Today we are going to be taking a closer look at our number one ranked chair on the best office chairs for the 2019 list, the Steelcase Leap Chair. The Leap chair, by Steelcase, scored 89 out of 100 and was a clear cut winner out of all of the chairs but the Steelcase Gesture. After closely reviewing 20+ chairs, one thing stood out to us. Steelcase has a unique ability to combine form and function. Let’s take a closer look at the Leap chair to see why this chair ranked at the top of our list for 2019.
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Steelcase was established in 1912 as the Metal Office Furniture company. Their first patent as a company was for a metal wastebasket, which was designed to improve office safety. Back in the early 1900s, wicker was used for baskets creating a fire hazard for crowded cities.
As early as 1919, they began to form dealer networks and offering their office furniture products across the USA. In 1954 their name changed to Steelcase Inc. and their brand continued to grow. By 1998, Steelcase Inc. became a publicly traded company.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
– Specs / Features / Pricing
– Return Policy and Warranty
– Shipping and Assembly
– Build Quality
– Scope of Users
– Seat Comfort
– Back Support
– Armrest Comfort
– Ergonomics Adjustments
– Upholstery Options
– Mechanism Options
– Wheel/Caster Options
– What I Like
– What I Don’t Like
– Bottom Line
Steelcase Leap Chair Video Review
Country of Origin
Made in Mexico
Seat Height: 16” – 20.5”
Seat Depth: 15.75” – 18.75” D
Seat Width: 19.25”
Arm Height: 7” – 11”
Arm Width: 12.75” – 20”
Back Height/Width: 25” H / 18” W
Overall: 24.75” D x 27” W x 38.5” – 43.5” H
Weight Rating: 400 lbs.
Seat height adjustment
Seat depth adjustment
4D arms with height/width/depth/pivot adjustments
LiveBack technology to mimic spine movement
Adjustable height lumbar system
Adjustable lower back firmness
5 position tilt-lock
Starting Price – $811.00
The most basic version of the Steelcase Leap chair is available for just over $800. This model doesn’t include arms but does come with standard upholstery and carpet casters.
The model we tested had standard upholstery, black frame, 4-way arms, and carpet casters.
|Polished Aluminum Frame/Base||$311.00|
|Height Adjustable Arms||$127.00|
|4-Way Arms (height, width, pivot, and depth)||$187.00|
|Hard Surface Wheels||$18.00|
All Steelcase chairs come with a 30-day money back guarantee. This includes free return shipping and no restocking fees. The chair must be returned in new condition in the original packaging to receive the full refund.
The Steelcase Leap includes one of the best warranties in the business. The frame of the chair is covered for the lifetime of the original owner. The mechanisms, gas cylinders, arms, foam padding, and casters are covered for a period of 12 years. This warranty is good regardless of the shift usage, which means the chair is rated for 24/7 usage.
Steelcase will repair or replace your chair with a comparable product, at its option and free of charge (for materials and components) for any product, part or component which fails under normal use. If repair or replacement is not commercially practicable, Steelcase will provide a refund or credit for the affected product.
See The Best Office Chairs For 2019
After months of testing 20+ office desk chairs, the results are in!
When ordered in small quantities, the Steelcase Leap chair is able to be shipped via FedEx Ground. Our chair came in a very large box, with handles, and weighed approximately 70 lbs. Because of the size of the package, you may want an extra set of hands to move the box in the office.
Inside the box, the chair is put into a plastic bag to keep it clean and reduce the opportunity for surface scratching. There is a large cardboard piece included with a bag of air to hold the chair in place. The box is designed to hold the leap and is perfectly sized to reduce any movement while in transit. Overall, the chair was very well packed and should arrive in a perfect condition.
One of the things that we really like about the Steelcase Leap chair is the fact it ships fully assembled. The only thing you’re required to do is remove the chair from the box and pull away from the minimal packaging. If you’re at all concerned with assembly, this is one of the best products in the category with no assembly required.
As the second-ranked for build quality in our list, the Leap Chair received a score of 90 out of 100. Only the Aeron Chair ranked higher, with a 95 out of 100.
