Thinking about investing in a premium ergonomic chair and have your eye on either the Herman Miller Aeron or Steelcase Leap v2?
In this article, we’ll discuss how each chair compares based on a number of key features, including price, ergonomic features, appearance and build quality.
I’ve tried to provide “quick snapshot tables” where relevant, so you can get a comparison at a glance.
I also go into a more detailed comparison afterwards so you can dig deeper into the features you care about.
By the end, I hope you’ll leave with a better understanding of which chair might suit your needs, or whether you want to consider other alternatives.
Herman Miller Aeron vs Steelcase Leap v2 Quick Comparison
Herman Miller Aeron chair
- Supports three different sizes
- Top tier build quality
- Highly adjustable overall
- Very smooth recline function
- Breathable and comfortable mesh
- Comfortable armrests
- Good warranty & return policy
- Ships fully assembled
- Large market for used Aerons, giving more options to acquire cheaply or to resell in the future
- Seat edges are hard and curved upwards, which some find uncomfortable
- No seat depth adjustment
- No back height adjustment
- No armrest width adjustment
- Frame from the seat and back can be felt by some users
- Limited options in terms of appearance & color
- More expensive than the Steelcase Leap v2
Steelcase Leap v2 chair
- High build quality
- Great adjustability overall
- 4-Way adjustable armrests
- Height & tension adjustable lumbar support
- Flexible back support
- Very comfortable seat with a soft, flexible edge
- Lots of color options
- Good warranty & return policy
- Ships fully assembled
- Only comes in a single size (although there is the separate Leap Plus for larger users)
- Armrests don’t change angle when you recline
- Protrusion between the armrests and the seat can be uncomfortable for larger folks
- Not cheap (but still a little cheaper than the Aeron)
With that quick comparison of PROs and CONs out of the way, let’s walk through a more detailed comparison of chair features.
Herman Miller Aeron vs Steelcase Leap v2: Price
Price quick comparison table
The cost of the Herman Miller Aeron chair or Steelcase Leap v2 chair varies depending on which optional add-ons you choose when buying.
To see what the price (in USD) looks like at three different add-on levels, see the table below.
|Most basic||What most will want||Maximum add-ons|
|Herman Miller Aeron||$1195|
-“Bare bones” features
-Adjustable armrests & lumbar support
-Tilt limiting & seat angle
-“All of the options please”
|Steelcase Leap v2||$1128|
-Height only adjustable armrests
-No additional lumbar support
-Wheels for carpet
-4 way adjustable armrests
-Height-adjustable lumbar support
-Wheels for carpet
-4 way adjustable armrests
-Additional lumbar support
-Wheels for hard floor
Generally, the Steelcase Leap v2 chair will cost several hundred dollars less than the Herman Miller Aeron chair.
Note: obviously, the middle column above is subjective based on what I would personally expect in a top-end chair. To play around with the various options yourself, check the Leap v2 product listing page on the Steelcase website, as well as the official Aeron listing.
Herman Miller Aeron price
The Herman Miller Aeron chair ranges from $1195 (starting price) – $2195 (maximum price with add ons) .
The starting price gets you a basic version of the chair, with a graphite frame and base, no adjustable lumbar support, no tilt limiter or seat angle adjustment, and stationary armrests.
As I’ve noted in a previous article, I think paying more than $1,000 for a top tier ergonomic chair and not choosing these features doesn’t make much sense..
So, arguably, you’re looking at closer to $1625 for a version of the Herman Miller Aeron chair that you’d actually want. That’s assuming you want fully adjustable armrests, adjustable lumbar support and tilt limiting / seat angle capabilities.
To test the various customisation options and their impact on their price, check out the Aeron product page.
Steelcase Leap v2 price
The Steelcase Leap v2 chair ranges from $1128 (starting price) – $1460 (maximum price with add ons).
Here, you can expect to pay closer to $1345 for the Steelcase Leap if you’re looking for the adjustment options you’d expect from a premium ergonomic chair.
In particular, if you’re looking for 4-way adjustable armrests (vs height-only on the “basic” version), and additional height-adjustable lumbar support.
To see the price impacts of the various add-ons, check out the official Steelcase Leap v2 product page.
Herman Miller Aeron vs Steelcase Leap v2: Ergonomic features
Feature comparison table
|Herman Miller Aeron||Steelcase Leap v2|
|Sizing||3 sizes||1 size only|
Seat angle adjustable
Flexible seat edge
|Lumbar Support||Height adjustable lumbar pad OR tension-adjustable PostureFit support||Built-in “LiveBack” back support|
Lumbar tension adjustable
Additional height adjustable support (optional add-on)
Pivot adjustable (in, straight or out)
|4-Dimension adjustable (height, width, depth & pivot)|
|Tilt||Dynamic seat tilt|
Tilt tension adjustable
Tilt limiter & lock
|Dynamic seat tilt|
Tilt tension adjustable
4 recline angle stop settings
Upright back lock
The Herman Miller Aeron chair is available in 3 sizes: Size A (small), Size B (medium), and Size C (large).
This enables you to choose the size that best suits your body type.
