The Herman Miller Aeron and the Steelcase Leap are both iconic office chairs for a reason. Both of them offer top of the line ergonomics and are built to very high tolerances. For anyone looking for a high-quality office chair for working from home, the Aeron and the Leap should be on their list. We are going to try to identify the best home office chair between these two beasts by breaking down what makes them different and what features are on par with one another.
The Herman Miller Aeron offers more choice than the Steelcase Leap given that it is available in 3 distinct sizes. While the Leap offers more fine-tuned adjustment on their single model. The Aeron uses Pellicle 8Z mesh on its seat and back which is both very comfortable and extremely durable. The Steelcase Leap opts for 3D knit fabric which offers a more typical office chair feel but is available in over 1000 different colors. Both units offer very excellent ergonomic adjustments, including lumbar support, and multi-level reclining.
If we had to choose one unit over another we’d probably choose the Herman Miller Aeron due to the comfort that its Pellicle mesh provides over the more rigid fabric and foam on the Leap. But either of these chairs will be excellent picks for any home office for years to come. This article will always be referring to the “remastered” New Aeron and the Leap V2 chairs.
Best office chair: Herman Miller Aeron
Incredible engineering, unparalleled comfort. The Herman Miller Aeron is iconic for a reason. Overall we’d say it’s the best pick for most home office workers. Consider checking out used Aerons as well since they are super durable and show very little wear and tear after use.
Also great: Steelcase Leap V2
More adjustable than the Aeron and for less money. While we think the Aeron is a better chair for most, the Leap has its own fans. It is more adjustable and may be better for people with muscular legs and thighs. And it is super customizable with over 1,000 different fabric finishes!
Specifications: Herman Miller Aeron VS Steelcase Leap V2
|Herman Miller Aeron||Steelcase Leap V2|
|Height||41″ (size B)||38.5″-43.5″|
|Seat height||16-20.5″ (size B)||15.5″-20.5″|
|Width||27″ (size B)||27″|
|Depth||16.75″ (size B)||21.75″-24.75″|
|Seat depth||16.75″ (size B)||15.75″-18.75″|
|Weight||41 lb (size B)||45.8 lb|
|Maximum weight||350 lb||400 lb|
|Seat material||Pellicle 8Z mesh||3D knit fabric|
|Head rest available||Yes (modular)||Yes (part of back)|
|Size(s)||A, B, C||One size|
|Lumbar support||Normal, PostureFit SL||Yes (adjustable)|
|Adjustable seat depth||No||Yes|
|Back height adjustment||No||Yes|
|Arm rest height adjustment||Yes||Yes|
|Arm pivot adjustment||Yes||Yes|
|Recline back stop||Yes||Yes|
|Recline tension adjustment||Yes||Yes|
|Forward seat tilt||Yes||No|
|Casters available||Normal, carpet||Normal, carpet|
|Warranty||12 years||12 years|
|Environmental rating(s)||Level 3 ANSI/BIFMA||Level 3 ANSI/BIFMA|
The Herman Miller Aeron comes in three different sizes to accommodate different sized users. For most, size B will be a perfect fit. For those under 5’9″, you could consider a size A, and those who have large frames could look at size C. Check out the article we wrote about how to choose the right size Aeron.
The Steelcase Leap V2 comes in one size. But it offers some adjustments that are absent from the Aeron such as the adjustable seat depth. If you have a large frame, the Leap can surely be adjusted to meet your requirements.
Weight & weight capacity
The Herman Miller Aeron can accommodate users up to 350 lb whereas the Steelcase Leap V2 can take someone a bit bigger at 400 lb. In practical usage, these ratings are essentially the same though. It is worth noting that the Aeron’s size B is about 5 pounds lighter than the Leap V2 at 41 lb.
Both the Aeron and the Steelcase Leap are made of aluminum frames. In fact, the frames and legs on each are incredibly similar. Where the chairs differentiate themselves is in the material used on the seat and back of the chairs. The Aeron uses what Herman Miller calls a Pellicle 8Z mesh. This is the rubber-ish mesh that gives the Aeron its iconic look. In our experience, the mesh is incredibly durable. You will find 20-year-old Aeron’s with perfectly intact mesh that looks like it was never used.
The Steelcase Leap V2 on the other hand opts for a more typical fabric or leather option. This fabric or leather is stretched over a very durable foam material much like other office chairs on the market. The availability of different fabric finishes from on the Leap leads to a level of customizability that the Aeron simply doesn’t have.
The Herman Miller Aeron can be customized with 4 different base/frame color combinations:
- Graphite frame / graphite base
- Mineral (grey) frame / polished aluminum base
- Mineral (grey) frame / satin aluminum base
- Graphite frame / polished aluminum base
The Aeron also comes in a completely matte black “gaming edition” which also features some more advanced forward tilt settings to get gamers closer to their monitors during gaming sessions.
The Steelcase Leap V2 fram comes in 3 different colors:
- Midnight (drak grey)
The Leap’s color availability on the fabric side of things is staggering. Depending on the quality of fabric you opt for, there are 1,021 different types! So if you are the type to want to completely customize your chair, the Leap V2 is the way to go.
