This review features the #1 chair on our list for the best kneeling chairs. The Thatsit™ Balans® by Varier nabbed the top spot for several reason. A few of them are its high-end build quality, large range of motion and t shaped backrest. Although the Thatsit™ Balans® took the #1 spot by a wide margin, there were some things that I disliked about it and will be potential deal breakers for some people.
In this review, I will go over our full experience with the Thatsit™ Balans®, including the things that ranked it in the #1 spot on our list and the factors that may push people to look for an alternative product. By the end, I hope to have armed you with enough knowledge to make your buying decision easy.
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Stokke is a large Scandinavian company that produces high-end baby products, like strollers, car seats, and their famous Tripp Trapp high chair. Varier was started in 2006 as a way for Stokke to separate their active seating line from the rest of their products. Varier focuses on producing seating products that allow for movement while using them.
They are based on Oslo, Norway but sell their products worldwide. The Thatsit™ Balans® was designed by Peter Opsvik in 1991. Stokke held the patent license rights from 1991-2006. When Varier was created, they became the holders of the patent license rights.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
– Specs / Features / Pricing
– Return Policy and Warranty
– Shipping and Assembly
– Build Quality
– Environmental Impact
– Mobility While Seated
– Range of Motion
– Making Adjustments
– Seat, Knee and Shin Comfort
– What I Like
– What I Don’t Like
– Bottom Line
Country of Origin
Made in Poland
Seat Size: 18.5”W x 16”D
Knee Pad Size: 11”L x 6”W
Height from Front of Seat: 18.5”H
Height from Back of Seat: 19.5”H
Overall Dimensions: 34″D x 19.75″W x 36.5-39.75″H
Weight Capacity: 250 lbs.
Chair Weight: 28 lbs.
Shipping Weight: 30 lbs.
Shipping Box Dimensions: 32″ x 21.5″ x 7.5″
Polyurethane seat and knee padding
Recycled polyester fabric
Beech plywood frame with natural ash finish
Sled base design allows for rocking
Adjustable height knee pads
Height adjustable backrest
Depth adjustable backrest
Backrest is designed to be used as armrests when leaning backwards
Soft tape for hard floors included
Price – $799.00 (Buy on Amazon)
The frame on the Thatsit™ Balans® is a natural ash finish with a clear lacquer. The fabric is recycled polyester and is available in black only.
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After months of testing 10 kneeling chairs, the results are in!
For US customers, the return policy will depend on the authorized dealer you purchase from. Not all dealers have the same return policy, so you may want to reach out to the dealer you are considering.
Most customers outside the US will have 14 days to return the chair for a full refund. Varier will cover all cost associated with the return.
The Thatsit™ Balans® comes with a warranty provided by Varier. A warranty is only included on chairs purchased from an authorized dealer. After purchasing your chair, you need to register it on Varier’s website. Varier will then send you warranty certificate.
To make a claim, you will need the warranty certificate and a copy of your receipt. The wood frame is covered for seven years. The foam, fabric, labor and shipping are covered for five years. Normal wear and tear are not covered.
The Thatsit™ Balans® ships via FedEx or UPS ground within a couple days of placing your order. It will then arrive a few days after shipping. The chair comes in a medium sized box that weighs about 30 lbs. You may need to have someone around to help you move the box into your office. All the parts are protected, and we did not have any damage on our Thatsit™ Balans®.
The Thatsit™ Balans® does require assembly. It comes in about 10 separate pieces and about the same amount of screws. The only tools needed for assembly are included in the box. I think it will take most people around 20 minutes to get the chair put together.
It is very important that you do not fully tighten any of the screws until the very end. If you fully tighten one screw, then there is a good chance that you will not be able get other screws to slide through the holes because they will not line up properly.
The highest build quality score I have given to a kneeling chair belongs to the Thatsit™ Balans®. It is not only composed of the highest quality components, but it also has the most functionality and adjustability out of all the kneeling chairs I have tested.
The build is very similar to the Variable™ Balans® that I reviewed last month. The frame is a sled-based design and is made from multiple layers of beech plywood. This gives the wood more durability while also being lightweight. It is flexible and strong enough to deal with the frame being in motion all the time.
The beech plywood has a layer of ash veneer that is hand sanded and sealed with a lacquer. All the padding is made from good quality polyurethane foam. The fabric is also a good quality recycled polyester.
