High-back office chairs are everywhere.
But how can you pick a good model that is the right fit just for you?
It must have a headrest…
I swear the mesh chair is the best. No, I prefer leather, it’s much classier.
You can’t get a chair that doesn’t rock!
Oh, my. That lumbar is to die for!
You’ve probably heard all of these lines before from friends or coworkers.
Here’s a secret…
The best high-back chair is the one that fits your purpose.
I wrote this article with this idea in mind.
All the chairs below are high-quality, of course, and have only the best features.
But aren’t you sick of reviews that mindlessly praise all products?
I know I am.
So I always do extensive research and testing of endless models to understand how these products fit real, live people and their needs.
Best High Back Office Chair (Updated List)
1. Herman Miller Embody – #1 Best Ergonomic Office Chair
The Embody comes with a 30-day return guarantee and a 12-year warranty, which shows this chair is resistant and durable.
The Embody has an innovative ergonomic design because 20+ physicians and PhDs have contributed with their expertise in devising and testing this chair.
The Embody is a functional chair with quality components specifically designed for it. This chair is made in the USA, with top materials included steel and custom-molded aluminum, plus plastic.
The Embody is marketed as a functional, high-tech chair because it can improve your health thanks to the use of dynamic surface pressure that corrects your posture.
The Embody’s seat is comfortable and unique thanks to its four stacked layers of materials with different properties that offer zonal assist. These materials are so flexible and supportive; they even take creases and pockets into account.
The seat also allows:
Even weight distribution thanks to its pixelated assistance
No tailbone or hamstring pain because it touches no pressure points
Improved blood circulation thanks to the wide seat with a contoured edge and adjustment
The back-rest is slim and features a Backfit adjustment for added flexibility and dynamic support whenever you move. Backfit is a patented HM technology, with a design that mimics your own back: a central spine plus flexible ribs.
The Embody’s backrest is unique because it has a bending, flexible top, which feels good on the shoulders when you lean back. The problem with high-back chairs is that they push your shoulders forward, especially if you’re petite. However, Embody doesn’t have this problem.
Unfortunately, Embody lacks lumbar support. Although the backrest has an S-shape design, some people don’t like how the lumbar curve feels on their backs.
The armrests are mediocre for an expensive chair because they lack padding and aren’t curved, plus they allow limited height adjustment (just height and width). However, they’re wide and rounded, so they don’t dig into your arms.
Another plus is that they Embody reclines and rocks. The synchro-tilt technology lets the arms and seat recline together with the seatback, so you’re always supported, and your work is always centered in front of your eyes.
Made in the USA with custom-made parts
Unique pixelated support system for great weight distribution
Synchro-tilt recline with tension adjustment and tilt lock
Back angle adjustment
A flexible back material
300 pounds max weight
No lumbar adjustment
Limited armrest adjustments
Firm pixelated support
2. Herman Miller Aeron Chair – Best High Back Mesh Office Chair
The Aeron has some similarities to the Embody as they’re made by the same company. These features include a 12-year warranty, custom-designed parts, and eco-friendly materials, plus a lot of research and testing.
The Aeron uses 8Z Pellicle Breathable mesh suspension for the upholstery, which means it’s a firmer chair than the Embody. However, this mesh fabric is flexible, supportive, and offers good airflow, which is why it’s a good choice for longer hours.
The Aeron’s armrests are more comfy and supportive than the Embody because they’re soft-padded and come with 3D adjustments.
When you’re working a lot at the computer, you need a chair that alleviates backaches. The Aeron can do that because:
It reclines, helping you take the pressure off your spine
It offers an optional Posture Fit lumbar adjustment for extra assistance
The back rest for neck and head has a curved design, which adjusts to your natural spine curvature and encourages a correct posture
If you’re typing a lot at the computer, you might also consider purchasing the optional Forward Tilt option. This option allows the chair to incline forward, so your back is supported even when you’re bending over your keyboard.
