Through all of my testing with standing chairs, I have had the opportunity to see a lot of different models. One of the most popular chairs I have reviewed is the VARIchair® by Vari. The chair has some nice features and Vari offers some of the most customer friendly policies in the industry. The VARIchair® also has an attractive price point since it is priced lower than similarly designed products like the Muvman and Mobis.
The VARIchair® is not perfect though. Like every standing chair I have tested, the VARIchair® has its downsides. This article will highlight the problems I experienced while using the VARIchair®. If I can offer a solution to the problem or a VARIchair® alternative that doesn’t have the problem, then I will. This list should give you a good idea of what to look out for so that you can better decide whether the VARIchair® will be a good chair for you.
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1. Seat is uncomfortable
The biggest problem that I had while using the VARIchair® was that I could not get comfortable with the seat. There are a few reasons why the seat was so uncomfortable for me. The first is that it is small. It has around half the surface area of a normal office chair. There is simply not enough room to support your entire bottom.
The second reason is that the seat has a convex shape, like the Muvman. This reduces the surface area even further, which puts more pressure on an even smaller area of your bottom. The third reason is that the seat is hard. It has thick padding but the padding does not give at all so the sitting experience is really firm. The vinyl seat upholstery is also not soft. It is a bit coarse to the touch but is slippery enough for your pants to slide up when using the chair while perched. All of these factors, combined, created a poor sitting experience while using the VARIchair®.
The only standing chair that I have tested that has a similar design to the VARIchair®, with a well padded seat, is the Sitmatic Pogo. The Pogo has nice, thick molded foam which makes the seat much more comfortable than models like the VARIchair®, Muvman and Mobis. It is still on the smaller side though so this may not be the ultimate solution.
2. Will not fit a lot of people
There are a lot of people that won’t be able to use the VARIchair®. It has one of the lowest weight ratings I have seen at 220 lbs. The low weight rating is most likely due to a lower quality pneumatic cylinder. The pneumatic cylinder is what allows the seat to move up and down. This is one of the most common component to go bad on an office chair. Having such a low weight rating suggests a lower quality or lower-class cylinder.
The VARIchair® is also toward the low-end of the chairs I have tested for seat height adjustment range. The range is just under 10”. The minimum height is lower than a lot of chairs, but not low enough to allow for a normal sitting position. The range is a bit wasted on the low-end, in my opinion. Because of this, the maximum height is only 32.75”. Other manufacturers have opted to start their range higher so that the chair better accommodates taller people when perching or leaning. People over 6’0” may be too tall for the VARIchair®, depending on your body type.
People that are over 220 pounds will need to look for an alternative product. The same may be true for people that are over 6’0”. I would recommend looking at products from Focal Upright. Their Mobis, Locus Seat and Pivot all have 300-pound weight ratings. They also have seat height adjustment ranges wide enough for people up to 6’7”.
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3. Poor sitting mobility
One big advantage to the VARIchair® style of chair is that it is easy to pick up and move around. Its lightweight design and built-in handle are characteristics not seen on normal office chairs. But, the VARIchair® lacks mobility once you are sitting on the chair. The VARIchair® does not come with casters and it does not have the option to add them. This can make it difficult to keep yourself in your most preferred position, with respect to your desk. My normal ergonomic chair has five casters so it is easy to roll around. If I need to adjust my sitting position one inch to the left because it will be more comfortable, I can do so within a second or two.
On the VARIchair®, I need to get off the chair, pick it up, move it and then sit back down to see if the new position is right. This process becomes tedious which often makes me settle for a less than ideal position. The VARIchair®’s lack of casters also forces you to get out of your chair to get any objects or perform any tasks that are out of your immediate reach. You cannot just roll there quick like you can in a normal office chair.
Casters are a rare feature on standing chairs. The main reason that standing chairs lack casters is for stability purposes. A product like the VARIchair® would not be stable with casters because it could slide out from under you while you are using it in perching or leaning positions. Out of all the standing chairs I have tested, I have only found a few that have the option to add casters. The Swopper and BackApp 2.0 are two of those options.
4. Not good for long hours
I did not find the VARIchair® to be a practical solution for someone that sits for extended periods of time. There are a couple reasons for this. The first is the seat design as discussed above. I will not go into it again but the seat makes it very difficult to use the chair for longer than an hour at a time. The second reason is that the VARIchair® lacks armrests and a backrest. The VARIchair®’s design is meant to put you in an upright posture with an open leg angle. This can be a healthy position but it is tough to maintain for extended periods without the help of arms and a backrest to hold you up. The lack of arms and a back would make me start to slouch after about an hour, which defeats the purpose of the chair.
