This Humanscale Freedom Headrest review process began with my hunting for a new “ergonomic chair,” following a back injury that had made me much more conscious of my posture while working long hours at a desk. Though I already own a fantastic FlexiSpot standing desk, which allows me to rotate between sitting and standing every hour or so, the chair I was using for the sitting period did not promote a healthy posture. My friends suggested a number of gaming chairs which, while looking flashy and cool, didn’t offer the sort of features that premium ergonomic office chairs boast. I wanted something on another level when it came to both comfort and health. This is when I discovered Humanscale and reached out to borrow a chair for a month.
Humanscale Freedom Headrest Review | Golden oldie
I normally review new products, so it was a bit of a surprise when a very red 2-year-old Humanscale Freedom Headrest turned up at my door. Though the Freedom was made in the 90s, its design still holds up today. Its hefty 49.1 lbs weight emphasizes the solid build and feel, and I felt safe when planting my bottom for the first time.
The chair’s metal frame seems almost spine-like to me. It looks damn good and I’m confident that it will stay a great-looking chair for many years to come.
Despite it having already been used for a couple of years, I intended to treat the product like it was new, as I would any other review sample that I’m sent. Over the month of June, which featured a number of busy review-heavy weeks, as well as the big E3 2019 event, the Humanscale Freedom Headrest endured my 220 lbs for a good 200 hours, and it didn’t falter or creak one bit. My (much, much lighter) girlfriend also stole it for working at her own desk, echoing my praises of brilliant comfort and easy-to-adjust elements.
Humanscale Freedom Headrest Review | Can your chair do this?
Speaking of “easy-to-adjust elements,” let’s move on to the Freedom Headrest’s main selling point: its flexibility and the freedom to properly fit a wide range of users. My previous office/gaming chairs only allowed for a height adjustable seat and manual lock-in-place recline. The Freedom Headrest boasts a height adjustable and forwards-backwards moving seat, arms, backrest, and headrest, as well as the impressive weight-sensitive automatic recline mechanism, which uses the sitter’s bodyweight to adjust the tension and position without the need to pull any lever.
These features all come together to make for a perfectly adjustable seat that has been “designed to fit 95% of the office population,” from heights of 5’0″ to 6’4″, and weights of anywhere between 100-300 lbs. I’m a little above the recommended height, but my 6’7″ frame still felt perfectly comfortable, though perhaps the headrest wasn’t as high as I might have liked. For my 5’10” girlfriend, the headrest placement was much more ideal.
With both myself and my girlfriend making use of the chair, it quickly became clear just how big an advantage the Freedom Headrest’s flexibility is. The automatic adjustments are almost magical, lessening the frustration usually experienced when someone borrows your chair and starts fiddling with the recline. The Freedom Headrest is a chair that could be used at a family computer desk, or in an office space with multiple different people working there, quickly adapting to whoever sits in it.
Though it’s very solidly built and sturdy, actually making adjustments to the various parts requires little force and is very simple. Levers placed in sensible spots help to move the backrest and seat, while the headrest slides up and down with a little push. A robust handle on the back of the frame allows for an obvious place to grab when you want to move the chair around.
Humanscale Freedom Headrest Review | Have it your way
The red chair I’ve been testing is made up of quite a loud combination of colors and materials, at least for someone who is used to the more subtle darker shades of black and blue. While the red and shiny aluminum theme certainly grew on me, it might not be to everyone’s tastes. Thankfully, for those looking for something less colorful, yet still stylish, there is a variety of different cosmetic options available.
Four-way stretch fabrics, box-stitched leathers, antimicrobial textiles, and non-stretch materials come in a range of colors, and a number of materials and finishes can be selected for the cushions, arms, cylinder, and casters. Some materials come at a premium, which is clearly reflected in the price as you make your selection.
Though the headrest is a key part of the Freedom chair when it comes to optimal ergonomics, it can be omitted for a cheaper alternative. This can be found under the “Humanscale Freedom Task” name, which may be better for those on a tighter budget, whose primary goal is to achieve good back posture and a straight form.
Those with concerns for the environment will be happy to hear that the Freedom chair has earned the Greenguard Indoor Air Quality, Gold, and Level 2 certificates. Not only does the Freedom do a terrific job as a chair, but Humanscale is also able to produce it with limited impact on the environment.
Humanscale Freedom Headrest Review | Versus the racing gamer chairs
As a gamer who also livestreams, I have of course come across the various brands of “gaming chairs.” These seats adopt a racing aesthetic, as though they have been ripped right out of a souped-up Mitsubishi Evo. Now sure, they can look pretty cool, and they can be comfortable to lounge in. However, in my experience, they don’t encourage a healthy sitting position, instead promoting a lazy posture that can result in some painful issues in the long run.
Some gaming chairs are also flawed with limited adjustable components. Having arms that are locked in place can often render them useless for taller users, and with no way to move the seat forwards or backwards, legs can often be left at an awkward and unhealthy angle.
While they are certainly “in” when it comes to the current gamer aesthetic, and can feel comfortable in a slouching position, they often fail to satisfy when it comes to sound ergonomics.
Humanscale Freedom Headrest Review | The price to pay
So I’ve gone 1,000 words without mentioning a price, and that’s for a good reason… If you’re not familiar with names like Humanscale, Herman Miller, or Steelcase, the $1,000+ price tags may cause you to run away and never come back. However, for a product like this, which helps maintain good health during thousands and thousands of hours over years and years of professional work — the Humanscale Freedom Headrest comes with 15 years warranty and boasts modular parts for swapping bits in and out — the cost will be justifiable for many.
With that said, the price can still be daunting, despite the long list of advantages. Thankfully, there is an option for those who want to own a Freedom, but can’t yet afford one direct. While I would absolutely advise buying directly from Humanscale or an approved seller, as that 15-year warranty is significant, the impressive lifespan of these chairs means that they often pop up on the used market.
I highly recommend the Humanscale Freedom Headrest for anyone looking to protect themselves during long working weeks at a desk. It’s got style, it’s versatile, and it’s built to last. Definitely consider it for your next office chair purchase.
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