Made in the USA with custom-designed parts
Breathable and flexible mesh
3D adjustable armrests
Reclines and rocks
Optional Posture Fit Lumbar cushion
Optional Forward Tilt option
350 pounds max weight
Some people don’t appreciate the firm mesh seat
The Aeron comes in three sizes, so it misses some ergonomic adjustments
No seat depth and back height adjustments
Some people feel the metal frame through the mesh
3. Steelcase Gesture Chair – Best Сomputer Сhair for Long Hours
The Steelcase Gesture is my number one choice for people who need to interchange their devices and technologies. As such, the Gesture is more adaptable than both the Embody and the Aeron.
The Embody contours your shape for increased comfort, while the Aeron offers ergonomic support for prolonged hours. The Gesture comes with real-time, instantaneous adjustments according to your new position.
When you’re working long hours at the computer, you need armrests that move together with your arms, especially when you’re changing devices.
That’s what the Gesture can do, with its flexible and most comfortable armrests that can be adjusted in terms of angle, depth, height, and width.
The seatback and seat move together and together with your body, for increased assistance whenever you recline. As such, your back and legs are always supported, and the computer is always in front of your eyes.
The flexible seat perimeter is another plus because it means it can bend according to your new position, so it never digs into your hamstrings.
I also appreciate the curved backrest, which follows your natural spine curvature. Your spine stays relaxed, which means no more backaches and no pressure points.
The Gesture comes with optional lumbar support, which you can easily adjust. This support cushion is especially useful if you already suffer from chronic back pain because you can place it in your lumbar curvature, so there’s no space between your back and the chair.
This space is what causes backaches because it means your weight pushes into your spine instead of being supported by the chair.
Dynamic adjustment when you change devices
Ideal lumbar assistance
400 pounds weight limit
Lifetime frame warranty
Some people find the seat foam very firm
It’s difficult to keep the chair upright
4. Ficmax – Inexpensive (Under 200$)
The Ficmax Ergonomic Chair is supportive thanks to included features such as a headrest, lumbar cushion, and footrest.
All these parts are easy to adjust, and they serve to alleviate muscle sores and pain in your upper and lower body because they take the pressure off these areas.
Besides, the lumbar cushion vibrates so that you can benefit from a reliable massage. Although massage chairs are more functional, this massage is good enough for general purposes.
Tbh, neither the Embody, nor Aeron, nor the Gesture has all these useful extras, even if the Ficmax is a much more affordable chair.
I like FIcmax because it’s supportive and comfortable for prolonged periods thanks to design particularities relating to its seatback, and armrests.
The racecar-type backrest is cushiony and enveloping, contouring your natural spine curvature and body shape.
This design forces you to keep a correct posture because your weight is absorbed into the backrest, and your spine doesn’t have to work extra hard at supporting your weight in an incorrect position.
The backrest also reclines to 180ᵒ, with tilt-stop at 120ᵒ and 150ᵒ. These positions help take the pressure off your back and accommodate various tasks, from typing at the computer, to reading, or napping.
The seat is thick and comfortable thanks to its 4.9-inch memory foam padding that adjusts to your shape and weight, without sinking your bum uncomfortably.
The armrests eliminate shoulder and neck pain because they’re height-adjustable so that you can fix them depending on your height. The armrests improve your circulation because they’re curved, but they have thin padding, which might be uncomfortable for long periods.
The Ficmax may be inexpensive, but it’s made with quality materials, such as heavy-duty steel for the base and frame, high-density memory foam for the padding, and PU real leather for the upholstery.
180ᵒ max recline
30-day money-back guarantee
Adjustable lumbar support with massage
Thick and wide seat
Just a 1-year warranty
Very few adjustments
No installation instructions
The headrest is better for average-sized people
5. Gates Leather Executive Chair – Best High Back Leather Chair
The Gates Leather Executive Office Chair is a very elegant model, although it’s no Eames. Not only is it made with real, full-grain leather, but Brazilian Leather is one of the top-quality types of leather available today.
The Gates wants to make sure you get a stylish chair that fits with your home or office décor, so it features various colors for this chair, such as sober black-brown nuances, along with haute-couture white-cream hues, and bright, modern orange.
The Gates is not just good-looking; it’s also the perfect mix of comfort and assistance.
The seat is thickly padded with high-density memory foam, while the seatback has a curved and contouring design, just like the Ficmax chair.
The thick seat padding plus the waterfall seat edge takes the pressure off your legs and keep your hips aligned with your spine while the backrest takes the pressure off your spine. The result is a correct posture that comes naturally, with no back pain.
