In a Nutshell:
The Kahuna HM 5000 is an excellent chair for anyone on a budget, weighing 300 pounds or less. Recommended for anyone, though the 5020 offers slightly better value, with the addition of the heat function.
Overall Massage Quality
Ease of Use
Value for the Money
Are you on a budget? Are you in the market for an entry-level massage chair that offers enough features to provide some genuine therapeutic value? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then you’ll like what you read in this—our Kahuna HM 5000 review.
We’ll be the first to admit that there will be some people reading this who will be unimpressed and underwhelmed by this chair.
That’s fine and to be expected. Everyone has different tastes, preferences, and priorities, after all, and it’s completely true that in order to keep the price as low as possible, corners were cut in terms of this model’s feature set. You’ll find shortcomings here, just as you will on any entry-level massage chair.
Assuming you’re okay with that, however, you’ll really find a lot to like here, and the 5000 and 5020 are offered by one of the biggest and most respected names in the massage chair industry—Kahuna.
If your interest is piqued and you want to see what makes these two great chairs tick, read on, and let’s take a closer look.
Overview of the Kahuna HM 5000 and 5020
The design team didn’t take any chances where the basic look and feel of the 5000 was concerned. It looks pretty much like most of the other massage chairs on the market today, and no special effort was made to hide the chair’s true function. The same is true for the 5020, as both chairs were built on the same chassis.
If you’re not concerned about that, you won’t have a problem with the slightly futuristic aesthetic this chair brings to the table. If that bugs you, then you’ll probably want to look at the chairs offered by a company like Human Touch, which offers many models that are difficult to distinguish from a conventional recliner except when they’re in use.
Most people who are in the market for a massage chair, though, care more about function than form.
If that describes you, you’ll probably be fine with the aesthetic on offer here, and if you decide you want one, you can order yours in either brown or black—neutral colors that make it relatively easy to blend the massage chair in with whatever other furniture you’ve got in the room you place it in.
That’s a bit of a departure for entry-level chairs because many don’t offer color options at all, so kudos to Kahuna for that!
In terms of footprint, both the Kahuna HM 5000 and the Kahuna HM 5020 measure 57” L x 26.5” W x 47” H and weigh in at 207 pounds. Yes, you’ll probably see references to ~236 pounds on some Amazon sales pages. This is incorrect—that’s the gross weight which includes the packing materials. The weight of the chair itself (both models) is 207 pounds.
It’s not the biggest chair on the market today, but it’s no joke either and probably not something you want to try to position on your own. So if you decide to order one, make sure you’ve got a trusty assistant standing by to help you get it where you want it.
Also, be aware that these models feature space-saving technology, and you’ll only need about 7” of space between the back of the chair and whatever wall you place it near in order to recline fully. That’s a nice touch, and it should make it somewhat easier to find a permanent home for your new best friend.
Finally, note that the weight limit on this chair is 300 pounds. That’s about average, making both models useful to a solid majority of the market.
The Kahuna HM 5000 Massage Chair Features The Latest Technology
This is a strong component of our Kahuna HM 5000 review because, in the world of entry-level chairs, companies often cut corners here, utilizing older components to keep the final price low.
Kahuna didn’t take that approach. The chair is built around a delightfully long SL track, which allows the quad rollers to move along the X-, Y-, and Z-axis, making this a 3D massage chair capable of rendering a deep tissue massage, which marks the first therapeutic feature this model has to offer.
In addition to that, both the 5000 and 5020 feature the company’s excellent body scanning technology.
That works as follows: when you order a massage, the chair will take a quick scan of your back and make subtle adjustments to the rollers, shifting their positions such that they align with the pressure points on your back.
In practice, the tech gets it right about 95% of the time, and for those few occasions where something is a little off, you’ll find controls on the remote that allow you to manually tweak the position of the rollers. This one-two punch ensures that every time you sit for a massage, you’ll get the best one this chair can deliver, which is pretty awesome.
Unfortunately, Kahuna did go a little old-school where the control system is concerned. Many of their high-end chairs feature an impressively sized 7” touchpad that serves as the control system for the chair.
You won’t find anything so fancy here. Both the 5000 and the Kahuna HM 5020 massage chair feature a wired remote that looks a bit like a wider version of your TV remote.
Old school or not, the controls are well laid out and intuitive, and the remote features a smallish but acceptably sized LCD screen that gives you a visual representation of what’s going on with the chair (this obviously changes as you navigate through menus and such).
In addition to the remote, you’ll find convenience buttons built into one of the chair arms that allow you to activate some of the basic functions of the chair.
