It's often said that a man's home is his castle, and in that castle, his chair is his throne. This sentiment holds true for truckers and their 18-wheelers. Surprisingly, many CDL drivers overlook the importance of their seat until they encounter health issues. Experienced company drivers and owner-operators firmly believe that the driver's seat is the most crucial component of any semi-truck. As the saying goes, "We've only got one spine." In this article, we'll dive deep into the often-underestimated topic of the best truck seats, highlighting the best options available in today's market.
- The Best Truck Seat: Why Should Drivers Opt for One?
- Why Should a Semi Truck Driver's Seat Be Replaced?
- Will the Aftermarket Seat Suit Me?
- Will an Aftermarket Seat Fit My Truck?
- Standard vs. Low-Profile Seats
- Color and Trim Options
- Lumbar Support
- Isolator of the Best Truck Seat
- Heating and Cooling
- Other Features of Trucker Seats
- The Best Truck Seat: Models You Should Consider
The Best Truck Seat: Why Should Drivers Opt for One?
The primary motivation for truck drivers to upgrade their big rig seats boils down to two essential factors: comfort and health. Regrettably, the comfort level provided by the stock seats in most semi-truck brands often falls short. Veteran drivers often quip that a stock seat will "beat you to a pulp, tossing you around and bottoming out throughout the day." There's always potential for enhanced suspension, superior lumbar support, improved armrests, and additional features. In essence, there's always an opportunity to elevate ride comfort, which, in turn, safeguards both immediate and long-term health. Drivers who've switched to aftermarket seats frequently report a significant reduction in back pain and even claim to sleep better, as their bodies aren't as tense after a long shift.
However, it's crucial to note that enhanced ride comfort alone won't shield you from potential back health issues. For OTR truck drivers keen on minimizing health risks, it's imperative to incorporate exercises that strengthen muscles and boost overall physical activity. Dive deeper into this topic here.
As for aftermarket semi truck driver seats, they can truly elevate your driving experience, offering superior damping and cushioning against road shocks, enhanced back support, ergonomic design, and advanced features like pivoting, air cooling, and even massage functions. Let's delve into the primary features of trucker seats provided by third-party manufacturers to help you make an informed choice.
Why Should a Semi Truck Driver's Seat Be Replaced?
One compelling reason to consider updating or upgrading a driver's seat is simply to replace an old, worn-out one. Regardless of the quality of construction, seats won't last forever. Over time, they inevitably lose their capacity to offer adequate body support. The trim may wear out, crack, or peel off. Cushions in both the seat bottom and back can become indented, forming ruts or sustaining other damages. A worn seat can exert undue pressure on bones, joints, and muscles.
A deteriorated semi truck driver seat lacking the right support level is typically found in older trucks. Think of replacing it in the same way you'd consider changing tires or filters. Trust us, it's one of the best investments you can make for your health. A new seat can significantly reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and soft tissue injuries, which, if left unchecked, might sideline you from work in the future.
Will the Aftermarket Seat Suit Me?
A primary concern when considering an upgrade for the best semi truck seat is, "Will it be a good fit for me?" Comprehensive research indicates that aftermarket trucker seats are designed with versatility in mind, aiming to comfortably accommodate drivers of various sizes. Ideally, you should test out the aftermarket seat before making a decision. If there's a vendor nearby, it's worth visiting their store to try out each seat that aligns with your budget and requirements. Additionally, if you know a fellow driver who's using an aftermarket seat and speaks highly of its comfort, take the opportunity to give it a try. Online customer feedback can also provide valuable insights into the comfort and fit of different seat models.
Will an Aftermarket Seat Fit My Truck?
In most cases, aftermarket seats crafted by reputable manufacturers will seamlessly fit your truck. On rare occasions, you might need to purchase and install a seat base adapter or make minor modifications. Some semi-trucks might require specific brackets to replace the stock seat with an aftermarket one. Fortunately, seat manufacturers often include these brackets at no additional cost.
It's essential to note that some 18-wheelers come with stock seats that have integrated seat belt reels. If this is the case for your truck, ensure that the aftermarket seat you're considering has a compatible seat belt mechanism. Most high-end seats come equipped with built-in reels to cater to this requirement.
Another crucial aspect to keep in mind is the headroom in your truck's cab, especially for day cabs or classic older trucks. Before making a purchase, measure the height of your cab and compare it to the maximum height position of the seat you're eyeing. This ensures a comfortable fit without compromising on safety or convenience.
Standard vs. Low-Profile Seats
If your truck's cab boasts ample space with generous headroom, standard seats are an ideal choice. Typically, these seats provide a seat height ranging from 14 to 17 inches when deflated and come with a full suspension stroke of 5 to 6 inches.
