Shortly after reviewing the Anda Fnatic and Secretlab Omega gaming chairs, I received offers to test samples for other chairs. The most curious thing was what we're reviewing today: the All33 Backstrong C1 for $ 599.
The Backstrong C1 advertises as a chiropractor – the chiropractor is Dennis Colonello. Colonello, in collaboration with industrial designer Jim Grove, has built a chair that supports and enables the movement of "all33" of the vertebrae in an actor's spine. Beverly Hills-based Colonello has served as sort of a chiropractor for the stars for decades – which may help explain the new chair's laundry list of celebrities on the A-list.
Design and appearance
The design of the Backstrong C1 is eye-catching to say the least.
In this 3/4 view to the right, we can better see the separation between the lower and upper halves of the chair.
From the back, the Backstrong C1 is relatively plain – on closer inspection one might ask: "Why does this work chair have roll bars?"
The design itself is eye-catching and maybe even a little visually confusing. The seat and lower back are mounted independently of the chair's upper back on a pivoting horizontal axis, with the open space visible in an arch separating the two. The overall effect is reminiscent of mod furniture – the vision of futuristic design from the late 60s and early 70s.
Nothing in the literature I have seen for the Backstrong explains the actual function of the independently pivoting lower seat – and just looking at the pictures I had absolutely no idea other than that it is different from anything I've seen before would have. Sitting in the chair provides the answer – it's all about lumbar support.
Basically, you can't really lie down in the Backstrong C1. You can sit however you want – but the seat itself follows your bum as you do, and the weight of your own legs positions the lumbar support firmly in the curve of your spine. The Backstrong C1 is a one-trick pony – more on that later – but this one trick is amazing.
A six year problem with the Navy followed by a career in systems administration left me with a severely abused lower back that did not long tolerate a lack of lumbar support. There is absolutely no chance of getting this lack of support in this chair. When your bum is in it gives your lumbar spine support and in my experience with this chair, that's all it takes.
So far, so good. Unfortunately, very little ergonomic adjustment is possible with the C1. The seat height can be adjusted using the usual gas lift, and the chair has an incline of about 30 degrees … and that's about it.
Head, arms and dining room
There is no headrest for the chair – the backrest ends roughly at neck level. My wife really likes this as it means she can put her hair in a bun without feeling like a clenched fist is shoved into her skull. But it's twice as good for the typical gaming posture that is maximally leaned back with a controller on your chest.
The armrests can be fully flipped up to get them out of the way when you want to roll up your chair extremely close to the desk. Otherwise they cannot be adjusted in height, width or angle. And the tilt lock is extremely limited – the mechanism only engages when the chair is fully upright, so you can't lock the tilt back, for example, five or 10 degrees.
With its light weight and ease of rolling, fantastic comfort and eye-catching looks, the Backstrong C1 would make a great conference room chair in my opinion. If it were cheaper, I would want six of them at my dining table now. But its lack of ergonomic adjustability and support beyond the lower back should probably preclude it from serious consideration of the type of "anything chair" most people look for in a home office.
Unpack and assemble
The box is much smaller and lighter than the two gaming chairs we tested earlier. It's still called "Team Lift," but most capable readers can train it on their own if needed.
The net weight of 47 pounds is roughly correct – the gross weight of 60 seems unlikely; Aside from the chair itself, there is nothing but a little cardboard and foam.
There are no custom foam trays or anything like that here – it's an absolute mess in the box. However, nothing was damaged.
What was this rolled-up piece of mysterious cardboard supposed to protect? Your guess is as good as mine.
The Backstrong C1 comes in a much smaller and lighter box than any of the gaming chairs tested last month. The information on the box says a net weight of 47 pounds which is approximately correct and a gross weight of 61 pounds which must be included a wooden pallet that we did not receive. Although the box says "Team Lift", most high-performing readers can be a team of one if they try and believe in themselves.