I feel that the VARIchair® is best suited for short stints throughout the day. I think that the most effective way to use the chair is in conjunction with your regular office chair and standing desk. Mix it in with normal sitting and full standing. Use it in various perched and leaning positions instead of the same height every time.
Something that really helps me to lengthen the time I can sit in a standing chair is to use a footrest. Changing your foot angle really reduces the pressure on the bottoms of your feet and your lower legs. The same can be said for an anti-fatigue mat. I would highly recommend using one or both of them with your standing chair.
5. Lower end build quality
When I compared the Muvman with the VARIchair®, it became very easy to see that the VARIchair® is composed of lower quality parts. This starts at the base and goes all the way up to the seat upholstery. The base is made of black plastic. The base joint that allows the cylinder to tilt allows for decent movement but the range is not as wide as the Muvman or Mobis. As discussed above, the pneumatic cylinder is lower quality. It has a shorter range and a lower weight rating than most models tested. The seat pan is made of black plastic. The seat has thick padding with a vinyl upholstery. The upholstery is thick and coarse, almost rubber like. The VARIchair® is only available in black while most of the other models have color options.
The VARIchair® has a lower-end build quality but it only costs $195.00 with free shipping. Vari also offers a risk-free trial period of 30 days that allows you to return the chair for a full refund. If you don’t like it, pack it up and Vari will pay to have it shipped back to them. Vari will even take the VARIchair® back after the 30 days are up but you will need to cover the shipping. This service is offered for a full year. If you want a higher quality product, I’d recommend checking out the Muvman, Locus Seat or Varier Move. They are three of the highest scoring products for build quality.
6. Short warranty
Out of all the standing chairs I tested, only the Uncaged Wobble Stool has a shorter warranty than the VARIchair®. The VARIchair® is only covered for one year. Most competing products have warranties of at least three years with the most common coverage period being five years. Only getting one year of coverage is a red flag for a couple reasons.
The first is that you only have one year of guaranteed use for your new standing chair. The cylinder may fail after 14 months and you could be stuck buying a new chair. The second red flag is the lack of confidence Vari has in their product to only offer one year of coverage. If Vari is not willing to guarantee the VARIchair® for more than a year, then it is tough to assume that it will last much longer without something going wrong.
The short warranty period is less of a concern because of the low price point. The replacement cost isn’t a huge expense. If you would like a similarly priced product that has a longer warranty period, then I would recommend the OFM 2800 or the Basyx Perch. The upholsteries are covered for two years and the rest of the chairs’ components are covered for five years or longer.
7. Takes time to get used to
This is a problem that is shared by almost every active seating product. Using a standing chair, like the VARIchair®, is going to be a much different posture than a normal office chair. Your legs are positioned at a different angle and there is more pressure put on different areas of your body. It is only natural to experience some soreness and fatigue because you are using new muscles.
Your body may need some time to adjust to your new style of sitting. For some people, this process can take longer than others. For me, it took about 2 weeks of using standing desk chairs before I stopped feeling soreness in my shins and feet. This is something you need to consider before switching to an active chair. If you are willing to make the sacrifice, then go for it. But, if it sounds more difficult than you would prefer, then a standing chair may not be a good fit for you.
A standing mat and footrest will make the transition much easier. I found a standing mat to be great for increasing the comfort on my feet and the footrest to really help relieve some of the pressure off my legs. I would also recommend transitioning gradually. If you go from using an office chair for long hours to using a standing chair for long hours, you will probably be in a world of hurt and you may be discouraged from your new chair. Work the new chair in gradually until you are comfortable using it for an hour or 2 at a time.
The VARIchair® is a standing chair that ended up being toward the bottom of my list of best standing chairs. I actually think that it is reasonably priced and provides decent value though. It has good functionality and Varihas some nice incentives to try their products. Some of the problems that it does have may be too much to overcome for some people.
The lower-end build quality, paired with a short warranty, is a big concern for me. I also fear that a lot of people will share my opinion on the seat being uncomfortable. If you think that any of these problems will affect you, then I suggest taking a look at the products I recommended. Hopefully this list helps to highlight the potential problems you may experience with the VARIchair® so that you can decide if it is the best standing chair for you.
Additional Standing Chair Resources
- The Best Standing Desk Chairs and Stools For 2020
- Top 7 Problems and Solutions for Standing Desk Chairs
- Aeris GmbH Swopper Active Chair (Review / Rating / Pricing)
- Standing Chair Comparison: Vari VARIchair vs. Aeris GmbH Muvman
- Vari VARIchair Standing Desk Chair (Review / Rating / Pricing)
- Aeris GmbH Muvman Standing Chair (Review / Rating / Pricing)