Coronavirus has forced millions of office workers into dedicated work-from-homers overnight. Most of those people’s living spaces are not suited to working eight hours comfortably, which is fueling them to buy nice office chairs en masse. But money is tight and a properly aligned spine can be had for less than $500 (if you’re willing to sacrifice longevity). Starting at $75, here are six chairs that will do the trick.
AmazonBasics Mid-Back Mesh Chair
This chair’s price changes with the wind, but it usually hovers between $55 and $75. It’s an Amazon branded chair that offers up the bare bones of what a good desk chair should have. The back is mesh, not faux leather or foam, which promotes temperature regulation (you sweat less). The back offers some semblance of lumbar support and its shape — a curve that presses on the center of your back and keeps you supported — is in line with premium, ergonomics-focused chairs that cost much more money. Will this chair serve you for years and years? No, it’s made with the cheapest materials possible and will fall to pieces. But it will keep itself together until we all have commutes again.
Alera Elusion Mesh High-Back Chair
Our Best Office Chair Under $200 sports everything the AmazonBasics chair does (mesh, ergo-focused shape, etc.) and throws in adjustable height armrests and a waterfall edge seat cushion, which passively relieves pressure on your legs. What is has against it: it’s supremely boring to look at and doesn’t support comfortable reclining for very long. Treat the latter as a positive disguised as a negative — you shouldn’t be reclining all that much anyway.
Flash Furniture High Back Office Chair
A mesh back, ergonomics focus, waterfall seat and an adjustable headrest for $143 is hard to beat. The heaviest knock against it, other than chintzy materials, is the lack of adjustable height armrests. The bright side is the armrests are locked higher — read: where they should be — than most cheap desk chairs.
Branch Task Chair
While office furniture isn’t quite as sexy as flashy cookware or branded luggage, its no less worthy of the direct-to-consumer treatment. Branch is a new-ish company pushing out affordable home office gear, including this $199 (on sale) task chair. Its ticks the baseline ergonomic boxes — adjustable height armrests, tilt, tilt tension, lumbar support and your basic up-down functions. Plus, the base is anodized aluminum, which is significantly sturdier than the cheap plastics deployed by AmazonBasics and other ultra-cheap options. For $80 more, you could also get Branch’s upgraded version that looks better and offers more ergonomic flexibility.
Ikea Markus Chair
Ikea has a number of desk chairs that are built almost entirely for aesthetics rather than performance. Let other people buy them. The Markus chair is the Swedish company’s most body-minded offering in the category. Its extraordinarily high mesh back is ideal for taller folks and those of us who run hot, and despite Ikea’s reputation for cheap builds, it’s significantly sturdier than the other chairs on this list. Plus, because it’s an Ikea product and not made by a company you’ve never heard of in your life, you’re more likely to get customer service if something’s not quite right.
Sihoo Ergonomics Office Chair
This chair floats between $225 and $300 with regularity (it’s $276 at time of publishing). What you get: high mesh back, adjustable headrest, proper lower back support, variable armrests and easily the best spring-lock tilt mechanism of the bunch. In other words, you get everything you need in a pinch.
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