It does, you know. You just have to get it hot enough.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

A Year With a Hag Capisco

I’ve had my Hag Capisco for almost a year now and have a few thoughts to share about how much it’s changed my life. No, I’m not selling them, I didn’t get paid for this review, and I bought my Hag with my own, hard-earned money. The Hag Capisco is one of those discoveries I feel the need to share with anyone not smart enough to run away when I get that look in my eyes.

A little background if you haven’t heard of a Capisco. It is designed to be a perching chair — instead of putting all your weight on your butt and thighs while sitting you put some of your weight on the saddle seat and some of your weight on your feet. (I reviewed Galen Cranz’s “The Chair” last year, she discusses perching and the history of sitting on chairs in a fair amount of detail.)

Some differences between the Capisco and other “ergonomic” chairs:

  • The chair back is not intended for support. Working while sitting on a Capisco is more like sitting on a backless stool or on the edge of a bed.
  • The chair arms are far enough back that they are out of the way during normal use. You can lean back in a Capisco and rest your elbows on the arms to take a break, but when sitting upright the chair arms will not interfere with your arms.
  • The chair has more (and different) adjustment options than many chairs I’ve owned. One of my favorite is the ability to slide the seat pan forwards and backwards to better accomodate different leg/butt ratios.
  • The chair seat and back are both solid and firm. If there’s an opposite to the hammock-like bucket seats of an Aeron, this might just be it.

My seated (and standing) posture started improving within a few days of switching to the Capisco. It did take a couple of days for my back muscles to get used to holding me upright, but my body adjusted relatively quickly. It’s surprising just how much muscle tone I had to develop just to sit up straight for a few hours a day, but my back developed the muscle tone needed the same way my legs adjusted to living in a three-story house. I’m also fond of the feet rests that are on top of the casters. Normally with an office chair on casters, repositioning myself would require grabbing the chair with one hand to keep it from moving while I got up and sat back down. On the Capisco, I can make minor adjustments to my sitting position by simply lifting myself with my feet on the textured footrests, shifting a bit, then sitting back down.

Another change I’ve noticed is that it’s now easier (if not required) to move around quite a bit while sitting. In my old Aeron chair I could slump back and sit motionless for hours. On the Capisco, however, the only thing supporting me is my feet and butt. I’m able to sway, lean over, turn around, do all sorts of things that weren’t possible in the Aeron because I’m sitting on the chair instead of in the chair. (If you’ve ever been stuck in the rear bucket seats of a 70s muscle car, you know exactly what I’m talking about.) Sitting on a Capisco, I’m able to put things out of arm’s reach or on a shelf beside me and still get to them easily while working. In the Aeron, an item or task either had to be within arm’s reach or I had to get out of the chair.

There are a few downsides to the Capisco, but they’re mostly related to distribution and adjustment to a different sort of chair. Here in the states Hag chairs are damned difficult to test-drive unless you live near a major city. There was only one dealer in the greater San Francisco bay area that had a Capisco I could look at in person, something I like to do before dropping US $600 on a chair. Here in Pittsburgh I could only find one company even able to order a Capisco for me — they had none in their showroom to demonstrate. It took me a couple of months from initial contact before my chair arrived for me to pick up, I suspect due to the fact I was the first person in the area to ever order one of these. There’s also the cost of a Hag, and unlike the Aeron, there isn’t a surplus of used Hag chairs on the market that were freed up in the dot-com crash.

The Capisco does take a few days (if not a week) to get used to and for the first few days of use you’ll probably think it is uncomfortable or tiring. This is mostly your body complaining about having to build up some muscle tone needed to start doing the work of holding your head and spine in place.

Once you’re in a bit better shape, you’ll find the Capisco plenty comfortable.

If you have specific questions, let me know and I’ll update this review with text and photos as needed.


Answers for some of the questions in the comments section:

  • “Can you read heavy books in this chair?”: I would never consider doing any sort of reading in this chair unless the material was supported in front of me at a height that let me look straight ahead while reading. I’ve seen people using reading stands in beds and in other chairs, so you could probably find one that fit the Capisco. However, holding a book in your lap and looking down at it would probably defeat many of the benefits of using a Capisco. Yes, your weight would be distributed between your butt and your feet, but you’d also be bending your neck over at a very uncomfortable angle.
  • “Can you take it apart?”:  Mine came disassembled, but I don’t remember the exact details.  I think it was in three pieces: the base with casters, the seat, and the back.

