I’ve tried plenty of chairs in the past. From cheap and temporarily cheerful seats from the big box stores to an insanely comfortable reclining lounge chair that wasn’t at all high enough for my desk (that I still miss dearly), it wasn’t until I tossed out some random Ebay purchase with a pull-out footrest that I decided to finally bite the bullet and spend a more on the fancy staple Humanscale Freedom. And even that couldn’t make sitting at my desk an enjoyable experience. Secretlab had the answer with the Titan Evo 2022 gaming chair, and it happens to be one of the best gaming chairs out there right now.
Despite all the Racing chairs circulating around the game’o’sphere, I attempted to push through the marketing fluff and settled on a proper tried-and-tested office throne. Running with the idea of the high cost being justified over the 10+ year average lifespan of something like a Herman Miller Aeron, I eventually settled on a Humanscale Freedom (with headrest). And I loved it. But I was only in love with the idea of it. It’s a mechanic marvel, but it ultimately delivered the exact same issue as every other one - it hurt my ass. I was repositioning so often that I just couldn’t get into the zone and do much of anything.
I persevered with the discounted office chair for a couple of years: likely through denial. I didn’t want to admit that an investment I viewed as a decade-long saga could already be over. But with gaming chairs still present in every YouTube video or Twitch stream I’d watch for work, the curiosity returned.
From looks alone, the Secretlab Titan Evo 2022 is a keeper. It strays far from the egregious “gamer” stylings of early iterations, using either smart weaving or smooth leatherette (or real leather if you’re especially extravagant).
The only way you’ll have a Secretlab chair look out of place in a home office setup is if you opt for one of their impressive (and frequently out of stock) pop culture collaboration designs. I’d been looking at the bright pink Overwatch D.Va chair prior to Secretlab reaching out. And although the black leatherette chair they shipped out wouldn’t have been my first choice, I admit it does make having contractors over less embarrassing. The wall of Build-a-Bear Eeveelutions and manga still has me feeling a little self-conscious, but I’m positive these folks will have seen it all in their careers.
In an odd stroke of luck, however, the company announced its “skins” line not long after I took possession of their latest throne. Though the options are fairly limited compared to their complete collection, the ability to get the design I want without having to buy a whole new seat is a glorious idea. At £170 a pop, I can’t see myself amassing a collection of hot-swappable coats for my chair anytime soon, but it certainly gives Secretlab a leg up over the competition.
Compared to something like Vertagear’s battery-powered LED inserts, I know which add-on approach I prefer. I just hope the price falls a little closer to the £100 range in the future. Then I won’t need to deliberate between Mint Green or Pink.
But it’s the features that count
Back to what is on the chair, though, the Secret Lab Titan Evo XL is a big boy. The website guides you through the various metrics you’ll want to take into account before choosing your size, with it recommending you size up if you’re between things. And although I wasn’t in the range needing the XL version, I opted for it anyway. For one key reason: seat width.
I fidget too much to ever stay sat still in one position. Though you should always buy an office chair to encourage proper posture while you work long hours at your desk, I had to consider that this would be used for both work and play. And when the same PC you use for work is your main gaming machine, too, you need something that can adapt. The wider seat on the Titan Evo XL lets me cross my legs for a little while, but the experience could be better.
Unlike my outgoing Humanscale Freedom chair, the arms can’t lay completely flat against the seat without taking them off entirely with an allen key. You can manoeuvre them further out with the same tool if you need a more generous seating area, but you can’t lower them to the base of the seat, which would make stuffing it under a desk (or resting your crossed legs) much easier.
Without unscrewing the whole arm assembly, however, you can use a bunch of buttons to lower them to around waist height, lift them up to support your arms at a higher desk, and grip them in ways that allow seamless adjustment along multiple axis, sliding them forwards and backwards, slightly to the left or right, or even tilting them toward or away from you. And even if you find your sweet spot quickly, the whole mechanism makes for a good fidget toy.
It’s been a hot minute since I first set up the Secretlab Titan Evo XL (or around seven months, to be exact) but I remember the experience being relatively straightforward. It’s just heavy. Most of the assembly slides together and is tightened in place, but I will suggest attempting it in a relatively clean and open room. The individual pieces take up a lot of space, and the box and its various inserts can be a nightmare to dispose of. The more freedom you afford yourself there, the easier time you’ll have putting it all together.
Sitting is believing
Once it’s all done and you park your ass, you’ll notice that the chair feels much firmer than you’ll expect - almost like a park bench. What you’re sitting on is a very chunky cushioned surface that I don’t expect will start to give way for a couple of years at best. Compared to the budget chairs where the foam starts to meet the wood base after mere months, delivering swift impact damage to your coccyx in the first hour of your day, the Secretlab Titan Evo XL just doesn’t give up. My concern was that the visibly hard surface wouldn’t have enough give to stop it feeling like I was sitting on the floor. In reality, it buckles to your weight just enough to avoid it. And it should only get better with age - to a point.
The only lingering issue is some lower back pain I’ll blame on one part the lack of a dedicated lumbar cushion and two parts my own monkey-like approach to posture. Secretlab does offer a bunch of different external lumbar support options (including one made specifically for its latest thrones), but they’re frequently out of stock, which seems like an oversight. There is a built-in system you can tweak with knobs on either side to move some kind of internal roller to suit your back position. And it works great. But if you’re the type to sit forward slightly, you’ll want to think about setting up stock notifications for the relatively inexpensive after-market solutions.
Though I still have some issues getting the Secret Titan Evo XL into the absolute perfect position while I’m at my desk, any time spent in it is infinitely more enjoyable than any other desk chair I’ve had in the past. Reclining is a great way to force me to take a break from the screen when I just can’t convince my brain to get up and stretch. It reaches more of a 45-degree angle rather than the comical flat 90 you might have seen a certain YouTuber pull off with a Clutch chair, but the adjustable, bouncy tilt tension feature can get you close. It would have been difficult to recommend it over the competition at its average price point initially, but the solid collaboration designs and after-market skins really help it stand out against the cluttered crowd of competition.
Vertagear’s more plush cushioning could be the dealbreaker if you’re not too fond of the third-party designs Secretlab makes its case with, but if there’s anything my revolving door-like approach to chairs has taught me, it’s that you shouldn’t expect any one of them to stay as comfortable on day one as day 1000. And I do think the Secretlab approach is the more durable effort. If the leather or fabric begins to fray, the skins can solve the problem for a fraction of the price. Good thinking, Secretlab.
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