By Kara Reinhardt
The kids are all set up with their back-to-school supplies and dorm room essentials, but how does your desk look? If you’re making do with a kitchen chair or some other substitute, do your body a favor and consider a proper office chair. According to the U.S. Labor Department, it could save you from back pain, fatigue, restricted circulation, swelling, and numbness, among other ailments. And it doesn’t have to cost hundreds.
The advantages of using an office chair or computer chair start with lumbar support. The back of an office chair has a slight curve designed to fit snugly against the natural curve of your lower back. With wheels and a 360-degree swivel, it’s easy to get your hands on anything you need without reaching or twisting. A five-point or five-leg base makes for a more stable chair.
Adjustability is key to a good fit. While you may not be able to set every last piece of a low-cost chair to fit your frame, adjustable seat height is standard even in the budget price range. You can also find affordable office chairs with adjustable tilt. The best options in the category have padded, adjustable armrests as well. If the armrests don’t adjust, try to test out the chair before you buy. Your forearms should rest lightly on the arms of the chair with your shoulders back and down. The seat pan should be deep enough to fully support your thighs when your back is against the back of the chair but not so deep that your knees touch the edge of the seat or your feet don’t sit flat on the floor.
One thing you won’t find at this price is leather. However, imitation leathers wipe clean like the real thing and offer a high-end look. Many cheap desk chairs are also made from breathable mesh.
Below are Cheapism’s top picks for affordable office chairs.
- The Office Star Space 5500 (starting at $150) offers adjustable seat height, tilt, and padded armrests, winning praise from users for its comfortable, precise fit. The seat pan measures 21 inches wide by 20 inches deep and the chair is made from breathable mesh. (Where to buy)
- The Staples Vocazo (starting at $105) has a mesh back and a microsuede seat that measures 20.5 inches wide by 19.75 inches deep. Users can adjust the seat height and tilt but not the armrests. Nonetheless, they rave about the chair’s comfort, as well as its easy assembly. This is also the only cheap desk chair we found with a one-year warranty. (Where to buy)
- The Alera Nico Mid-Back Chair (starting at $134) is covered with Caresoft upholstery, an easy-to-clean imitation leather that users say is soft and comfortable. The seat height and tilt can be adjusted, although the padded armrests cannot. The seat measures 21 inches square and users note that the chair sits slightly higher than others, making it a good choice for taller consumers. (Where to buy)