When I first put eyes on the BackStrong C1 chair from all33, I chuckled to myself and thought, “it looks like a small chair inside of a big chair.” The whole concept seemed silly to me, but I figured I’d give it a shot. And boy, I’m glad I did. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, this chair changed my life.
The BackStrong C1’s whole thing is that it’s designed to support your spine in basically any position. The bottom (the “small chair”) operates independently of the back (the “big chair”). Where other chairs allow you to slouch and leave your spine unsupported, the C1 will essentially give you full support regardless of how you sit.
I’m here to tell you: This chair is the real deal. If you sit at a desk all day and experience back pain, physical fatigue, neck/shoulder discomfort, or all of the above, the BackStrong C1 might be the solution. I came into this review expecting to be completely underwhelmed at best (I know, I know—I shouldn’t head into any review with expectations), but it made a believer out of me.
Of course, it’s not perfect. Because nothing ever is.
The chair go wiggle Cameron Summerson / Review Geek
Table of Contents
Assembly and Construction: Off to a Rocky Start
When I cracked open the BackStrong C1’s box, it was immediately offputting. This is an $800 chair (which supposedly retails for $1200, but I’ve never seen it at that price), so I expected … more. It’s almost like everything was just tossed in with some bubble wrap and cardboard (I wish I would’ve taken pictures. Alas.). Not a great first impression.
Assembly is pretty straightforward here—it’s a few bolts, and you’re done. When it’s all finished, you get a pivoty little chair inside a bigger chair that can raise and lower. The arms also fold up to get out of the way if you need, but they don’t raise or lower, nor do they have any sort of tilt or angle adjustment. The height of the chair is ultimately where your customization options begin and end. This didn’t cause any issues for me as I don’t generally use armrests when I type, but it’s something to consider for the armrest lovers out there.
The build quality also leaves me wanting daily—I’ve used chairs less than half the price of the BackStrong C1 with nicer build quality. The chair rocks from side to side (in a way that it shouldn’t), making the base feel less-than-stable. The left arm is also loose, so it moves up about an inch very easily—the right is much more planted and takes a bit of force to actually lift. That’s how they should both be. The armrest cover is also slightly separated on the left side, and it’s been like that since the day I took it out of the box (pic at the bottom of this review). There’s just a lot of quality control issues here.
And then there’s the noise. Ugh, the noise. When I first started using the C1, people on video calls would comment on how loud it was when I moved. Because it squeaks, pops, honks, florps, and whatever onomatopoeia you can think of. I lubed up all the joints and pivot points, which helped, but after a few weeks, it started back.
So, again, not what I expect from an $800 chair. Or even a $500 chair. Probably not even a $300 chair.
Past that, however, it starts to get better. The quality of materials is good—not great, but good. The back is mostly a “vegan” leather (read: faux leather) juxtaposed with hard plastic. I’ve seen other reviews ding the chair for the use of plastic, but I honestly don’t mind it. It’s functional and practical. And the whole thing is easy to clean—which you’ll need to do fairly often because the point where the cushion meets the plastic is a big ol’ crevice for crap to collect in. The pivot points where the bottom half of the chair fit with the upper part are chrome. It looks fine.
Despite its bizarre aesthetic, it’s actually a pretty simple chair. More basic than most “ergonomic” chairs, anyway.
Comfort and Ergonomics: On Point
While I wish the C1 had more ergo features—like fully adjustable armrests—it’s so supportive and comfortable, I honestly don’t even care. In fact, that pretty much sums the whole thing up: I’m willing to look past every imperfection in the build quality because this joker delivers on all the support it promises.
With every chair I’ve used before this, I would be physically exhausted when I finished up my workday (which ranges anywhere from 8 to 12 hours on average). Neck and shoulder discomfort added to this, and my evening workouts/bike rides suffered as a result. At one point, I even thought this was a bike fit issue until I realized it only happened in the evening after working all day.
Then I got the C1. Within a few days, I noticed that I had more energy and better focus throughout the day. I also felt better every evening—an absolute 180 from before. It was honestly mind blowing. I thought I had been using supportive and ergonomic chairs before (I also use a sit/stand desk, so I spend roughly half my time standing), but nah.
I can’t remember the last time I used a product that had this meaningful of an impact on my life.
That said, there are a couple of points worth noting. To start, this doesn’t have traditional lumbar support, so you can’t adjust it. The little rocky chair supplements this, though, so it should be good for most people. According to all33, the recommended height range is 4’11” (and one-half) to 6’1″. So. it may not work for the tallest or shortest among you. It’s also worth mentioning that this is a shoulder-height chair, so there’s no head support.
So, Is It Worth the Money?
Here’s the thing—at the supposed retail price of $1200, I don’t know. But I’ve yet to see this chair at the full retail price, as it’s essentially always on sale for $800. That’s a bit easier to stomach.
That’s still a lot of money for a chair. I get it. But if you often find yourself fatigued or have back, neck, or shoulder pain at the end of your workday, a good chair can be the solution. It was for me, and that’s hard to put a price on.
However, I think $500-600 is more of a fair price given the quality issues. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it for anywhere close to that price, making it a harder sell. Given how much better it makes me feel, this is probably the most conflicted I’ve ever been about a specific product. On one hand, it’s unquestionably overpriced. But on the other, it’s the most comfortable, supportive chair I’ve ever sat in.
For less than $800, you can get a refurbished Herman Miller Aeron. Or the Amia from Steelcase. Both of those are great, ergonomic, and highly recommended chairs. Whether they’ll be any better or worse for you is the question, however—and it’s one that I, unfortunately, can’t answer for you.
The best I can do is tell you that the BackStrong C1 from all33 has been a total gamechanger for me. So, yeah, I’d pony up the $800 for it.
Here’s What We Like
- Absolutely unreal comfort and support
- Seriously, the comfort has to be mentioned twice
And What We Don't
- Underwhelming build quality
- Squeaks and other noises
- Non-adjustable armrests
- It's ugly