If you spend hours sitting at a desk every day, the importance of a quality chair can’t be overstated. You could spend hundreds to thousands on a high-end chair, but if you’re willing to accept a few quirks, the Vari Task Chair is a solid option that won’t break the bank.
I’ve been testing the $350 Task Chair with Headrest alongside the Active Seat (review coming soon!) for the last three months or so. Overall, it’s a nice chair that I think is worth the money, though the $295 non-headrest version is a better value for $55 less.
And while it nails the basics like a comfortable seat and good support, it has some interesting issues that I didn’t expect on a chair like this. Let’s talk about it.
Assembly and Construction
One of my favorite things about the Task Chair is that it comes almost completely preassembled. The back and arms are installed out of the box, so all you have to do set up the base and insert the headrest (if you bought that model). The whole thing took about five minutes.
Of course, that means the Chair shows up in a big ol’ box that’s both heavy and bulky. Not a big deal of course, just know that you’ll get quite a bit of extra trash out of the deal here.
With nearly everything installed out of the box, the chair feels very robust and solid. Everything is pre-tightened from the factory and I haven’t experienced any slippage or loosening over the last few months of regular use.
What’s in a Chair
We’ve covered why it’s worth investing in a good office chair, but the thought of spending a mortgage payment on a chair is off-putting to many (including this writer). That’s one of the things that makes Vari’s Task Chair so appealing—it has a lot of the same features you’d expect from a higher-end chair for a fraction of the cost. Here’s the rundown:
- Fully adjustable back and seat height; armrest height and angle; back tilt and tension
- Adjustable headrest with tilt (optional, extra)
- Mesh lumbar support
Basically, the Task Chair has most of the things you’d want to adjust, save for lumbar adjustment. That might be a dealbreaker for some, but I found the lumbar support to be sufficient for me—there are more affordable chairs out there that offer this, however.
Most chairs are height-adjustable and offer some level of tilt, but Vari’s option has two levels of resistance for tilt (easy and, uh, hard?) as well as the option to lock it. Instead of using a sliding pin mechanism to lock the tilt (like cheaper chairs), it uses a dial on the left side. It’s a nice touch that feels more reliable than the pin-style.
However, this is where my first issue with the chair comes into play: The back squeaks when shifting in a side-to-side motion. It didn’t at first, but after about 6-8 weeks of use, it started squeaking every time I turn. I’ve tried lubing the various pivot points around the back mechanism, but I can’t seem to pinpoint exactly where the squeak is coming from, so I haven’t been able to get rid of it.
It’s an annoying quirk that taints the otherwise excellent build quality.
The armrests are also adjustable, both in height and angle. This is a welcome addition because if you’ve ever used a chair with adjustable armrests, it’s hard to go back to having them in a fixed position. This is not only great for increased comfort in a number of situations, but it also allows the chair to fully cater to different heights and body types.
But this is also where my second (and only other) complaint comes in: The armrests are hard and uncomfortable. They’re padded, but the padding is very firm. I hoped they would break in after a few weeks of use, but so far that hasn’t been the case. Even after months of sitting in the chair, my elbows are sore at the end of every day. If you also experience this, you could always add aftermarket armrest pads, which are readily available on Amazon. I personally find add-ons like this to be tacky at best and annoying at worst, so I’ve just been dealing with the armrests as they are.
Of course, your mileage may vary. I have particularly bony elbows, which probably has something to do with this. But this is also something I haven’t experienced with other chairs, though I generally prefer chairs without armrests anyway. I find that they often get in the way. On the upside, it looks like you can easily remove the arms on the Vari Task chair without otherwise affecting the construction or stability of the chair.
I also want to touch on the headrest. While not everyone likes a headrest on their office chair, I wanted to test it out. It’s vertically adjustable and also pivots to match your head/neck angle, which is nice. This allows it to work well for people of varying heights.
But really, I think the chair is probably better (or at least as good) without the headrest, so if you’re not sure you’ll like it, I’d suggest saving yourself $55 and opting to go without it. Just note that it doesn’t look like you can’t add it on after-the-fact if you buy the non-headrest version. I guess you could also buy the version with the headrest and just take it off if you don’t like it, though that could ultimately end up in a $55 waste of money if you never use the thing. Decisions, decisions.
Finally, I want to talk about cleaning the chair. Mesh chairs are notoriously difficult to clean, and this one is no different. At one point during my testing, my youngest son decided that he needed to vomit while playing in my office, and the chair seemed like as good of a place as any. It was, uh, messy.
It took a while to get it all cleaned up—lots of scrubbing and soapy water. The mesh, while breathable, holds liquid and liquid-esque material that is very hard to get out. I ended up using a can of compressed air to blow out the mesh back (which uses a different construction/pattern than the seat) to clean it out. Ultimately it all worked out and I was able to get it completely clean.
Just know that, should you spill something (or worse) on the Task Chair, it’s going to take some elbow grease to get it clean. But it can be done.
Okay, but Is It Comfortable?
A chair can be loaded with features, but it’s a dealbreaker if it’s not good at the main thing it’s designed for: sitting on. The good news is that the Vari Task Chair is quite comfortable. The padded seat has been consistently comfortable since the day I took it out of the box and hasn’t shown any signs of even the slightest bit of breakdown.
The same can be said for the ergonomic mesh back. It breaths very well (because, you know, mesh) and is very supportive. I find that both my neck and back feel less tired at the end of a long workday when compared to my old chair (a gaming chair), which is refreshing.
Again, I don’t love the armrests, which is really the biggest downside here for me.
Conclusion: Good, not Great
Overall, I like the Vari Task Chair. It has its quirks—the squeaking back and hard armrests—but those are honestly just minor complaints relative to the overall comfort of the chair. The seat cushion is very comfortable, as is the mesh back. It’s very supportive even after hours of use, which is more than I can say for many other chairs I’ve had the displeasure of using.
If you’re looking for a quality chair that isn’t overly expensive, this is definitely one to add to your list.
Here’s What We Like
- Good value
- Very comfortable and ergonomic
And What We Don't
- Hard armrests
- Back starts to squeak after a few weeks