Clutch Chairz: The Ultimate Chair for Your PC?
Treat your body to a comfortable gaming chair.
Most of us don’t give a lot of thought to the chair that we use to park in front of a computer or gaming system. In years past, when I needed a new office chair, I drove to the nearest office supply store, sat in a few different padded seats priced at between $100 and $200, and drove home 10 minutes later with something priced right down the middle. I didn't treat long-term comfort or ergonomics as a major consideration.
But a handful of office chair makers produce models designed specifically for people who spend a lot of time in front of a PC. Clutch Chairz is one such manufacturer, with a line of chairs intended to reduce the inevitable body strain that comes from sitting in front of a computer for hours on end. We ran the Clutch Gear through its paces—okay, we sat in it through several weeks of computer-tethered life—to see whether the benefits of a “boutique” desk chair justify the expense (which ranges from $350 to $470, depending on the version you choose).
Clutch targets gamers. All of its chairs look as though they might have been torn out of the cockpit of a fighter plane, and the company’s website doubles down on the gaming focus. That said, I don't see a lot of features that would make the Clutch Gear unique to gaming; it’s not as though it rumbles as you play or has built-in USB ports. But that means it’s just as well suited for run-of-the-mill home computing—and its primary raison d’être—comfort—is as important when you’re balancing the budget or surfing Facebook as when you're playing Gears of War.
The four models that Clutch sells—Crank, Gear, Shift, and Throttle—have they same styling and features, but they differ is with regard to the body type they accommodate. Clutch seems to take the comfort aspect of its chairs very seriously, and each of the four models has slightly different specifications to suit people of different sizes. I reviewed the Gear, which is recommended for users measuring 5’7” to 6’1” in height and weighing between 160 and 210 pounds. The Crank is the smallest model, and the Throttle is the largest, supporting human frames to a maximum of 6’3” and 330 pounds.
Each model also is available in a broad range of colors: blue, green, pink, purple, and more.
Clutch chairs cost somewhat more than a budget chair rolled off the floor of an office supply store.
On the other hand, you get what you pay for. These chairs are genuinely full featured. The chair back has a lever that lets you lock in any recline from 85 degrees (virtually upright) to 135 degrees (which makes you feel almost as though you’re lying on your back). The whole chair has a generous tilt range, too (up to 12 degrees—though it feels like more), and a lever for locking it in place at any angle. A control on the underside of the seat lets you dial in the amount of tension in the tilt mechanism.
The seat also goes up and down, thanks to a standard gas lift. so you can dial in just the right chair height. Another nice extra: The armrests are 3D-adjustable. You can position them pretty much anywhere in space--they move forward and backward, side to side, and up and down—and even yaw a bit.
Construction, assembly, and cats
The Clutch arrives unassembled, though the brief user guide tells you everything you need to know to put it together. You won’t need any extra tools, either; the included combination Allen wrench/Philips head screwdriver is all you need.
That said, I found the construction process a bit frustrating. The chair came together in less than an hour; but because the bolts are situated near large obstructions, you can't spin the Allen wrench a full 360 degrees. Instead, you have to turn the bolt only partway around, remove the wench, reinsert it, and spin it through another abbreviated arc—over and over again, until I wanted to set the chair on fire.
Once assembled, the chair is pretty rugged, seemingly designed to survive the zombie apocalypse (assuming zombies don't eat cushioned chairs or have cat claws). The tubular steel frame is as strong as the support for any chair I’ve ever owned, and the heavy-duty aluminum base won't fail in your lifetime. Big casters enable the chair to roll across any floor surface.
The upholstery, though, is a bit disappointing. The faux-leather surface of the chair is easy to puncture, and within just a few weeks, one of my cats managed to inflict substantial damage on it. If you have a cat—especially one that tends to view pieces of furniture as fancy scratching posts—I can’t recommend this chair to you..
So how does it feel?
Pretty darned good. The Clutch is packed with dense memory foam, and it feels great to sit in, even for extended periods of time. The chair also has a removable headrest (which uses an elastic band to wrap around the top of the seat back) and a lumbar cushion.
As an aside, the lumbar support is a bit baffling. The instructions claim that it doesn’t connect to the chair; you just place it where you want it and lean back. If true, that would be a clumsy arrangement. If you wanted the support midway up your back, the only thing holding it there would be the pressure of your back. If you leaned forward, the support would drop out of place.
But the support has elastic straps, just as the headrest does, and they seem to correspond to connectors behind the cushions. If you’re meant to use them to affix the lumbar support, the instructions don’t encourage you to do so. And clipping the support into place is far from easy. But it can be done—and to my eye, it seems as though you’re supposed to. Hmm.
The Clutch is definitely worthy of your consideration—especially if you spend a lot of time in front of a PC or gaming system and (most notably) if you're comfortable in one of the smaller models. The Crank, Gear, and Shift models range in price from $350 to $370. If you can afford one of these chairs, it will be a gift to your back and your butt that keeps on giving.
But the beefy Throttle model costs a heart-stopping $470. And that price is hard to justify, because it puts the chair within shouting distance of the gold standard in office chairs, the Herman Miller Aeron Chair ($780).