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The Best Gaming Chair Is A Used Office Chair From Craigslist

You don't need a gamer chair. You don't need a new chair period. There are plenty of chairs out there, yearning to be set free.

I am a man of many chairs.

There is a running bit that I do online where I find really nice office chairs. I did not set out to find so many office chairs, but after you have found 2 or 3 Herman Miller's it’s hard to resist leaning into it. To date I have found 2 street Aerons, 2 Sayls, and found an additional Aeron online for 50 bucks. And as a man of many chairs, let me offer you some advice. Do not waste your money on a gaming chair, because the best chair for you is one you find getting thrown out during an office demolition or, barring that, from some guy on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.

For context, Herman Miller has been the gold standard of office chair brands for decades. The Aeron is iconic, and retails for more than $1,000 dollars, and gets pricier if you decide to kit it out. Though it is very debatable if it is currently the best chair you can buy, it persists for many reasons. First, it’s fairly durable and replacement parts are plentiful. Herman Miller has a generous warranty on these, and barring that they will sell you replacement parts for basically cost. You can absolutely repair this yourself with a hex wrench set. I know because I have done this. It also has a very breathable mesh bottom, which is easy to clean and nice if you sweat a lot or live in a place with humid summers. And while I should stress extreme caution with any furniture find, the Aeron in particular has no cloth surfaces and thus cleans up very easily.

The current chair I sit on is an emerald green Aeron that needed about 20 minutes worth of repairs on the lifting mechanism.

You may ask yourself, “Why have you found so many expensive chairs, Chris?” And if I had to guess it’s because I live in New York City during a once-in-a-lifetime collapse of the office market. Despite efforts to force workers back into the office, people are still working from home or in a hybrid setting. More than 95 million square feet of office space, or roughly 30 Empire State Buildings’ worth, is currently empty, according to 60 Minutes. I’m sure that’ll work itself out without disastrous consequences, but the net result is that a record amount of high end office furniture is finding its way into secondhand liquidators and, even worse, landfills, according to The New York Times this summer. A New Jersey liquidator interviewed in that piece said that they have “never seen so many Herman Miller chairs,” with another remarking that “the amount of waste in this industry would boggle your mind.”

This one I actually had to do some repairs on, but a replacement seat pan was like 90 bucks and now my friend sits on it.

This all lines up with where I have found my chairs: 2 were found in a residential neighborhood in need of very minor repairs, another was purchased cheaply from a professor who was leaving the city, one was found outside of decrepit WeWork (RIP), and 2 were found outside of the same office demolition. When I was wheeling my second away from that demolition, a well-off looking woman told me, “They were throwing a ton of them out earlier, we took four!” And while the specifics of New York real estate make this situation more extreme, it reflects a national reality: there are more chairs in offices than people who need them, and if you are near a major metropolitan area that had a robust downtown before COVID, you probably can find a good, durable, high-end chair that will last you decades for the cost of something ugly you buy off of Amazon and that tortures you for a year or two before promptly dying.

I have been meaning to write this for a while, but hearing that my colleague Gita is in pain has inspired me. I have been watching the used chair market for several years, and if you can’t find one for free from a dying office, you will likely be able to find an Aeron for $200-$250 depending on the condition. That said, there are other models to look for. The Sayl is a perfectly serviceable chair–I have one in my office for when my girlfriend or friends want to sit next to me when I sit at my computer.

One of Two Sayls I have found in my travels.

But the best chair is debatably not even a Herman Miller at all, but the Steelcase Leap V2. The Leap V2 came out top in Gearlab’s testing and was preferred over the iconic but aging Aeron. Because it doesn’t have the iconic cache of the Aeron, it is usually easier to get a deal on it. If you’re on the hunt, you have a lot of options: the Leap V2, the Steelcase Series 2, the Sayl, the Cosm, and on the high end the Gesture and the Embody. Keep your options open, make sure you look up and see what you like, watch Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, and you will get a chair in no time.

Replacement armrests for these things cost like $20-$25 on eBay. This one had a minor issue with the arm raising mechanism which I fixed in 20 minutes with some keyboard lube I had lying around.

It took me two seconds to find a chair for Gita. There’s a guy in south Brooklyn who makes a living on Sukkah tents and has entire rooms full of Aerons and Leaps, and frequently posts about them on Facebook. Someone who follows me got a Leap V2 in good condition for about $200 bucks, which is a solid deal, and if you don’t believe me see how much they retail for. I’m planning on helping Gita pick it up, not just because I’m a friend and colleague, but because I have made it my mission to help any friend suffer less and sit comfortably whenever possible.

Aerons have a legacy and are very easy to repair but the Steelcase Leap V2 is well-loved and can be snagged for cheap if you know where to look. Keep an eye out for listings that say just "office chair" and have this distinctive shape.

Finding so many chairs has changed something in me. I now often think about the sheer scale of waste in America, a constant that is debatably in our national character. I think about the countless rows of empty office buildings, a ticking timebomb of dead capital, and the countless vacant condos that are being warehoused rather than put to good use. The rich would rather see these places and things stay dead if it made them a dollar, either sealed up or thrown in a dumpster rather than put to work. That’s maybe a lot to extrapolate from an office chair. But if my experience is any indication, there are plenty of nice office chairs for everyone, waiting to be set free, enough that none of us have to feel back pain ever again.

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