For most people, the Size B Aeron chair is a suitable option, but those on the smaller side may want Size A and larger users may want Size C.
You can check out our article here for more information on how to pick the best size for you.
In the case of the Steelcase Leap v2 chair, only one standard size is available.
However, the various available adjustment options (4D armrests, height and tension adjustable lumbar support, etc) allow the chair to work for almost any body type.
As you’d expect, both the Herman Miller Aeron and Steelcase Leap v2 chairs allow for pneumatic seat height adjustment via a lever.
One adjustment missing in the Aeron chair is seat depth adjustment, which is what lets you control how far forward or back the seat is relative to the backrest.
Changing the seat depth ensures the seat is at a comfortable distance from the back of your knees and isn’t digging in.
However, the Aeron mitigates this issue by offering multiple size options, so that the default seat depth will be suitable in most cases.
By contrast, the Steelcase Leap v2 DOES allow you to adjust seat depth, offering a little more flexibility in this respect than the Aeron.
If you happen to have body proportions that don’t quite fit one of the three standard Aeron sizes, the greater seat depth adjustability here is something to keep in mind.
Additionally, the Steelcase Leap v2 sports a flexible seat edge composed of high-density foam and infused air pockets. Some users find this to be more comfortable than the harder plastic around the Aeron seat edge .
With the Herman Miller Aeron chair you can choose either: no adjustable support (just fixed support), a simple height-adjustable lumbar pad, or a larger “PostureFit” SL support (no height adjustment but you can adjust the tension or pressure).
The height-adjustable lumbar pad is a simple but effective option that allows you to move the support up or down. You can also flip the lumbar pad around to slightly increase the lumbar depth or pressure applied.
Alternatively, you can opt for the PostureFit support, which consists of two separate pads supporting both the sacral (tailbone) and the lumbar (lower back) regions. This helps your pelvis maintain a natural forward tilt.
Unlike the lumbar pad, the PostureFit support is not height-adjustable, but you can adjust the depth or tension by turning a knob.
See this video for a quick comparison of the lumbar support options:
The Steelcase Leap v2 comes with built-in “LiveBack” back support, which involves a flexible backrest that changes shape to support the natural S-curve of your back.
The Steelcase Leap v2 chair also provides the option to adjust the height of the lumbar support if you select the ‘Additional lumbar support’ option when purchasing ($47 extra… pretty worth it in my opinion!).
This is a little plastic “clip” on the side of the backrest that you can slide up or down to change where the lumbar pressure is applied.
There is also a built-in lumbar tension dial, which allows you to adjust the amount of forward tension the lumbar support applies.
In the Herman Miller Aeron, your armrest options are: fixed armrests, height-only adjustable armrests, or fully adjustable armrests (height, depth & pivot).
Fully adjustable means the armrests can be adjusted up or down as well, forward or back, and angled inwards or outwards. There are three possible pivot positions (inwards, straight, or outwards).
One cool thing about the Herman Miller Aeron armrests is they are attached to the backrest, which means their angle moves with you as you recline. This provides better arm support when leaning back compared to the Steelcase Leap v2.
One minor limitation of the Aeron armrests is their lack of width adjustment. Many users may not care about this, but it might be an issue for those who are built outside of normal body proportions (i.e. particularly small or large people).
In terms of material, the Aeron armrests are made from either soft polyurethane foam (standard armrests) or leather if you pay a little extra. They are known for being highly comfortable and soft to the touch.
With the Steelcase Leap v2 chair, your options are: no armrests, height-adjustable only armrests, or 4-way adjustable armrests (height, depth, width & pivot).
The 4-way adjustable armrests are actually a step up compared to the Aeron armrests in terms of adjustability. This may be a compelling selling point for some users, although they do set you back an additional $74.
If you’re on the smaller or shorter side, you may want to invest in the fully adjustable armrest add-on, so that the armrest width and depth can be best tailored to your body type.
The Herman Miller Aeron chair allows you to smoothly recline backwards, with the backrest and seat angles changing to support you through the motion.
The amount of resistance (tilt tension) provided by the chair as you tilt backwards can be adjusted by a dial on the side of the chair.
It is also possible to lock or limit how far back your Aeron chair can tilt using the tilt limiter add-on.
There are three tilt limit positions available: a fully reclined position, a medium level of recline, and a fully upright position.
Note, the older Aeron classic chairs (pre-2017) allowed the tilt limit position to be set at any point in the recline range, rather than limiting you to 3 possible limit positions.
As well, the Aeron also supports a forward tilt feature as part of the tilt limiter add-on. This allows you to tilt the backrest and seat angle forward, which some users like when they want to adjust their pelvic tilt or focus on a task.
Like the Aeron, the Steelcase Leap v2 chair allows you to recline backwards. You can also increase or decrease the amount of tilt tension when doing so via a knob on the side.
In terms of tilt limiting, you can stop the tilt at five different positions, meaning the chair won’t recline back past that position. These five positions vary from fully reclined to a fully upright position.
Unlike the Aeron, the Steelcase Leap v2 chair does not have a forward tilt mechanism. However, the front seat edge is quite flexible, which allows you to lean forward comfortably .