On the other hand, low profile air ride truck seats, often referred to as short base seats, are designed with a significantly lower ride height when deflated. Their suspension stroke is typically more limited, allowing for an elevation of only 3 to 4 inches when inflated. However, a few manufacturers, such as Knoedler and Prime Seating, break the mold by offering full stroke length even for their low-profile seats.
Color and Trim Options
When it comes to aftermarket semi-truck seats, manufacturers provide a variety of fabric and leather trims. While genuine leather is a popular choice, vinyl, often seen as a more affordable alternative, is also available. However, many vendors and experienced drivers caution against "vinyl leather," noting its shorter lifespan compared to other upholstery types. That said, some modern vinyl variants, crafted using advanced technologies, might prove to be exceptions. Ultimately, the choice between fabric, vinyl, or genuine leather boils down to individual preferences and budget. Undoubtedly, a leather semi truck seat offers a more luxurious comfort and a more distinguished appearance.
Seat manufacturers also present a broad spectrum of colors and styles to complement your truck's interior. Typically, the color palette ranges from classic shades like black, gray, and brown to more vibrant hues like red. While you have the freedom to select almost any color, some unconventional shades like yellow, green, or blue might be less common. Additionally, a diverse array of color combinations is at your disposal, ensuring that your seat aligns perfectly with your aesthetic preferences.
While lumbar support in a backrest isn't uncommon, some stock and budget-friendly aftermarket seats might lack this feature. Essentially, lumbar support is a bolster, cushion, or air bladder positioned within the backrest trim at the lower back level. It's adjustable, with top-tier driver’s seats even offering dual lumbar adjustments. Its primary function is to alleviate lower-back pain during drives.
Isolator of the Best Truck Seat
The isolator is a hallmark of seats designed for semi-trucks. At its core, an isolator is a scissor-type frame suspension mechanism or shock absorber located at the seat's base. It dampens vertical shocks and vibrations, mitigating the impact of road jolts on the seat. The isolator also regulates the rocking motion of the driver’s seat during braking and acceleration. Its shock-absorbing mechanism typically relies on an air shock absorber, supplemented by coil spring add-ons. Additionally, isolators come with a locking mechanism that restricts any rocking and damping when desired. These are standard features for any semi truck air ride seat.
Standard semi-truck seats often come with relatively short backrests. If the backrest doesn't align with your height, resulting in a mispositioned headrest, it's worth considering an aftermarket seat. These usually feature more ergonomically designed backrests to accommodate drivers of varying heights.
Seat cushions are typically crafted from specialized foam, which can range from soft to firm. Experienced drivers tend to prefer firmer cushions, as they offer superior support and comfort compared to their softer counterparts. While plush cushions might seem more comfortable initially, firmer ones provide better long-term comfort and support for the hips and back. Reputable seat vendors also advocate for firmer cushions as the optimal choice.
Armrests are a standard feature of most semi-truck seats. Only the cheapest base models come without them. But armrests usually come without any adjustments. Upon upgrading for an aftermarket seat consider your typical hand position on the steering wheel and how you like to rest your arms. Also length of your arms may affect the features of armrests.
Heating and Cooling
The more expensive driver’s seat you get, the more features it will provide. Heating and even cooling are a couple examples. Heating is a great choice if you often have to drop your body on a cold and frosty leather trim of your seat. Of course, you can skip this option and save some money if you’re comfortable with a built-in APU which heats the entire space of your trucks’ cab.
Cooling, or ventilation, is often available as an add-on to heating features. It means that seat manufacturers always offer cooling as an option above heating: you can’t buy a seat with this feature without having a heating option. So the final price of the seat will be quite high.
Nevertheless cooling can be a godsend when you hop on a seat after parking in the sun.
Memory means that your seat will retain perfect adjustments for your seat. You will not have to readjust all your settings every time you get in and out of your truck. As an entry level of memory function you can expect that seat will retain the ride height determined by isolator. So, after lowering the seat to get easier in and out from your truck, the memory function will restore the previous ride height when you’re ready to hit the road. Just pull the lever or press the button.
Top-level driver’s seats retain settings of backrest incline, lumbar support position and other adjustments.
Other Features of Trucker Seats
The top-level seats offer head and shoulder adjustments to fit your body in the most perfect manner. Also, such a luxury feature as built-in massage may be included into the price of the most advanced seats. This may seem like overkill, but some truckers consider those features necessary as they reduce strain in the back and neck, offer an incomparable level of comfort, help to relax, and deliver an immersive experience overall.
