You already know that sitting is bad, why sitting is bad, and how to transition to standing the healthy way.
So now you need to know which of the many standing desk options is best for you. We’ll list the options from the cheapest DIY and IKEA standing desk hacks to the most expensive embedded systems. Then we’ll detail our conclusions and recommendations.
But first, we strongly recommend that you consider which desk type is best for you.
How to Decide Between Fixed, Add-On-Top, and Adjustable Height Standing Desks
Transitioning to a standing desk should be a process – if you just jump into standing all day on day one, you’re likely to have some problems. So you’ll need an alternative to your standing workspace (whether that’s a chair, couch, or bed).
If you only have one work area – say, a cubicle – this means you’ll need to choose an adjustable height standing desk or something that easily moves on and off your standard desk, which we call “add-on-top” desks.
Those working from home or in open office configurations with a plethora of furniture should be fine with fixed height desks or more permanent modifications to their standard desks, so long as they don’t ignore the ergonomics of the non-standing options. Of course, both the adjustable height and “add-on-top” options allow you to do your sitting and standing at the same desk.
As you look through the index below, think through how your days will actually go. The non-adjustable options are definitely cheaper, but they may discourage you from switching postures regularly – so it may be worth it for you to put down a little extra money up front for something that facilitates multiple positions easily.
On to the desk options:
Best Standing Desk Options Index (Click to Jump)
- [$0 + Materials] Ergodriven Calculator and Free Plans (DIY “Add-On-Top” or Fixed Height)
- [$0 + Materials] Ikea Standing Desk Hack (DIY “Add-On-Top“)
- [$95] Chairigami Cardboard Standing Desk (Fixed Height)
- [$160] Ninja Standing Desk (Fixed Height)
- [$279] PressFit Standing Desk (Fixed Height)
- [$399] Kangaroo Pro Junior (“Add-On-Top“)
- [$399] StandDesk (Adjustable Height)
- [$490] Ergotron WorkFit-S Dual (Adjustable Height + “Add-On-Top“)
- [$739] Ergodepot Jarvis Desk (Adjustable Height)
- [$897] NextDesk Up (Fixed Height)
- [$1399] Locus Desk (Fixed Height)
- [$3890] Stir Kinetic Desk (Adjustable Height)
Ergodriven Calculator and Free Plans
Of all the standing desk options, the folks at Ergodriven pay the closest attention to proper ergonomics of the wrist. It makes sense that these guys get it, because many of our writers work there! Their standing desk calculator provides custom dimensions specifically for your body’s specific geometry, so even if you choose not to use their free plans (available for both “add-on-top” and fixed height), we recommend using their calculator to set up whatever desk design you choose.
Ikea Standing Desk Hack [FREE]
We recommend setting up the mouse and keyboard platform a little differently than they did (with a negative tilt). But that’s an easy modification to make, and the price is definitely right. The author, Colin, did the internet a great service in sharing his work, so pay him back by sharing his page on Facebook if you follow his plans.
Chairigami Cardboard Standing Desk [$95]
This has all the caveats of a fixed-height desk – it’s not good for anything but standing – but the price is fantastically low. We love the idea of using an eco-friendly material like cardboard, but we’re not sure it could handle the wear and tear at most offices. If you’re a little slow to wipe up a water spill, you might need to order a new one. You also may want to lean on your desk as you switch up your posture, and we’re not sure how much this desk can take.
Ninja Standing Desk [$160]
This nifty little product turns any door or wall into a standing desk. This is especially awesome for frequent travelers or anyone who works out of an apartment. Of course, in cubicle situations, this probably isn’t the best solution. Still, the ninja desk gets top marks from us for ingenuity and innovation. We especially like that this desk pushes you to use a separate keyboard with your laptop, because there is no way to get the ergonomics right with the laptop’s integrated keyboard.
PressFit Standing Desk [$279]
Another cool manufacturing quirk sets this desk apart – it’s assembled from flat plywood pieces cut out on a CNC router and puzzled together. However, once you’re done with the fun of putting it together, you still end up with a simple fixed height, flat top desk; meaning you’re going to have trouble getting the vertical spacing between your monitor and keyboard right.
