Steelcase Leap Review

The Steelcase Leap is an ergonomic office chair that is highly adjustable. 

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored review, however, OfficeDesigns provided a sample for evaluation. All opinions and thoughts expressed within this review had no bias or outside influence. We may earn a commission on referred sales, but content integrity remains our priority.

Pros

  • Highly adjustable
  • Excellent build materials
  • Great lumbar support
  • Plenty of color and design combinations
  • 12-year Steelcase warranty

Cons

  • Minor defects in craftsmanship
  • Price is not affordable to most
  • Lumbar support could be more emphasized
  • Headrest is an optional paid add-on
Design & Appeal
Build Quality
Features
Performance

Review Verdict

The Steelcase Leap is an office chair that has become a popular choice for many consumers and professionals since its release in 1999. With a focus on ergonomics and adjustability, the engineers at Steelcase made the Leap ideal for nearly any body type.

While the price seems outrageously high at first, the build quality and comfort benefits over the lifespan of the chair make the premium cost justified. Adding in the 12-year Steelcase warranty, investing in a Leap will ensure that you'll have an elegant and comfortable seat for more than a decade.

Compared to the premium office chair models on the market, the Leap offers a lot of competitive advantages at the same or a lower price making it a recommended buy.

4.5/5

A Great Buy

The Ideal Buyer

The Steelcase Leap is ideal for those looking for an ergonomic office chair around a $1K budget. There is no question that it isn't one of the cheapest office chairs on the market. This is a premium model designed to compete with the likes of Herman Miller's chairs.
 
Steelcase's Leap is ideal if you want to invest in a chair that will withstand more than a decade of reliability. The high build quality and adjustability of the Leap allows stellar comfort and ergonomics that is comparable to many other competing chair models.

Alternate Recommendations

Steelcase Gesture

A newer ergonomic chair designed by Steelcase, the Gesture functions much like the Leap at its core. The differences mainly take place with the organization of the adjustment components (all on the right side) as well as improved armrests that offer a higher degree of adjustability. By default, the base Gesture model does not include a headrest (like the Leap) nor does it include lumbar support though both are paid add-ons.

Herman Miller Embody

One of the most innovative office chair designs in modern history. The Herman Miller Embody utilizes a spine-like design with individual “pixels” which offer automatic and even distribution of weight on your back and butt. The base price is high and doesn't include arms, a headrest or any lumbar support. Beyond the ergonomic features, the Embody is one of the most elegant and eye-catching chairs on the market.

Review Introduction

As seen above, we have given you a brief summary of our experience and thoughts on the Steelcase Leap V2 office chair. In the sections below, we will dive deeper into the various subsection of summary giving you a more detailed and in-depth insight for those who are seeking it.

If you finish reading this review in its entirety and still find yourself with a lingering question or concern regarding the Steelcase Leap then feel free to use the comments section below this article to reach out to us. We will do our best to respond promptly with any helpful answers or advice to help you determine if these headphones are the right purchase for your specific needs. 

Pricing, Shipment & Assembly

As stated earlier, we partnered with OfficeDesigns to make this review possible. They supplied us with a sample unit of the Steelcase Leap as we saw there was a lot of demand for a genuine review and not many hands-on evaluations out there.  

Our Evaluation Unit Configuration

OfficeDesigns granted us hands-on access to a Leap review unit for the purposes of evaluation. The Steelcase Leap model we received had the following configuration:

  • BUZZ2 Blue
  • Black Base And Frame Finish
  • Adjustable Arms
  • 5″ Cylinder, Seat Height 16-1/2″ to 21-1/2″
  • Hard Floor Casters (+$18)
  • Add Headrest (+$154

Total price of our Leap unit: $1,170 plus taxes and shipping (standard shipping is free)

Leap vs Leap Plus: What Is The Difference Between These Chair Models?

This is a common question that I see discussed regarding the Leap chair on the web. The base Leap (aka the Leap V2) is the standard sized chair that offers all the modern ergonomic adjustments. On the other hand, the Leap Plus is simply a larger version of the base Leap model.

