Herman Miller Aeron vs Steelcase Leap: Which Is Better?


(61 votes, average: 4.8 out of 5)

Last updated: May 23rd, 2024

herman miller aeron vs steelcase leap office chair

Last updated: May 23rd, 2024

Reading Time: 8 minutes

I work a lot. And because I pull 10-hour workdays consistently, I ensure that my home office is a welcoming, ergonomically sound space. While spending $1,500-$2,500 on the best office chair may seem excessive at first, a $2,500 Herman Miller Aeron or a $1,500 Steelcase Leap will last you for at least 10-12 years, which means you’ll only be $125-$250 out of pocket each year.

I bet you spend much more on laptops, peripherals or office coffee during the same period.

Meanwhile, buying a budget office chair can also be an exercise in false economy, as you’re likely to replace it with a premium ergonomic office chair within 2-3 years.

Now that I’ve convinced you that “expensive” office chairs like the Herman Miller Aeron and the Steelcase Leap are great value, let’s decide on the most important question: which should you buy?

Seat ComfortSteelcase Leap
Armrest ComfortHerman Miller Aeron
Aesthetics & DesignHerman Miller Aeron
Lumbar SupportHerman Miller Aeron
Backrest ComfortSteelcase Leap
Recline ComfortHerman Miller Aeron
Build QualityHerman Miller Aeron
PricingSteelcase Leap
OVERALL WINNERHerman Miller Aeron

1. Seat Comfort.

Above: Steelcase Leap’s seat base looks thick and cushy, but can be surprisingly firm.

The biggest difference between the Aeron chair and the Leap V2 is in their seat bases.

The Steelcase Leap has the ability to flex and move, which prevents pressure points underneath your legs. The seat pan will move with you as you shift position or move your legs, contouring to the shape of your body.

Aeron’s seat pan is rigid.

Made from hard plastic, it doesn’t move with you at all. Instead, it offers a bucket you sit in, and are cradled by.

(Related: Herman Miller Embody: Why Are People Paying $3,000 For It?)

Both seats are very comfortable but offer a very different seating experience.

The other big difference between the Steelcase Leap chair and the Aeron is the material of its seat. The Leap opts for a foam-stuffed fabric base, while the Aeron is made from high-quality mesh.

Leap’s seat cushioning tends to polarise people.

Even though it’s nicely padded, it’s quite thin – and a lot of people complain that it’s too hard for 8 to 10-hour workdays.

Reddit is full of people who say that their butts are permanently sore from using the Steelcase Leap.


While the Aeron’s mesh feels firmer initially, it’s quite easy to get used to. I find the suspended feeling it offers more comfortable.

It’s also more breathable – something you should take into account if you work in warmer parts of Australia.

Unsurprisingly, both chairs take a very different approach to seat depth adjustment.

It’s fully adjustable on the Steelcase Leap using a simple lever, while the Aeron chair doesn’t have depth seat adjustment at all but is available in three different sizes (each with different seat depth).

(Related: Steelcase Series 2 Office Chair: Worth $1,100?)

Both approaches have merit, but Leap’s is definitely more adaptable and easier to fine-tune.

  • Winner: Steelcase Leap.

2. Armrest Comfort.

Above: Aeron’s armrests are the best in business. Large, nice to the touch and adjustable.

The Herman Miller Aeron chair offers 3D armrests, while the Steelcase Leap does one better with 4D.

Both ergonomic chairs offer the best armrests I’ve ever tested on any chair.

While many believe that the Leap beats the Aeron in this department because of the extra adjustability dimension, I disagree.

(Related: ErgoTune Supreme vs Sihoo M57 Office Chairs: Which Is Best?)

Yes, you get separate width adjustments on the Leap, but Aeron’s armrests work just as well in practice -because they pivot and are much wider.

I’ve never felt like I ran out of real estate for my elbows or forearms while sitting in it.

The Aeron, however, does have a much better armrest cap.

Besides being bigger and more useful, the arm pads look and feel more premium overall. They are a nice touchpoint that I enjoy interacting with.

Leap’s armpads are just that – something to dig your elbow into.

  • Winner: Herman Miller Aeron.

3. Aesthetics & Design.

Above: Steelcase Leap looks nice on a pedestal, but is nowhere near as attractive as the Aeron.

This category is very subjective, so I won’t linger on it for very long.

I find the Steelcase Leap very boring to look at, and I would not buy it for this reason alone.

Leap’s design is very safe and conservative, but I like my home office space to look modern, bold, yet welcoming.

I think it’s overdue for a redesign to bring it more in line with the current aesthetic of the Haworth Fern office chair – a perfect blend of conservatism and edginess, in my opinion.

This may appeal to some people, but it looks like an older-style cubicle office chair to me.

When buying your Leap in Australia, you can spec it in one of 7 colours, but all of them are quite subdued and stick to the earthy, muddy palette.

(Related: Herman Miller Mirra 2: Poor Man’s Aeron?)

The Aeron, meanwhile, is available in a few shades of black (Graphite, Carbon or Onyx) or white (Mineral).

  • Winner: Herman Miller Aeron.

