Updated: February 16, 2018
I originally wrote this article in 2011 and was recently asked to reassess the ergonomic chair market to see which four mesh office chairs I’d give top rank to now. I live in Texas and we do get hot. I guess I’m not alone in my dislike of a sweaty chair, as mesh office chairs have remained popular. A quick search for “mesh office chairs” shows interest hasn’t slowed at all. If anything, it has risen slightly over the past 7 years. I personally love a padded upholstered back chair, but numbers do not lie, a large percentage of people really like the look and feel of a mesh back office chair. So I am updating this article to reflect the current market so you know how to pick a good one for you or for your employees. Here are our top recommendations.
How to know if a mesh office chair is ergonomic
When it comes to mesh chairs, the same basic requirements apply that apply to choosing any good ergonomic chair. A good chair must:
- be sized to fit your body.
- be adjustable enough to fit you and your working style.
- be comfortable for as many hours as you need it to be.
For a full description on chair fit and how to evaluate a chair for yourself, please read this great article – One Size Does Not Fit All. While mesh office chairs are available in all price ranges including very low-budget, they don’t all meet the above three requirements. However, price doesn’t always guarantee more comfort so be sure the chairs you consider meet your needs.
Mesh seat? Should you or shouldn’t you?
One of the first considerations is whether or not to consider a mesh seat. Ergonomically speaking, a mesh seat doesn’t distribute body weight as well as a well-contoured, properly padded seat will. (This study done at Texas A&M University visually drives home this point). While I’ve not seen tests done on every model out there, logic tells me that some mesh seats will be better than others but I still don’t recommend them for most users if they sit more than five or six hours a day. The person who sits only part of the day or who is up and down may love a mesh seat, as might someone who does not have hip or back problems. Just keep in mind that a healthy back today may not stay that way if you abuse it.
- will your body fit well into the mesh and not have to rest on the hard frame that supports it? (This can be a real concern for larger bottoms and there are currently no mesh seat chairs for users over 250 lbs.)
- Is the front of the seat edge soft and flexible or does it have a hard edge that will dig into my thighs when I recline?
- many meshes and pellicles (another type of mesh) are abrasive to your clothing so if you’re wearing expensive clothes, this may be another reason to disqualify a mesh seat.
Choosing a mesh chair that you’ll love
An amazing selection of mesh back office chairs exist and some are extremely comfortable. Some attributes to look for on the chair back would include:
- a flexible mesh that will contour to your body shape. Some chairs, like the Humanscale Liberty Chair have paneled backs that offer great support and move with your every move for continuous support.
- good lumbar support which will fit your back. Some chairs do it with the contours of the back shape and others have a separate lumbar support. Ideally it is adjustable for both placement and pressure.
- The shoulder area of the back should actually support your shoulders. Many chairs tilt so far back at this point, there’s little chair contact for support.
Some of my favorite mesh ergonomic chairs:
I will honestly tell anyone who listens that there is no perfect chair that works well for everybody but these four chairs are favorites that work well for a large percentage of users. Surprisingly there haven’t been a lot of earth shattering changes in the ergonomic chair world. For the most part, the best chairs in 2011 are still top of the field today. Thankfully, they are still all available.
The Humanscale Liberty Chair – yes, I’m mentioning this chair twice because it is that good. The three-panel back is very comfortable and I routinely compare the comfort of this chair back to any competitive chair, mesh or not. The seat is available with either foam or gel and is great for all day use. If you sit for long hours at a stretch, pick the gel seat. If you’re up and down during the day, the foam seat works great. These chairs are built to order (they come fast) so you can pick your frame and fabric colors to match your office. My only beef is that the arms are not width adjustable so they just don’t come in enough for very thin people. However, if that’s not an issue for you, this chair is an excellent contender. I really love this chair.
The Raynor Ergohuman Elite Chair – the Ergohuman Chair is so well-loved that there is very nearly a cult following for this popular family of chairs that offers models with or without headrests, and with or without upholstered seats. This chair is still one of the best selling ergonomic chairs on the market. I have one with a padded fabric seat in my home office. The Ergohuman Elite is their latest version. The back is now adjustable so you can better position the lumbar support and the arms move side to side as well as up and down, and offer rotation to better support your arms.
The Allseating You Chair – was brand new in 2011 and its unique flexible and adjustable lumbar support remains a top feature. It has since won an award from Contract Design. A side-located knob allows you to actually change the shape of the mesh back so you can adjust it for optimal support. A choice of arms, seat padding and appearance options allow you to make this chair truly unique. It’s contemporary looks and customization features make this an attractive option, as well as a comfortable one.
Budget watching buyers will love the Raynor Apollo Multi-Function Chair. In fact, I love it and I don’t have to watch my budget. This chair has the full range of fit adjustments, a thickly padded seat that is fine for all day use, and an adjustable back with a flexible lumbar support that is genuinely comfortable. I’m fairly certain there isn’t any office chair out there that offers better comfort in this price range.
In conclusion, a mesh office chair is definitely an option worth considering and many who use them absolutely love them. If you want further assistance to select the best chair for you, talk to the chair experts at Ergoprise.com.
So, have you sat in a mesh office chair? What were your thoughts? Tell us what you think and describe your experiences.