To see these various Steelcase Leap adjustments in action, check out this video:
Herman Miller Aeron vs Steelcase Leap v2: Aesthetics
When it comes to color options, the Herman Miller Aeron chair primarily offers a selection of neutral colors, including black, dark grey (graphite) and silver (mineral / aluminum).
The range offered is more limited than in the Steelcase Leap v2 chair, which is something to be aware of if you enjoy a splash of color or personality.
The Steelcase Leap v2 chair’s color options range from neutral colors (blacks, grays and whites) to more lively picks (reds, blues, greens and pinks).
Of course, these colors have sexy marketing names like “Pink Lemonade”, “Cobalt” and “Night Owl”, but you get the gist!
You can check out the range of color and fabric options on the interactive Steelcase Leap v2 product listing page.
In terms of overall appearance, the distinctive mesh upholstery and elegant curved seat of the Aeron give it more of a “Wow!” factor than the Steelcase Leap v2.
It’s pretty clear looking at the Aeron that you’re dealing with a high-end ergonomic chair.
To the uninitiated, the Steelcase Leap v2 may not seem as sexy or as obviously high-end, even though from a build quality and adjustability standpoint it’s definitely in that category.
That said, the Steelcase Leap doesn’t look BAD. It still looks sleek and well-designed, so not looking as flashy isn’t a big deal in my books. Ultimately, the goal for most is to have a comfortable sitting experience, not trying to look flashy.
Which of the two chairs you prefer looks-wise is a matter of personal taste. Both options look elegant and are great additions to most work environments.
Herman Miller Aeron vs Steelcase Leap v2: Build materials & quality
Both the Aeron and Steelcase Leap are made from high-quality components that fit together well and are highly durable.
One big difference in terms of materials used is the greater usage of plastic in the Steelcase Leap v2 compared to the Aeron chair.
This allows the Steelcase Leap chair to be surprisingly lightweight and flexible, adapting well to user movements in the chair.
Whilst plastic has a reputation for being a cheaper material, there’s nothing cheap about how it’s used in the Steelcase Leap. The fit and finish is excellent, and the chair parts function smoothly together.
The Aeron chair also uses plastic (especially the newer Remastered model), but makes more use of aluminum in its construction. The overall build quality and finish on the Herman Miller Aeron chair is top tier and hard to beat, even by a quality chair like the Steelcase Leap.
The other key difference in terms of build materials is the upholstery choice.
The Aeron chair uses a distinctive, very high-quality mesh called 8Z Pellicle mesh. This mesh material is used throughout the backrest and the seat.
The 8Z Pellicle mesh is breathable, soft to touch and very durable. Sitting on this mesh is designed to feel like you’re floating.
By contrast, the Steelcase Leap uses an opaque fabric cushioned by high density foam.
This fabric more closely resembles the fabric you tend to find on other office chairs, and so may be more familiar to many users.
While this fabric choice may look less catchy than the Aeron’s mesh, users report finding the fabric cushioning on the Leap seat very comfortable .
In terms of weight capacity, both chairs are built to carry almost anyone.
The Herman Miller Aeron can support up to 350 lbs (except the Aeron Size A, which only claims a weight capacity of 300 lbs).
The Steelcase Leap v2 provides a slightly higher weight capacity, supporting up to 400 lbs.
Warranty & returns
The Herman Miller Aeron chair is covered under Herman Miller’s compelling 12 year warranty, which covers both parts and labor.
The Steelcase Leap chair is covered by one of the strongest warranties in the industry, arguably even better than Herman Miller’s.
Under this warranty, any defects with the frame of the chair are covered for the lifetime of the original owner. Other smaller components in the chair like the adjustment mechanisms, foam padding, gas cylinders and wheel casters are covered for a 12 year period.
This would normally mean getting the cost of repairs or replacement parts covered by Steelcase. In cases where that isn’t commercially feasible, Steelcase will provide a refund or credit for the product.
So both chairs offer compelling warranties, which gives you confidence they’ll have a long shelf life.
Verdict: Is Herman Miller Aeron or Steelcase Leap v2 better?
The Herman Miller Aeron and Steelcase Leap v2 chairs are two of the most popular ergonomic chairs available today.
Each chair has a devoted fan base and a lot to offer. That said, the Aeron chair is often a bit more polarizing than the Steelcase Leap.
With the Aeron, users tend to either “love it or hate it”, based on how they feel about the mesh fabric and feel of the seat.
In terms of strengths, the overall build quality and luxurious recline function in the Aeron is hard to beat. Users that enjoy the breathable mesh and sensation of floating while sitting will likely fall in the “love” camp.
Users that don’t like the feel of the seat edges or material may opt for the Steelcase Leap or another alternative instead.
If you’re a fan of the lightweight plastic construction and flexible back support, then the Steelcase Leap v2 may be more your cup of tea.
Before deciding on either chair, I’d recommend you look for any Herman Miller and Steelcase dealerships / showrooms near you.
These normally allow you to try each chair in person, so you can get a hands-on feel for what each chair is like and how it works with your body before spending your hard earned cash!
I hope this article has been helpful to you & thanks for reading.