The chair is built in Mexico and the fit and finish throughout were impeccable. When you’re paying upwards of $1,000, your expectations are definitely higher than that of a $200 alternative. The Steelcase Leap chair hit the mark throughout and when only looking at build quality, it was definitely worth the cost.
The Steelcase Leap was made with a lot of plastics, which kept the overall weight of the chair somewhat down. It also allowed for the chair to provide flexibility in areas needed for good support. The flexible back allows for the lower portion to push out and provide good lower support, while the upper portion tilts aways. The front of the seat pan also provides some flexibility, creating a unique sit that moves with you as you adjust throughout the day.
Scope of Users
Having reviewed two of Steelcase’s most popular ergonomic chairs, one thing became very apparent, their focus was on fitting a lot of users properly. With a score of 84 out of 100, the Leap Chair was only outdone by one chair, the Steelcase Gesture chair.
The fact that these chairs fit so many users well shouldn’t come as a surprise. Looking deeper into the design of the Leap chair, Steelcase incorporated eleven studies, with 732 participants, with the design of the chair. Taking it another step further, they had 27 ergonomics scientists, from four universities, involved as well.
Sitting in the chair, you can tell there was a lot of thought that went into how it fits different bodies. With a seat height adjustment range of 16” – 21”, the Leap is set up perfect to hit the sweet spot of the 5th to 95th percentile of heights. The arm adjustment range on the Leap was also large, with 4” of height range and a whopping 12.75” to 20” width range. Lastly, a 400 lbs. capacity put it well ahead of most competing chairs that averaged closer to 300 lbs. capacities, respectively.
One of the most objective things to score on an office chair is seat comfort, which can be difficult to understand without a lot of user input. With nine different body types in our office, the Leap chair managed to score at the top of the list with an 85 out of 100.
Tied with the BTOD Akir chair, the Leap has a much different sit than that of our Akir. With a thinner seat pad, it was pretty surprising how well the Leap felt for long periods of sitting. I have personally sat in the chair for three weeks and have yet to have issues with awkward or uncomfortable pressure points. While the seat pad wasn’t thick, it was still soft and felt good from the five-minute sittest to my extended testing period.
The front third of the seat pad is flexible, allowing for more natural movement in the chair. This function is self-adjusting and requires no real thought. I noticed that it helped with fatigue in the backs of my legs, especially when sitting for long periods of time.
One of the most important aspects of any office chair is the back support it provides. For a truly ergonomic chair, this is even more important. When Steelcase developed the Leap Chair, they realized that back support isn’t a static function. Instead, your chair needs to be able to provide support as you move throughout the day. This was the foundation for the Leap Chairs LiveBack technology.
Like the seat pad, you’ll notice as you move in the chair that the backrest is moving with you. One of the most unique parts of the back was how the upper and lower portions moved differently. The upper portion of the backrest flexed away from your body allowing you to arch your back, while the lumbar stayed in place providing good lower support.
One thing I’ve found with a lot of office chairs is that their lumbar support systems tend to be gimmicky. Meaning, they exist and are adjustable, but don’t really feel like much or provide a lot of support. The Leap has two separate adjustments on the lumbar system. First, you’re able to move the lumbar up and down the backrest. Secondly, you can adjust the tension in the backrest to increase or decrease how pronounced it feels.
When you’re the top scoring chair in the list, you tend to do a lot of things well. The armrest comfort score for the Leap was 83 out of 100. This put it number two on the list, only behind the Steelcase Gesture. When we scored armrests, we looked at how comfortable the arm pads were for your arms/elbows and if you could adjust them comfortably to fit your body. Like the seat comfort score, this is a subjective score that required all nine people in the office to score to get a good average.
First, looking at the comfort of the pads for your arms and elbows, the Leap arm pads provided a nice softness to the touch. Some arm pads are too firm and don’t really offer any give. That wasn’t the case with the Leap’s arms. They weren’t too soft either, which is good because pads that are too soft can fall apart quicker than a firmer one.
