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Vari Active Seat Review: The Chair for People Who Love Standing

Rating: 9/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $255

The Active Seat in a home office
Cameron Summerson / Review Geek

The Vari Active Seat is an interesting product. It’s a standing desk chair, which is an optional “in-between” kind of seat for sit/stand desk users. It’s a third choice between sitting and standing, giving users more flexibility for those times when you don’t want to stand or sit.

In a nutshell, that’s what the Vari Active Seat is. It’s a stool-like chair that leans back, forth, and side to side. It’s height adjustable between 25.5-inches and 35 inches, so you can take it all the way down to “normal” sitting level if you get tired of standing and leaning.

I’ve been testing it out alongside the Vari Task Chair for the last few months to get a feel for it. In short, if you have a standing desk, the Active Seat is pretty much a must-have. It’s a fantastic way to get a bit of rest when you’re tired of standing but don’t want to risk getting your slouch on in a chair.

Okay, But What’s the Point?

A valid question! Standing desk chairs like the Active Seat are designed to give you that middle ground between sitting and standing. They still require your core to be engaged (thus, preventing slouching), so they’re “better” than traditional chairs in that regard.

It’s not designed to replace your standing position, nor is it designed to replace your sitting position. Instead, it’s a third option that sits (heh) in between the two. If you’re currently a standing desk user, you maight already know the struggle—too tired to stand, but not in the mood to sit. I get this all the time.

And that’s really where a standing desk chair is perfect.

It’s a Simple Seat

The best part about the Active Seat is that there isn’t a lot to it. It comes fully preassembled, so all you have to do it is take it out of the box and, uh, sit on it. That’s good stuff.

The Active Seat at its lowest setting
It can get pretty short.

This ain’t your papa’s barstool. It has a big, hefty base that weighs roughly 25 pounds, an adjustable height mechanism, and a kind of rectangular top. Rhombus-like, even. Just kidding. It’s a trapezoid.

The chair has a maximum weight limit of 250 pounds, so it’s sturdy and stable. At its lowest, it’s about 25.5-inches, which should get it low for almost all users—I imagine even sub-5’0″ users would be fine here. Similarly, the maximum height of 35-inches is pretty tall, so 6’0″+ users shouldn’t have an issue with the height. I am not ashamed to admit that I have to jump to get on the seat when it’s at max height (I’m 5’6″).

A closer look at the Active Seat's, uh, seat
A closer look at the Active Seat’s, uh, seat Cameron Summerson / Review Geek

The top is well padded and there’s also a little back with a handle. Well, I assume it’s a handle anyway, because that’s how I always move the chair. And you certainly can’t lean on it. I found the cushion to be comfortable enough for how I used the chair, which was in spurts. It’s pretty firm, so I’m not sure I’d want to sit on it constantly when I’m not standing, but it also doesn’t feel like it’ll break down easily. It’s robust, and the cover feels thick and premium.

The seat … post? The thing the seat is attached to (sorry, I’m not privy to the naming of stool/seat components) is where all the motion happens, which is almost certainly why the base is so heavy. You can lean forward for a sort of half-sitting-half-standing position, shimmy from side to side, and even spin almost completely around. It’s a fun little chair for fidgety folks like myself. (I like to wobble while I think.) The cool thing about this is that it has what Vari calls “tilt guard” built-in, which prevents the seat from moving more than 20 degrees forward. In other words, if you do decide to use it as a barstool, you probably (?) won’t wobble your drunk self off of it.

Of course, this stable base and wobble-enhancing form factor has its downsides. For one, you can’t roll around in the seat, so you have to get its position perfect if you move in and out of sitting/standing throughout the day. I found myself moving the seat, sitting on it, then standing back up to move it a few inches every time I used it. Not a dealbreaker, but something to be aware of.

Fortunately, it’s easy to move with one hand (assuming you can pick up 25 pounds with one hand, of course). You can just grab it and sling it to where you want. You could also theoretically scoot it across the floor when you’re not sitting in it, but I wouldn’t. If anything is under that weighted base on a hard floor, you risk damage. And on carpet? It’s just easier to pick it up.

Conclusion: It’s Good but Pricey

The Active Seat at its tallest point
It also gets quite tall. Cameron Summerson / Review Geek

So here’s the thing: This is a $255 chair/seat/stool with limited use. When you pair that with the probability that you already have a good (and maybe even pricey) desk chair, it becomes a harder sell. Vari also sells the Active Seat Basic, which appears to be basically the same thing as the Active Seat, just a little bit smaller with slightly less height for $55 less. Still, at $200, it’s not cheap.

That said, if you flip through Amazon looking for a standing desk chair in this style, you’ll be hard pressed to find a good one for much less. Vari makes quality products, and I’ve found that get what you pay for here.

With those things in mind, I have no problems recommending the Active Seat (and by extension, the Active Seat Basic) to anyone looking for a standing desk chair. It’s a niche group for sure, but if you’re a part of it, you’ll dig this seat.

Rating: 9/10
Price: $255

Here’s What We Like

  • High quality standing desk chair
  • Movement in the base allows for maximum wobble

And What We Don't

  • Expensive
  • Can't easily move it while sitting

Cameron Summerson Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson is Review Geek's former Editor in Cheif and first started writing for LifeSavvy Media in 2016. Cam's been covering technology for nearly a decade and has written over 4,000 articles and hundreds of product reviews in that time. He’s been published in print magazines and quoted as a smartphone expert in the New York Times. In 2021, Cam stepped away from Review Geek to join Esper as a managing Editor. Read Full Bio »