In choosing between the Steelcase Leap or the Steelcase Gesture, you need to know the main aspects setting them apart given that they share a majority of their features. In my use of both chairs, I can attest that they’re both very good and pack tons of adjustments to suit just about every user.
There are few aspects setting the Steelcase Leap from the Steelcase Gesture apart such as the more pronounced lumbar in the Leap, wider armrest width adjustment in the Gesture and the option for a larger chair in the Leap. The decision between the Steelcase Leap and Gesture is subjective as it depends on the user. Both chairs are great as they meet our standards for comfort, adjustability and quality of materials.
1. Overall Specifications
|Specification||Steelcase Leap||Steelcase Gesture|
|Dimensions||24.75 x 27 x 38.5 inches||24.75 x 27 x 48.5 inches|
|Overall height||38.5 to 43.5 inches||39¼ to 44¼ inches|
|Seat height from floor||15.5 to 20.5 inches||16 to 21 inches|
|Seat width||19.25 inches||20 inches|
|Seat depth adjustment||15.75 to 18.75 inches||15¼ to 18½ inches|
|Back dimensions||18 x 25 (W x H) inches||16¼ x 24 1/16 (W x H) in.|
|Lumbar height from seat||5.25 to 10.25 inches||5.25 to 9.25 inches|
|Width between arms||12.75 to 20 inches||10.25 to 22.5 inches|
|Arm height from seat||7 to 11 inches||7.25 to 11.5 inches|
|Arm cap pivot range||30 degrees||30 degrees (15 deg. in/out)|
|Recline angle||96 to 120 degrees||98 to 116 degrees|
|Base diameter||26.5 inches||26.5 inches|
|Weight capacity||400 lbs.||400 lbs.|
The two chairs are among the best and compare well with the highly-rated Herman Miller Aeron office chair and similar chairs. You can read the in-depth review of the Herman Miller Aeron for further information.
2. Scope of Users
The Steelcase Leap and Steelcase Gesture office chairs are meant to satisfy the needs of 90% of office users. In studies carried out by Steelcase and independent users, the results pointed to both chairs meeting the needs of many people with different types of office work.
In my own use of the chairs, I tested out various positions for writing, programming, multi-monitor use and different other tasks and came to the same conclusions. I had people from other fields testing the chairs and sending back their results with all of them satisfied with the chairs in equal measure.
3. Ease of Assembly and Maintenance
Both chairs come fully assembled and thus won’t require any type of assembly work on your end. They come in a large box about 70 pounds heavy with the chair in an upright position. The chair is wrapped in a plastic bag to prevent damage. This is further ensured by the inclusion of a piece of carboard and a bag of air.
When I received my chairs, they were in neat packing and it only took opening the box and taking the wrappings off and they were ready for use.
Each time I poured juice or tea on the cushions, I simply wiped them off with a wet piece of cloth then air dried them for a while. The chairs would be in great condition in no time.
4. Comfort Levels
When it comes to the level of comfort for the Steelcase Leap and Gesture, they are both highly comfortable seats built to satisfy users with different needs and body dimensions. To gauge the comfort of a chair, the aspects considered are the seat, backrest and the armrests (if any). For the two chairs, these areas were scored as follows:
- Seat comfort
The seats for both chairs score equally in terms of comfort as they have been created with the same technology and use the same type of cushion.
First, both chairs come with a cushion that’s just 2 inches thick. Given that most comfortable chairs have a cushion at least 3 inches thick, I was pleasantly surprised when the 2 inches on both the Leap and Gesture felt very comfortable even for long hours of use.
Secondly, the seats of both chairs come with flexible edges which dissipate the pressure that would otherwise go to the back of your knees. This motion is as much as 1.5 inches up and down in some chairs such as the Steelcase Leap V2.
You can also adjust the depth of the seat of either chair back and forth as you see fit. This further helps reduce the pressure on the back of the legs besides helping the user to properly reach their desk.