The Gates’ headrest is comfy for tall people because it supports your head, so you don’t have to tense your neck or shoulder muscles while you’re working.
The curved, padded armrests improve your blood circulation and don’t put a strain on your arm muscles so that you can work for long hours.
The downside is that this Gates Leather Executive Chair features just swivel, seat height, and tilt adjustments. I like the synchro-tilt mechanism, though, which allows the seat to recline together with the backrest, meaning you’re always supported. Read my guide on what is the best leather office chair model here.
Breathable and smooth Brazilian leather
S-shape and contoured backrest for long hours
Improves posture and circulation
Very few adjustments
Not a dynamic assistance
Not for constant writing
Better for tall people
Might not fit under a regular desk
6. AmazonBasics Big and Tall Chair
The Amazon Basics Big and Tall chair is a good choice for people who need a model that accommodates their imposing dimensions.
The backrest is 28×21 inches, the seat is 21×22 inches, and you can adjust the seat height from 18.75 to 22.5 inches. As a bonus, this chair supports a max weight of 350 pounds.
This chair is said to be manufactured with commercial-grade parts, but it’s not as resistant as the HM or Steelcase models above. The 1-year warranty is good, but not as good as what premium models offer.
I like the S-shape backrest because it keeps your spine in a natural, curved position, decreasing the risk of back pain and strains.
The headrest is built-in, so you can’t adjust it, but it’s also supportive and prevents neck and shoulder cramps.
You can adjust the lumbar cushion, though, for some extra assistance in your lower back region. This cushion takes the pressure off your spine, which is good for people who suffer from compressed disc pain.
The armrests are curved and padded, so they don’t dig into your arms and keep them in a position that encourages blood flow.
The seat cushion is thick and firm, keeping your hips at a correct angle, so they don’t push into your lower back. The waterfall edge is another advantage for people who need to sit for long hours because it doesn’t restrict their blood circulation.
The Amazon Basics Big and Tall chair reclines back, and you have an Infinite tilt lock mechanism that allows you to secure it in any position you need.
Value for money
It keeps your spine relaxed
Adjustable lumbar cushion
Supportive and comfortable armrests
7. AmazonBasics High-Back Executive Chair
The Amazon Basics Executive model is in the affordable price range, but it looks stylish because its upholstery is made with a combination of bonded leather and PVC.
This chair is good for people who are always straining their neck and shoulder muscles when they’re working at the computer.
That’s because this Executive Chair provides a supportive headrest that allows you to rest your neck, while the curved and padded armrests take the pressure off your shoulders.
This Amazon Basics model boasts a curved, padded backrest that keeps your spine in a natural and relaxed position. As such, your body weight is supported by the seatback and doesn’t push into your spine.
The seat is supportive, too, because it aligns your hips and spine, keeping them in the correct position.
Although its cushion isn’t thick, it features a waterfall edge that doesn’t compress your hamstrings. This edge improves blood circulation to your thighs so that you can sit for long periods.
The Amazon Basics Executive Chair has a contoured, enveloping design that cushions you for hours.
The minuses lack adjustments and tilt options, although you can rock in it a little.
275 pounds weight limit
Contoured S-shape seatback
Padded butterfly seat
For prolonged hours
No tilt options
No adjustments except seat height and swivel
The leather peels off within a couple of years
8. Furmax PU Leather Office Task Chair
This Furmax PU looks like the Ficmax model, minus the extendable footrest. You’ll notice the same slightly curved racecar backrest design that’s good for long hours because it contours your body for long hours sitting.
You can recline the seatback to 110ᵒ, 130ᵒ, and 150ᵒ for various activities like watching TV, reading, and even napping.
This chair is also good for lower back pain because it has a removable lumbar support cushion that keeps your lumbar region pressing on the seat, so your body weight doesn’t press into your spine.
The removable headrest is another plus because it alleviates neck pain, especially when you are back in the chair.
The armrests are curved and soft, so they don’t dig into your arms if you’re sitting down for long.
The seat is comfortable, albeit a little firm, because it has a bucket design that cradles your thighs, along with a waterfall edge that takes the pressure off your hamstrings.