The arms also had a large range of motion to fit most users needs. Because of this, we weren’t too surprised with the overall outcome of the armrest comfort score for the Leap chair. The arms we tested had height, depth, width, and pivot adjustment. All of these adjustments had plenty of range which is a big part of fitting such a large amount of body types. Alternative arms on less expensive chairs had similar adjustments, but significantly less range of motion.
Should you want to scale back the chair, and save some of the cost, you can purchase different arms. Steelcase offers height adjustable arms only for $60 less and an armless version for $187 less. I would suggest getting the 4-way arms, as they were some of the best we have tested in our top ranked office chairs list.
When we score the ergonomic adjustments on office chairs, we score solely on if the chair has the adjustment. So, if a chair has seat height adjustment, it would get the full number of points available. The only exception is tilt lock, where we scored based on the number of positions the chair would lock. The Steelcase Leap chair was our number one ranked chair for adjustments, with a score of 90 out of 100.
With such a high score, it’s become apparent early on that the Leap is a highly adjustable ergonomic chair. The adjustments it comes standard with are seat height, seat depth, arm height/width/depth/pivot, lumbar. The Leap also scored extra points for its unique seat mechanism plus flexible seat pan.
The only place the Leap missed points was the back height adjustment, tilt lock positions, and extra points section. First looking at the back height adjustment, the design of the chair didn’t really allow for the back to move up and down. That should be a major concern, with the back height standard at 25”; it should be tall enough for most users. It was one point away from the full four points with tilt lock. With five-position tilt lock, it is still really flexible with the only improvement being infinite tilt lock. Lastly, the extra point section is tough. While the chair we tested didn’t come with a headrest, it is available. Having this would have pushed the Leap to full extra points with its unique mechanism and flexible seat pan.
The Leap Chair comes with a wide range of upholstery options. From base grade fabrics that are included for the price to higher end upholsteries that will cost an additional $56. If you want to add leather, that is available as well. It does come at a cost with an upcharge of $533 per chair. It isn’t cheap.
While it’s nice to have a lot of mechanism options to find a chair perfect for your needs, it can also be a good thing to have no options. With the Steelcase Leap, they don’t provide any customization with their mechanism, but you don’t need that anyway. Since all of their mechanisms offer the full assortment of adjustments, you don’t need to worry about missing out on something important.
There are two options for cylinder height. The first is the standard height, which has a range of 16” to 20.5” tall. This is the perfect seated height for the 5th to 95th percentile of the population. This means that the vast majority of people will fit into the standard height chair.
The second option is the stool height cylinder. When you select this option, the chair range goes to 22” to 30” tall. This will also include a footring and is made for tall counters or standing height desks.
There are two caster options. We selected the standard carpet casters which are great for most commercial carpets. They are big enough that they should work for some medium pile carpet as well. If you’re going to be on a hard surface like tile, wood or concrete, you may want to consider the hard floor casters. They should protect the floors and roll better on hard surfaces.
Steelcase is a big proponent of sustainability and their chairs have multiple certifications to prove this. The Leap comes with a level 2 ANSI/BIFMA certification and the SCS IAQ Gold indoor air certification as well.
The Leap chair is manufactured with powder coated paints, water-based adhesives, and VOC-free manufacturing processed. Each chair is made with up to 35% recycled content and does not contain any PVC’s, CFC’s, solvents, chrome, benzene.
What I Like
Excellent Build Quality
Coming in with the second highest build quality score in the group of test chairs, the Steelcase Leap has a lot to like. From the first few seconds, you can tell that there is a high level of quality control involved with the production of their chairs.
Even though the chair is made in Mexico, you could tell that it was done to a high standard. All of the plastic molded components were done without imperfection. Even with so much plastic used, Steelcase is still willing to put a 400 lbs. weight capacity on the chair. That speaks volumes about the quality of the components throughout, considering their closest competitors only rate their chairs to 300 lbs.
Wide Range of Ergonomic Adjustments
Having a wide range of ergonomic adjustments is important to a chair being fully ergonomic. While it’s not required, it does make the chair easily adaptable for different sized users. The Steelcase Leap comes with almost every adjustment needed to fine-tune the fit to your needs. If you pair their 4-way adjustable arms, you should have no problem finding a comfortable ergonomic seated position.
