Chairman of the Bored
Back in 2006 I wrote about the travails of trying to find a decent computer chair. Based on the number of comments that post received and the search terms that bring people to this site, it appears that many of you are also on this quest, so I figured you might appreciate an update.
At the end of the process back then I ended up buying the Ikea Joakim:
Here’s the update. The Joakim served well while it was a light-use chair — something I sat in for an hour or so at most after coming home from work. However, when I started my own business this year, I found myself sitting in the Joakim all day. And that’s when it became My Mortal Enemy.
After a few months of sitting in the Joakim all day, I started having severe lower back pain. And when I say “severe”, I want you to understand that I am not exaggerating for effect; every time I stood up I felt like a 90-year-old man hobbling his way down the shuffleboard court.
The Joakim, clearly, had to go.
But what to replace it with? The problem is that finding a task chair that doesn’t suck turns out to be shockingly complicated; there are some that are broadly well-regarded, but they tend to be priced at the same level as a decent used car. And there’s a distressing lack of objective information like reviews from unbiased sources available to help.
I spent a lot of time trying to find a good alternative that was at least somewhat ergonomically sound and that didn’t cost a small fortune. This, it turns out, is a Quixotic endeavor. You might as well spend your time looking for an affordable ergonomic task chair as spend it looking for a sane Republican, or a unicorn; they simply don’t exist, at least not in this dimension.
So, at the end of the day, I bit the bullet and bought a Steelcase Leap.
I had originally been tempted by a cheaper Steelcase model, the Think, but I had the good fortune to find a store that had both in their showroom so I could try them out, and as soon as I sat in them it was clear that there was no comparison. The difference between them — and between the Leap and every other chair I’d tried — was dramatic.
Now, if you know me, you know that I’m a cheap bastard. I’m not one to splash out cash on lavish toys. The fact that Steelcase sold me on a chair that costs what this one does should give you a sense of how good it is. I’ve been using it full-time for about a week now, and once I got it properly adjusted for my seating position — the damn thing has more knobs and levers on it than a 19th-century locomotive — my backaches began immediately to ease. Which was a nice feeling, insofar as it meant I wasn’t spending my days feeling like I’d been kicked by a mule anymore.
So there’s your update: if you’re looking for a comfortable, adjustable, ergonomically-designed task chair, take a close look at the Leap.
UPDATE (Nov. 7, 2014): In which a problem arises four years later, and Steelcase customer service impresses me.