Steelcase Leap vs Humanscale Freedom: A Complete Guide


Are you relatively new to the world of ergonomic chairs? Or are you looking for the perfect ergonomic chair for your workspace? If you’ve been scouring the internet, chances are you’ve come across these two brands: steelcase leap vs humanscale freedom. These are two popular ergonomic office chairs on the market, so what sets them apart?

The main differences between the two are the technology and ergonomic elements. Steelcase Leap prides itself in its LiveBack technology, a unique feature in only 3% of ergonomic chairs. It also has impressive breathability elements and improved ergonomics. Humanscale Freedom sets itself apart with its dynamic headrest and unique self-adjusting recline.

Steelcase and Humanscale are world-class leaders in the office chair industry. Both companies have won countless awards in design, functionality, and ergonomics. The tricky part is choosing what brand to go for, as both offer high-quality office chairs for all and sundry.

Not to worry, that’s what we’re here to find out! I have conducted extensive research on both chairs, and I’m here to share my findings with you! So, without wasting any more time, let’s get into it!

Steelcase Leap

Steelcase Leap Office Chair, Black Frame and Buzz2 Black Fabric

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as of February 10, 2024 11:42 pm

Steelcase is a US-based furniture company originally founded in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Founded in 1912, the company is over 100 years old! It has manufacturing facilities in Asia, Europe, and North America, storerooms in Dubai, Melbourne, and Sydney, and global business centers in Malaysia and Mexico. Clearly, Steelcase is a global force to be reckoned with.

The main selling point of Steelcase’s Leap is its LiveBack technology in the backrest. This technology follows the movement of your back and changes its shape to support your spine. The chair comes with fully adjustable arms to support your arms and torso.

The Leap’s breathability is on another level. First, it has a fabric upholstery of 100% polyester. Then, the backrest and seat have special foam padding. This is different from your regular foam padding in most ergonomic chairs. This foam prevents the chair from getting hot, giving it extra breathability.

The best thing about this chair is that it comes fully assembled, and 12 years manufacturer’s warranty backs it. Good job, Steelcase!


  1. Exceptional Lumbar Support: The Leap chair features a unique lumbar support system called LiveBack technology. This lumbar support mimics the movement of your back to deliver optimal back support and keep your spine in its healthy S-shape.
  • Curved Backrest: The backrest has a contoured shape that is ideal for a healthy back. The lower region of the backrest has a curve that fits perfectly with the spine’s shape. This is a remarkable feature if you suffer from lower back pain.
  • Fully Adjustable Arms: The Leap’s arms adjust up and down, forward and backward, and side to side for you to decide the best-relaxed position for your arms.
  • Thermal Comfort: The Leap has a unique foam cushion in the seat and backrest that cools the chair down and prevents the chair from getting hot.
  • No Assembly Required: The chair comes fully assembled. All you have to do is get it out of the box. No stress!
  • Long-lasting: The chair comes fully backed with 12 years warranty. You won’t need another office chair for a long time.


  1. The downside to this otherwise perfect chair is that it doesn’t have a headrest.

Humanscale Freedom

Humanscale Freedom Headrest Chair - Wave

as of February 10, 2024 11:42 pm

Yet another big name in the furniture industry, Humanscale, was founded in 1983 by Bob King, its CEO at the time. Humanscale is another global leader in ergonomics if its solid reputation for intuitive products is anything to go by. One of its most popular chairs is the Freedom chair, designed by Niels Diffrient. According to Humanscale, Freedom’s peculiarity is its adjustability without knobs or levers.

A classic piece, the Freedom chair has a timeless aesthetic that fits and complements any workspace. This innovative chair adjusts automatically to its user, just like Steelcase’s Gesture. Building on its innovative nature, the chair is designed to eliminate the need for manual controls. So, it features a refined weight-sensitive self-locking recline mechanism.

Another unique feature of Freedom is its dynamic headrest. The headrest cradles the head and neck when reclined, delivering optimum support and unrivaled comfort. However, it moves out of the way when the chair is upright.


  1. Technologically Advanced: Steelcase did a fantastic job with Freedom, eliminating manual adjustments. It adapts to the user’s body and movements, giving the user better comfort and ease of use.
  • Self-recline: This self-recline feature is possible thanks to Humanscale’s revolutionary counter-balance mechanism. There is no resistance on the backrest, which is perfect for concentration and productivity.
  • Synchronous Armrests: The chair’s armrests move in harmony, staying with you during reclining, giving supported balance.
  • Dynamic Headrest: This headrest delivers support and balance to the head and neck while staying neutral when upright.
  • Lightweight: The chair is easy to assemble and move around, thanks to its 49lbs weight.
  • Environmentally Sustainable: Made with 62% recycled content and 90% recyclable, Freedom chair is Greenguard Certified. It is not a hazard to the environment.