The Aeron either comes with basic back support (no lumbar), an adjustable rubber lumbar support that can be slid up and down the chair back 4.5 inches, or their premium PostureFit SL back support. The PostureFit SL offers both lumbar and sacral spine support which can be adjusted independently to give you optimal support.
The Steelcase Leap V2 features their Natural Glide back support system. This system takes the form of the back of the chair itself, offering adjustments that give more and less support to the upper and lower back. This feels kind of like ratcheting up the firmness of the back of the chair. While very cool, we actually prefer the PostureFit SL on the Aeron.
Back height adjustment
This is one area where the Steelcase Leap is a better chair. The Leap offers proper back height adjustment where just the seat back moves up a down. This means that if you have several people in your household using the chair of different heights then the chair can accommodate that.
The Aeron, on the other hand, achieves back height by simply offering 3 different sized chairs. This is fine if you are the only one to use the chair, but could be an issue if this is a multi-user chair.
Seat depth adjustment
Another area where the Steelcase Leap V2 beats the Aeron is in seat depth adjustments. These do not exist on the Aeron. In fact, one of the only complaints about the Aeron from some users is that the front edge of the chair seat can sometimes dig into the back of people’s thighs. This is generally because the seat depth is not adjustable. For the Leap, you can avoid this by simply moving the seat back. This is an example of how the Leap V2 offers more in the way of fine-tuned adjustment.
Both the Herman Miller Aeron and the Steelcase Leap have options for 4-way adjustable arms. These means they can move up and down, in and out, and pivot from side to side. I would say both arms are on par with each other. However, some people find the adjustment on the Leap’s arms to be easier to use and access.
Both the Leap and the Aeron offer both hard floor and carpet casters. The Aeron’s casters have been recently upgraded with what they call “roll-away” resistance. This means that the wheels offer a bit of resistance so the chair doesn’t roll away on its own on a hard surface. The Leap’s wheels are more typical hard floor and carpet casters.
Both the Aeron and the Leap V2 can come with headrests. And both are excellent. However, the Leap’s headrest is actually part of the back of the chair so it is hard and expensive to add after the fact. The Aeron’s headrest is modular so it can be added anytime.
Both the Aeron and the Leap V2 are built like absolute tanks. This is why you will see a very active pre-owned community for both. The frames almost never have any issues, even after being used for a decade! The fabric / mesh is where differences show. The Aeron will generally age better than the Leap, simply because the Pellicle mesh will not stain or discolor over time. It is worth noting that those that opt for the leather variant of the Leap will likely get more mileage out of their chair since it isn’t vulnerable to staining.
The resale value on both the Aeron and the Leap are generally excellent. However, due to the Pellicle mesh aging better than the fabric on the Leap, you will generally see many more excellent condition Aerons in the secondary used market. So if you invest in a brand new Aeron, it will likely hold its value a bit more than the Leap.
The base-level Aeron will generally be at least a few hundred dollars more than the Steelcase Leap V2. The Leap comes standard with its complete lumbar support system while the Aeron offers the PostureFit SL as an addon for $95. The Aeron is simply a more expensive chair, but many would argue that they are using superior materials that will not degrade over time.
A very popular option to get an Aeron at a more reasonable price is to buy it used. Again, used Aeron’s from retailers like Office Designs will basically look and feel like new since the Aeron is such a well engineered chair.
Both the Aeron and the Leap V2 are supported by a 12-year warranty. In my experience, both Herman Miller and Steelcase really stand by their products and will take care of any malfunctions you experience.
Unique features on the Steelcase Leap V2
The Leap offers a very unique way of reclining. Instead of simply tilting the seatback, the Leap has a backrest that tilts back while the seat slides forward. This ensures that no matter what recline position you are in, your arms remain in the exact same position. This is an incredible feat of engineering that adds a level of comfort to the Leap V2 that not even any other Steelcase chairs can match. It’s awesome.
Criticisms of the Steelcase Leap V2
Since the Leap uses fabric on the seat and back, it is prone to wear and discoloration over time. The Aeron doesn’t have this issue with its mesh back and seat which stays very clean for years, if not decades. Some users have reported that the seat on the Leap V2 can sometimes feel too hard, to the point of creating pressure points on the back and legs.
Unique features on the Herman Miller Aeron
The Aeron’s killer feature is absolutely its Pellicle mesh seat and chair back. While other companies have tried to rip this off for years, nobody has succeeded in matching the resilience, comfort, and overall durability on the Aeron’s space-age “fabric.” A real plus of the mesh design is airflow and ventilation. Fabric chairs can’t offer this same level of coolness and ventilation and can “run hot” for people doing long hours at their desks.
Criticisms of the Herman Miller Aeron
The most common critique of the Aeron is the plastic edge that runs along the front of the chair. For some people, it can become uncomfortable, especially if you have muscular legs/thighs. This pressure point can be something that is a no-go for some, so if this is a worry, consider the Leap.
Conclusion: The best home office chair
Overall, the Herman Miller Aeron is a better-engineered chair. Its materials are superior and the general look of the chair is unparalleled. However, the cost and sometimes uncomfortable pressure points may be reasons to consider picking up a Steelcase Leap V2 instead.
Huh. Why wasn’t the leather version of the Leap mentioned? That’s the version I have and doesn’t have any of the fabric issues mentioned here.
Thanks Lucas! I added in a little bit about the leather version.