Reclines at various levels
For lower back pain
For shoulder and neck pain
Curved and soft armrests
Firm and supportive seat
A bit of work to install
Side seat support isn’t comfortable for everyone
The lumbar cushion is too large for some people
The rocking is somewhat stiff
9. Best Office Ergonomic Chair – Budget Office Chair (Under 100$)
The Best Office Ergonomic Chair is a good budget chair because it is very comfortable and wide. Its design resembles a little the Choice Products Ergonomic PU Leather Chair due to its backrest and seat being thickly padded and cushiony, which some people prefer over mesh seats that can feel too firm.
This chair has an incorporated headrest and lumbar cushion, meaning these areas in the seatback are somewhat bulging to fit your natural curves and to keep your spine in a relaxed position, which improves your overall posture and makes for a pain-free sitting experience.
It is comfortable too because it’s plush and wide, and it also comes with a waterfall edge that doesn’t compress your thighs so you can sit down for hours.
It is made with PU foam on top of a layer of coil springs for extra resistance and elasticity.
PU leather looks well, plus it’s resistant to oil, water, and stains. Although it might not last for decades, like genuine leather, it’s still a good affordable option for a couple of years.
The Best Office Ergonomic Chair offers just a few adjustments, such as adjustable height, swivel, and tilt. As such, the armrests aren’t adjustable, so you can’t use them for increased support while working, but they’re curved and well-padded when you want to relax.
Padded and curved armrests
Flexible and supportive
Quiet and smooth rolling
250 pounds max weight
The leather wears out in time
The armrests padding flattens in time
What is a High Back Chair?
A high back chair is a chair with a high back that extends up to your neck for optimal upper body support.
High Back vs. Mid Back Office Chair
Mid-back office chairs provide good support to your lower back and encourage a correct posture. High back chairs provide good upper body support because their higher backs allow you to rest your neck and shoulders on them.
High-back office chairs can feature all the same ergonomic characteristics of mid-back chairs, but they have one extra advantage: a headrest to relax your neck. As such, your neck won’t cramp, your shoulders won’t hurt, and you can even alleviate tension headaches.
Executives prefer high-back chairs because they want to sit down for long periods, while mid-back chairs are more portable and, therefore, better as task chairs.
Things You Must Consider Before Buying a High Back Chair
High-back chairs are bigger than mid-back or low-back chairs, so here are the things you have to think about before getting one:
Your feet reach the floor and rest comfortably with the soles on the ground.
There are a few inches of space between your knees and edge.
The armrests aren’t too low for optimal support or too high to cramp your shoulders.
The chair can fit under your desk (best ergonomic office chairs are usually not compact).
The chair’s back isn’t too high for you. If it is, it means it pushes your shoulders too much in front, thus causing upper body pain.
You can adjust the seat depth in case the backrest is too high, or your feet can’t reach the ground.
Office Chairs Buying Advice
The wisest thing to do is to take your measurements before getting a chair to make sure it fits your body shape and size.
Consider the recliner as well because leaning back might mean your feet lift off the floor.
The second biggest advice is to ensure your chair is ergonomic, which means:
- A curved backrest that follows your natural spine curvature
- A wide-enough seat padded with a material that’s firm and cushiony at the same time, to keep your hips in a correct angle
- Curved armrests that don’t dig into your arms
- A wide range of adjustments, depending on your needs. Some people might want highly adjustable armrests if they’re always changing devices, while people who want to recline for various activities need a wide tilt angle with an infinite lock or even chairs with no wheels for when they’re napping
- Headrest for proper neck and shoulder support
- Lumbar cushion to take the pressure off your lower back
Why Are Recliners Bad for Your Back?
Recliners are terrible for your back and should never be used long-term. Dr. Gaye Nelson, a chiropractor, and podiatrist at Advanced Chiropractic Health Services advises against using recliners as a long-term sleep arrangement. According to Nelson, the weight of a person sleeping in a recliner results in a strain on the back because of the angle of the recliner’s backrest. A poor sleeping position combined with a large recliner is detrimental to your back. The Larger the Chair, The Worse it Is for Your Back. Nelson’s advice echoes research by two University of California–Los Angeles medical researchers. The researchers reviewed 80 studies regarding the health of recliners and found that the chairs “pose the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, CTS is a movement disorder where the pressure in your wrist and fingers increases and can result in numbness, pain, tingling, and burning. Those studies are certainly alarming. And while recliners are popular with those that suffer from back issues or who just want a little more comfort, the general public isn’t so fortunate. Nelson believes a study conducted at a Wisconsin hospital provides proof that the general public could develop CTS. Her explanation is based on a study that compared 19 recliners to 19 regular office chairs. “Our recliner study showed that 80% of the people in our recliner study experienced symptoms of CTS within one month,” she said.
