a style that will complement any sleek modern aesthetic. First and foremost, the ErgoPro is designed to give your back and body proper support while you sit, maximizing comfort and protecting against injury.
Adjustability is provided for the headrest, armrests, height, and knee tilt, providing for extensive customization to meet your body's individual needs.
Rated for up to 275 pounds, it is made of quality materials, including a breathable mesh to help keep you at a comfortable temperature throughout the workday. Although it can't be considered a premium chair, the Oline ErgoPro hits the sweet spot for maximum value for the price.
Photo by Steelcase
The Steelcase Series 1 desk chair offers premium comfort, quality, and design with a more modest price tag, making a high-end chair more affordable. With a nod to greater style and aesthetic appeal, this premium chair is a departure form Steelcase's prior offerings. This easy-to-assemble chair supports up to 400 lbs. and features a proprietary seat cushion that uses built-in air pockets to continuously adapt to your seating position to eliminate pressure and pain associated with sitting down for long periods.
Its flexible waterfall seat edge helps eliminate pressure that restricts circulation to help prevent fatigue. Its proprietary LiveBack flexor system conforms to the shape of your body, featuring lumbar support that has a 2.25" height adjustment range. The armrests can move up-down, left-right, forward-backward, and pivot at sideways angles, ensuring maximum support for your arms and shoulders to help reduce pain and fatigue in the neck.
Comfort is additionally enhanced by an adjustable seat pan tilt and an adjustable seat depth. Like the Herman Miller Mirra 2, it comes with an impressive 12-year warranty. If you want no compromises, but want to save a few dollars, the Steelcase Series 1 desk chair may be the right choice for you.