For ultra wide people, there are very few things in life more uncomfortable than sitting in a narrow office chair for hours on end. Like your last trip to Europe flying coach, it gives a whole new meaning to the expression “sardine in a can”.
With standard office chairs catering to the average adult frame, for wilder people whose waist lines are above the norm (40″ for males and 38.7″ for females), finding a spacious office chair can be challenging. Very challenging.
In this guide, we look at some of the widest office chairs available on the market right now that are also ergonomic to boot. Sitting comfortably and with the proper support shouldn’t be something afforded to only normal sized people.
Checklist for a Wide Office Chair
As a wide or large person, there are 3 main areas to check off when buying an office chair. Being aware of these important factors maximizes your chance of finding a chair that suits your body on the first try.
Large Seat Pan Width
The proper seat width will let you enter and exit your chair easily. Not having enough seat width between the armrests means that your movement will be limited and your blood circulation will be constricted.
According to the BIFMA Ergonomic Guidelines, a seat width of 19.2” will adequately accommodate most people. For really wide people however, a seat pan width of 22″ or larger is more realistic. In general OSHA suggests that the seat width should be the width of the thighs at a minimum.
To know the appropriate seat width for your body, seat straight with your thighs slightly apart. Then, measure the lateral distance across your thighs. Add 2 to 3 inches to allow for clothing and movement.
In terms of armrests, though some larger people prefer chairs with no armrests, from an ergonomic standpoint, they are important in providing constant support for your arms, plus leverage when existing the chair. A unit with armrests that can be adjusted sideways is ideal.
Larger Seat Depth
The seat depth is the horizontal distance from your buttocks to the back of your knees.
A proper seat depth ensures that you can sit in the chair comfortably without putting pressure on the back of your knees. It will also offer ample buttocks and thigh support without restricting blood flow.
For most people, a seat pan depth of 15 to 17 inches is enough, based on OSHA’s guidelines. Once again however, for wide people, we recommend you add at least a couple of inches to those numbers.
The ideal seat depth should leave a gap of 2 to 3 fingers between the front edge of the seat and the back of the knees.
Inadequate seat depth leaves part of your inner knees unsupported as you sit. On the other hand, a seat depth that is too deep prevents your back from getting adequate backrest support. Both have precarious effects in the long run.
Higher Weight Capacity
Standard office chairs can usually only handle up to 250 pounds of weight. As an wide person, you will most likely need a chair that can handle more than that. So, the chairs that we’ve recommended below all have a weight capacity of 400 to 500 pounds.
An office chair with a high weight limit indicates that the chair has been designed with the durability suitable for a person that is larger and wider than normal.
Allowing for extra weight bearing is also important. For example, if you weigh exactly 400 pounds, a chair with a weight capacity of 450 pounds would be a better pick.
Best Office Chairs for Wide People
Know that you understand what to look for in an office chair, the following are some of the best and widest office chairs you can buy at the moment.
- Seat Width: 24”
- Seat Depth: 20”
- Height Adjustments: 18 to 21”
- Maximum Capacity: 450 lbs
With an ultra wide seat pan and large weight capacity, this is Amazon’s best shot at catering to the big and wide audience at a budget. And overall they have succeeded beautifully.
For people still having nightmares on putting together their last cabinet from Ikea, first off, the Amazon chair is the easiest we’ve found to put together. Clear instructions coupled with only a few parts means you will be up and running in under 20 minutes.
Lumbar Support Depth Adjustable: A rare find in cheaper office chairs, the lumbar support on the Amazon chair is depth adjustable. Dial the round knob at the back to tweak the depth of the lumbar support.
Robust Armrests: While the distance between the armrests is fixed at around 21″, during installation, you can set it at its maximum distance of 23″, or remove them altogether. Height can obviously also be adjusted from 5 to 9 inches above the seat with the push of a button.
Decent Manual Tilt: This Amazon Chair doesn’t recline unfortunately, though it does tilt so you’re not locked into a single sitting angle. When you want to relax your back, just push back with your feet to activate the tilt mechanism.
Ventilating Mesh Back: This mesh-backed chair keeps your back well-ventilated as you work long hours.
Lightweight: Amazon Big and Tall is lightest chair on our list at 45.2 pounds. For comparison, the Hercules Big and Tall weighs 62 pounds.
The weak point of this chair is its hard armrests. After a while your elbows may start to get sore from resting on the hard surface. An easy workaround is to get some armrest pads.
Overall, the AmazonBasics Big and Tall Mesh is your best bet for a cheap, quality office chair if you have a short but wide build.
Waterfall-Edged Seat: The 24/7 has a gently sloping front edge seat that encourages blood flow to the lower extremities. This prevents your legs from going numb even after long hours of work.
- Seat Width: 22.5”
- Seat Depth: 22”
- Height Adjustments: 20 to 24”
- Maximum Capacity: 500 lbs
Flash Furniture has been producing a line of office chairs for the ultra wide and tall for many years now. One of their most durable models is the Hercules Series, Let’s just say this is a beast of a chair.
The most common feedback about the Big and Tall is that it’s built like a tank. One buyer who weighs 460 pounds was impressed that this sturdy chair didn’t creak one bit even when he changed positions.