Are Gaming Chairs Bad For Your Back?
Gamers — a unique subset of American sports enthusiasts — may want to know if moving their bodies in a game chair can hurt their backs. New research suggests it can. In a study published in January, the researchers reported that prolonged sitting in a large gaming chair — a computer-supported collaborative environment — caused significant lower back pain in their test subjects. But they didn’t actually prove that gaming chairs cause back pain.
The authors noted that prior studies have found that using a computer for six or more hours a day can cause similar back pain. In another study published in 2017, American researchers found that sitting in a gaming chair for 13 hours a day was associated with a “more rapid onset and exacerbation of nonspecific low back pain. Gaming chairs are specifically designed for this purpose. Although they don’t look that different from regular office chairs, gaming chairs come with special features that promote long periods of sitting and reward players with a better virtual experience.
Are High Back Chairs Better for Posture?
Whether you’ve noticed your back muscles shooting out into your lap after just a few minutes of sitting or know that your lower back isn’t taking a break at least 10 minutes into your day, you’re likely wondering what you can do to alleviate the aches. Perhaps your slouchy posture is the culprit, but it could also be that your seat is causing the problem.
It could be your seat. A 2016 review of nearly 70 studies from ten countries and seven continents found that at least 46 percent of the population sit for long periods of time—more than seven hours each day for 40 percent. Then there are those of us who slip in and out of a bad posture, over and over again, without knowing it.
Is High Back Chair Better?
Would you want to replace your current ergonomic chair with a high back? A chair designed for long-term use? Probably not. The high back encourages you to hunch forward. Don’t forget the headrest is likely to be higher back as well, so how comfortable can you be with your head up in the air? The lack of tilt means you are not relaxing, but rather standing up straight, trying to strain your neck. Not much relaxation.
The fact the chair has to be held up by a “seatbelt” doesn’t help. Of course, you could buy a new chair with a low back if you like a really low, super-skeletal, or tilted seat. Or just look for a comfortable place to sit for a while and see if that works better for you. However, it’s not the “wow” factor that has us looking for a new chair.
Should an Office Chair Have a High Back?
When you think about chairs, backrests generally come to mind. You may not think too much about chairs that have two-piece fronts with plastic inserts, such as the ones you can buy online or in specialty stores. In this case, you don’t have a back to worry about or have to decide if that provides enough support. However, there are a variety of great office chairs that don’t have backs at all.
For instance, you can have a completely flat chair without a back. This type of chair is great for people who are sitting for extended periods of time, as there’s nothing to support your back. Some of the best zero-back chairs include the ergonomic V-Neck and the reclining Topor, which have built-in adjustability features.
My article covers a wide range of products, so hopefully, you will find something that fits your purpose.
That’s my golden rule: get a desk chair that works well for your needs.
Let’s recap. If you need:
- Support for long hours, get the Embody.
- The best chair for working a lot at your computer, choose the Aeron.
- Dynamic support in all positions and with changing devices, choose the Gesture.
- An affordable gaming chair with massage, get the Ficmax
- For an affordable chair for big and tall, get the Amazon Basics Big and Tall Chair.
- For an affordable desk chair with good upper body support, choose the Amazon Basics Chair.
- For a plush, wide, and comfy chair, choose the BestOffice.
That said, the Embody by Herman Miller is one of the best office chairs available. This chair is extremely flexible and supportive, molding itself even over your pockets. If you want comfort for long hours with no back pain, the Embody is your choice because over twenty researchers and medical practitioners have contributed to its design.
Remember the Embody’s bending back-rest top and Backfit adjustment? Only experts in ergonomics and anatomy could have come up with these ideas.
Don’t miss your chance at getting the best support for your back and get Embody now.