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Today I will be reviewing one of the most well known and awarded active chairs in history. The Swopper by aeris has been receiving awards for its innovative design since it was launched. It continues to be an industry leader in the motion seating category. The Swopper has been a very popular product for our customers at BTOD.com. I have seen the Swopper several times at trade shows. I have always enjoyed the few minutes I spent bouncing around on it but I wondered what it would be like to use it while I worked. I recently placed an order for one and have had a chance to test it out. Here are my thoughts on the Swopper.
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The manufacturer of the Swopper is aeris GmbH. aeris is based in Germany and was founded in 1996 by Josef Glöckl. aeris has a very small product offering but their designs are unique, innovative and are often the recipients of industry awards. They focus on incorporating movement throughout your workday and more specifically, three-dimensional movement. The Swopper was designed by Henner Jahns in 1996 and aeris has sold hundreds of thousands since its release.
aeris GmbH has partnered with Via Seating to handle their US distribution. It is common for US customers to see it listed as the Swopper by Via Seating. The product is the same but there are some differences between the policies of aeris GmbH and Via seating. I will point out those differences below.
aeris GmbH Swopper Quick Summary Video
TABLE OF CONTENTS
– Specs / Features / Pricing
– Return Policy and Warranty
– Shipping and Assembly
– Build Quality
– Seat Comfort
– Range of Motion
– Making Adjustments
– What I Like
– What I Don’t Like
– Bottom Line
Country of Origin
Seat Size: 16″W x 16″D
Standard Seat Height Range: 22″-27.5″H
Swopper High Height Range: 24”-32”
Base Diameter: 21.5″
Weight Capacity: 265 lbs.
Weight: 23 lbs.
Seat height adjustment
Vertical spring tension adjustment
Side to side spring tension adjustment
Seat spins 360°
Spring color matches seat color
2019 Price – $599.00
The Swopper Classic comes in five different Ultrasuede upholstery options to choose from: Black, Blue, Green, Orange or Red. Made to order Swoppers have a larger color selection with choices including different designs, vinyls or leathers.
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US customers can return the Swopper within the first 30 days for a full refund. You will be responsible for the return shipping fees. The item must be returned in the original packaging and it needs to be in like new condition. If there is damage to the product you may lose a portion or your refund. Customers outside the US will want to contact their local dealer to get their return policy.
Via Seating and aeris GmbH offer a 3-year warranty.
Your Swopper will ship in about two to three business days and will then arrive via FedEx/UPS ground a few days after it ships. The chair arrives in a small cube shaped box that weighs around 30 pounds. It has handles in the box that made it very easy to carry. The chair is packaged really well and I did not see any signs of damage during transit.
Some assembly is required but it only takes about a minute. You place the spring strut in the base, and then put the seat on top of the spring strut. You then bounce up and down several times to make sure everything is firmly in place. You also have the option to add felt gliders. There are two different sets that can be used if you aren’t going to be using your Swopper on carpet or with casters. Metal gliders and felt gliders are included so that you are covered for both textile covered floors and smooth surfaces.
aeris makes the Swopper in Germany and this is reflected in the quality of components used. The round base is made of cast aluminum with a powder coated paint finish. The spring is also powder coated but it is made from steel instead of aluminum. The seat is a large circle with a convex shape. It has a decent amount of padding underneath the Ultrasuede fabric. The Ultrasuede is both durable and soft to the touch. The Swopper functions smoothly with no awkward noises. Overall, it is a very high-quality product.
There isn’t going to be a built-in handle like the Muvman but the Swopper is still easy to move around. It weighs less than 25 pounds and is not awkwardly shaped. It does take both hands to move but it takes very little effort. It is also small enough to be placed out of the way or in storage when you are not using it.
The seat design on the Swopper is going to be quite different than standard office chairs. For starters, it is perfectly round. The second big difference is that it has a convex shape. The convex shape is designed to help promote a more open leg angle and to help you keep your back up straight. The final difference is that the seat has a moderate amount of padding and it can feel stiffer than a standard office chair. I did not find the seat on the Swopper to be comfortable for long hours at a time. I did find that it made me want to move around more though, which is the whole point of the chair in the first place. If the seat was so comfortable that you didn’t ever want to move, then the huge range of motion it provides would be a waste.
There is an option for a softer sitting experience for those that would like to go that route. The Swopper AIR is a specialty seat option that uses 3DEA woven nylon filament fabric that is often found in ICU beds. This type of seat will be more breathable that the Swopper Classic. It will also provide a softer sitting experience compared to the seat on the Swopper Classic.
Range of Motion
The huge range of motion that the Swopper has to offer is what separates it from almost every other chair on the market. The spring design allows the chair to bend in any direction. This allows you to tilt front to back, side to side, or any other direction you’d like. The Swopper also bounces. The spring has several inches of bounce. This allows for true three dimensional movements. The spring tension is adjustable in all directions so you can customize it to your own preference.
Adjusting the Swopper
The Swopper has three different adjustments. The first is seat height adjustment. The seat height adjustment is done with a pneumatic cylinder that is controlled by holding a bar underneath the seat. When you are holding the bar down, the cylinder is unlocked and you will be able to move the seat up or down. The cylinder will naturally press the seat up. To raise the seat, hold the bar and stand up until you are at the desired height. To lower the seat, hold the bar, sit on the seat and move it down with your body weight.