The Best Truck Seat: Models You Should Consider
Semi-truck seats come in a myriad of styles, each boasting its own set of features. While many may seem similar, each offers a distinct experience. Here, we've highlighted some of the standout seats from reputable manufacturers, detailing their unique attributes.
$3172 for Standard Version
$6200 for Top Version with Heat and Cooling, Massage and Swivel
Knoedler stands as a beacon of excellence in the truck seat industry, offering five base models tailored to fit a range of budgets and needs. Their seats are synonymous with quality, durability, and longevity. They are often regarded as the most comfortable truck seats.
Unique to Knoedler, the Power Chief boasts electrically-actuated adjustments for both the backrest and seat base, with a servomechanism handling the tilt. In essence, there are no manual adjustments, mirroring the luxury of high-end passenger cars. Seat height is effortlessly adjusted via air with a simple button press. The lumbar support, featuring dual air chambers and air bolsters, molds to your back for personalized comfort. The backrest is ergonomically designed for optimal lumbar support and even offers full recline for restful breaks.
Customization is at the heart of the Power Chief. Options abound, from heating and cooling functions to a massage feature powered by six motors with a remote control. A unique 180-degree swivel function with pneumatic actuation is also available. Upholstery choices include cloth, Mordura fabric, synthetic leather, and genuine leather, with both single and two-tone color options. An additional 1-inch layer of memory foam can also be added for enhanced comfort. The seat boasts a spacious 23-inch wide cushion and backrest, complemented by an advanced 2-way adjustable headrest and a convenient storage tray in front of the cushion.
For those seeking similar features but with variations, the Air Chief and Air Chief Tall Back are available. Both offer a 20-inch width, with the Tall Back model featuring an integrated headrest typical of many trucker seats. Both models come in low-profile and standard height options, with all features of the Power Chief, excluding the cooling function.
In conclusion, Knoedler seats represent the pinnacle of the best truck seat design, offering unmatched features and extensive customization. While they come at a premium, especially when fully loaded with options, their quality and comfort are unparalleled in the market.
$1500 for the Base Version with Genuine Leather
$3500 for Top Version with Heat and Cooling
Bostrom, a renowned name in the industry, brings one of the most sought-after premium aftermarket truck seats – the Wide Ride+Serta. Crafted in collaboration with Serta, America’s leading mattress company, this seat is designed to provide unparalleled comfort. The cushion integrates Serta’s “cool action” memory foam, offering enhanced support and a unique cooling ability that wicks heat away from the driver’s body. Thanks to this unique feature, the Bostrom Wide Ride+Serta is rightfully deemed the best truck seat.
The Bostrom Wide Ride+Serta is available in approximately 15 different versions, all featuring Genuine Leather. Buyers have the option to choose between black, gray, and tan upholstery colors, as well as several combinations thereof. The base version, while not featuring armrests, boasts a 23-inch seating surface to accommodate drivers of various shapes and sizes and is equipped with a high-performance damper isolator. The lumbar support features a dual chamber for added comfort.
For those seeking the ultimate in luxury and convenience, the top version of the Bostrom Wide Ride+Serta High Back offers a climate system (heating and cooling) in both seat and backrest cushions, dual adjustable-position armrests, an extendable cushion, air-powered bolsters, and active lumbar support that continuously inflates and deflates to ensure the lower back remains relaxed. A swivel version is also available for both driver’s and passenger’s positions. These features and options are available in various combinations in the mid-priced Bostrom Wide Ride+Serta High Back.
$1800 for Fabric Upholstery
$2100 for Genuine Leather with Massage
Minimizer seats, a testament to German engineering, stand out with a lifetime warranty and a plethora of features, even in the base version. Available exclusively in a sleek black color, these seats are designed for style and durability. These seats boast a 135° swivel base, facilitating easy entry and exit from the truck and granting effortless access to the sleeper area of the cab. The backrest is fully reclining.
Every Minimizer seat is equipped with adjustable armrests, seven settings for shock absorber firmness, upper and lower lumbar supports, air side bolsters, air height adjustment with memory, and head & shoulder adjustment. Heating and cooling options are available for both cloth and genuine leather trim, ensuring a comfortable ride in any weather.
For an added touch of luxury, the massage feature incorporates six motors, with various adjustments for intensity and speed, making long hauls more relaxing. However, it’s worth noting that the massage feature is not compatible with the cooling option.
