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Steelcase Leap VS Gesture: Which chair is best for you?

8 Mins read

Steelcase office chairs consistently rank in the top 5 ergonomic chairs on the market along with Herman Miller. And in the top spot, we usually have a debate between Steelcase Leap VS Gesture. These two chairs are aimed at slightly different users but probably share more DNA than have major differences. We are going to go through all of the major elements of each of these chairs, including ergonomic adjustment, features, and price, to give a sense of which chair is the best for your home office.

Overall these chairs are both amazingly well-crafted and in many ways, it is a toss-up of which one is best. However, we have to give the top spot to the Steelcase Leap V2 because it at least matches and some areas outperforms the Steelcase Gesture but for less money. Even in its fully-loaded configuration, you will likely save a bit of money on the Leap. The Steelcase Leap has a more comfortable seating pad, more adjustments on its lumbar support, and is generally a lighter chair. The one area that the Steelcase Gesture is clearly a better pick is in its armrests. It features a much more adjustable armrest system that is not an add-on, but a core part of the chair. The other area the Gesture has a slight edge is the ease of adjusting the seat pan depth. While both the Leap and Gesture have this feature, the Gesture’s seamless knob adjustment feels more natural. Ultimately the extra price of the Gesture doesn’t seem worth it for most users, especially if you aren’t going to fully-load the Leap V2.

Our top pick: Steelcase Leap V2

Every adjustment under the sun at several hundred dollars cheaper than the Gesture. The Leap V2 has arguably the most comfortable seat cushion of any chair we have tested. There is a reason that this chair has been ranked either #1 or #2 in ergonomic chairs for years.

Also great: Steelcase Gesture

The best adjustable arms in the business, with a stunning design. In its base configuration, the Steelcase Gesture is a more capable chair than the Leap v2, but you will be paying several hundred dollars more. This is a true flagship chair on par with the Herman Miller Embody.

Specifications: Steelcase Gesture VS Steelcase Leap V2

Steelcase GestureSteelcase Leap V2
Height39¼” – 44¼”38.5″-43.5″
Seat height16″ – 21″ 15.5″-20.5″
Width22 3/8″ – 34 5/8″27″
Depth21″ – 23 5/8″21.75″-24.75″
Seat depth18¼”15.75″-18.75″
Weight73 lb45.8 lb
Maximum weight400 lb400 lb
Seat material3D knit fabric3D knit fabric
Frame materialAluminumAluminum
Head rest availableYesYes
Size(s)One sizeOne size
Lumbar supportYes (add-on)Yes
Lumbar tension controlNoYes
Adjustable seat depthYesYes
Back height adjustmentNoNo
4 way adjustable armsYesYes (add-on)
Arm rest height adjustmentYesYes (add-on)
Arm pivot adjustmentYesYes (add-on)
Arm width adjustmentYesYes
ReclineYesYes
Recline back stopYesYes
Recline tension adjustmentYesYes
Forward seat tiltNoNo
Casters availableNormal, carpetNormal, carpet
Assembly requiredNoNo
Warranty12 years12 years
Environmental rating(s)Level 3 ANSI/BIFMALevel 3 ANSI/BIFMA

Size(s)

Both the Steelcase Gesture and the Leap V2 only come in one size unlike chairs like the Herman Miller Aeron that actually come in three different sizes to fit different body sizes. This is because both of them are absolutely packed to the gills with every ergonomic seat adjustment you could ever want. These chairs are targeted to fit 95% of users. The Gesture has slightly more adjustment options and is likely a better fit for larger individuals that require more flexibility in the width adjustment of the chair. This is because the arm system is totally different on the Gesture and is quite frankly, the best we have ever seen on a chair.

You can see in the images above the amazing level of adjustment on the width of the Gesture.

Those with longer backs may feel a bit more comfortable in the Gesture since it features a taller back in its base configuration than the Leap V2. Overall, you should be able to adjust either chair to fit your body type with no problem.