Just having ergonomic adjustments doesn’t mean that you’ll fit a large range of users though. Each of these adjustments needs to have the range of motion to fit those users properly. Steelcase has done a great job focused on the majority of the population that falls within the 5th and 95th percentile. In testing two of their chairs, you can tell it is a core focus of theirs when developing high-end ergonomic chairs.
Comfortable Seat Pad
Arguably the most subjective thing on an office chair is the seat pad. he Steelcase Leap comes with one of the most comfortable seat pads we have tested. With nine different body types, the Leap was the favorite amongst our group.
Having sat in the chair for three weeks, I can tell you this is a keeper. With just the right amount of padding, I don’t find myself uncomfortable with pressure points throughout the seat. It’s not one of those seats that is bottomless either though, which I prefer because it offers better support for long hours of sitting.
Great Lumbar Support System
While the Leap didn’t rank first for back comfort, it was still one of the best chairs we tested. One of the biggest issues we found with ergonomic chairs is that their lumbar systems can be a bit gimmicky. They will tend to have some type of pad that is built into the back that moves up and down. The Steelcase Leap with LiveBack Technology is anything but gimmicky and is one of my current favorite lumbar systems.
What I really liked about the lumbar support system was that I could independently adjust the positioning of the lumbar support and how strong the support was. I personally like a lot of support, since I tend to lean forward when typing. Others might like less and that is where the firmness control is nice.
All of our bodies are different and where you like the support most can be different as well. The lumbar support system has a huge height adjustment range, so most users should have no problem finding a comfortable position. Additionally, the lumbar system is the full width of the backrest of the chair. This gives full support for your entire lower or mid back area. I prefer this over something like Aeron’s posturefit which focuses on the middle of the spine.
Ships Fully Assembled
If you’re not into the assembly scene or have a lot of chairs to fill office space, the Leap could be a good option. One of the few chairs in our list that ships fully assembled, the Leap only needs to be removed from the box and you’re good to go.
Mechanism Explained on Armrests
One of the biggest issues I’ve found with complex ergonomic chairs is teaching the average consumer how to use the chair. What good is an ergonomic chair if you’re not using the adjustments?
The Leap chair made sure that even after you throw away your original marketing material, you’ll still have the resources to adjust your chair at your fingertips. Simple pivot the arm pads and below you’ll find the instructions on how to make adjustments to all aspects of the chair.
What I Don’t Like
High Price Tag
Depending on how you configure the chair, it’s likely you’ll end up somewhere around the $1000 mark for a new Leap chair. There is no way around this; chairs at this price point are expensive. It’s true, you are going to get all that you pay for when you drop $1000 on the Leap, but not everyone can. While I’d love to see the price go down, you’d likely get less chair. If you want to save some money, you have to remove the 4-D arms, which I would not suggest.
No Back-Height Adjustment
If you’re over 6’4” and wanting a chair with an adjustable back height function, the Leap chair is not it. Unfortunately, the way they have tied the back to the mechanism, this function is not possible. The back is fairly tall at 25” so it could still potentially work for users that are tall.
Made in Mexico
With one of Steelcase’s biggest competitors, Herman Miller manufacturing their chairs in the USA, it would have been nice to see Steelcase doing the same. While we were happy with the build quality of the Leap chair, it didn’t quite score as high as the icon Aeron chair. Moving the production to the USA could have bumped the score a few points.
The bottom line is that I really like the Steelcase Leap. So much so that I’ve claimed it to be my everyday office chair. There isn’t a lot not to like, which is unique for all of the chairs that I reviewed.
If you have a tight budget, the Leap chair probably isn’t going to be the best option. If you’re outside the 5th and 95th percentile, you may want to try the chair before making that big of an investment as well.
From the high-end build quality to one of the best warranties, the Leap Chair is a cut above the rest. The only chair that was close in the rankings was another Steelcase chair. If you’ve got $1,000 in your chair budget, you can’t go wrong with a Leap. If not, there are plenty of alternatives that most would be happy with for less as well.