Although new and improved always seems to grab the attention of consumers, sometimes tried and true can still triumph. Such as in the ergonomic office chair environment, where a model that has been around for more than 10 years with only one version upgrade remains one of the best quality office chair options you’ll find. My Steelcase Leap office chair review will show how this long-lasting design fares against some newer counterparts in the market.
Summary: A strong design and great build quality have allowed the Steelcase Leap Office Chair to remain a strong performer in the market for cool furniture for many years.
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Tried and true chair design provides support and comfort
Price: $799 to $1,924 (depending on design choices)
What We Liked
- Good lumbar support that’s adjustable
- Very comfortable to use for long stretches
- Dozens of different color and design combinations available
- Strong build quality; feels very sturdy
What We Didn’t
- Armrest design isn’t quite as good as what’s available on newer office chair designs
- Price goes up quickly if you choose leather and some other high-end design options
- Can take a couple of days to adjust the chair to fit your needs just right
Design and Build
Steelcase covers its Leap chairs in dozens of different colors in either fabric or leather , so you can custom order this model to fit in with any type of color scheme and design you have in an office. Colors range from basic black to bright oranges and yellows to deep blues and grays if you choose fabric covering, while leather colors are limited more toward neutral and darker colors.
The frame is available in polished aluminum, platinum, or black, all of which look stylish within the overall design of the chair. You also can select the design of the arms, headrest, and wheels, allowing you to customize the Steelcase Leap to fit what’s needed in your office. You even can choose a taller chair design with a circle shaped footrest toward the bottom, should this design fit your office better. It’s great to have so many items to customize in an office chair.
The backrest and seat cushion are made of polyurethane foam, providing a good mixture of comfort and support. And the material in the seat cushion feels very durable, which should allow it to keep its shape throughout the work day, something that can be a problem on cheaper office chairs. Leap chairs are rated to support up to 300 pounds of weight with no performance loss.
And the Leap chair is almost 100% recyclable, which is a great bonus feature.
A great office chair needs to provide plenty of lower back support, and the Leap office chair excels here. You can adjust the firmness of the lower back support, as well as adjusting the support area for the mid-back.
One interesting aspect of the Steelcase Leap is the ability to completely remove the arms from the chair without compromising the unit’s stability. And you can order replacement parts from any Steelcase dealer, should any parts wear out after a few years of use. However, you do have to order the headrest and backrest as one piece.
The Steelcase Leap contains armrests that are adjustable in four directions, which is great. However, the Leap’s design includes classic telescopic arm designs, where some newer chairs, such as the Steelcase Gesture, have more of a ball-and-socket design in the armrests, which allow for greater adjustments in any direction.
While the Steelcase Leap at first glance may not look extremely comfortable, looks can be deceiving. The Leap is one of those chairs that when you sit down, you’ll pause for a second, just to savor how it feels, before going to work. You will need to spend between a couple of hours and a couple of days to gain a good feel for the chair and make the necessary adjustments to achieve maximum comfort levels, but it’ll be worth the time you invest in set up and adjustments.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of the Leap office chair is the variable back stop and adjustable seat depth, where you can set the amount of pressure required to support your favorite reclining angle in the chair. And the chair will then automatically adjust as the seat glides back and forth, relieving pressure on your knees as you lean back. If you’re someone who likes to lean back as you think, this chair does a nice job supporting you without making you feel as though you might lose your balance or put pressure on your knees by forcing you to raise your feet off the floor.
You may notice that the Leap can be a little uncomfortable if you’re in an office where you can’t control the room temperature. Mesh-backed office chairs can be cooler than the solid back of the Leap, especially for someone who perspires easily. I didn’t notice a significant problem with sweating during my tests, but some people might. Ultimately, I prefer the solid backrest of this chair versus a mesh chair, as the Leap is better for someone who needs the lumbar support to avoid a sore back after a long day of sitting.
If you’re only interested in the newest designs for office chairs, you’ll probably be looking past the Steelcase Leap for a newer model. After all, the original Steelcase Leap won The Wall Street Journal’s best office chair award … in 2005. But don’t let its age fool you. Steelcase continues to offer the Leap office chair because it’s a great design, offering a strong combination of comfort and reliability. You can order the Steelcase Leap in a variety of designs, which is helpful. Just keep in mind that some design upgrades can double or almost triple the base cost of this chair. The fact that people still rely on this design for comfort in the office after more than a decade is proof enough that Steelcase has a great product in the Leap office chair.
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