Padded Flip-Up Armrests: A common bottleneck with office chairs for very wide people are the armrests getting in the way. The Flash Furniture Hercules features flip up arms that can easily be dismissed
Adjustable Lumbar Support: Change the depth of the lumbar support into the backseat to get various levels of back support.
Back Tilt and Tilt Tension: Featuring both tilt and tilt tension control, this helps relax your back as you sit To unlock the tilt, just pull the height adjustment rod away from the chair. To lock in an upright position, just push the rod back.
Easy to Assemble: Unlike some of the other wide chairs that we’ve checked, the Big and Tall can be easily assembled by just one person. The back snaps into place before you bolt it in. This means that you don’t have to hold it up during assembly.
Cool Mesh Back: The Hercules Mesh has a broad mesh back that encourages airflow, keeping you fresh even after a day’s work. As for the cover for the super thick cushion, you can choose between fabric and PU leather.
The Big and Tall is the heaviest chair in our lineup at 62 pounds. With lowest seat height setting being 20”, it’s geared more towards wide people that are also taller. If you’re on the shorter end of the spectrum but still want to buy this unit, we suggest getting a footrest.
Just as its name implies, the Hercules Big and Tall is a sturdy ergonomic office chair that won’t squeak complaints even when seating a wide and heavy tush.
- Seat Width: 25”
- Seat Depth: 22.5”
- Height Adjustments: 20.5 to 23.5″
- Maximum Capacity: 400 lbs
If you’re looking for the widest, tallest, and deepest seat out there, the Essentials Big and Tall Leather Executive Chair is your man (or woman). This monster of a chair has a gigantic seat with dimensions 25″ w by 22.5″ L. For the really horizontally inclined people, there is nothing else like it in the market.
As a testament to its durability, one user who is 300 lbs and have worn out 6 chairs before the Essentials chair said this is the only one that is standing the test of time.
Tilt and Recline Lock: You can lock the chair in either an upright or recline position using the front knob under the seat. Release the tilt by leaning forward in the chair while pulling out the lever. To lock it in an upright position, just lean forward again and push the lever in.
Padded Fixed Armrests: Though the armrests aren’t adjustable, they feel very stable and are well-padded to prevent sore elbows.
Excellent Customer Service: The company’s customer support monitors the reviews they get. One buyer who posted a review about receiving a broken part received an email from the company within a few hours.This goes to show that they are committed to customer satisfaction.
Ultra Wide, Tall and Deep: At 23.5” at its highest seat setting, the Essentials is the best chair for very tall buyers. Plus, it’s the deepest seat on our list, so your long thighs won’t go numb from lack of support. Of course, let’s not forget its seat width which spans a whopping 25”.
Bonded Leather: The upholstery is well-stitched. The supple bonded leather makes it look classy and refined too. Just make sure to apply lots of leather conditioner every 3 months to make it last longer.
The caveat to the Essentials is its lack of lumbar support. Some people have found this overtime to lead to back ache.. What you can do is buy a separate lumbar support pillow.
If you don’t mind shelling out a few bucks for the lumbar support, the Essentials Chair is the best office chair for people who are both wide and tall.
To know more about the Essentials, check out the video below. Video
- Seat Width: 24.5”
- Seat Depth: 19”
- Height Adjustments: 18.5 to 23.75″
- Maximum Capacity: 500 lbs
Last but not least, we have the BrylaneHome, an awesome large chair for women with ample hips. Available in 3 lovely shades, this office chair combines bonded leather, memory foam, and a solid metal frame to provide comfort, support, and stability.
At 24.5”, the BrylaneHome is wide enough to accommodate most plus size women. One woman had an old chair which cut into her sides while working because the armrests were too close. Compared to that, she loved how generous the seat of the BrylaneHome is.
Tilt Tension: Turn the knob on the bottom of the chair to adjust the tilt tension. Loosening the knob will make it tilt easily while tightening the knob will make it harder or completely stop it from tilting.
Waterfall-Edged Seat: The curved front edge of the BrylaneHome can relieve pressure on the back of your thighs and knees. It can also encourage blood circulation to your lower limbs.
Pocket Coil Springs and Memory Foam: This office chair combines both of these features to better absorb pressure and contour around your body for customized support.
Fixed Padded Armrests: The armrests aren’t adjustable but, they are padded to avoid the hard surface from causing cubital tunnel syndrome and other RSI.
To sum it up, the BrylaneHome is a stylish and sturdy option for women with wide hips. Of course, men who are looking for some color in your life can most certainly use this chair too.
Calculating Proper Seat Pan Width and Depth
From an ergonomic standpoint, sitting in a seat that’s too narrow is just begging for trouble down the road. Restriction in your blood flow and ability to make micro movements only hastens all the ill effects of sitting, from heart disease, compromised posture, to back pain.
Seat Pan Width
To calculate the required seat width for your body, OSHA suggests looking at the width of the thighs:
Measure the distance across your thighs just before they drop off the seat’s edge. Then add 1-2 inches for wiggle room.
Seat Pan Depth
To calculate the proper seat depth for your body, sit in your existing chair with your back against the backrest:
Measure the distance between the end of your buttock to the end your inner thighs. Subtract 1-2″ to derive that best seat depth so that when you’re seated leaves a 1″ gap between the end of your thighs and the seat’s edge.