$1800 for Cloth Upholstery
$2500 for Ultra Leather Trim
The Atlas II truck seats by Sear Seating are versatile and adaptable, available in a spectrum from basic models equipped with dual armrests and a 22-inch wide seat cushion adjustable in three different positions, to the highly advanced ones incorporating an active magnetic ride suspension system. This innovative system, featuring patented toggle link suspension, significantly reduces side-to-side rocking and the chances of topping and bottoming, offering near-perfect vibration reduction.
Mid-level Atlas II seats are designed with driver comfort in mind, featuring a heat and massage feature for those long drives. While the model does not have active ventilation, the manufacturer ensures that the passive cushion ventilation system is capable of providing sufficient cooling. Available in both cloth and “Ultra Leather” trims, these seats offer a wide color selection, including unique shades like burgundy and blue, as well as classic combinations of black, grey, and tan.
Rigorously tested for durability, the Atlas II seats have withstood 10 million vertical bounce cycles while supporting a 280-pound weight, demonstrating their robustness and reliability in meeting the demands of commercial trucking.
$1600 for Leather Trim
Legacy by Seats Inc. stands out as an exceptionally good-looking seat, blending contemporary design with enhanced support and comfort. The seat boasts a 22-inch wide seating surface and a 19-inch wide backrest in the shoulder region, ensuring a comfortable ride for drivers of all sizes.
The Legacy Series is available in both cloth and “Dura Leather” trim, with the latter offering a vibrant palette including Blue and Burgundy, in addition to the standard Black, Brown, and Gray. Two-tone combinations are also available for those seeking a unique look.
Single air lumbar support is a standard feature, providing essential back support on long journeys. For added comfort, adjustable armrests and heated back and cushion are available at an extra cost. The Legacy Series seats offer sophisticated comfort at a reasonable price and are built to last, backed by a 7-year structural warranty. However, it’s worth noting that the warranty for the cushion is one year only.
$1899 for DuraLeather Trim
The Pinnacle Series stands as the epitome of Seats Inc.'s design prowess. These top-tier seats are available in a luxurious DuraLeather trim or a combination of cloth and DuraLeather. While the color choices are limited to classic shades of black, grey, and brown, along with a few combinations, the design is anything but ordinary. The Pinnacle Series boasts a modern and premium aesthetic, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a blend of style, comfort, and functionality.
With a standard 22-inch width for both the cushion and backrest, the Pinnacle seats ensure ample space and comfort. The cushion is extendable with eight adjustable positions, and the backrest can be fully reclined, ensuring optimal relaxation during breaks. A standout feature is the dual adjustable armrests, which, at 18 inches, are touted by the manufacturer as the longest in the industry. This seat also incorporates two air lumbar supports and air side bolsters for enhanced back support.
For truckers who prioritize both aesthetics and comfort, the Pinnacle Series by Seats Inc. offers a perfect blend of both, ensuring a comfortable and stylish journey on the road.
$1665 for Fabric Upholstery
$1799 for Genuine Leather Upholstery
Gra-Mag, a renowned seat supplier for PACCAR, is a familiar name for most Peterbilt and Kenworth truck drivers who have experienced their top-notch products. For the aftermarket, Gra-Mag offers a singular seat model, available in either fabric or genuine leather trim, with a choice of three stitching colors, while maintaining a sleek black exterior.
Every Gra-Mag seat comes standard with features designed for the ultimate driving comfort. These include air suspension with a 6-inch vertical travel, adjustable lumbar support, quick down release with memory position, adjustable dampener, and dual adjustable armrests. For those opting for the leather-trim variant, heating and ventilation are available at an additional cost of $210.
Compatibility is key, and Gra-Mag seats are versatile enough to fit into any Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks, as well as Freightliner, International, and Volvo trucks. To ensure a perfect fit, buyers are required to specify their truck model when ordering a Gra-Mag seat.
The aftermarket seat options available for truck drivers are vast, with over two dozen manufacturers offering a range of products tailored to long-distance driving needs. If you find yourself consistently alighting from your truck with a sore back, it's time to prioritize your well-being. Investing in a high-quality seat, even if it's on the pricier side, can prove more cost-effective in the long run compared to potential medical bills. Comfort should be paramount for every driver, especially those covering long distances. Given that you might spend 11-14 hours a day in that seat, it's essential to ensure maximum comfort. After all, life is too short to spend over half your day in discomfort and jeopardize your health.
If you're a CDL holder in search of a trucking position with a reputable company that values its drivers like family and recognizes them by name, look no further than HMD Trucking. We genuinely prioritize our drivers, offering competitive salaries, top-notch, well-maintained trucks, and as many miles as you desire. To get started, simply fill out the lead form below, and our recruiter will be in touch with you shortly. Join a team that truly cares.