Herman Miller Aeron and Steelcase Leap are one of the best-known and most expensive desk chairs on the market.
Many people who are looking for the best ergonomic office chair and have more flexible budget, consider these two models and wonder which one is better: Herman Miller Aeron or Steelcase Leap?
Both chairs have few similar features but they also differ in many ways. What’s most noticeable is a different design.
So what are the similarities and differences and who should consider buying these chairs? Here is in-depth comparison: Steelcase vs Herman Miller.
Comparison Table – Herman Miller vs Steelcase
Herman Miller Aeron
Available Color Versions
2 colors for frame and 3 colors for base
Available at an additional price
Available at an additional price
Stationary, Height-adjustable or 3D (height, depth and pivot) – depending on the price
4D (height, depth, width and pivot)
3 versions to choose from: basic backrest, backrest with adjustable lumbar support or backrest with adjustable PostureFit
1 version, it changes shape to mimic user’s spine movement
More pricey versions have adjustable position (up & down, back & forth) and thickness
Adjustable firmness and position
Lower back pain, bad posture, hip and sacrum pain
Lower back pain, bad posture, shoulder and wrist pain
Ergonomic Backrest Design
Steelcase Leap comes in one size with S-shaped backrest which has only one version: you can adjust the lumbar support position, as well as change its firmness. By moving it more up or down you can also make the backrest more curved or flat. Thanks to these features the backrest adjusts to users spine natural curves.
In contrast to Leap, Herman Miller Aeron comes in three sizes and customers can choose the type of the backrest: basic one (called Aeron Classis) with non-adjustable lumbar support, more advanced version with adjustable lumbar support or the most innovative (and pricey) model with PostureFit SL which is great for supporting the sacral and lumbar area and helps to maintain proper posture.
The Aeron Classic with basic backrest is of course cheaper, but in this version Aeron is definitely less supportive than Leap. It has only S-shape back, but the lumbar support is not adjustable. You can see the Aeron Classic in the picture above.
Herman Miller Aeron with PostureFit SL backrest is more similar to Steelcase Leap – it features adjustable lumbar support that moves up & down and forward & backward and you can adjust its thickness as well. This version of the backrest is of course the most expensive one.
Steelcase Leap and Herman Miller Aeron PostureFit SL offer excellent support for lower back, moreover these chairs are great choice for bad posture.
Aeron additionally supports the base of the spine so it is better solution for sacrum or hip pain than Leap.
Both chairs are designed to follow the user’s changing positions and mimic its spine movements to support him in every position.
Without the additional headrest both Aeron and Leap don’t support user’s cervical vertebrae. If you suffer from neck pain you should consider adding the headrest, no matter if you go for Herman Miller or Steelcase chair.
Leap has flexible seat edges that allow to reduce the pressure on thighs, especially when you lean forward. Aeron doesn’t have that feature but the seat is covered with suspension material that doesn’t cause pressure on the legs and back which is great for blood flow.
So, when you compare Steelcase Leap vs Herman Miller Aeron in terms of backrest design, you will notice that with Aeron you have wider choice. You can actually choose how much lumbar support you need, and if you decide to go for the Aeron Classic with basic backrest you can actually save a few bucks. On the other hand, Steelcase Leap has only one version with very innovative, adjustable backrest – and this is one of the reasons why this chair is so expensive. It gives amazing back support!
If you compare only the Steelcase Leap and Aeron PostureFit SL, both chair perform similar and both can help to relieve back pain.
Winner in this category: Draw
Herman Miller gives you wide choice when it comes to Aeron armrests. You can choose fixed armrest (non-adjustable), arms that go up and down, or 3D armrests that move up& down, forward & backward and pivot from left to right. Of course more adjustments means higher price – and the difference between fixed arms and 3D arms price is huge!
On the other hand, all Steelcase Leap chairs come with 4D arms. In contrast to Aeron arms, they additionally move inwards and outwards, so they are even better for relieving pressure on shoulders and neck and reducing wrist fatigue.