Varier puts a lot of effort into ensuring that they are as green as possible. The standard fabric line, Revive, is 100% recycled polyester. It is actually made from plastic bottles. This not only helps to eliminate waste but also takes less energy to produce.
The beech plywood used also helps to limit waste because much more of the wood is used than with normal hardwoods. The wood is also a renewable resource from the European forests it is harvested from. The lacquer finish used is water-based, which is non-toxic.
Mobility While Seated
One area that the Thatsit™ Balans® tested poorly in was sitting mobility. This refers to your ability to move the chair while you are sitting in it. There are two reason why sitting mobility is important.
The first is to allow you to easily get to objects or areas that are normally out of your reach. The second reason is to give you the ability to move small distances to get into the most comfortable typing position. Chair mobility typically comes from wheels. Wheels allow you to roll to different sections of your desk and they also make small adjustments for typing really easy.
The Thatsit™ Balans® does not have wheels and the sled base it not easy to maneuver. You can maneuver enough for small adjustments to make typing comfortable, but it is more tedious than the kneeling chairs with wheels. Moving the chair enough to grab things that are normally out of your reach will not be practical. You will need to get up out of the chair.
The Thatsit™ Balans® is not an easy kneeling chair to move from office to office. It weighs about 30 pounds, so it takes some effort to pick it up and carry it. You also can’t roll it like a normal office chair that weighs 30 lbs.
The backrest makes it a bit more awkward to carry so you have to pick it up from the front. The chair can slide easily enough to move short distances around your office, but this is not the best kneeling chair if you plan to use it in multiple different offices.
Range of Motion
The range of motion on a kneeling chair is largely dependent on the base style chosen. The sled base design on the Thatsit™ Balans® ensures that it has a good range of motion. Like the Variable™ Balans®, there is a kink in the base that gives you a couple different regions to rock in. Being able to rock back and forth makes a huge difference in staying comfortable while sitting.
The nature of the leg positioning can be restrictive so being able to move helps to make you feel less restricted. I found myself slowly rocking almost the entire time I used the Thatsit™ Balans®.
Another unique feature about the range of motion on the Thatsit™ Balans® is that the frame is flexible. The frame is designed to bend and wiggle. This allows you to move around in the chair more than just rocking because you have so many directions to move while in the chair.
The most adjustable kneeling chair I have tested is the Thatsit™ Balans®. The first adjustment is something that I have only seen on the Thatsit™ Balans®. It is adjustable knee pads. There is a hand screw on the back of the knee pad. You can loosen the screw to move the knee pad up or down. The adjustment zone is on the front curve of the base so changing the height of the pad also changes the angle too. When you find the position you like, re-tighten the hand screw.
The next adjustment is the depth of the backrest. There is a lever underneath the seat. You can pull the lever which will allow the backrest to move forward or backward. I found this to be a fantastic adjustment because it really helped to keep me in a good posture. I could press the backrest right up against my back, even when in a forward, tasking position.
The last adjustment is the height of the backrest. There is a hand screw behind the backrest. Loosening the hand screw will let you move it up or down. You can then lock it in the new position by tightening the hand screw. You have a few inches of height adjustment to help position the backrest in the most comfortable position.
The Thatsit™ Balans® received the highest score I have given to a kneeling chair for seat comfort. There are a few reasons why it received the highest score. The first is that it features the largest seat and it is a normal rectangle. There are no awkward cutouts, so you have a large sitting surface. It is the closest in size to a normal office chair, out of all the kneeling chairs I tested.
It also has a good amount of padding. The padding is high quality polyurethane. It holds its shape well and doesn’t bottom out like competing models. The recycled polyester fabric is also comfortable to the touch. It is not coarse like some of the other models I tested.
The seat on the Thatsit™ Balans® has a slight forward slope. It is not as angled as the Variable™ Balans®. The angle is closer to a normal office chair than the other kneeling chairs I have tested. I found it to be comfortable for about three hours at a time.
The Thatsit™ Balans® has adjustable knee pads. It is the only kneeling chair I have seen with this functionality. There is a hand screw behind each knee pad that allows you to move it up or down, which also changes the angle slightly.
I found the adjustable knee pads to be crucial because of the flat seat design. I needed to adjust them quite a bit to get them in a position to support my shins. If they were not adjustable, this would have been tough. The flexible wood frame also helped to get my shins into a comfortable position.