- Backrest Comfort
The backrests for both chairs are well-designed and provide great support although the Steelcase Leap has a better backrest than that of the Steelcase Gesture. From the tests I carried out, the verdict was that you get better support and more adjustment options with the Leap than the Gesture.
First of all, the Leap comes with the LiveBack technology which means the chair’s back adapts to the shape of the back in real-time. This technology provides a firm support for the lower back while allowing the upper back to move around a bit more.
Secondly, the Leap has provision to adjust the tension of the lumbar support. You also get to adjust the height of the lumbar support to exactly where you want it.
The Gesture’s back support didn’t score so poorly since it outdoes lots of chairs in this category. You still won’t get back pain even for long periods of use with this chair as I tested it. It also has the LiveBack technology found in the Leap.
The lumbar region on this chair isn’t as noticeable as that of the Leap although it still provides firm support for your back. The lumbar support for the Gesture can also be moved up and down allowing for the exact lumbar support for each user.
The aspect that gives the Leap the win in this category is the fact that you can’t lock the tension of the Gesture’s back support in a specific position without first increasing the tilt tension like it is on the Leap.
- Armrest Comfort
Both chairs come with comfortable and highly adjustable armrests. The cushioning on the armrests is similar and just right for most users in terms of the thickness of the top part of the armrests. Both come with 4D adjustments which means you can adjust their height, depth, width and pivoting angles.
The two differences between the armrests are that the armrests on the Gesture are anchored at the back of the seat and can thus be completely moved out of the way. The Leap’s armrests are located in the rear half of the seat making it hard to completely move them away although you could simply push them down completely.
The second difference is that the Gesture’s armrests have a wider width adjustment meaning you can get the exact armrest position for more people. The Leap’s still provided enough width for a majority of the users. Being a 6-foot person myself, I found both to be enough.
5. Design and Build Quality
Steelcase did a great job in building chairs with great designs and equally great quality in the Steelcase Leap and the Steelcase Gesture. Both chairs combine high quality materials and adopt a minimalistic design with great results.
The backrest for the Steelcase Leap has a wide design to accommodate large users. At 18 inches of width and 25 inches of height, it’s quite large and accommodating. It’s built with high-quality plastic which allows for flexibility and various adjustments. The LiveBack technology in this chair is one of my favorite features.
The Steelcase Gesture’s back is slightly narrower and a fraction of an inch shorter than that of the Leap although it still comes with the LiveBack technology. However, it still provides assured comfort and support to users of all sizes. It too is made of high-quality plastic materials.
Both chairs have backrests which cover most of the back up to the shoulder blades. This means you can safely recline backwards or tilt the chair while you’re properly supported.
The seats are made of a dense cushioning which, at only 2 inches of thickness, provide some of the most comfortable experiences in an office chair. The seats in both chairs are large enough to accommodate users at different heights and sizes. From my tests, only one user complained of the chairs being too small. This, however, was a 6’5” user more than 450 pounds heavy.
The seats are made of plastic as well to reduce on the weight of the chair while still being tough and flexible.
The armrests for both chairs have 4D adjustability and can thus be adjusted in many different ways as per the person and task at hand. These armrests are made of high-quality plastic parts which make them light and durable.
Both chairs come with 5-star bases made of either polished aluminum or hardened plastic. You also get to choose between soft wheel casters for hard floors or hard nylon ones for carpeted floors. The chairs also come with various options for the gas lift cylinder with larger ones available.
All these options are built well to avoid being flimsy or wobbly. The results are sturdy chairs with smooth transitions when you adjust them or switch positions when seated.
- Cushions and Upholstery
The chairs I tried out had 3D knit fabrics whereby the top layers were a breathable knit followed by a solid fabric layer then a polyester layer. This allows for breathability and the use of less materials to create a comfortable cushion. No matter how many hours I spent on the chairs, there was no buildup of heat on the seat or the back.
