If your mom was always telling you to sit up straight, she would probably approve of the All33 Backstrong C1. Forcing you upright is how this clever office chair distinguishes itself from the many other miracle-promising chairs out there — but not in a rigid, eat-your-vegetables, unpleasant kind of way, as it may sound; it's actually comfortable. Is it the ergonomic solution to every problem in your life? No. But the All33 just might help in some ways and will at least be a solid office chair while doing it.
All33 currently makes one product with one defining feature. Based on a chiropractor's prototype, the Backstrong C1 stands out from the crowd with its bucket-like seat that swivels with your pelvis independently from the rest of the chair's frame, more or less preventing you from slouching. It's one of those concepts that sounds simple and possibly gimmicky, but here's the thing: it kinda works.
It works: The All33 genuinely forces you to sit up straight. As you sit in it for the first time, it's tough to figure out exactly how it's doing this even as you can feel it happening. You've got to sit with your butt all the way back and the smooth curve of the bucket will firmly support your lower back (lumbar). If you try to rotate your pelvis or bend your lower back, the hinges seem to counter your motion using your own weight. The result is near perfect posture, and just about anyone can probably benefit from that (not just those with posture problems or sore backs).
It's sturdily built: The tolerances are tight, construction feels solid and all the moving parts function smoothly with satisfying action. Some reviewers complained that the chair was loud, we didn't experience any such problems with our completely silent tester model. There's nothing more to say about its overall build quality, and that's a good thing.
It's actually comfortable: Forcing you to sit up straight and having something swivel under you might sound uncomfortable or coercive, but it's not. Nor does the swiveling seat constantly move around as you might imagine (there's a knob on the bottom for loosening or tightening the seat's motion). Most of the time, it just feels like a relatively comfortable pleather chair which you just happen to be sitting in with very good posture.
Though this chair is not for lounging, you can lean back, but it doesn't encourage you to stay that way for a long time. It's impressive that it can do all this without feeling rigid or annoying, and achieves good posture without your having to think about it.
What's Not as Good
Arm rests: It's a positive thing that the arm rests flip up because they're too low and wide to do much for anyone who is typing. I need to scoot right up to my desk in order that my wrists can be supported by it without reaching forward and causing stiff shoulders. Adjustable arm rests would make a huge difference and bump this chair up to near full marks. As is, you need to adapt and learn how to make it best work for you.
A serious desk chair can be a serious investment, and the All33 ain't cheap. It's basically asking to be your one big chair purchase, and is competing with some pretty well respected ergonomic chairs for your money — though many offer lumbar support of some kind, not many do exactly what All33 does. The competition tends to incorporate more customizable micro adjustments and breathable fabrics, Herman Miller's Aeron ($995+) or Cosm ($895+) being the most well-known. We also recommend checking out Steelcase's Series 1 ($415) for a more affordable option.
Sitting in any old position seems natural until you do it all day, every day — take it from someone who spent The Year of COVID mostly working from kitchen tables and couches. If posture or back pain are your primary concerns in wanting a decent office chair, the All33 is well worth considering. It doesn't have many of the bells and whistles of typical ergonomic chairs, but it does what it promises and even looks relatively elegant at the same time.
Don't buy this chair because of the brand's testimonials from Ted Danson, Danny Glover, Paula Abdul, Justin Bieber and more celebrities — I'm pretty sure none of them have the kind of lifestyle that would put this chair to the test as this full-time, desk-dwelling writer does. I can't confirm all of the brand's claimed benefits of "stimulating circulation, improving flexibility, and encouraging an increase of oxygenation and respiration" but I would have to agree that it helps "improve posture, reduce pain and enhance well-being." And that makes it welcome addition to my home office.