The knee pads themselves are good quality. They have high-end foam and fabric, like the seat. They provide good support for multiple hours at a time. They are not overly padded, which is something that was fairly common on lower end models. I found that models with too much padding would bottom out over time and then got warm. You will not have this problem with the knee pads on the Thatsit™ Balans®.
Normal ergonomic office chairs aim to get you in a position where almost everything is at a 90°. They put your ankles, knees, hips and elbows all at 90° angles. You are meant to get into the optimal position and stay there.
The philosophy behind the Thatsit™ Balans® is much different than a normal ergonomic office chair. Instead of 90° angles, your legs and hips are at a more open angle and you are meant to move. The sled base allows you to rock back and forth and the flexibility in the frame gives you lateral and twisting motions.
Being able to move while you work helps to engage your core and use more of your muscles. This means you are using more energy and burning more calories. I was almost always rocking back and forth while sitting in the Thatsit™.
The ability to always be moving and fidgeting really helped to make the chair more comfortable. Kneeling chairs are also sometimes a preferred type of chair for people with lower back or tailbone pain. For some people, the seat design helps to alleviate pressure and make sitting more comfortably.
I only tested a couple kneeling chairs that featured backrests and the Thatsit™ Balans® is one of them. The backrest is a “t” shape and features the same foam padding and fabric as the seat and knee pads. The backrest is both depth and height adjustable.
I found the backrest to be a great addition for extending the time I could comfortably sit in the chair. It does a lot of the work for you, in terms of sitting up straight. I found myself slouching after a couple hours in the Variable™ Balans® but that wasn’t the case with the Thatsit™ Balans®.
The backrest can also be used as armrests if you lean back. This makes it easier to take a break from your work and relax for a few minutes.
What Do I Like?
High-end build quality
The Thatsit™ Balans® has high-end components and the most adjustability of any kneeling chair I tested. When you buy this chair, you know you are getting one of the highest quality kneeling chairs available.
Good knee/shin comfort
The knee pads are comfortable and the ability to adjust them ensures they are in the correct position on your shins.
Good seat comfort
The seat on the Thatsit™ Balans® was a nice change of pace from the smaller, contoured seats that were on many of the chairs I tested. It gave me plenty of space and offered supportive padding.
Wide range of motion
The biggest thing that separates the Thatsit™ Balans® from almost every other kneeling chair is that it offers a wide range of motion while you are sitting in the chair. The sled-based design and flexible beech plywood give you the ability to move a lot while you are working, which is not something that chairs with x base and five star base designs offer.
Varier has a strong focus on being environmentally friendly. The materials that are used to construct the Thatsit™ Balans® are sustainable and use non-toxic finishes.
Having a backrest is pretty unique for a kneeling chair but I found that it helped quite a bit to help me stay in an upright posture.
What Don’t I Like?
High price point
The biggest deterrent for most people is going to be the price. The Thatsit™ Balans® is $500 more than the next closest kneeling chair I have tested. You are getting a chair with the highest end components and the most amount of adjustability. With that being said, $800 might be out of most people’s price range.
Low sitting mobility
The one major drawback with the sled-based design on the Thatsit™ Balans® is that it has poor sitting mobility. The sled base can slide but it is not mobile like a chair with casters. Having to get up out of the chair to get things out of my reach was a bit of a nuisance.
If you are looking for a kneeling chair that can be shared among multiple people and moved from office to office, then the Thatsit™ Balans® is probably not a good choice. I already talked about it not having casters, so you can’t wheel it around. You will need to pick it up and carry it everywhere, but it is not light and compact like the Variable™ Balans®.
No seat height adjustment
While the Thatsit™ Balans® is highly adjustable for a kneeling chair, it does lack seat height adjustment. This means that you will need to make sure your desk height will work for the chair, instead of being able to adjust the chair to your desk height.
The highest score I have given to a kneeling chair has gone to the Thatsit™ Balans®, but that does not mean that it is the right fit for everyone. The price is going to eliminate it from contention for many people. It is also not a good option for people that need something to be used by numerous people or for people that need something with good sitting mobility.
But, it received the top score in numerous categories and has features that are rare to find on a kneeling chair. Things like an adjustable backrest, adjustable knee pads and a flexible wood sled base set the Thatsit™ Balans® apart. If you are in the market for the highest-end kneeling chair available, then the Thatsit™ Balans® should be at the top of your list.