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posted by jet at 21:35  


  1. Now that it’s been more than four years, are you still using this chair? Why or why not?

    I’ve used various Hag chairs over the years and am now in the market to buy a new one. I would like to consider a Capisco.

    Thanks for any updates.

    Comment by John — 2011/02/04 @ 23:14

  2. Yup, still using it every day for 4-8 hours. I’ve cleaned the cover a couple of times, but otherwise it’s holding up quite nicely.

    Comment by jet — 2011/02/07 @ 16:06

  3. I have a HAG Capisco 8106 high-lift chair in black which I am looking to sell. It is in as-new condition. I am in the UK.
    The chair was bought to help my work rehabilitation following an accident where I broke my pelvis. The chair was intended for working at a drawing board, and as described in the review above it is for ‘perching’ on – some of your weight goes through the seat and the rest through your legs, once you have become accustomed to it, it is very comfortable. In the end I hardly used it as my drawing board work was minimal. I am looking for £300 (new it sells for £600). UK only please. If interested, please contact me

    Comment by TimR — 2011/03/09 @ 04:31

  4. If you don’t mind my asking, who was the one dealer in the San Francisco area who had a capisco that one could check out in person? I live in the east bay and am considering one of these chair, but like you I don’t want to drop that kind of cash without trying one out first.

    Thanks very much,

    Comment by Scott Herman — 2011/08/27 @ 17:31

  5. It was called something like “The Back Store”, and it might have moved to Berkeley.

    Comment by jet — 2011/09/24 @ 09:50

  6. I bought one of these for my son as I thought his posture could be better. It has improved his posture a lot and as well he really loves the chair and all the variety of active sitting positions. The chair is actually fun. It is an expensive chair but it is well worth it. The chair is so well made it will last a lifetime. Get one for your children and protect their health. Now research is being quoted saying sitting is bad for you and even increases the risk of cancer. I don’t think it’s the sitting as much as the unsuitable cheap chairs.
    I’m not getting paid for this either and do not sell the chairs. I’m just happy I found them. I tried every chair in Bad Backs in Beaconsfield Sydney but they did not show me a Capisco. I saw a picture of it when I was leaving the store. I guess it was the price, they did not think I looked like a buyer. I did nearly fall over backwards when I found out the price, but I could see it was good and had to get creative by saving on other things to afford it. It’s a purchase I will never regret.

    Comment by Frances Winters — 2011/10/05 @ 06:17

  7. How suitable is this chair for keyboarding,typing using mouse, computer work?

    Comment by Lajos Varady — 2012/04/04 @ 16:21

  8. With a good ergo setup for your computer, I think it’s great. I still take frequent breaks and stretch but I’ve also worked 10-12 hour days without any pain or tendonitis problems.

    Comment by jet — 2012/07/11 @ 08:22

  9. Do you think the Capisco could be good if I am sitting and making things with my hands (cutting, drawing, sewing) on top of a table? I imagine I will need to lean forward somewhat as I do these non-computer tasks. I tried the Capisco backwards and it seems possible to use the chair to support the core while using the arms to make things? I would appreciate your feedback.

    Comment by Mel — 2012/07/15 @ 20:27

  10. Sorry for the late reply, I’m finding legit replies in the spam filter.

    I’ve used my Capisco for that sort of work and I like how easy it is to lean forward. I am moving to working while standing up for some tasks and have moved some others to the floor. It’s easier to kneel and reach over a big cutting board than it is to set up yet another table in my studio for big projects.

    Comment by jet — 2012/12/15 @ 11:49

  11. Did you have any perineal pain upon sitting on the chair? I bought a Capisco yesterday and I feel a little weird in my perineal area. (I’m a guy). Sort of like the same feeling you get when cycling on a bad saddle-seat.

    Comment by Guy — 2013/01/09 @ 21:36

  12. Hi Art, are you still in love? I have a couple questions, which I’ll also email you. :) I tried out a Capisco in person briefly, but I don’t think I can get a trial model, so I’m hoping experienced converts can help me out!

    -I use a GeekDesk, at which I both sit and stand. With the Capisco in the standing height setting, i feel like it tilts my pelvis in the opposite way that would be beneficial for my specific crappy spine. I have too much lumbar curve, so I stick my butt and stomach out and I need to work on tucking both in, and strengthening both my lower abs and lower back muscles. Do you feel like the “perching” position would further exacerbate my weird posture, or would it help correct it? (I know you’re no chiropractor, but any input is welcome.)