When I opened the box, I was greeted with an absolute mess – a pile of random sheets of cardboard, a plastic sleeve that had peeled off the supposedly protective adjustment arm, and a mysterious rolled-up piece of cardboard that I was still scratching my head greeted me when I loosened the taped top flaps. Fortunately, I don't really care about unpacking and none of the components themselves were damaged.
Better still, there was a large sheet of lightweight foam folded into the box that served as an excellent place to reset the seat on my carport concrete floor while I was working – a huge improvement over trying to clear it over the remains of a clear one to put plastic bag, which I had to do with both the Anda gaming chairs and Secretlab.
This is the entire chair – castors, base and gas lift on the left, seat and mounting plate on the right – on the generous foam sheet from the box.
I cannot adequately express my joy that both the seat mounting plate and the seat are clearly marked with matching arrows at the front.
As soon as the seat plate is screwed to the seat and the whole thing is connected to the gas lift, all you have to do is cut the cable ties and unfold the back.
After we cut the zip ties and unfolded the back of the chair – which takes some momentum to get into the permanently locked, upright position – we have a chair!
As unimpressed as I may have been by the "unboxing experience" – terrifying quotes intended – the actual montage was fantastic. This is probably the only piece of furniture I've ever assembled that really didn't have the instruction manual. How to assemble the Backstrong C1:
- Press the rollers into the starfish base
- Put the gas lift in the hole in the middle of the base
- Screw the seat plate onto the base of the seat (using the provided hexagonal drive and four screws).
- Lift the seat and guide the central hole in the plate onto the gas lift
- Cut the cable ties and fold up the backrest until you hear it click into place
That's it. There are even extremely obvious red and white labels on the seat plate and seat that show the orientation of the plate. There were no pitfalls, no "but that part was difficult" and I have no complaints. There is no easier assembly outside of a one-piece garden chair.
The manual said it would take about 11 minutes to assemble the chair, but according to the timestamps on my photos, it only took nine – and I did at least four of those on the go.
Enlarge /. Left: Anda Fnatic gaming chair. Right: All33 Backstrong C1.
I really like the All33 Backstrong C1 – its lumbar support is out of this world and I urgently need as much lumbar support as possible. Unfortunately, it doesn't make me love it as much as the $ 599 purchase price demands. It's a fantastic (if oddly styled) chair for the dining table – especially for people who get lost in a good book and stay at the table longer than a solo breakfast (or lunch or dinner) really demands. In this setting, the flip-up armrests also mean you can slide up to your stomach if you don't want soup on your lap.
But in the office I find the C1 simply too limited to be a serious competitor. The non-adjustable height and width of the armrest means this chair will not properly support keyboard and mouse hands for many, if not most, people. The lack of a recline lock in any position other than fully upright is a real downer, and the lack of a headrest makes leaning back completely 30 degrees downright weird.
I really hope to see a follow-up design from this company with a whole bunch of ergonomic adjustments and features. In the meantime, it is difficult to wholeheartedly recommend the Backstrong C1 as a high-quality office chair – because despite the price, it really isn't one.
- Absolutely exceptional comfort and support for the lumbar spine
- Slouchers OK – instead of forcing your posture, the backstrong will follow your spine wherever you place it
- Light and high-quality castors make this chair unusually mobile
- You can fold the armrests all the way up if you want to lay firmly at a desk or table
- Flashy, retro-futuristic look
- No obnoxious branding (or no visible branding at all)
- 275 pound user weight limit
- Lots of exposed plastic
- Minimal upholstery of moderate quality
- The "vegan leather" upholstery we tested is best described as "acceptable" (there is also a fabric option that we did not receive or tested.)
- Armrest height cannot be adjusted
- Armrest width cannot be adjusted
- Armrest angle cannot be adjusted
- The slope cannot be locked anywhere other than fully upright
- No headrest
The ugly one
- Shenanigans at asking price – currently listed as "Use $ 1,199 / $ 799 / Code 2020 for additional $ 200 off".
Listing image by All33