QOR360 Ariel Active Seat Review
- Lab tested
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The Ariel active seat from QOR360 is a great ergonomic seating option, as long as you get the right size and use it correctly. While it is marketed as just a replacement for standard office chairs (and strangely with jabs at standing desks), this seat offers a great way to sit while keeping your spine and legs in a more healthy position and your core engaged for improved ergonomic positioning while working. But these benefits are best enjoyed in combination with other positions throughout the workday. While the seat cushion isn’t the most comfortable, even when used properly, customers say it is an encouragement to get up and move more. This stool also makes for a workable treadtop seat for treadmill desk users, as it won’t damage the belt with its gentle foot glides; however it lacks a footring and the cylinder post doesn’t tilt forward so it may be hard to get as close as you’d like to your keyboard without placing your feet on the fragile motor housing. QOR360 also puts their money where their mouth is and basically gives the Ariel a lifetime warranty to fix or replace any broken seat.
|MSRP / List Price||$395|
1.0: Fabric – $395; Performance leather – $445
Free to the continental US
Essentially lifetime warranty with 60-day trial period
Short seat height: 17″-22″
Charcoal gray (1.0), light gray (2.0), red, black
Short seat height: 17″-22″
1.0: 250 lbs
1.0: 13″ seat width x 9″ seat depth
1.0: 18 lbs
|Typical Assembly Time||
Compare to Other Top-Rated Ergonomic Seating Options
|Where to buy||
Buy on QOR360
|Ease of Assembly|
|Quality and Aesthetics|
|Suitability for Treadmill Desking|
|Positives||Unique pivot/rocking design that is directly beneath the seat. Active seating that engages core muscles, opens up the hips, and helps prevent the lower spine from bending 90 degrees like with standard office chairs. Two size and height options to accommodate different body types. Lightweight and portable while being compatible with treadmill surfaces. Lifetime replacement policy and a 60-day trial period.|
|Negatives||Need to do some self measurement to see which size seat cushion and cylinder height are best for you. Seat cushion may not be comfortable if long periods of sitting are required (like if you don’t have an adjustable height sit-stand desk). If you don’t use it as prescribed, it will be uncomfortable and almost unusable for longer than 5 minutes at a time. Marketing makes it seem like a single solution for posture and back health to combat sedentary workstations when in reality it is just a piece of what someone can do to have a more active and ergonomic setup for work.|
Where Did the QOR360 Ariel Seat Come From?
The Ariel is the first and most popular seat from QOR360. The founder, Dr. Osler spent 30 years as a trauma surgeon, then switched to a research epidemiologist, which required much more sitting than he was used to. He knew he was like many Americans that suffer from back and other pains that come with long hours of sitting, so he looked for a sitting option that let him adjust his position freely, naturally, and comfortably. Since he couldn’t find what he wanted, he made it instead.
This is a common story we hear in the industry of office ergonomics. Someone doesn’t like how they feel when they work, so they create a solution. But it doesn’t always come from a doctor.
Initially resulting in the Ariel stool, QOR360 has developed several “active chairs” to help people who sit for the majority of their work day.
Active Office Sitting Benefits
We have reviewed many ergonomic seating options, and the Ariel fits in perfectly among them. We put them generally into three categories, being office chairs which you see all around like the iMovR McHale, balance chairs like the CoreChair Active Ergonomic Chair, and standing chairs or leaning stools like the Energy Stool.
The Ariel can fit in either the balance chair or standing chair categories, depending on how you use it.
In an ideal setup, it would function as a standing chair/leaning stool to provide most of the benefits we love to see in active seating options. Primarily being that there is enough movement allowed in while sitting that you have to engage your core to stay in place to keep working. It also helps your hips to stay open and loose. Another primary benefit of this kind of chair is it opens up your lower spine to more than a normal 90 degrees when sitting normally, helping your spine and overall posture to reduce back pain.
At first, it might be difficult to use a seat like the Ariel for long periods of time, especially if you aren’t used to active sitting. But as we always like to say, “Your best position is your next position.” So, switching to passively standing at your desk, actively standing on an ergonomic balance board, walking on your office treadmill, or just sitting passively in a regular office chair, changing to something else before going back to the Ariel is ideal. Many customers say the same in their reviews, pointing out that it isn’t very comfortable and “…you won’t sit the whole day without moving. But that’s OK because that’s also the point to force (you) to move during the day.”
The active part of the Ariel comes from the pivot point right underneath the seat pan, which is where balancing your body and engaging your core comes in. It is interesting because many of the other active seats we have reviewed place the pivot point near the floor. We wouldn’t say one is necessarily better than the other, since they both allow the user to lean into a lot of different angles. The main difference would be that the higher pivot point keeps the body more in one location in relation to your desk. At that point, it would come down to user preference.
It might be tempting to sit further back on the seat, tilting it backward to rest more on the small inclined “backrest”. Doing this brings the front of the seat pan up and into the back of your thighs which can cause circulator impingement. Don’t do this. Reading QOR360’s advice, our reviewers sat further forward on the seat pan, which avoided that pressure and helped open up the angle of the legs even more.
Seat to Cushion Your Posterior
The seat of the Ariel is available in three different colors/materials: charcoal gray fabric, red performance leather, and black performance leather. More choices would be nicer, but at least it isn’t just black like many of the office chairs out there.