The Leap Plus chair offers all the same features and benefits of the best selling Leap chair. From a design standpoint, it is merely a larger version of the Leap. The differences include:

  • 18% larger seat
  • 12% larger back
  • Thicker and wider seat cushion
  • High-pressure cylinder
  • Wider diameter base to support a larger user
  • Designed for up to 500lb users (compared to the 400lbs cap of the base Leap chair)
Steelcase Leap Plus Review

Price, Color & Customization Options

The base model priced at $998 direct from SteelCase as well as through OfficeDesigns (our preferred retailer). If you don't need the 4-way adjustable armrests, you have some options to save money.

Switching from 4-way to only height adjustable arms allows you to save $60 which makes the retail price, $938. If you drop the armrests entirely, you can save $187 thus bringing the Leap price down to $811.

You can choose more premium upholstery options with custom fabrics or even leather, but some of these will be an additional price increase.

The same goes for the base and frame finish. My testing unit was the black base, but you'll pay more for a platinum base and frame (resembles a matte silver/gray) or a polished aluminum finish. Keep in mind, the headrest and adjustable arms will always be black no matter what Leap color configuration you choose.

If you want to upgrade the standard carpet casters to hard floor casters, you'll have to dish out an extra $18. There is no headrest included with the base Leap chair, but you have the option to add one for an additional $154.

To price out or get a visualization of any of the specific Leap configurations to your particular liking, you can visit the OfficeDesigns Leap product page and use their handy customizer tool.

OfficeDesigns Steelcase Leap customizer
The OfficeDesigns customizer tool for the Steelcase Leap chair.

Shipment & Delivery Timing

Given that I customized my review chair to include the hardwood casters, headrest, and Buzz1 Blue fabric, OfficeDesigns didn't have this custom configuration in-stock.

This resulted in the Leap chair being ordered through OfficeDesigns to Steelcase and my package was sent directly from manufacturer. Due to this, it took a little bit longer to receive my review unit compared to if I just ordered an in-stock configuration from OfficeDesigns.

Here is the timeline for the shipment of my Steelcase Leap chair:

January 22nd, 2019
January 30th, 2019
February 2nd, 2019

Order Placed

Review unit order from OfficeDesigns placed with Steelcase estimated ship date of 2/22/2019.

Order Shipped

Order fulfilled by Steelcase and picked up by FedEx for shipment to my location.

Chair Received

Leap chair was delivered by FedEx and left on my doorstep without a signature.
Steelcase Leap Chair Packaging

Unboxing & Assembly

Since my Leap chair was shipped directly from Steelcase's distribution facility, the unboxing was quite different than if it came from OfficeDesigns. It arrived in one large Steelcase branded box which was quite a sight sitting at my front doorstep.

Inside the box, I was surprised to find the Leap chair already fully assembled. I reached out to my OfficeDesigns representative, and they told me that the chair comes from Steelcase fully assembled. If it were shipped from OfficeDesigns through their ‘Quick Ship' chair option, it would arrive in three pieces: base, cylinder and seat/back. From there it would require minor assembly which requires connecting the three parts together. 

Build Quality & Craftsmanship

We have had the luxury of evaluating many different office chairs over the years for reviews. The main distinction between the competing chair models will most often fall under the build quality and craftsmanship.

Steelcase Leap seat fabric

Being used to Herman Miller chairs, who are known for their excellent built quality, I wasn't sure how Steelcase's Leap would stack up. The build quality of the is on par with Herman Miller and in some cases may even surpass it. All of the materials used in their Leap chair feel of high quality.

The base and frame of the chair are rigid and built to last. You have a softer plastic material used for the Leap's back, arms, and headrest. Given that these are non-weight bearing components, I wouldn't intend these to become an issue. If they do for whatever reason, you have Steelcase's 12-year warranty to fall back on. 

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When it comes to the craftsmanship, the chair is well-built. However, I do have a small gripe when it comes to the fabric's consistency near the base of the seat. On both sides of my chair, the material wasn't pulled entirely taut before stitched into place. 

As a result, the seat has weird looking rolls that aren't uniform on both sides. From my perspective, it just seems unappealing and unexpected in a $1,200 office chair. Does it affect the seat's comfort or chair's functionality? No, not at all. But if I were Steelcase, I'd have found a more appealing solution.