Winner in this category: Steelcase Leap
If you’re hesitating whether you should get Steelcase Leap or Aeron Chair by Herman Miller, you need to pay attention to multiple adjustments that both these chairs offer.
It’s not a surprise if I say that Leap and Aeron chairs are height-adjustable, so they can accommodate people of different height. Additionally, Herman Miller Aeron comes in 3 sizes for short, average and big people so you can choose the one that will fit your body type perfectly.
Steelcase Leap comes in one size, but it has adjustable seat depth therefore it adapts to user’s height and legs’ length and reduces the pressure on thighs and knees.
Nevertheless, if you really want to have the most comfortable chair that perfectly fits your height, weight and body type, you should go for Aeron and choose the right size FOR YOU. When the chair is properly chosen for the user size, it provides maximum comfort and support.
Psst. Do you want something cheaper than Herman Miller Aeron or Steelcase Leap? If so check the best Herman Miller Alternatives.
Both Aeron and Leap chairs have reclining backrest (you can choose how far the backrest tilts) and adjustable tilt tension which allows you to choose how difficult is the back to recline. This is pretty much a standard feature among office chairs.
However, if you decide to pay a bit more and choose Aeron Chair by Herman Miller with Tilt Limiter and Seat Angle Adjustment, you’ll also get a 5-degree forward tilt. It’s essential for those who often lean forward when working at the desk. Steelcase Leap doesn’t feature forward tilt however the seat itself glides forward a bit to follow user moves.
Winner in this category: Herman Miller Aeron
Herman Miller Aeron is covered with woven suspension fabric (called Pellicle 8Z®) that provides great air-flow. It’s very useful during hot summer days, as well as for people who have tendency to sweat. We really like this material because it’s strong and elastic at the same time. It supports the user really well, without causing pressure on his thighs. If you have problems with numbness in legs, this chair is a great solution. However, the fabric may be a bit too cold during winter because it is so airy.
Steelcase Leap is available in a few different materials. Fabrics are more airy than leather, however according to some customers not every fabric is comfortable for long hours of sitting. They say that some types of the fabric may be a bit scratchy and they recommend paying attention to the type of the material when buying this chair.
Steelcase Leap offers much wider range of color versions than Herman Miller Aeron (there are over 30 colors for seat fabric!) therefore it allows the user to choose the one that will suit his workspaces. If the appearance is important to you, Leap will give you wider choice.
In terms of quality of the material and support that it provides, we think both chairs are top-notch.
Winner in this category: Aeron – in terms of quality and breathability / Leap – in term of customization
What other people thing about Herman Miller Aeron and Steelcase Leap?
Last time I checked both chairs on Amazon, people seem to like Aeron more than Leap (you should check current overall ratings on your own!).
Many people praise Aeron Chair for helping them with lower back pain and hip pain. Thanks to multiple adjustments it provides comfort for those who spend many hours per day at the desk. Some people complain the fabric is “too airy” on winter. Lots of people have chosen the most advanced version of Aeron (with PostureFit SL & 3D arms), instead of the cheaper, less-adjustable version.
Leap is also a great ergonomic office chair for lumbar support. According to customers it helps to practice good posture. People love the adjustable backrest that can be more curved or flat, depending on user body type and preferences. I’ve found some complains about the seat cushion – some users say it’s not soft enough and lacks padding.
Winner in this category: Herman Miller Aeron
It’s hard to tell which chair is better: Steelcase Leap or Aeron by Herman Miller. We love 4D arms on Steelcase Leap and the fact that it comes in dozens of colors. On the other hand we love the suspension fabric on Aeron and its amazing PostureFit SL backrest!
So which chair should you choose: Steelcase Leap or Aeron?
You need to decide which features are most important to you! Everything depends on individual preferences.
Besides, we all have different body type therefore one chair won’t be perfect for everyone. Before you decide whether to buy Herman Miller or Steelcase chair make sure to check the features we described above, as well as chairs’ sizes and choose the one that suits your needs and fits you better.
Both these chairs are very expensive but according to dozens of customers, they are worth the money.