    -Has anyone used this during pregnancy? Just curious if the weird saddle thingy causes any joint issues given all the relaxin in your system. Hoping a commenter wanders along and weighs in. :)

    -When I had the demo model chair set at regular desk height, I definitely sat all the way back in it. Are you saying that even at regular desk height, you’re meant to perch on the edge? It seemed amenable to both postures (as well as to sitting in it backwards).

    -I, too, am concerned about perineal pain and numbness. That’s my biggest worry with this type of purchase.

    -What upholstery did you choose? I’m thinking of getting leather, but not if that would be a sweaty awful mess.


    Comment by Virginia — 2013/09/22 @ 20:08

  13. Not only am I still in love, but I recent moved in to an office and got a second chair, then upgraded my home office to have the taller piston.

    For ergo issues, I suggest you see a local specialist that can look at your environment. You could have the perfect chair but your monitors are in the wrong place or you need a different keyboard.

    The way I sit in mine is perching with about half my wait on the chair and the other half on my feet. I sit on it more like I would a seat on a tractor or a stool at a bar, I never liked the “leaning” model of perching where most of your weight is on your feet. (I’d just as soon stand instead of lean.)

    The only reason I have a back on my chair is that it keeps me from falling off when I stretch too far. I use the arm rests from time to time if I need to get to the workbenches near my desk.

    I got the inexpensive-but-durable upholstery on the first chair, washed it every few months, and replaced it simply because I was tired of the color.

    So, I need to do a couple of things in a new blog post:
    – write up the new chair
    – write up the modifications to the old chair
    – draw my office layout so people have a better idea of what I’m talking about.

    Comment by jet — 2013/09/23 @ 19:58

  14. I am a guitar player and will spend 8-10 hours a day practicing. I have severe Degenerative disk issues in the lumbar region. I am looking for the perfect chair that will allow me to sit perched forward taking the pressure off the lower back, somewhere between standing and sitting. I am not comfortable standing or sitting for long so from what I am reading in the comments, it sounds like like this May be a good choice. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    Many Thanks!

    Comment by Robert Wilkinson — 2013/11/01 @ 21:15

  15. I own both the Areon and the Capisco, I used the Areon for 5 Years when i worked outdide the home. I actually took my chair to work since the one provided by the company was not comfortable at all. I must admit I loved it. I then purchased the Capisco for use at home, I enjoy playing guitar and this chair is great for that. I am now working back at home, I can choose either the Areon or the Capisco for my daily use of 8-10 hours a day sitting at the computer/phone. I find i use Capisco almost 100 percent of the time, I love being able to have more freedom of movement, my back has less trips to the chiropractor, in fact after the first 3 months of use I have yet gone back hmmm, just realized that it could very well be the chair helping with that! its a very well built chair and and i never seem to shy away from sitting in it. Sometimes I like to work near standing, I raise it up high and it helps to break the same day to day positions most chairs offer. Is so true you don’t sit in, but rather on this chair.
    Dont hesitate considering this as your next multifunction sitting device.

    Comment by steve — 2014/02/23 @ 13:54

  16. Thanks for mentioning you use it for practicing guitar — I need to write up how it’s been for my cello and violin practice.

    Comment by jet — 2014/02/23 @ 17:35

  17. I am about to start grad school where we will be sitting in class from 8 to 5 M-F, so I need something that will allow me to sit comfortably while taking notes or typing on my laptop. Do you feel this chair would fit the bill?

    Comment by Lisa — 2014/05/23 @ 11:09

  18. I honestly don’t know, but given the typical university tables in the US, I’d say “no”. I have two chairs in two offices, and in each office I can control the height of my monitors, my keyboards, my work tables, etc. They are dialed-in for my personal ergonomic needs and my friends would probably be uncomfortable. A Capisco isn’t cheap, and while you might use it all day, it’s not cheap to reconfigure desks and other institutional furniture put in classrooms.

    Comment by jet — 2014/05/23 @ 19:31

  19. Thank you for the prompt reply. I went ahead and spent $300 on a chair from Staples. I figure even if it isn’t perfect, it’ll do for the next 2-1/2 years.

    Comment by Lisa — 2014/05/25 @ 14:30

  20. I’ve been looking for a comfortable chair for my home office for a while. I sit at the computer and type for 8 to 10 hours a day as I translate. I ended up with terrible pains in my lower back and my butt after sitting in a cheapo chair for over a year during an on-site assignment. I was really comfortable when I changed to a Humanscale chair, but as soon as I had to switch to an Aeron chair the pain returned. These experiences taught me about the importance of having a good chair.

