In hindsight, I should have taken greater care for such a crucial facet of my daily activities. Like an old saying goes, “If you don’t have your health, you have nothing.” For those of us that drive a desk for a living, fewer needs are more important than the comfort of your office chair.
I have worked from home near-exclusively for over five years and before that, I would spend significant parts of my evenings in my home office. With this in mind, I am almost embarrassed to admit that my chair during most of this run has been some form of “gaming” chair like my last one, pictured here:
Gaming chairs may seem cool, and they look comfortable, but in truth they are not ergonomically-friendly at all. As I learned from multiple sources, gaming chairs mimic actual racing car seats, their primary function being to keep the car driver safe. For a chair used at a computer, “safe” really isn’t a core concern, at least most of the time, I would wager.
Although my gaming chairs were adequate, I had been having a harder and harder time sitting in them for prolonged periods of time, always fidgeting. And starting last year, I began noticing a pain in my right hip whenever I would rise from the gaming chair after a duration.
It was with these problems in mind, and that the chair was getting old (you can see in the photo above the extra armrest pads and seat cushion I added), that I decided it was time to get a new one. I wanted not just a “get by” chair, but one to hopefully allow me to sit more comfortably at my desk.
My first search, unfortunately, was at Amazon, which is mostly a race to the bottom for the cheapest price on low-tier junk. After looking briefly through their $100-ish (US) chairs, I decided to do a little research, to find out what a “good” chair is and about how much it should cost. I really had no idea of the differences among chair models, features, and pricing.
Searching more, and specifically on YouTube, I came across the plethora of videos from btod.com (Beyond The Office Door). It became apparent to me relatively quickly that if they have a business, it’s office chairs, and they do seem to know their office chairs. They have many, many office chair videos posted. While some may seem like overlapping content, more is still better I think, especially on a topic I knew nothing about, so learning about the different chairs, features, and prices was helpful for me to arrive at a decision.
Their two most popular chairs seem to be the refurbished Steelcase Amia and refurbished Steelcase Leap v2. As mentioned above, having known nothing about office chairs, I did not realize the prices for new chairs can go well over $1000 US. These refurbished chairs are not “used” as I originally assumed, at least in a classic sense, but more appropriately rebuilt. To summarize at a high level, they reuse the core structural parts of the chair, revitalize the cushions, and provide new armrests, coasters, and gaskets. On the price front, they come in around $500-600 US, which seems reasonable especially with the like-new warranty from btod.com.
What I found particularly useful was btod.com’s in-depth video on how the chairs are remade:
I always appreciate a good explanation video, especially one that lays out the entire process so you should know what you are getting before purchase.
Yet I did not know what to expect from a “used” chair, and would later learn that term is simply wrong. In choosing between the Amia and Leap v2, I settled with the latter for its better lumbar support, even though it is about $100 more. And so, I bought a refurbished Leap v2 back in March.
I decided to write this article months later that I would have ample experience with the chair and how it is holding up. But first back in March, the chair arrived in a large box.
The box is significantly heavy and you definitely should consider two people to carry it. Being a bigger guy myself, I was able to lug it solo into my house, but I almost chose to bring the pieces in separately.
Installation and setup was very straightforward. The only hiccup was in getting the red safety cap off of the gasket. In the btod.com setup video, it looked easy to pop off, but I ended up needing pliers to carefully wiggle it from the gasket:
Once the chair was assembled, I immediately realized it was a tad lighter than my gaming chair. Upon a full inspection, everything looked fine. For a “used” i.e. refurbished chair, it looked great; I have had actual new chairs where the structure and plastic were in worse condition out of the box. The seat and back cushions were fine, again with no evidence of their prior life in a corporate office.
Getting used to the controls was a snap. I probably have used this type of chair for 20+ years when I worked in offices (maybe I used this chair??). If there is any aspect where a gaming chair has an advantage, it is in aesthetic only. Gaming chairs are meant to look cool, after all.
Perhaps the best thing that I can say about the chair, both then and several months hence, is that when it comes to my daily routine…I barely think about it. I am able to sit comfortably for several hours when necessary. The number one benefit, by far, is that my hip pain is gone. I no longer have that pain either when I get up from the chair or when I am about doing other things, like standing up from being on the floor for whatever reason. I am also glad I got the Leap v2 with the extra lumbar support, it is noticeable and easily adjustable. The chair is simply doing its job, and I hope it continues to do so, making it well worth its cost if it lasts even just a few years.
Thank you for reading my article. Donec deinde tempum.