Sunday, August 23, 2009

Steelcase Leap Chair - Office Task Chair

A few months ago i bought a Steelcase Leap Chair. First a little background: I have looked into office equipment and ergonomic solutions for a long time, and the typical top 3 chairs were always Herman Miller Aeron, Humanscale Freedom, and Steelcase Leap. My experience and opinions lead me to thinking that the Leap Chair would probably be the best solution for me for a few key reasons-- despite the fact that in a quick overview it appears to be the most expensive yet cheapest looking of the bunch. I never had the chance to try one out until i found a shop that sells them locally in Raliegh NC.

Now that i've had the chair for a few months i can say that it is working out quite nicely. I consider the chair to be a (near) perfect chair for me because of how highly adjustable it is. In looking around at chairs you will probably notice right away that the big focus is usually on the back. This is important as your back is a big part of your health, especially in the long run. But for me i personally care equally as much, if not more, right now in the arms. Depending on your build it may be easier for you to find a chair cheap->expensive that has decent back support, but it may be nearly impossible to find a chair with arms that fit a large range of comforts. Below i've gone over a few of the chairs features.

Arms: The chair comes stock with a fully adjustable set of (modified) "t-style" arms. Key things are:
1. The arms go down and up beyond any level you'd care for! In fact they go so low that they are just above the seat. This is especially good if you like to put pads over the top (see pics and information below)
2. The arms top slide towards your body. This is a rare feature as most highly adjustable chairs will have arms that pivot, but do not "slide" left and right. For some of you this may be a great feature as you may have been looking for a chair with arms that can come close to your side so your arm is not sitting way out to the side.
3. Adjustable sliding forward and back. The tops also move forward and back along the body. Yet another pretty rare feature.

Back: The lumbar support is quite adjustable and is probably the first thing to stand out when you sit down. Everybody notices how different the lumbar feels. Its quite sturdy but has enough play in it to feel nice and comfortable. You should look at pictures of the back on their web site to see how it functions. It has this sort of fake-vertebrae look to it that flexes.

Seat: The seat moves forward and back unlike some other high-end task chairs. I really like this since its quite proper to move the seat to the point where the cushion is some-what close to (but not touching) the back of your legs/knees. And given that i'm about 6ft 1 i'm dependent on the build of the chair. Many high end task chairs seem to have smaller and thinner pads. The Leap Chairs pad could have more motion imo. I have it set all the way forward.

And ofcourse the chair can go up and down and the back can be set to be lax or more rigid. And i believe you can play with the tension. In fact i heard that it is set up so that as you lean back the seat moves up a bit so your eyes can stay level. I keep mine upright and set in place.

I urge anybody to find a place that sells them locally (if you can) and try it out before buying. I found mine at Healthy Back. I not only got to try out the fabric, leather, and stool versions of the chair but i also tried out the aforementioned chairs at the same time. I also brought my Perflex Gel Pads in to see if they fit - And they do! I use them on every computer setup and highly recommend them. They fit nicely (but tightly i might add) onto the arms and given that the arms can adjust well beyond my needs i can easily compensate for the extra 1/2 inch the pads put on them. The Healthy Back employees were knowledgeable about the chair.

- Heavily Adjustable across the entire chair
- Very sturdy/quality build.
- Sleak and simple design

-Price: You don't want to know.
-Arms: When i was at the store i noticed that the stool versions arm tops were loose. They moved around too easily. My only real worry with my chair is that over time the arms will become more and more loose. Right now it takes a bit of pressure to move them so that the frequency of re-adjusting them back is pretty low. If it gets to a point where they are floating around easily i will have to contact Steelcase about it and see what can be done.
- Some people might not care for how short the back is (though you can get head rests to attach) and how thin the padding is.