Weight & weight capacity

The Steelcase Gesture and Leap V2 have the exact same weight capacity at 400 lb. This is actually very impressive as many of their competitors on the market top out at 300 or 350 lb. This is a testament to the amazing over-engineering of both of these chairs. The actual weight of the chair is a different story, with the Gesture being a much heavier chair at 73 lb vs the Leap’s 45.8 lb.

Materials

Both the Gesture and the Leap use the same type of aluminum leg frame. Steelcase opts for high-quality plastic on its chairbacks for a very specific reason. Their seats can actually naturally bend with the user as they apply pressure, resulting in very natural support on both models. More rigid materials on other chairs don’t generally offer this kind of “flexible support.”

The fabric on both the Gesture and Leap V2 is called 3D knit fabric. This is Steelcase speak for “very high-quality fabric.” You won’t get the same kind of ventilation as with, say, the Herman Miller Aeron’s mesh design, but many users actually prefer the fabric approach. And for both the Gesture and Leap, the fabric is top-notch. The Gesture gives you an option to either have fabric wrap around the back of the chair or to leave it open to showcase the unique back support system (for an extra cost). There is also a leather option for both chairs if that is your thing.

Colors

Both the Gesture and Leap have very similar options for their frames. We have found that Office Designs offers even more options than the official Steelcase website for frame and fabric options.

The Gesture’s fram comes in the following finishes:

  • Black
  • Dark (a dark grey color)
  • Light (a light grey color)
  • Dark / Light (light grey legs and dark grey upper frame)
  • Polished aluminum (legs only)

The Leap V2 comes in the following finishes:

  • Black
  • Platinum (a lighter grey)
  • Midnight (a darker grey)
  • Polished aluminum

The fabric choices on both the Gesture and Leap are extensive. This is actually one of the strongest areas for Steelcase since they allow you to really customize your chair to fit your office and taste. The Leap can be customized on Office Designs with 44 different fabrics! And the Gesture can be ordered in 38 different fabrics including some leathers (no slouch either).

Seat comfort

This is a fairly subjective area for most users. Some really prefer a thicker seat pad than others. For those users, we’d recommend the Leap V2 as it has a very plush seat pad. The Gesture is also very comfortable and has a very unique design on the part of the seat that touches the back of your knees and thighs, rolling off at a nice angle to discourage pressure points. Both chairs include a pretty unique flexible seat pan that allows the chair to actually flex and you apply pressure with your legs/thighs. This is one of the best features of Steelcase chairs that attracts users with more muscular legs. The Herman Miller Aeron, for example, is often criticized for the rigidness of the edge of its seat pan which can sometimes dig into the back of users’ legs.

Adjustability

Lumbar/spine support

So you’re probably looking at buying a Steelcase office chair because of their ergonomic adjustments right? These two chairs are probably in the top 3 most adjustable chairs on the market.

The Leap takes the cake for the more comfortable and adjustable back support systems, however. Steelcase calls the Leap’s lumbar support system their LiveBack technology. This is basically a way that Steelcase allows the Leap’s back to flex more in the upper regions of the back and less on the lumbar area. The area that the Leap really shines, in comparison to the Gesture, is its lumbar tension system. This a dial that allows you to tune the level of rigidness that the lumbar gives. The Gesture simply doesn’t have this adjustment which is somewhat disappointing. Overall, the Leap’s back support is superior in every way.

Both the Gesture and Leap will help you avoid this.

Back height adjustment

The one weakness of both the Gesture and Leap in comparison to competing brands like Herman Miller is that they simply do not feature back height adjustment. This likely won’t be an issue for 90% of the population, but if you tend to want the seatback to sit higher on your body, we’d recommend a Herman Miller Embody instead.