On the cushion side of it, there isn’t a huge amount, but it should be enough to keep your rear end comfortable at least for a while. We did see some complaints from customers about this in particular, but they did mention it cutting off their circulation until they added more cushion themselves. We suspect it might be the same issue we had until we read QOR360’s advice to sit further forward. Just know that the cushion isn’t meant to be super comfortable, so you keep moving. This is active seating, remember. (That said, switching to a memory foam cushion might not be a bad idea for the manufacturer.)
Another note on the seat itself is the size; 13″ wide x 9″ deep. This will be fine for a lot of users (rated up to 250 lbs), which is why this Ariel 1.0 is the most popular seat they have. However, that may not be comfortable enough for larger users. For them, QOR360 made the Ariel 2.0, which has a larger seat and is meant to accommodate more weight comfortably (up to 290 lbs). Our larger test users would agree that the upsized Ariel 2.0 is more comfortable to sit on.
Seat Base That Can Go Anywhere
One of the great things about the Ariel is that it can go pretty much anywhere. The seat arrives with feet (glides), but you can also order caster wheels, both of which provide a solid base. However, QOR does recommend using the feet, at least at first, to ensure that the movement is controlled in the rocking pivot point of the seat. But even with these feet, the Ariel is easy to move around as it is pretty lightweight at 18 lbs and has a convenient handle under the back of the seat.
The great thing about using the Ariel with the feet, at least in our opinion, is that it is also great for using on top of an underdesk treadmill. It is only 18.5” wide at the base, so it will fit on the most popular office treadmills (e.g. Unsit, ThermoTread GT, Lifespan) without damaging the integrity of the tread belt. For us, this allows the Ariel also to be classified as a treadtop seat, one of our favorite categories of seating at WorkWhileWalking.
Is the Seat Too Tall or Too Short?
You can order the Ariel in two different height ranges. The short cylinder can adjust the seat pan height from 17” to 22”, and the tall cylinder can adjust from 22” to 29”. One user pointed out that they had to remove the keyboard drawer of their traditional desk so that they actually had leg room when using the Ariel. So this created a bit of a hassle when switching back and forth from their standard chair.
This illustrates the fact that these chairs are ideally paired with an adjustable-height desk. We have seen this issue with other active seats that also needed a desk that could reach over 30 inches high for ideal posture while working at a computer.
But regardless of whether you have a standing desk, you’ll have to make sure you get the right size of Ariel, which will depend on the user’s leg length. QOR360’s guidance is that anyone with a patellar height (distance from the ground to the top of your kneecap) of over 22” should get the tall seat.
We would like to see a seat that has an “in between” cylinder stroke range, so that it would be ideal for an even greater number of people to use at a standing desk, but we haven’t seen anything like that yet from QOR360. So just keep in mind that a tall person and a short person (e.g. spouses or co-workers) probably will not be able to share the same Ariel seat.
QOR360 essentially offers a lifetime warranty, and they do have a generous return policy. Firstly, every Ariel seat has a 60-day trial period. This should be more than enough time to find out if you bought the right size, if it works with whatever desk you have, or if it helps your active sitting sufficiently. Since many users reported reduced back pain in as little as two weeks, they are confident that returns will only happen if customers get the wrong size.
In the longer run, it might seem worrisome that there is no explicit warranty, but they do state on their website, “In the three years that we have been continuously testing our chairs no component has required attention. However, in the unlikely event that your chair ever requires some sort of fix, please return it to us and we’ll repair or replace it for free.” That sounds like a lifetime warranty to us, and a testament to the company’s confidence in the construction quality of the Ariel.
One of the strange things we find about the Ariel and QOR360’s marketing pitch is that that they seem to jab at standing desks as if in total contradiction to the entire body of research The Mayo Clinic and many supremely credible research institutions and universities have conducted on their use. Active sitting is great, and we agree that you can’t just stand at your desk for long stretches without getting stiff, developing varicose veins, and possibly hurting other joints. But that is why movement is so critical and something we point out in almost every review or article we write. You need to change between sitting, standing, walking, balance boarding, etc., as much as your body needs. Attaining an ergonomic balance board like the Gymba or Movement is an excellent way to promote “active standing,” and mitigate some of the problems with excessive passive standing.
So, while QOR360 might encourage its users to get to the point of being able to use the Ariel all day long, we strongly recommend otherwise. But for the sitting part of your day, the Ariel active seat would be superior to a nominal office chair, especially if you own a standing desk. Since there are lots of Ariel customer reviews that point out that it can be uncomfortable for long use, that just shows that active sitting is just one of the positions to use throughout the day at a truly ergonomic workstation.
Being also compatible as a treadtop seat with office treadmills is a great bonus for us. And the confident coverage they provide with us being unable to find customer complaints about quality or construction also raises our expert reviewers’ ratings on the Ariel.
As long as you get the correct height and size (1.0 or 2.0) the Ariel should be a great addition to an ergonomic workstation, but it won’t solve all your problems by itself, like it seems to claim.
Make sure to check out our roundup of all ergonomic seating options or treadtop seating to see how the Ariel compares.
There are still more seats that we have in our queue to review, so you should sign up for the Office Fitness Club to be notified of all the new reviews we publish.
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