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Your Position: Home - Furniture - Everything You Need To Know To Find The Best Chair for Study

Everything You Need To Know To Find The Best Chair for Study

It might not feel like an issue now while you’re excited about all the new experiences you’ll be having and #AllTheThings you’ll be learning. But it’s good to consider…

And this might mean you spend A LOT more hours in front of a computer than you’re used to.

Whether you’re moving across town, across the country or simply down into your parents’ basement, lots of changes are happening in your life.

Writing your first university paper (and then rewriting it the way the prof wanted it)

Meeting your first friend who doesn’t know everyone you do (maybe I’m the only one from a small town?)

Renting your first apartment (and cleaning the bathroom after your first get-together!)

Some of them may include:

Now that you’ve made the major life decisions (deciding what to study and where), you have more “firsts” on the way.

Starting university, college, or any kind of post-secondary education is an exciting time of your life. Are you ready to welcome it?

Longer hours at your desk can cause headaches, back and neck pain if you don’t have the correct desk setup.

A little preparation now can go a long way to mitigating issues down the road.

So what’s considered a good studying setup?

  • A desk set at the proper height for using your keyboard

  • An external, ergonomic keyboard

  • A mouse that fits your hand

  • A monitor at a comfortable height, within arm’s reach

  • Good lighting so you don’t strain your eyes

  • A comfortable chair that supports your spine

What style of chair do you need to prevent pain? 

Ergonomic chairs are designed to encourage a neutral spinal posture and provide enough support while sitting for long periods. Though they often cost a bit more than other chairs, you save more in the long run. And by this we mean they prevent issues like headaches, back pain, poor posture and blood circulation, and in more severe cases, cervical spondylosis.

Like 97% (we’re totally making up that number) of other college students, you probably haven’t given much thought to ergonomics. But terms like “lumbar support” and “seat pan” CAN make a big difference in your comfort level.

When researching the purchase of a chair to study in, think about what will keep you focused and productive. Most quality desk chairs are designed with ergonomic options, like a supportive cushioned seat that moves forward and back (depending on if you’re big and tall or petite) and an adjustable lumbar to give you the best back support exactly where you need it.

However, each person has a specific way of sitting to study that’s comfortable for them, which will affect the kind of chair they need.

  • Do you like to lean back periodically to think or read? 

  • Do you give yourself a break from typing and need armrests for support? 

  • Will you be flipping through several books simultaneously, so a swivel function is important? 

  • What size is the space where your desk and chair will be located?

In addition, there are different types of chairs. Some of your options are:

Mesh-back 

Mesh office chairs are trendy because they are lightweight, highly breathable, and easy to clean. The backrest has a supportive, tight-weave fabric for better durability. They are a good choice for the budget-minded student.

Mid-back

Mid-back chairs have a (reasonably self-explanatory) lower backrest, typically without a headrest. They generally are a good fit for small workplaces (i.e. dorm rooms or small apartments). This design offers the needed support to the back and spine.

Task Chairs

This chair style provides a simple, cushioned seat with added benefits such as adjustable lumbar support and headrest. If you’re not looking to sit for more than an hour or two, then a task chair could be your best (most affordable) bet.

Executive Chairs

Generally of premium quality, executive chairs often have a high back and many ergonomic options available. A built-in headrest, adjustable lumbar support, height-adjusted cushioned seat to reduce pressure on your bones and joints and adjustable padded armrests are just a few of the your choices.

Common Features To Look For

  •     Adjustable Lumbar support

  •     Adjustable headrest, armrests, and seat height

  •     Easy swiveling for frequent movement

  •     Supportive cushioned seat and back

  •     Sliding seat pan (seat can be moved forward or back, depending on your size)

  •     Adjustable tilt tension and lock

  •     Nylon casters (wheels are designed for specific kinds of flooring)

Price

If a higher quality (which usually translates into a heftier price tag) chair isn’t in your budget, go back to the basics – cushions with good posture support. Before you buy that cheaper, less comfortable chair at a big chain store, think outside of (a smaller shipping) box for sitting options.

Support Cushions

Support cushions are an affordable alternative to a more expensive ergonomic chair. With these lightweight, portable cushions, you can change almost any seat into a supportive option. If you’re driving home for Thanksgiving, checking out the school football game or watching a concert in the park. You’ll always be comfortable, no matter where you are.

When you’re comfortable, you’re more productive. When you can focus on studying – not on dealing with the pain in your body – you can accomplish anything. 

You’ve got this. We’ve got your back. 

Not every chair is a winner. Here are a few others we like enough to recommend, but they're not as good as our top picks above.

Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Lumbar Support Office Chair for $352: I think this is a nice alternative to the Branch Ergonomic Chair, our top pick. The Tempur seat cushion is, perhaps unsurprisingly, wonderfully comfy to sit on for hours at a time. And most chairs that have a thick lumbar cushion end up causing me back pain, but not here—I've had no issues sitting on this chair for a month. The mesh back is nice for airflow too. The arms tend to move around a bit though, and the mechanism to adjust them is not elegant. Installation wasn't too hard, but the instructions weren't as simple as Branch's, and the overall build quality feels cheap.

Knoll Newson Task Chair for $1,195: This minimalist chair looks best in the graphite and petal colors; it's a bit drab in black and umber. It's nice that I didn't have to fuss with any levers or knobs much—it's comfy out of the box and decently adjustable if you need to make some tweaks—and it feels especially nice when you recline. (The red knob adjusts the tension of the recline, but you need to twist it for five rotations, and I found it hard to turn sometimes.) The Newson didn't give me trouble in the two months I sat in it. I'm just not a huge fan of how the elastomer mesh backrest distorts, depending on how you sit. It feels lumpy. This chair also doesn't let me sit as upright as I'd like, but maybe you're fine with a bit of give. Ultimately, it's the price that pulls it out of our top recommendations, but you do get a 12-year warranty.

