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Steelcase Leap Review

If you want an office chair that is the absolute best of the best, then the Leap is for you
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:   $998 List | $978 at Amazon
Pros:  Extremely comfortable, tons of adjustability, sturdy construction
Cons:  Pricey
Manufacturer:   Steelcase
By David Wise and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Nov 29, 2018
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86
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 9
  • Comfort - 50% 8
  • Adjustability - 35% 9
  • Durability - 10% 9
  • Ease of Assembly - 5% 10

Our Verdict

Finishing at the top of the group, we found the Leap by Steelcase to be our favorite chair that we have tested to date and the best you can get when it comes to chairs. Our panel of judges found this chair to be the most comfortable out of the entire group and one of the most adjustable, allowing you to perfectly match the contours and curves of your back and spine. It also seems to be very well-built and durable, failing to show any signs of wear and tear after months of testing and no common issues showing among other user reviews. However, this chair is one of the more expensive models, but it is hard to put a price on comfort and is a great option if you are going to be sitting at a desk for 40+ hours a week.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Steelcase Leap finished well above its next closest competitor, the Herman Miller Embody. The Leap is just a bit more comfortable than the Embody and has a bit more adjustability, though we found both of these chairs to be equally well-built. However, the Embody takes quite a bit longer to unpack and assemble than the Embody, while costing about $300 more.

Performance Comparison


To pick out which office chairs are truly worthy of recognition, we looked at tons and tons of different models, then picked out and purchased the most promising to test side-by-side and see how they stack up. We rated and scored the comfort level of each chair, as well as its adjustability, ease of assembly and durability, with the Steelcase Leap's results shown below.

Comfort


Accountable for half of the overall score for each chair, our set of comfort tests are the most important to the overall score of the entire group. We had a panel of judges use each chair for at least a full workday and the rate and score the overall comfort of each chair, specifically focusing on how the backrest, armrests, and seat felt. Additionally, we also had each judge determine how many hours they could comfortably sit in each chair. The Leap delivered one of the best showings we have seen, earning an 8 out of 10.


Almost all of our judges found the seat on the Leap to be one of the most comfortable of the entire group, with only a single judge dissenting, feeling it was more adequate than amazing, but none found that it was overly uncomfortable to sit in.


However, every single one of our judges agreed that the backrest on the Leap is exceptionally comfortable, with all of them stating it either tied for the top spot or is the most comfortable out of the whole group. This was with the standard back, which went up at least to the shoulders of every judge, but an additional headrest is available if you want support all the way up to your head, though it adds about $150.

It also received very favorable response among our judges for its armrest, with almost all of them ranking it right at the top of the group, although the same judge from before didn't find them to be particularly comfortable. He is our tallest judge at close to 6'3", which is something to consider if you are on the taller side and considering the Leap.


Despite the one judge finding some other chairs to have more comfortable seats and armrests, he still was more than happy to sit in this chair for 10-12 hours, along with the rest of the judges. We did test this chair with the 4-way adjustable arms, allowing you adjust the height, width, and depth, as well as swivel them, but you can go with an armless or height-only adjust version of this chair to save some cash, but it won't be as comfortable

Adjustability


For our next round of tests, we compared and judged the different level of adjustability each of these office chairs offered you, which constitutes 35% of the total score. We split this metric into five different subtests, scoring the level of adjustment available on the backrest, armrest, seat, and reclining tension knob, as well as if you could easily attain a proper ergonomic seating position with the available adjustments at an average desk. The Leap again delivered an outstanding performance, earning a 9 out of 10.


This chair offers excellent lumbar support that is highly adjustable. You can adjust the overall height of the support, though the mechanism can be a bit finicky, as well as adjust the firmness of the support to perfectly match your preferences and the curvature of your spine.


This chair lacks a reclining lever, instead offering a set of tilt limiters. You can choose between 5 discreet levels and freely move back and forth between an upright position and your selected reclined position. The backrest on this chair also goes up quite high, reaching the top of the shoulder for almost all of our testers.

The armrests are also highly movable, allowing you to adjust the height of each one to reach a comfortable level, as well as move them in and out and forward and back. They also swivel to match the angle your forearm naturally makes from your shoulder while sitting and typing at a standard keyboard and have plenty of padding for adequate support.


The seat on the Leap has more than enough padding to keep you sitting in comfort and allows you to adjust the height of the seat relative to the ground — standard for these products. Additionally, you can also move the seat pan forward and back to customize this chair to the length of your legs, which is a bit less commonplace.


The reclining tension knob is located under the seat on the right side, easily accessible while sitting. This knob sets the amount of resistance to when you lean back in the chair and is very responsive, allowing you to easily set it to a level you want.


Finally, it is very easy to adjust the Leap so you are seated in an ergonomic position for most desks, given the multitudes of different ways you can adjust it.

Durability


For our next metric, we assessed the durability of each of these workplace chairs, which is responsible for 10% of the total score. While it's hard to truly assess durability without buying multiple models of each chair and testing them for years on end, we based our scores on how well each chair held up after a few months of our testing process — whether it showed any signs of damage or an unusually high rate of wear and tear. Additionally, we also compared and scored the included warranty of each model and combed through all the negative user reviews of the Leap that we could find to look for any common complaints or well-documented causes for concern. The Leap did very well across the board in these evaluations, earning it another 9 out of 10.


We found hardly any negative user experiences with the Leap resulting from components breaking or wearing out and the multiple units that we have tested — some for over 2 years — haven't shown the slightest sign of damage. The only issue we have found is one of the chairs we purchased showed up damaged from shipping, but nothing from normal use.

This chair also includes one of the longest manufacturer's warranty, covering a period of 12 years from the time of purchase

Ease of Assembly


Last, we compared and scored how long it took to assemble each of these products, looking at both the time and difficulty of the actual assembly, as well as the quality of the included documentation. These tests account for 5% of the total score — as you only have to build the chair once — and the Leap finished out our test with a superb showing, earning a 10 out of 10.


This chair essentially arrives fully assembled, albeit in a massive box. We only had to remove the packaging, but you may have to add the wheels, depending on when you bought it and what options you selected, but you should have it ready to sit on in 5-10 minutes.

Value


While this chair definitely isn't cheap, it's not the most expensive model out there and should last for quite a long time, making the $1000 initial investment a bit more palatable and making it an alright value, if you can stomach the initial cost.

Conclusion


Earning top marks across the board, the Leap is our all-time favorite office chair that we have tested and the one that many of us have elected to continue sitting on well after our official testing period concluded.


David Wise and Austin Palmer