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Steelcase Leap vs Aeron (2021): Which Ergonomic Chair Should You Get?

When hunting for a new ergonomic chair, looking at the most popular options is a great starting point. Well, there are few chairs more acclaimed and best-selling than the Steelcase Leap and the Herman Miller Aeron. These two outstanding chairs continue to be among the top choices for comfy seating, whether in the office or at home, even many years after they were introduced. Check out our comparison of these two office chairs below.

Steelcase Leap vs Aeron Office Chair Comparison Chart

ModelSteelcase LeapHerman Miller Aeron (Large Size C)
 Steelcase Leap Fabric Chair, Black, Herman Miller Aeron Ergonomic Chair - Size A, Graphite 
PriceCheck Price Check Price 
Dimensions24.75″ x 27″ x 43.5″18.5″ x 28.25″ x 43″
Weight48 lb39 lb
Weight Capacity400 lb350 lb
Seat Depth15.75″ to 18.75″18.5″
Seat Width19.25″19.25″
Seat Height from Floor15.5″ to 20.5″16″ to 20.5″
Back Width18″21.5″
Back Height from Seat25″22″
Back Lumbar Height5.25″ to 10.25″5.25″ to 10.25″
Arm Height from Seat7″ to 11″5.5″ to 9.75″
Width between Arms12.75″ to 20″17″
Seat MaterialFoamMesh
Lumbar TechnologyLivebackPostureFit SL
Adjustable Lumbar SupportYesYes
Tension ControlYesNo
Released20061994/2016

Design

The Steelcase Leap uses foam padding while the Herman Miller Aeron uses mesh.

Steelcase Leap vs Aeron - Design
Do you prefer a padded design like the Steelcase Leap (left) or mesh upholstery like the Herman Miller Aeron (right)?

A quick look at the Steelcase Leap and Herman Miller Aeron side by side will be enough to tell you that they offer different seating experiences in addition to aesthetics. The Leap sports the more typical fabric, foam, and plastic components, though each individual part is perfectly molded and fitted. The Aeron combines steel, aluminum, plastic, and mesh, resulting in a distinctive modern look.

You can rightly expect fantastic build quality from both the Leap and the Aeron considering their price tags. Both come with 12-year warranties that underline each brand’s confidence in their product. Moreover, they have 30-day return policies so you can try out the chair and get a full refund without return shipping costs, in case you somehow don’t like sitting on them. You’ll be able to try them out as soon as you get them out of the box since they come fully assembled. 

A big difference between the Leap and Aeron is in chair sizes. The Steelcase Leap comes in a single size designed to accommodate the widest user scope possible. In comparison, the Herman Miller Aeron is available in three sizes, small (A), medium (B), and large (C). You’ll want to check out their size/fit reference chart to find out the recommended chair size for you. 

This means it’s more likely that the Steelcase Leap will fit you with some adjustments, while you’d want to err on the larger sizes of the Herman Miller Aeron to be on the safe side. In addition, the Leap will be more accommodating to multiple users with different body types and heights. Note also that the Leap has a listed weight capacity of 400 lb while the Aeron has 350 lb.

Adjustability

The Steelcase Leap is more adjustable than the Herman Miller Aeron.

Steelcase Leap vs Aeron - Adjustability
You’ll find the Steelcase Leap to be more customizable, helping you find the most comfortable configuration for what you’re doing.

Nearly every possible ergonomic adjustment is available on the Steelcase Leap. You can adjust its seat height, armrest height and depth, as well as the angle the arms are pointed in or out. You can also change the position of the lumbar support system vertically to adjust how much back support you like. All of these can also be found on the Herman Miller Aeron.

However, what the Aeron lacks are arm width and seat depth adjustments that are both present on the Leap. The Leap’s arms are fully four-directional, letting you move them inwards, while its seat can slide to and fro if you want to lean in or recline further. In contrast, the Aeron’s seat stays static and its armrests are attached to the back. 

Steelcase also adds another dimension to the Leap’s lumbar support in addition to just positional adjustment. Its Liveback technology lets you control the lower tension that your back receives, ensuring more fine tuned support. 

Comfort

The Herman Miller Aeron offers a firmer sitting experience than the Steelcase Leap.

Steelcase Leap vs Aeron - Comfort
The comfort afforded by the mesh upholstery of the Herman Miller Aeron is definitely not for everyone. 

Because of their build material and design, the Steelcase Leap and Herman Miller Aeron offer different kinds of sitting comfort. With a more traditional padded backrest and seat, the Leap will feel more familiar for the majority of users. It’s softer and has more give than the mesh fabric of the Aeron, which feels firmer in comparison.

The 8Z Pellicle suspension material that Herman Miller introduced when they remastered the Aeron in 2016 enhances the support it provides while remaining soft and flexible. It’s used on both the backrest and seat, making the Aeron more breathable. However, some people simply don’t like sitting on mesh chairs, and it’s a coin toss that the Aeron will change your opinion if so. If you love mesh upholstery though, the Aeron will feel incredibly comfortable and reassuring.

Meanwhile, Steelcase embeds air pockets in the Leap’s seat, allowing it to maintain consistency and support even though the padded foam is relatively thinner than most. It has a flexible waterfall edge to relieve pressure on the back of your legs. Its backrest has slats to allow for better temperature moderation so your back doesn’t feel stuffy after leaning back a long time. 

If you like softer or more cushioned arm pads, the Herman Miller Aeron definitely has that nice, squishy feel to it. The Leap’s arms aren’t as soft, but they’re comfortable enough without feeling like simple plastic. 

Verdict

The Steelcase Leap is more ergonomic than the Herman Miller Aeron.

Because of its one-size-fits-all design, better adjustability, and padded upholstery, the Steelcase Leap is easier to recommend to the majority of users. You’ll find it much easier to configure into a comfortable seat to fit your body better. Moreover, the Leap keeps your back well-supported even as you shift about and your posture changes.  

Those who prefer the breathability and support of mesh chairs will find that the Herman Miller Aeron delivers that and more. It definitely promotes healthy sitting postures, stabilizing your spine as you lean forward or back. It enables better balance while sitting, and you’ll feel properly supported without the soft comfort of foam padding.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Derick Bondoc

Managing Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, gaming and snacks.