The Swopper is a staple in the world of active seating. It has been winning awards for decades. There is a lot to like about the Swopper. It helps to incorporate movement into your workday in a fun way. The movement is tension adjustable and the chair is backed by a five year warranty. There are numerous additional options to customize your Swopper to your liking. Even with all of these positive features, the Swopper is not going to be a good fit for everyone. It has some downsides that you should be aware of before making your purchase. This article will focus on those downsides and when possible, I will offer solutions or potential product alternatives.
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1. High price point
I think the one thing that will keep the most people from buying the Swopper is its high price tag. The Swopper is made with premium components and its 3D movement technology is more advanced than any other active chair I have tested. These top-of-the-line features mean that the Swopper comes with one of the highest price points in the active seating category. While the price is high, I do not think it is a poor value. It is just not going to be affordable for everyone.
The most basic version of the Swopper will run you about $600 so you will want to look for an alternative product if $600 is out of your budget. I would recommend taking a look at the Focal Upright Pivot or Safco Twixt. The Pivot sells for $279 and features a wobble base that will give you a large range of motion, like the Swopper provides. The Twixt sells for just over $200. It is also designed to wobble but the range is more limited than the Pivot or Swopper. The seat is large and padded for a standing chair, which makes it similar to the Swopper in that regard. If you are looking for a really low-priced solution, then you may want to consider a ball chair. They offer a similar bouncing function that the Swopper does and are often some of the lowest priced active chairs available.
2. Limited seat height adjustment range
The seat height range on the Swopper is 22” – 27.5”. When you sit on the seat, the spring will compress a couple inches. This means that the actual seat height while sitting is about 20”-25.5”. This range is much smaller than the other standing chairs I have reviewed, especially on the high-end. Most standing chairs will have a maximum seat height of at least 30”. The Swopper will allow for lower perched positions but it will be much more limited than other standing chairs. It will not allow for full leaning positions. On the low end, it may work for some people at a normal height desk, but it won’t be good for everyone. Short and/or small people may have a tough time getting the seat to be low enough for normal desk height, depending on your weight. I think that this product works best when paired with a height adjustable desk.
The easiest solution to this problem is to go with the Swopper High. The Swopper High will increase your seat height range to 23.5” – 31” but it will increase the price by about $150. This range is still small compared to the majority of other standing desk chairs, but it is much more generous than the standard version. If you are looking for an even larger range to allow for more perching and leaning positions, then I would recommend another product made by aeris GmbH, the Muvman. The Muvman is a very popular stool to pair with a standing desk. It offers a standard seat height range of 20”-33” and also features a tall version that goes as high as 36”. Another little bonus is that the Muvman is about $100 less than the Swopper.
3. Seat may not be comfortable
I found the seat on the Swopper to be one of the most comfortable options out of all the standing chairs I have reviewed. It is among the largest and most well-padded seats I have found on any standing chair. With that being said, I do not think it will be comfortable for everyone. I say this because the seat is not as comfortable as the normal ergonomic chairs we have in our office. It is a 16” diameter circle, which is going to be smaller than the seats on most office chairs. As an example, the popular Ergohuman Mesh Chair has a seat size of 19.5″W x 17.75″D. Although it has a decent amount of padding, it is not as thick as a normal office chair’s padding, so the sitting experience is much firmer. I was able to stay comfortable for about two hours at a time before needing to switch to my normal ergonomic chair.
aeris GmbH offers a specialty seating option called the Swopper AIR. This will offer a softer sitting experience than the standard Swopper. The Swopper AIR uses 3DEA woven nylon filament fabric. This type of fabric is often found on hospital beds. The Swopper AIR’s seat will be softer to the touch and more padded. This will come at a premium though. Upgrading to the Swopper AIR is about $150. Another thing to consider is that you can try the Swopper for 30 days and still get a full refund when buying from Amazon or Swopper.com. You just need to pay return shipping and return the chair in new condition with the original packaging. The Swopper is pretty small so it shouldn’t be too expensive to ship back. This gives you a chance to see if you like the seat for yourself without having to risk too much financially.
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4. Lack of sitting mobility
The Swopper is lightweight and easy to move, unless you are sitting on the chair. When you are sitting on the chair, it is difficult to make micro adjustment to get into your ideal working position. Standard office chairs have wheels, which is something I took for granted before getting into standing chairs. Without wheels, you need to lift the chair off the ground to move it. Wheels allow you to move a fraction of an inch if you’d like. This is more difficult when you have to lift the chair and move it because you have to get off the seat and sit back down. You do not know if you moved it the correct distance until you sit back down, so you may have to repeat this process a few times.