Steelcase offers both chairs in various types of upholstery such as leather, vinyl, 3D knit and even fabric. Of these options, the 3D knit is the standard one with most chairs coming with it. All the options are long-lasting and will serve you throughout the lifetime of the chair in normal usage circumstances.
The number of adjustments on both chairs makes them among the most accommodating chairs given different body sizes. Steelcase provides adjustment videos for the Leap and the Gesture for ease of use of both chairs.
The main areas of adjustments include the following:
- Backrest Adjustments
The backrest for both chairs adjusts in various ways although the Leap’s back has more adjustments. The Leap adjusts in terms of the back position, the upper back tension, the lower back firmness and the lumbar adjustment.
The Gesture’s back adjusts in terms of the back position (tilt), the lower back firmness and the lumbar adjustment.
In this category, the Steelcase Leap is the better chair thanks to having slightly more adjustments.
- Seat Adjustments
For both chairs, the seat adjusts in terms of the depth and seat pan angle. For the seat depth adjustment, the Gesture has an advantage as it allows the user change the depth using a knob and while still seated. The Leap requires that the user stands up, adjusts the pan depth then locks it in place which is a bit awkward.
- Armrest Adjustments
The armrests for the Leap and Gesture both come with 4D adjustments making this another draw. While the Gesture’s arms have a wider width adjustment, the difference isn’t much.
- Height Adjustment
The height adjustment for the seats is almost the same with only an inch separating them in favor in favor of the Gesture. Still, this is basically a draw given that that inch won’t make much of a difference between the two chairs.
There are many options for both chairs as follows:
- Cushioning and upholstery
You can get both chairs in Buzz2, Remix, Leather and Cogent upholsteries as per your wish. The Leap also comes in Bo Peep and Billiard upholsteries.
Both chairs can be purchased with or without arms. The stool version is the one without arms for the Steelcase Gesture although the Leap has a chair without arms and a stool as well.
The chairs come with wheels for hard or carpeted floors for both of them.
The chairs have bases either made of hard plastic or aluminum materials.
The Steelcase Leap has a variant with a headrest while the Steelcase gesture doesn’t. You can, however, buy a headrest for the Steelcase Leap and Gesture like the Lorell Hi-Back Chair Mesh Headrest. You can also get the Steelcase Leap V2 with headrest or the Steelcase Gesture Office Desk Chair with Headrest Plus Lumbar Support.
- Gas lift cylinder
Both chairs come with a pneumatic cylinder with a 5-inch travel. You can choose a longer cylinder if necessary. This list of the best gas lift cylinders offers great options.
One notable aspect is that the Leap has a larger size rated at 500 lbs. of weight which isn’t available with the Gesture.
8. Warranties and Return Policies
With all Steelcase chairs, the return policy is a 30-day money-back guarantee without any costs.
As for the warranty, the chair’s frames are covered for a lifetime of use. The frame includes the base, outer back shell, seat shell and the underside of the armrests.
There is a 12-year warranty for the casters, foam padding, arms, has cylinders and mechanisms.
9. Environmental Impact
Steelcase follows a strict environment-conscious production and packaging process for all its products including the following aspects and certifications:
- Level 2 ANSI/BIFMA certification.
- VOC-free manufacturing.
- At least25% and 35% recycled raw materials for the Gesture and Leap respectively.
- Up to 85% and 98% recyclable weight for the Gesture and Leap respectively.
- SCS IAQ Gold indoor air certification.
- Powder-coated paints used.
- Water-based adhesives used.
- No chrome, benzene, CFC’s, solvents or PVCs in their products.
These are very environment-friendly chairs.
Verdict: Steelcase Leap or Gesture?
It is hard choosing between the two chairs as they share lots of features and it all depends on which approach among the differences you prefer for yourself. In most studies, the two chairs barely differed in their scores for comfort, adjustability and other aspects. Their price differences aren’t also very drastic. You get can more information from this detailed review of the Steelcase Leap V2.