Steelcase Leap back

Design & Features

Steelcase Leap Profile 3
Steelcase Leap Chair Reviewed

When you are going to splurge on a premium office chair like Steelcase's Leap chair, you'll likely be interested in the design and features just as much as the build quality. In a chair at this price, you should expect high adjustability and excellent ergonomics. The primary goal of a premium office chair is to help make your sitting experience healthier and less taxing on your body over time.

Seat Design & Adjustments

The seat itself utilizes the same fabric as the back (and optional headrest). Unlike Herman Miller's Aeron and Embody models who use proprietary seat designs, the Leap uses a more traditional foam layer underneath the seat fabric. While it isn't as impressive as some of the methods used in the competing models, the foam conforms nicely to the legs and buttocks of its user.

There is an adjustable component built into Leap which allows you to lengthen or shorten the seat's depth. Unlike the Embody, the depth doesn't actually extend the amount of seat area on the Leap. Instead, it slides the seat position forward and backward which provides a better fit on shorter or longer legs.

As you'd expect, the Leap offers the ability to adjust the height of the seat from 15.5″ to 20.5″ using the lever on the right side of the chair. This lever activates the hydraulic cylinder connecting the frame to the base which results in the ability to raise and lower the seat position to match your desk height.

Back Design & Adjustments

The Leap utilizes Steelcase's LiveBack design. This was created to change shape to mimic spine movement and provide ample support for your body as you move.

Built into the back of the Leap is an adjustable lumbar support system. There are tabs on both sides of the chair's back that allow you to customize the position of the lumbar support to rest on the top or the bottom of your back.

Beyond the lumbar, there are two different knobs on the right side of the Leap chair which offer an upper back force (to activate a tilt) as well as the lower back firmness. There is also a ‘back stops' level that can be adjusted to four different positions that limit the depth of the recline position.

Steelcase Leap Back Design
Steelcase Leap back adjustments

Armrests

The Steelcase Leap offers one of the best designs for adjustable armrests that I've seen on an office chair. Each armrest can be adjusted in height bringing each up and down several inches. 

Additionally, you can adjust the top portion of the Leap armrests cater to where your arms will actually rest. This top armrest component can move left, right front and back.

A unique design attribute is that you'll actually see directions for the various back and seat adjustments on the inside of the armrests:

Leap chair adjustment reviews
Leap chair back adjustments

Headrest

An optional add-on for that was made available for our Leap review, the headrest is a component that we find useful for maintaining good posture. The headrest for the Leap isn't the best that we have seen, but it does its job.

It utilizes the same color fabric material that you choose for the seat and offers a black base color (no option to change this). The headrest does offer up and down adjustment, but it lacks any angle adjustment. 

Steelcase Leap headrest reviewed

Comfort & Function

Since receiving our review Leap chair, I've been sitting on the chair every day for around 5-8 hours a day. Before testing the Steelcase Leap, I had been sitting on Herman Miller's Embody or Autonomous ErgoChair depending on whether I was at home or in the office. I've even been using it a lot off the clock as a gaming chair and it works great alongside my sit/stand desk.

In terms of ergonomics, the Leap truly feels like Steelcase put the time in on the engineering of this office chair. Herman Miller's approach with the Embody is more of a one setting fits all approach in that the seat and back form to your body, but the individual adjustment potential isn't all that impressive.

Steelcase Leap Comfort

With the Steelcase Leap, however, you have so much adjustability in the armrests, back, lumbar and head that you can really dial in the chair to your exact preferences. None of the adjustments are difficult to carry out. The embedded directions on the inner armrests make it convenient to know which dial or lever will adjust the area that you seek.

As I expressed, the arms and the back of the Leap are excellent due to their adjustable components. The only part that I'm not crazy about compared to the Embody is the seat, itself. While the seat foam isn't bad, it isn't anything unique (it is most similar to that used in the $300 Ergochair). I found the Embody's seat to be more breathable and remained more comfortable after sitting for long periods.

However, the Embody lacks a headrest, any lumbar support and has significantly less adjustment potential in the armrests, so the Steelcase Leap reigns supreme in most categories.

Review Verdict

Steelcase's Leap office chair isn't a cheap purchase, but its high quality build, excellent ergonomics and comfortable fit warrant the premium price. If you are serious about your health and are looking for a highly adjustable, ergonomic solution for sitting at a desk all day, then the Steelcase Leap is a chair that you should consider investing in.

We hope you found our Steelcase Leap review (V2) helpful!

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