Another thing to consider is that the lack of sitting mobility means that you can’t roll to other sections of your desk to grab something or perform a different task. This is not a huge problem because the Swopper makes it really easy to just get off the stool and grab the item you need. But, it is something to consider if you would prefer not to have to get up off your chair more periodically.
One thing that can help to improve the mobility is to add the caster option to the Swopper. However, I do not consider this a full solution due to the way that the casters function. When you are out of the chair, the casters lock. So, you still need to pick the chair up to move it when you are not sitting in it. When you are sitting fully on the seat, the post will contact the ground to make the chair stable when you are being active. This means that you cannot move when fully seated. The only way to make the casters roll is to stand partially off the seat in a middle type position. When you find the sweet spot, the casters will roll smoothly. One thing to be aware of is that the caster option is not available on the Swopper High version.
The only other standing chair that I have tested that has an option to add casters is the Back App 2.0. The Back App 2.0 has a separate part that can be placed under the main base that has three wheels. The base remains stable on the caster base and gives it good mobility when in the chair or out of the chair. The casters do not have brakes or locks so they roll smoothly at all times.
5. May not be good for prolonged hours
The Swopper is not going to be a good option for all people that are looking to replace their normal everyday chair that they use for five or more hours per day. In our office, we have a couple people that say they could use the Swopper for five hours or more but the majority prefers to use it as a complimentary chair for periods of one to two hours at a time. There are a few reasons why the Swopper may not be good for long hours. The first is the seat design discussed above. The seat will be a deterrent for some that want to sit for long hours.
The second is the lack of arms and a backrest with lumbar support. Not having armrests and a backrest to help support you and hold your weight makes it more difficult to maintain a good posture. After a while, I found myself slouching, which was a good sign that it was time to change my chair or move to standing.
The final reason that the Swopper may not be everyone’s best option for long hours is the movement that it creates. Yes, the entire point of the chair is to allow you to move freely and stay active while you work, but that also makes it more difficult to use the chair for prolonged periods. You are using more energy, engaging your muscles more, and putting more of a burden on yourself to maintain good posture instead of the chair itself.
If you are looking for an active seating product that is more suitable for prolonged hours, then I would consider the 3DEE, which is also made by aeris GmbH. It features the same spring technology for motion, but the chair comes with a five star base and wheels. It also features a standard sized seat and a backrest. The price tag is much higher, at $1295, but it is a high quality item with a strong manufacturer’s warranty.
An option that may be good for people that want to stand for the majority of the day but need something to help them out is the LeanRite™ Elite by Ergo Impact. The LeanRite™ Elite is the only active chair I have tested that helps you to lean, without making you sit down or perch on a surface. This new position can be a game changer for people that prefer to stand for the majority of the day.
6. There is an adjustment period
Something that is going to be true for all standing chairs is that there is going to be an adjustment period while your body gets used to the new chair. The reason that this occurs is because in a normal office chair, your weight is supported by your thighs, butt and lower back. This is also true for most everyday sitting applications. We are used to this sitting position and our bodies have grown accustomed to it. When you shift your leg angle and begin to share the weight more with your feet, shins, quads and core, you are using a whole new set of muscles. Using these muscles for extended periods of time when you are not used to using them can take time to get used to. This adjustment period will be different for everyone. Some may not feel much of a difference while others may experience soreness, fatigue and pain.
I think it is important to ease your way into using an active standing chair. Jumping right in and using it for five hours a day may cause some problems for you. Starting out in short intervals and working your way up will be a good way to acclimate your body to this new way of working. Another thing that can help is to go with a chair model that allows you to adjust the tension. You can start with the tension on a high setting so that there isn’t very much movement. Then as you get used to the chair, you can lower the tension more and more until you find your ultimate comfort zone. Luckily, the Swopper is a model with two different tension adjustments. The only other models I have tested with adjustable tension are the 3DEE and Back App 2.0, mentioned earlier.
The Swopper does a lot of things really well but things like a high price point, limited seat height range and lack of mobility may be turns offs for some people. It is also important to understand that the Swopper is a much different sitting experience than a normal office chair. The new posture will almost certainly take some time to get used to. The seat design, lack of arms and lack of backrest may make this a poor option for some people looking to replace their everyday chair.
The Swopper is one of the most comfortable standing chairs I have had the chance to use. It is not perfect though, so it is important that we talk about the things that can be potential deal breakers. The last thing that we want to do is to recommend a product that may be a bad fit. That creates a poor experience for both the buyer and the seller. At the end of the day, we want you to end up with the best product for you. If the problems on this list are not big concerns for you, then the Swopper will most likely be a great chair for your needs. If this list makes you realize that the Swopper is not the chair for you, then I hope I have provided some ideas for a product that will work.