Kangaroo Pro Junior [$399]
This “drop on top” solution allows you to quickly transition from sitting to standing, providing for sliding your monitor and keyboard up independently. We like this idea a lot – with one caveat. We’re not sure if the keyboard tray can achieve a negative tilt. As it’s pictured, the keyboard is tilted towards the user, which we’ve explained before is actually more harmful than a standard flat desk.
This bills itself as the cheapest adjustable height sit-stand desk on the market, and they’re right by about $300. Pretty impressive feat so long as the durability holds up. It’s currently only available for pre-order, so there’s no in-market test data yet, and you can’t get your desk until November or December 2014. And when you do get your desk, it will still just be flat on top – meaning you’ll need some additional monitor support and a keyboard tray to truly dial in your setup. Don’t let that pictured laptop fool you. If you are going to spend hours in front of the screen, do your body a favor and ensure your setup puts the monitor at an ergonomic height and angle. An external keyboard and mouse or external monitor is a must have to avoid the neck, shoulder, and back pain (read damage) caused by using the integrated laptop keyboard and screen concurrently.
Ergotron WorkFit-S Dual [$490]
Of the current market offerings, this one is our top pick. The price seems a little steep, but if you’d rather buy something than build it yourself, this is the only option that allows for truly optimal ergonomics out of the box. The monitor(s) and keyboard try move up and down independently, and the keyboard tray allows for the desired negative angle. To install it, simply clamp it on the front edge of your desk and mount your monitors.
Ergodepot Jarvis Desk [$739]
If you want an adjustable height desk, the Jarvis is a great option. Unlike the much cheaper StandDesk, the Jarvis has been in the market for a while and they can get you one in just a few days. We’ve played with these desks personally, and they are sturdy and robust. The 4 customizable height presets are a great way to move through various positions, including sitting, perching on a saddle chair, and upright standing.
We’ve cautioned before that flat top desks are optimized with dropped keyboard platforms and monitor arms, so keep that in mind.
NextDesk Up [$897]
They use some great green materials (recycled aluminum and bamboo) for this simple flat top, fixed height desk. The Pressfit Desk would get our money before the Up, but you may desire a strong, sturdy desk with clean lines that doesn’t look like a jigsaw puzzle. In that case, the NextDesk Up is for you. NextDesk has a few other great options as well, including the Terra and the Air.
The Locus Desk (and Workstation) [$1399]
We like this a lot, because leaning is a nice third option to sitting or standing. Also the thing is just pretty, and the craftsmanship seems impeccable. That said, the keyboard angles are wrong for most computer work, and we see a big potential for leaning forward too much with this desk. If you spend most of your day handwriting or drawing, the Locus desk would be a fantastic choice.
Stir Kinetic Desk [$3890]
If you’re into the quantified self movement and have an absolute mountain of cash to burn here, this desk is for you. Billed as the iPhone of desks, this thing learns your habits and tracks your work patterns. Nifty data to look at, although unlikely to revolutionize your life on its own. If you need another touchscreen in your life, go ahead and splurge!
Conclusions and Recommendations
cheap thrifty, fancy ourselves as handy, and believe that any investment here should be toward an ideal workstation. So for us, the Ergodriven Standing Desk Calculator combined with either their free plans or another DIY option is the way to go. You can easily spend less than $50 and be standing with perfect posture.
If you’d rather avoid the workshop and open your wallet instead, the Ergotron WorkFit Dual is the winner in our books. It’s the only option that allows for optimal ergonomics right out of the box, and at under $500 the price isn’t prohibitive.
A Final Word
We don’t mean to sound harsh in describing any of these options. Any company invested in improving the workspace for humans deserves commendation, and many of these companies really truly care about you. Each of these options is likely to improve your life, even if your setup isn’t perfect.
The most important thing for you is to just do something. Don’t just read this post, think “that’s interesting” and continue sitting for another decade. Get your ideal workstation dimensions, make a plan to build something, or buy one of these desks and start standing (making a healthy transition of course). Hell, even just join someone’s newsletter or write “standing desk” on a post-it and stick it to your monitor.
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Agonizing over perfecting your setup isn’t useful unless you actually start standing.
Have you tried any of these options? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments!
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