I recently reviewed the Vari ProPlus 36 Electric Sit-Stand desk converter. It’s awesome. (Read my review.) I also reviewed the Vari PowerHub. It’s also pretty great. (Read my review.) In the third and last review of this series, we are taking a look at the Vari Active Seat. This unusual chair was built with sit-stand desks in mind!
When you are seated at your desk, it makes sense to have a supportive, comfortable chair. When you are standing at your sit-stand desk, it makes sense to… stand. Still, there are times when you don’t want to simply sit or stand. This middle ground between sitting and standing is where the Vari Active Seat comes in. It serves the same function as the sit-stand stool I reviewed some months back, but it offers more stability and support. As the company explains:
Want to get more out of your Vari desk? Looking for a way to stay active when you’re sitting? The Vari Active Seat is the perfect complement to your everyday desk chair.
The Vari Active Seat looks like a stool with a flat seat and a short rise at the back. The chair arrived fully assembled. All I needed to do was pull it from the box, removed the protective plastic and drag it over to my desk. What could be easier than that?
The base of the chair is a wide, flat, heavy rubber. It is wide enough to offer stability and “grippy” enough that it won’t slide around the floor. The center-front portion of the base has a bit of a groove which is perfect for resting your feet when fully seated. The base measures 15.75″w x 15.75″d. It is weighted and, as a result, the Vari Active Seat comes in at more than 26 pounds.
The air-lift piston also raises the seat up to 32.75” (83.19 cm), allowing you to lean on it comfortably when standing.
The central support is a pneumatic piston that can raise or lower the chair depending on whether you are sitting, standing, or leaning while the desk is set somewhere between the heights you would want for sitting or standing. The chair can go as low as 23” and as high as 32.75”.
The frame of the seat is made of hard plastic and is covered with a soft material that offers just enough cushioning to make sitting on it comfortable for an extended period.
There’s a slight rise at the back. This not only offers some protection from slipping back off the chair but it also serves as a handgrip so you can easily move the chair from one location to another. That’s important since the Vari Active Seat is surprisingly heavy. Beneath the right side of the Vari Active Seat, there is a small lever that, when depressed, allows you to adjust the chair’s height. The chair is well-built and, as a result, can hold up to 220 pounds.
Vari has this to say about the product:
Designed to engage your leg, back and core muscles, the Vari Active Seat gives you the freedom to move throughout your day, letting you stay active while seated or leaning. Its low back encourages good posture while seated, and the durable, cushioned seat and articulating pedestal offer a wide range of motion, so you can rock or stretch while sitting. If you choose to raise the stool and lean while standing, you can still work your legs, back, and core.
The point where the “air-lift piston” meets the base is a pivot point. It lets you lean forward or back while still getting the support of the chair. There is enough tension in it that it won’t shift on you accidentally but by shifting your weight forward you can easily adjust to the proper, most comfortable angle when your weight is fully on the chair, and you shift forward or back. This design offers a “dynamic range of movement both sitting and standing.” And while it may not look comfortable, after using it for a few weeks, I can honestly say it is!
The health benefits of using a sit-stand desk should be obvious, but Vari highlights them when they note the desk is ideal for staying active while seated or leaning and the “low profile back” helps promote good posture.
- Dynamic range of movement both sitting and standing
- An active complement to your existing desk chair
- Free shipping to the lower 48 states
- Air-lift piston mechanism
- Comes fully assembled and ready to use
- Standing desk stool with a minimal footprint
- Low profile back to promote good posture
- Adjustment Range: 23” to 32.75″ (58.42 cm to 83.19 cm)
I reviewed several sit-stand desks last year. As part of that series of reviews, I received an adjustable stool designed for such desks. It has a circular seat and sits on a convex base that easily rocks front to back or side to side. It’s good for learning but because the base is convex, it moves easily. As a result, using the stool requires constant awareness of how your body is positioned. In theory that may sound like a good thing but, in practice, it can quickly become a distraction from the work you are trying to focus on.
The Vari Active Seat is intended for the same type of use but, by striking a balance between a sit-stand stool and more traditional seating, it is far more stable. That, in turn, means you don’t need to think about staying upright while using it. So I while the sit-stand tool would often tire me out, I’ve found I can use the Vari Active Seat for an extended period with minimal fatigue. In fact, over the weeks I have been reviewing it I’ve noticed a subtle shift in the balance of time I sit it versus my traditional desk chair. Initially, I used the Vari Active Seat about 10% of the day, but that has, at a minimum, tripled over these weeks.
There’s a lot to like about the Vari Active Seat. It arrived fully assembled and ready for use. It offers a solid platform for both sitting and leaning. It quickly adjusts so you can use it with a standard height desk or a desk raised for working while standing. The seat offers enough cushioning that your rear end won’t get sore. The handle built into the raised back makes moving it simple. And, at its lowest position, it can slip under a standard height desk so you won’t add to your office clutter when it is not being used.
Vari describes the Vari Active Seat as, “the best standing desk chair, adjustable stool, or just a seating option that helps you stay sitting up straight at work…” I’m not an expert on chairs and stool that are intended for use with a sit-stand desk so I can’t verify the claim of it being “the best…” I can, however, attest to the fact that the Vari Active Seat is an absolute pleasure to use.
Whether you are sitting at a standard-height desk or stand/leaning with a raised desk, the Vari Active Seat offers a stable, comfortable way to work. It takes a few days to get comfortable using it but, after that initial “learning curve” it is a great way to maximize the benefits of your new sit-stand desk. Best of all, Varichair is just $195. Considering the quality of the product, the thoughtful design and, most importantly, the fact that it gets the job done, I think that’s a fantastic price.
The Vari Active Seat sells for $255; it is available directly from the manufacturer.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Arrives fully assembled; Comfortable for both sitting and leaning; Easily adjust the height; Seatback also makes it easy to move; Stable
What Needs Improvement: Nothing comes to mind. The Vari Active Seat does exactly what it promises