BackApp 2.0 Active Chair Review
- Lab tested
In a rare case of the sequel being better than the original, Back App 2.0 raises the ergonomic and aesthetic bar set by the original while still retaining the unique, active imbalance feature that made the first chair such a hit. The new Back App now has impressive customization options equal to the original, and it earns our Experts’ Choice award with ease.
|MSRP / List Price||$596|
2-year warranty against construction fault and broken parts
Black, Gray, Blue, Red
99.9% recycled, die-cast aluminum
Seat width: 18.6″, seat depth: 15″
|Where to buy||
Buy on Amazon
|Positives||Active imbalance feature corrects your posture and automatically engages your core and back muscles while you sit, reducing sitting strain. Its aesthetic makeover makes the 2.0 more sophisticated and environmentally-friendly than the original, and its revamped saddle seat and imbalance ball improve the ergonomic quality of your sitting breaks.|
|Negatives||Too tall to be used in conjunction with a fixed-height sitting desk.|
An Update to the Best Ergonomic Office Chair
A while back, our team of experts came across a curious little chair called the Back App. Initially skeptical about its pronounced saddle seat and adjustable “wobble,” we spent weeks with the chair and came away true believers. We were impressed by its ergonomic benefits and active motion capabilities, awarding the Back App our Experts’ Choice distinction, a first for any office chair (we are WorkWhileWalking, after all).
With such high praises—not just from us but from the likes of the Norwegian Design Council, who gave Back App the prestigious Award for Design Excellence—Back App is the last chair you would expect to need a redesign. But lo and behold, the tireless team behind the innovative active chair has gone back to the drawing board and returned with an update to their beloved seat. The Back App 2.0, as it’s called, improves upon the original’s aesthetics and seat design while preserving its ability to keep users active while seated. The result is a product that once again raises the bar for office chairs everywhere.
Ergonomics, Active Seating, and Other Hallmarks of the Original Back App:
Fans of the original Back App should rest assured that all of the ergonomic features that they know and love have been preserved on the Back App 2.0. The accessible saddle seat, the adjustable amount of instability, and a piece-of-cake assembly process. The chair arrives in three separate components, which stack atop each other and are secured together without the use of any tools.
The Back App’s original design is essentially unchanged. You sit on its contoured saddle seat and place your feet on the foot ring. The saddle seat places your legs and hips in an ergonomically sound angle, unlike the back-breaking right angles of your typical office chair. An adjustable ball attached to the center column controls the degree of the chair’s imbalance. This imbalance (“wobble”) constantly engages your lower back muscles while you sit, encouraging you to move more in your chair and ensuring proper spine alignment during your sitting breaks. The constant, automatic movement provided by Back App prevents much of the back pain that’s become synonymous with modern office work, enabling pain-free sitting breaks and fewer trips to the chiropractor.
Putting the “2” in “Back App 2.0”:
The majority of our testers appreciated the original Back App’s novel ergonomic design. However, even our Experts’ Choice chair suffered from a few blemishes to an otherwise pristine performance. It wasn’t the prettiest chair on the market, for one. The chrome lift column and connecting rods (which resembled bicycle spokes) were somewhat ostentatious and collected fingerprints, and its plastic foot ring, while durable, had a utilitarian look that we thought clashed with the rest of the chair’s design. Furthermore, a few users found its shape less than ideal for their body types. Some larger users found that the seat didn’t offer them enough room to sit squarely, with the sharp incline at the back of the seat constantly pushing them forward in the chair. Some shorter users on the other hand found the saddle seat’s exaggerated “pommel” uncomfortably large. Women seemed to like it more universally but some men complained of too much pressure, you know, “down there.”
The new Back App responds to these complaints with significant improvements. The original’s “industrial” aesthetic has been replaced with a modern style that’s more compatible with today’s offices. The 2.0’s frame is now made of 99.9% recycled, die-cast aluminum. In addition to being a more environmentally-friendly alternative to the original, the material looks much cleaner and its matte finish is less likely to collect fingertips. They’ve also replaced the five “bicycle spokes” of the original with three unobtrusive supports connecting the central column to the foot ring. The original’s durable plastic foot ring, by the way, has been redesigned and replaced with more die-cast aluminum—it’s now thinner, takes up less floor space than the original, and complements the overall design of the chair better.
One of the sleekest of the Back App’s improvements is its balance indicator, which lets users set the degree of the chair’s balance (or lack thereof) to their liking. The old model’s indicator was a sticker attached to the lift column. Balance indicator 2.0, on the other hand, is actually machined into the central column. It’s a chic-but-practical addition to the chair. The Back App’s adjustable ball has similarly been updated. While the old model’s ball could be removed from the assembly, the 2.0 ball is molded onto its own aluminum piece, eliminating any possibility of the ball slipping out of place or being damaged during your sitting sessions.
Last but not least, the Back App’s saddle seat has been overhauled, in terms of both aesthetics and ergonomics. Alcantara, a premium upholstery option for the old Back App, now comes standard. Alcantara is a deluxe, synthetic suede usually reserved for haute couture fashion and luxury vehicles like the Lamborghini Gallardo. And while our humble Back App may lack the Lambo’s 200 mph top speed, the use of this fabric gives the seat a satisfyingly upscale look and feel without costing more than a standard, ergonomically-adjustable office chair. As of late, the folks at Back App have also added three more color options to the mix: an anthracite Alcantara, Skai, and Nordic Wool.
To accommodate larger users, many of whom found the seat a bit restricting, the ridge along the back of the new chair is smaller and shallower, allowing more space for your derrière (pardon our French). Back App 2.0 features subtle, yet important, changes to the saddle seat’s shape, as well. Saddle seat 2.0’s “pommel” isn’t as large and sharply angled as the original. Users—particularly shorter ones—will find the new seat feels more natural. And male users, in particular, will find more clearance for their cojones (pardon our Spanish).
Back-App 2.0 also offers an optional wheel kit. This ingenious accessory sits snugly underneath the foot ring and makes the chair easy to move—useful in offices like ours where the Back App gets passed around often. You still retain the Back App’s variable balance feature, and the wheel kit makes it easy to scooch the chair side-to-side, or closer to the desk as you work.
A Small Mark On An Otherwise Perfect Score
All these new improvements to the chair’s design, coupled with preserving the ergonomic mainstays that encourage active sitting, has most certainly earned the Back App 2.0 our Experts’ Choice. But the new chair is not without a drawback or two. The Back App 2.0 now has customizable options equal to the original (with six color selections: blue, black, red, or anthracite Alcantara, and Skai and Nordic Wool). But the “short lift” variant of the original is no longer available, and the standard lift height has been reduced by a few inches, to a minimum seat height of around 21 inches. You will want to pair your Back App with an adjustable-height stand up desk for optimal ergonomics, as its odd height isn’t compatible with most fixed-height sitting desks. We paired ours with an Omega Everest: Its programmable settings made it easy to switch to a particular sitting height, and its adjustable keyboard tray complemented our sloped leg angles when on the Back App.
If you want to learn about how Back App 2.0 stacks against other active ergonomic chairs, read our comprehensive comparison review. And if you want to stay abreast of all the new office fitness products, subscribe to our newsletter.
Back App is available in four Alcantara colors: Black, Blue, and Red. It’s also available in Skai and Nordic Wool.
The Back App is warranted against construction fault and broken parts for 2 years.
Back App ships by UPS Ground within two business days of order. Delivery time is between three and ten business days.