    I went to Ergodepot and looked at Humanscale chairs and HAG 03, 05, and the Capisco. I loved the Capisco, but it would have meant an investment of about $900. I was going to buy the more affordable HAG 03, but decided to check out the local used office furniture store just to cover all the bases before taking the plunge. I found the Capisco chair and the Humanscale Freedom chair! I’m trying them both out.

    While the Freedom chair is a very comfortable chair for sitting, the Capisco chair seems more active. I was unsure about the Capisco chair, since it’s not a “comfortable” chair in the conventional sense, and it was really helpful to read about the “break-in period.” I’m pretty sure that I’m going to keep the Capisco. The used office furniture store prices makes the Capisco totally affordable!

    Comment by Yuko — 2014/11/02 @ 01:50

  21. Has anyone tried the HAG Capisco Puls? It’s mostly plastic and the seat pan is an inch or so smaller than the upholstered chair.

    I would love to see this in person. The closest big city to me is Chicago. So far, I can’t find a showroom.

    Comment by Reeeta — 2014/11/09 @ 09:47

  22. Yuko,

    What used office furniture store did you find the Capisco in? Thanks.

    Comment by -dg — 2015/01/29 @ 06:54

  23. Hello, please could you share your experience about cleaning the covers on the Capisco? I cannot work out how to remove the back rest cover – need to disable the disc which controls the height and I can’t work out how to do it. Any tips?

    Comment by Elizabeth — 2015/02/05 @ 06:06

  24. It’s a tight fit coming off and going back on. I think I did it without removing the black knob in the middle lower part of the backrest and actually stretching the fabric around the knob. I would take pictures before you take the upholstery off and while you take it off. When I did the lacing on the seat I was convinced I was doing something wrong, it turns out it has to be much tighter than I expected.

    Comment by jet — 2015/02/05 @ 11:32

  25. Thanks for your article, it was the primary reason I purchased my HAG Capisco (8106 model). Living in Australia makes it even more difficult to try one of these, so much in fact on blind faith I ordered mine from the US in custom leather upholstery and had it shipped over with great expense. I have now been using mine for three years and my core strength is absolutely fantastic. I had a L2/L3 lumber fusion prior to buying the HAG and ever since using this chair I no longer have problems. Combined with the regular Pilates, my dressage horse riding ‘seat’ position has impressed my instructors even after a long break following that painful back surgery. By the way I’m male and There are no “advese” affects!

    Comment by Howie — 2015/08/01 @ 19:07

  26. i have had my Hag Capiso for 3 months now and I must say it’s exactly what I was looking for. I purchased the 200MM lift Lena White Leather – the white leather is beautiful and easy to clean. I would highly recommend leather vs upholstery. I am using my Hag with a sit / stand desk so it’s perfect. I’m female and petite so the 200MM lift gives me the half sitting / standing perched position that provides the full ergonomic benefits of this chair. All I can is I love my Hag. It’s fun, flexible, ergonomic and adjusts to my needs.

    Comment by Maya — 2015/08/30 @ 11:36

  27. […] the author’s expe­ri­ence with another model of sad­dle chair cer­tainly gives me hope for my sad­dle seat when it […]

    Pingback by Ever Considered Not Using an Office Chair at Work? | The Geeky Disciple — 2015/09/05 @ 10:32

  28. Thanks for your article. I’m looking to get an ergonomic chair to help fix my mid-back and neck pain, and the Capiso looks pretty cool.

    What desk do you use with the Capiso? What height is it at?

    You said you upgraded to a taller lift at home (265mm?). Did you have a standard (200mm) lift before that, and how well did that work?

    Would you recommend using one with a standard height desk, or is the chair really designed for adjustable height sit / stand desks?

    The problem with these chairs is that it’s almost impossible to find a place to test one, so thanks for your help.

    Comment by Alex — 2015/09/15 @ 20:08

  29. I am using the capisco since 3 months with a standard height desk (~75cm) and it works well in my opinion.

    My lower back-pain is on the verge of disappearing. Its really a fantastic chair – i knew it was what i wanted from the moment i sat down on it in the shop.

    I did test the Capisco Pulse for a week, its significantly cheaper but in the end i had to get the standard capisco with real padding – the Pulse is in my opinion too hard if you use it for a full day.