X-Chair X2 K-Sport Management Chair for $969: This used to be our top mesh chair pick but it has been supplanted by the Steelcase Karman. Sitting in the X-Chair feels like lounging in a hammock. Every part of my body feels well supported, and you can adjust nearly everything on the chair. Pull the seat up and push the armrests up, down, and side to side, or angle them in or out. The lumbar support feels like a cushion, and it adjusts as you move in your seat. If you want to rest your head, you can pay extra for the headrest. It has held up extremely well after three years of near-continuous sitting, but I don't like how bulky it is. X-Chair has a number of models to choose from. I tested the X-2 K-Sport with the wide seat, and it fits my 6'4" frame really well, but it was too wide for my partner, who is 5'1". Most people should be fine with the standard X1.

Secretlab Titan Evo 2022 for $549: If you absolutely must have the gaming chair vibe, then the Secretlab Titan Evo (7/10, WIRED Recommends) is classy enough for the home office. It sets itself apart from similarly priced competitors with its durability and flexibility. It’s comfortable for marathon gaming sessions, thanks to the adjustability it offers (particularly the lumbar support). The headrest pillow is magnetic and stays attached to the chair, which is a nice touch. But the firm cold cure foam molds to your body and may not suit everyone. This material also doesn't deal well with heat—it can cause your lower back to heat up.

Ikea Markus Chair for $290: The Markus is a perfectly fine office chair. It’s not the most comfortable, but it’s far from the worst. The mesh design keeps you cool, and the tall back lets you fully lean into it. It’s rather thin and isn’t obtrusive in a small home office or bedroom. It was annoying to put together (lol, Ikea), and you might need someone to hold up the back of the chair while you properly attach the seat. Unfortunately, if you often sit with at least one leg up or with your legs crossed, the width between the arms will make you uncomfortable.

X-Chair X-Tech Executive Chair for $1,899: Functionally, the X-Tech is similar to the X-Chair above. In this version, the M-Foam cooling gel seat is indeed wonderful to sit on, though it's not as heat-wicking as the all-mesh X-Chairs. It’s the Brisa Soft Touch material that impresses the most—it’s ridiculously soft. I recommend you stick with the standard armrests instead of the FS 360 armrests, which tend to move about too much. But my biggest gripe with this model is the price. Why on earth does it cost that much?

Mavix M7 Chair for $777: If it looks strangely similar to the X-Chair (see above), that's because both are owned by the same company. WIRED reviewer Louryn Strampe ran into some issues with assembly, but customer service was able to exchange the model without much effort. The M7 has similarly adjustable armrests and seat angles, but you get wheels that lock. The mesh back and wide seat construction keep you cool and comfortable during sweaty League of Legends sessions, and the lumbar support does the job. If you're short, contact customer support while ordering—Mavix offers shorter cylinders so your feet touch the ground.

Herman Miller Vantum Gaming Chair for $795: Initially, I really liked this chair. I liked how I could keep myself in a super upright position, which made me feel more engaged in what I was doing. The mesh backrest also disperses heat quite well. However, the overall build quality feels cheap and doesn’t scream Herman Miller (nor does the asking price, which has since dropped by $200). The headrest isn't great either—I’ve nearly broken it trying to move it up and down. As I kept sitting, it was the back support that disappointed me the most. You can feel the lumbar support on your lower back, and not in a good way, almost like it’s digging in. At least it didn’t give me back pain.

Hon Ignition 2.0 Office Chair for $399: This chair is easy to set up and looks great, but it gave me really bad back pain, which is why I originally placed it in our “Avoid” section. I thought it was perhaps the long hours I was working, so I switched back to the Knoll Newson Task chair and my pain quickly began to ease. Sometime later, I gave it a shot again. After a few hours, the pain came back, and switching to another chair dissipated it. Color me confused, because this chair has positive reviews around the web. I then asked a friend who is around 5' 4" to try it for a few weeks, and she has had zero issues. This seems to be the answer. It's possible the Ignition doesn't work for my 6' 4" self and is better suited for smaller folks.

Hon Ignition 2.0 Big and Tall for $675: I had a much better experience with this Hon chair, which, as the name suggests, is suited for big and tall people like me. It has a reinforced steel frame that can support up to 450 pounds with a wider seat. It's comfy, transfers heat away well, and does a nice job supporting my back. However, it looks incredibly dull in Boring Black. I had a fine experience in the chair, aside from the arms that tend to slide left and right whenever you put some pressure on them. I'm just not sure it's worth the weirdly high price.

Pipersong Meditation Chair for $369: Have a problem sitting in a traditional chair? If your legs need to be bent and twisted for you to be comfortable, you'll want to check this chair out. It has a 360-degree swiveling footstool that can accommodate pretty much any sitting position you want. I can go from kneeling to cross-legged to one leg up, one leg down. It’s possible to sit regularly too, with the footstool behind you and your feet flat on the floor. It's the only chair I've found that's designed for odd sitting habits. There are no armrests, which I didn’t mind because that’s what makes it possible to sit in many of these positions. The actual stool and chair back could stand to be bigger and taller, respectively. I had to use a pillow to keep my back comfy.

Everything You Need To Know To Find The Best Chair for Study

13 Best Office Chairs (2024): Budget, Luxe, Cushions, Casters, and Mats

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