  1. There is no dedicated lumbar support.
  2. Arms only move in unison.

Steelcase Leap vs Humanscale Freedom: An In-Depth Analysis

Steelcase and Humanscale are industry giants in their rights. Both chairs have appeared on hit TV shows such as “Dexter” and “Three Rivers” (Steelcase Leap) and “House” and “How I Met Your Mother” (Humanscale Freedom). These office chairs are a hit, and their respective popularity shows I’m right.

Both chairs are similar to some extent. They both offer a significant degree of lower back support, delivering the right amount of pressure on your spine. This helps to maintain the spine’s natural curve and prevent lower back pain.

Both chairs have similar adaptive mechanisms. They have features that work with the individual’s weight and react and flex to movements and postures. This makes for a comfortable seating experience.

Also, both have impressive technology and adjustability. Let’s not forget that they also accommodate a wide range of users.

We’ve looked at the similarities of both chairs. Now, let’s see how they differ.


Steelcase made the Leap for practicality and comfort. You’ve got the Leap’s patented Natural Glide adjustment. This allows the seat to glide forward so you can recline without leaving your optimal work zone. So cool!

There’s also Thermal Comfort, which means slats with special foam in the seat and backrest. Air pockets embedded in the seat and backrest absorb heat and keep the chair cool. This essential element of breathability keeps the chair from getting hot.

Also, with the air pockets in the seat, the seat’s edge flexes and conforms to your body to relieve pressure points under your thighs.

Freedom chair also has customizable adjustments for comfort, but it is not up to par with the Leap chair. The backrest adjusts up and down. Armrests also adjust but synchronously. Freedom has limited adjustability, which hinders it from reaching its full potential.

But the good thing is that it comes with a dynamic headrest, unlike the Leap that doesn’t. The headrest gently cradles the head and neck but stays out of the way when it’s time to get serious.

Verdict: The Freedom has a unique feature (headrest), but the Leap still outnumbers it. So the Leap is the winner here.

Lumbar Support

Here lies the major difference between the Steelcase Leap and Humanscale Freedom. The Leap chair features the unique LiveBack technology; no other chair offers this. With this technology, the backrest follows or mimics the movement of your back. It does this continuously to deliver consistent back support.

You can adjust the amount of contour the backrest provides to your preference. Once set, the back will still continue to react to changes when you’re seated. You can lock the chair in a specific recline or upright position of your choice.

The lumbar support is height adjustable. There is also the lower back firmness control for you to set your preferred level of support for your lower back.

The Freedom chair does not have such sophisticated lumbar support. But it makes up for it with its counter-balance, weigh-sensitive recline system. The recline does not lock. Instead, your body holds the recline angle in place, hence the name – self-recline.

Verdict: The Leap takes the crown for its one-of-a-kind lumbar support.


Steelcase Leap has a myriad of ergonomic features. These include seat height and depth adjustment, fully adjustable 4D armrests, height adjustable lumbar support, lower back firmness control, a 5-position lock with recline tension adjustment, and comfortable foam padding.

Humanscale Freedom offers lumbar support, standard or gel seat pads, dynamic headrest, seat height adjustment, and weight-sensitive self-adjusting recline.

Verdict: Both chairs have something to offer, but the Leap has a slight edge.


This is another significant difference. The Leap has fully adjustable arms that telescope in and out, up and down, with height adjustability as well. The armrests are designed to remain parallel to your workspace, allowing support for your arms, elbows, shoulders, and upper torso.

The armrests of the Freedom have a wide range of adjustability as well. The only issue here is that both arms are synchronous. This means they have to move in unison, unlike the Leap’s arms which can move individually.

Verdict: The Leap wins for a broader range of armrests adjustability.

Steelcase Leap vs Humanscale Freedom: Which One Is Better?

Answering this question is arduous as each chair offers something the other doesn’t. Steelcase leans more on the premium high-end scale of chairs. On the other hand, Humanscale focuses more on design, practicality, and affordability. So, which chair is the right fit for you?

This is what I can tell you. If you want a premium chair with high-end ergonomics, the Leap, with its LiveBack and other technologies, will suit your high-end taste (ha!). Check the price of Steelcase Leap here.

If you want a practical chair with all the works and don’t want to break the bank, Freedom, with its unique headrest and self-recline, is your best bet. Check the price of Humanscale Freedom here.

Sourav Biswas

I’ve been passionate about chair for as long as I can remember. I love the way they look, the way they feel, and the way they make me feel. I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting chairs to write about, and I’m never afraid to experiment with different styles and materials.

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