    Comment by Andy — 2015/11/01 @ 16:00

  30. i just discovered the existence of the hag capisco chair online and then found this incredible link. have read all of your incredibly helpful advice and insights about the chair and am looking forward to actually trying one out this week.
    i’m a small female, 5’3″ tall. my question is related to age and breaking in the chair (back issues–building up new muscles). might this be more of an issue at age 60? also going to be using it mainly for guitar practice and sewing/crafting.

    Comment by amy — 2015/12/06 @ 15:11

  31. Not sure about playing guitar, but I use it to practice cello with no problems. For sewing, it depends on where you put the sewing machine. I don’t think a Capisco will fit under what I call a “sewing table”, but it works ok with my elevated workbench.

    The biggest challenge I have with the Capisco is that it has wheels and I have a hardwood floor. If I’m trying to solder tiny components I want something that won’t roll and gives me a steady plant on the floor so I use a hardwood stool.

    Comment by jet — 2015/12/06 @ 15:33

  32. I paint at an easel for 4 to 6 hours per day, and was considering the Capisco chair to work at the easel. I tried one out at a furniture store while turning the back to use as the front, and leaned on it as a front support. Do you think the chair will provide enough front support while painting? It seemed to hold me up while leaning towards the easel, and was comfortable in my short trial . I am not sure I will have enough movement for my arms to allow me freedom to paint, but when I tried the chair at the showroom it seemed to be OK. What’s your feeling about this? I have moderate scoliosis and my back tends to tire on a stool, so this seems like a good alternative solution.

    Comment by Meryl — 2016/01/25 @ 16:04

  33. Hi-
    I have owned this chair for a year now. I finished my last year of Graduate School with the chair and must be sitting incorrectly. I sit for 10-12 hours a day working on graphic programs for architecture. My bottom is numb. I am assuming its because I sometimes actually sit on the chair rather than perch however, I find it difficult to spend such a long period of time in the chair, with just my feet down. I am regretting the expensive purchase and thinking that this chair would be better just for my drafting table or easel rather than my desk?

    Comment by s. jeffrey — 2016/02/12 @ 16:56

  34. I think sitting for 10-12 hours a day without regular breaks is going to be tough for any chair. Are you actually holding any of your weight with your legs are down or are they just suspended? I perch on mine for 8-10 hours a day but every hour I take a 10 minute break and go for a walk, make tea, etc.

    Comment by jet — 2016/02/12 @ 19:24

  35. I never got any feedback on my question #32. Any thoughts from users?

    Comment by Meryl — 2016/02/18 @ 21:16

  36. The absence of padding on the Capisco Puls makes it too hard for me. Legs go numb quite quickly. Am stuck with it now because I cannot get it apart to return it to the etailer. Am looking at different types of foam to create my own padding. It does promote a good posture though so if I find the right foam padding it won’t be a waste of £300.

    Comment by Tony — 2016/02/24 @ 17:19

  37. I’ve been using this chair for several years and I think it’s worsening my existing neck pain from a bulging disc.

    There’s not enough back support since the back doesn’t go up to your thoracic (upper) spine, and if you sit for a long time, you’ll get tired and hunch over. This leads my neck to jut forward and it starts burning after a short while. If I sit in it for too many days in a row I get TMJ pain and migraines.

    I have the flat stool and a headrest on mine, but because the back of the chair doesnt go up high enough, when I use the headrest on my neck, since there’s a huge gap between the top of the chair and the headrest, my back wants to fall into it and it feels like someone’s stepping on the back of my neck.

    I’ve been attempting to lower the headrest and move it further away so it acts as upper back support but now my head and neck aren’t supported either. I’m getting that burning feeling in my neck right now, which I think are my SCM muscles being tight the entire time I’m sitting here.

    I have to sit at a desk for up to 12 hours per day, and while I can convert it to a standing desk, even the short time I sit is not “comfortable”.

    Ironically, the chair is more comfortable when you sit in it sideways or crooked, rather than a typical upright keyboard+mouse position.

    Unfortunately I’ve tried other chairs and none of them seem to be good for sitting upright and working. You’d think it would be more common since thousands of people have a job that requires doing that all day every day.

    Comment by Joe — 2022/10/05 @ 13:48

  38. Interesting. I’m curious, did your doc suggest any specific type of chair? I still “perch” on mine, two feet on the ground supporting some weight, but I’ve gone to standing most of the time. I don’t have back/neck problems, but I do have a bad knee and switching between standing and sitting is what I’m trying to avoid these days.

    Comment by jet — 2022/10/05 @ 15:11

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