The adjustment is smooth and easy. The standard Swopper comes with a range of 22”-27.5”. This height range is not a very good indicator of the actual height on the Swopper though, because the spring sinks down when you sit down. You may sink down several inches depending on your weight and the tension setting you’ve chosen. I think the actual seat height will be around 2-3 inches lower than the indicated height range for most people. There is a Swopper High that will go from 24-32” which will provide a better range for tall people or those that would like to pair their Swopper with a standing desk and use it in perching positions.
The second adjustment is the side to side tension on the spring. This adjustment is found on the bottom of the cylinder. You turn it toward the plus sign to increase the tension and toward the minus side to reduce the tension. This will let you decide how much lateral movement you have when using the chair. This can also be useful for people that are just starting to use active chairs. You can start out with a lot of tension and slowly work your way up until you are using very little tension and allowing for the full range of motion.
The final adjustment is the tension on the vertical bounce on the spring. There is a dial on the bottom portion of the cylinder that can be turned to increase or decrease the tension. You can customize the amount of bounce to your preference. This is also useful for people of different weights because the tension can be adjusted to keep you from bottoming out when you are bouncing.
The Swopper goes against almost everything we have been taught about ergonomic office chairs. The Swopper does not look to form 90° angles. It lacks a well padded seat that is contoured to your bottom. It also lacks armrests, a backrest or any type of lumbar support. Instead, it focuses on incorporating a more open leg and hip angle with the flexibility to move while you work. The proper way to use the Swopper is to sit on the top of the seat and let the spring become an extension of your spine. This allows you to have nice back posture while still letting you move around freely while tasking.
The idea behind the open hip and leg angle is that it helps to benefit your circulation while also preventing your back from hunching. The idea behind movement is that humans are not made to be in the same position for long durations. Typical ergonomic office chairs are designed to hold you in the same position for many hours at a time. They are rigid in their design and do not allow for movement. The Swopper allows you to keep your muscles active to help avoid the problems associated with sitting in the same position for extended hours, such as muscle tension, back pain or fatigue.
I found the Swopper to be very stable. The base is large and provides a wide enough footprint to keep the chair from tipping. I had no problem with the base ever sliding on my carpet while I was using it. The sitting experience is not going to be as stable as sitting in a normal chair because you are moving around a lot more, but I never felt like I was going to fall while using the Swopper.
What Do I Like?
Made in Germany with good build quality
The Swopper is really well made. All of the parts are high quality, the paint finishes are smooth and there are no imperfections with the product. It functions very smoothly and feel solid. There is a noticeable difference between the Swopper and lower priced Chinese competitors.
Wide range of motion
The Swopper has a huge range of motion. Most active chairs will allow for a bit of movement in a couple directions. But, the Swopper allows for movement in all directions, including up and down. I also like that the tension is adjustable so that you can have more or less motion, depending on your preference.
Large, padded seat
The seat on the Swopper is not something that I would normally highlight as a positive because it is not as large and well padded as most normal office chairs. But, it is large with more padding than any active chair I have tested so far. Most chairs in this category have little to no padding with very small seats.
Caster option for sitting mobility
One of the biggest downsides to the standing chair category as a whole is that they do not move easily to get you into the perfect position at your workstation. Adding casters removes this problem.
What Don’t I Like?
The Swopper was not comfortable for prolonged hours
If I sit on the Swopper for longer than two hours, my butt starts to get numb, my posture starts to suffer and start wanting to sit in my normal office chair. Not having arms is certainly much less restrictive but it can be nice to give your shoulders and upper back a break every once in a while. Lumbar support is also something that I found myself wanting after a couple hours. It is hard to maintain perfect upright posture on your own. The convex seat helps to promote an upright posture but it is not the same as a backrest with lumbar support.
There is an adjustment period
It will take a bit to get used to the different style of sitting. The hardest thing for me to adjust to was the seat. Active chairs usually have firm seats and the Swopper is no exception. The Swopper also has a convex seat which is basically a rounded top. For the first few days I would start to feel uncomfortable around 30 minutes and by an hour my butt would be numb. After about a week, my body adjusted to the different style of sitting and I am now able to sit for a couple of hours before I start to get uncomfortable.
Limited height adjustment range
The height adjustment range on the Swopper is a bit limited, especially when compared to standing chairs like the Muvman or Locus Seat. Tall people may need to go with the Swopper High, which is an additional $250.00. The same is true for those that would like to pair their Swopper with a standing desk and use it as a leaning stool.
I think that the Swopper is a very nice product. It is certainly one of my favorite active chairs. The huge range of motion and ability to bounce is truly unique and makes for a fun sitting experience. There is also a lot of customization available. Different seats, upholsteries, casters and even a backrest option are available to make your Swopper the way that you think it will work best for you. While I am a fan of the Swopper, I am not sure it is a good replacement for people that are sitting for 8-12 hours per day. I think that it is great as a complimentary chair to a normal ergonomic chair and/or a standing desk.