Seat depth adjustment

Both the Gesture and the Leap offer seat depth adjustments. We are a bit more partial to the way that the Gesture handles this adjustment though. For the Leap, you have to push a paddle, slide the chair forward or back, and then momentarily sit up and then down to properly make this adjustment. It is just a bit awkward. The Gesture features a knob that simply rolls the seat forward or backward without the need to actually sit up from the chair.

Arm adjustments

Armrests are a very important piece of the ergonomic puzzle. And this is the one area that the Gesture is a clear winner over the Leap V2. Both chairs offer 4-way adjustments like height, width, pivot, and depth in order to perfectly fit your body and desk design. However, for larger users, the Gesture has more in-depth width adjustments that are entirely unique to this chair. If you struggle to get the perfect armrest position when typing or gaming, then the Gesture is your best bet.

Wheels

There is nothing groundbreaker with either the Gesture or the Leap, which can be equipped with hard-surface or carpet casters. We would have liked to see a multi-surface version like some other manufacturers.

Headrest

Both the Gesture and the Leap can be bought in a headrest configuration if you require a bit more support or you tend to do long productivity or gaming sessions.

Durability

These are easily rated in the top 5 most durable office chairs around. Steelcase supported them with their excellent 12-year warranty which shows how much they stand behind their product. The Gesture feels a little more solid in its construction, but it is also a significantly more expensive chair.

Resale value

Both chairs have excellent resale value on the pre-owned market. I have seen decade-old Leaps available online that are basically in mint condition.

Price

This is likely the factor that eliminates the Gesture from contention for many buyers. The Gesture can be several hundred dollars more than the Leap, even when you completely kit out the Leap. Considering the Leap either matches or exceeds many of the features of the Gesture, it is hard to recommend the Gesture over the Leap V2 for most buyers.

Warranty

Both the Gesture and the Leap feature Steelcase’s great 12-year warranty.


Unique features on the Steelcase Gesture

The biggest standout feature of the Gesture is its crazy adjustable armrests. There is no other chair on the market that provides this level of fine-tuning. The easily-adjustable seat depth is also a big plus in comparison to the Leap.

Criticisms of the Steelcase Gesture

The biggest issue is simply the value proposition of the Gesture. In our opinion, Steelcase has not made enough clear upgrades over the Leap to warrant such a price differential. Other than that, this is an absolutely amazing chair that really doesn’t have any clear drawbacks.


Unique features on the Steelcase Leap V2

In comparison to the Gesture, the lumbar support of the Leap is way better. The fine-tuning available through the lumbar tuning system makes it noticeably more comfortable for most users. The reclining on the Leap is actually a very unique design in the office chair industry generally. When you recline on the Leap, the back moves back but the seat subtly slides forward. The result is your arms stay at the same spot when you recline which is a very useful feature.

Criticisms of the Steelcase Leap V2

The only major criticism that you can levy at the Leap is that the fabric seat can sometimes be perceived as “hard” when compared to something like the mesh design on the Herman Miller Aeron. This is really a subjective thing as most users find the Leap’s seat cushion incredibly comfortable.

One other area where the Leap falls behind slightly is that the base model is actually missing many of the features that make the Leap so great. We would recommend opting for the optional 4-way armrest and the upgraded lumbar support, which will push the price up (but still not at Gesture levels).


Conclusion: The best Steelcase office chair

When all is said and done we think the Steelcase Leap V2 is simply a better chair for the price. There are no clear drawbacks to the Leap and even a fully upgraded model will be less expensive than the Gesture. The upgraded lumbar support, super comfortable seat pan, and crazy amount of customizable upholstery options make the Leap not only the better Steelcase chair, but potentially our most recommended chair generally.


Home Werk

Considering giving both of these chairs a try at a physical retailer if you are unsure about which one to get. Sometimes feeling is believing!

James Sawchuk
44 posts

About author
I have worked from a distance for many years with colleagues overseas but only recently got a taste of full-blown 100% working from home. And I love it! I can stay way more focused and sneak in the odd cat pet…
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