4. Lumbar Support Comfort.

Above: Note the height of Aeron’s lumbar support. The more surface area it covers, the less pokey it is.

The two office chairs have very different approaches to lumbar support. Are you surprised?

The designs are different, but both are effective.

Aeron chair’s lumbar support covers a lot of vertical space, making it more gentle and less pokey. You can adjust its depth (tension) but not the height.

The Leap, meanwhile, offers both height and depth adjustments. Despite the extra flexibility, it feels more pronounced. If you don’t like aggressive lumbar support, go with the Aeron.

  • Winner: Herman Miller Aeron.

5. Backrest Comfort.

Above: Leap’s backrest flexes with your back. The wheel on the right allows you to pre-select the recline limit.

People love the Leap’s backrest. Like the seat base, it moves and flexes with your body, allowing you to stretch, twist and lean back throughout your workday.

Aeron’s backrest, meanwhile, is rigid – and doesn’t bend at all. It cradles and keeps you in place, rather than letting you flex and move.

Once again, I’m a contrarian. I don’t care much for flexing in my ergonomic chair. If I feel like stretching and flexing, I’ll stand up.

This is why I prefer the Aeron’s backrest.

(Related: Ergonomic Chair vs Task Chair: What Is The Difference?)

But based on the dozens of reviews I’ve read, I think over 90% of people will disagree, so I’m awarding the award to the Leap.

Neither office chair, by the way, offers height adjustment on their backrest.

  • Winner: Steelcase Leap.

6. Recline Comfort.

Above: The Aeron’s recline reminds me of an old rocking chair. It’s buttery smooth and gentle.

You can’t beat Herman Miller Aeron’s recline. It’s smooth, deep and ideal for people who like to rock back in their office chairs.

It’s ideal for meetings where you lean back to discuss ideas, ponder and argue.

The Leap’s recline, is also comfortable. Its seat base slides forward while the backrest travels back.

This hip-thrust movement is great for reclining and staying in a certain position but is suboptimal for constant back/forth motion.

  • Winner: Herman Miller Aeron.

7. Build Quality.

Above: Steelcase Leap chair is very well made, but I can’t shake that plasticky vibe. It doesn’t feel like a $1,500 chair.

Both the Aeron and Leap score highly in build quality. Both are built and assembled in the USA. But the Aeron feels more like a high-end chair because of its rigid frame.

It feels more robust, a little more premium, and better put together overall.

Because the Leap is designed to flex, it’s built from soft plastics.

This gives it a less-than-premium appearance.

Aeron’s helical mesh is the highest quality mesh you can buy, while Leap’s fabric is also high-end. Both will last for years without wear or fade.

  • Winner: Herman Miller Aeron.

8. Pricing.

Above: Two Herman Miller Aeron will put a noticeable dent in your budget.

The Aeron is available in Australia for about $2,500, while the Leap costs around $1,500.

This is quite a large gap. Yes, you could make it less scary by annualising it as I did in the intro (is the difference between $150 and $250 per year that important, anyway?), but it’s also true that you could justify just about any luxury purchase by breaking it into weekly payments.

(That’s how people on $100K salaries end up with $250K Range Rover leases).

The price gap is not small.

In fact, it’s big enough to make a case that the Steelcase Leap and the Herman Miller Aeron are not direct competitors, as they’re not competing at the same price point.

You should also consider that you could buy almost two Leaps for a price of a single Aeron. While it’s a crude way of evaluating price, it becomes more relevant if you run a small business.

If, for example, you buy one for yourself and one for your business partner, your total bill comes to either $3,000 or $5,000 – depending on whether you choose the Leap or the Aeron.

The gap of $2,000 is hard to ignore.

But what if you have a team of 10 people?

Your gap is now $10,000. One purchase had you send an invoice for $15000 while the other added up to $25,000. These differences are not trivial.

  • Winner: Steelcase Leap.

9. Warranty.

Above: The Leap is built to last.

Both office chairs offer an unbeatable warranty.

You get 12 years warranty on parts and a lifetime warranty on the frame with the Leap. Herman Miller, meanwhile, offers 12 years warranty on all parts.

Both ergonomic chairs are rated for use 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year.
  • Winner: Tie.

10. Assembly.

Above: The Aeron arrives pre-assembled. Just open it and roll it to your home office.

Both ergonomic office chairs arrive fully assembled.

They arrive at your doorstep in a box, ready to use. Simply open the box, wheel out your chair and move it into position.

  • Winner: Tie.

My Verdict On The Herman Miller Aeron And Steelcase Leap Office Chairs.

The Herman Miller Aeron won this contest, scoring 7 points to the Leap’s 5.

It’s a classic ergonomic office chair with a comfortable seating position, an ergonomic design, highly adjustable lumbar support and a timeless design that will elevate your home office.

Unfortunately, it’s expensive.

Steelcase Leap office chair, meanwhile, is $1,000 cheaper. It’s also an ergonomic powerhouse, ideal for people who don’t mind its safe aesthetic and prefer its flexible frame.

The firmness of its seat pad and the aggressive nature of its lumbar support can be dealbreakers for many people. Make sure you test it thoroughly in the showroom before you buy.


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