While the wired remote isn’t our preferred approach, it’s a decent solution, made better by the convenience buttons, and we totally understand why the company went that route.
Simply put, adding a 7” touchpad to the design would have increased the price, and the company cut a corner to keep from doing that.
The 5000 And The 5020 Offer The Same Basic Massage Options
This is about average in terms of what’s on offer and the implementation of the various features. Still, Kahuna does offer a bit more than most companies selling entry-level chairs when it comes to customization options. So overall, we’d rate this as another fairly strong component of our Kahuna HM 5000 review.
In terms of massage techniques, here’s what you’ll get with this chair:
That’s decent, but nothing is surprising on that list. It’s the standard list of massage techniques that most chairs use.
In addition to that, you get six auto-programs, which are:
These are good options, and you’ll definitely enjoy experimenting with them. The Rock Rotating option doesn’t quite qualify as a proper twist or stretch, so we can’t count it as a therapeutic feature, but it still feels nice and is incredibly relaxing. Kahuna did a good job here, offering a broad cross-section of auto-programs, so there’s a little something for everyone.
Of course, it’s not hard to find chairs that offer a great deal more in the way of pre-programmed massage routines, but you’ll pay a lot more for them. For the money, this hits close to the sweet spot.
In addition to that, you’ll also find five-speed settings available and a special “3D” section of the remote that allows you to adjust the intensity through five different settings.
Many entry-level chairs only offer three speed settings, and only about half pair that with three intensity settings, so we’re impressed by Kahuna for going the extra mile here. And on top of that, the remote also features spot and partial massage controls, allowing you to direct the rollers to the places on your back that hurt the most, giving them extra attention.
We love it, and we think you will too.
It’s Even Got Zero-G!
Zero-G seating is good for you, and its presence here marks a second therapeutic feature for the chair.
Inspired by NASA, it really does leave the person sitting in the chair feeling weightless, but it’s not just a gimmick.
That position will help make a deep tissue massage even deeper, help keep your blood pressure in check if you have problems with that, and improve your general circulation.
It also facilitates faster healing post-surgery, so if you’ve recently had an operation of some kind, it can be a real godsend!
Sure, there’s only a single Zero-G seating option available, but that’s not surprising at all on an entry-level chair. In fact, it’s more surprising that it’s present at all!
Unfortunately, There’s No Heat Function
Early on, we mentioned that where entry-level chairs were concerned, corners would be cut to keep the price low. Well, here’s one of the corners. The HM 5000 doesn’t offer heat. That’s unfortunate, but there’s a saving grace.
If you really want heat, you can get it by ordering the HM 5020 instead. This is, in fact, one of the key points of any Kahuna HM 5020 review.
A competent massage feels wonderful, but a competent massage combined with heat feels absolutely amazing, and the inclusion of heat in the 5020 gives it a therapeutic benefit that the 5000 lacks. If you specifically want a heated massage chair, then you want the 5020.
The best part about the feature is the fact that while most entry-level chairs that offer heat only feature it in your lower back (lumbar region), the 5020 offers full back heat, which is incredible for a chair in its price point. While the 5000 is a bit of a disappointment because it lacks heat, it’s very cool that Kahuna made it available by creating a closely related model.
A Basic Air Massage
This isn’t one of the stronger components of our Kahuna HM 5000 review, which isn’t terribly surprising.
Most entry-level chairs offer some type of air massage, but it’s seldom considered one of their signature features, and this is certainly the case where the 5000 and 5020 are concerned.
The chair sports a total of ten air cells located in the hip region and leg massage ports. As is the case with the roller-based massage, you can adjust the intensity of your air massage via the remote, choosing from five different intensity levels.
Given that there aren’t airbags scattered throughout the chair, there are also relatively few body zones you can selectively activate the airbags by. Here, you may only choose either the hips and legs or the soles of the feet if you don’t want all of them activated at once.
The Calf and Foot Massage Is Grand
Most massage chairs handle the calf and foot massage thusly: they use airbags for your calves and rollers for your feet.
Both the 5000 and the 5020 utilize rollers for both your calves and feet and airbags for your calves and feet. That’s superb, and the implementation here is far and away superior to the calf and foot massage you’ll find on most other entry-level chairs. Note that you can adjust the intensity of your calf and foot massage through three levels of intensity via the remote.
If you spend a good portion of each day on your feet, this will almost certainly wind up being your favorite aspect of the design, and in our view, this chair is worth buying on the strength of this feature alone.
It’s Even Got A Couple Of Extras
Bearing in mind that this is an entry-level chair, we weren’t terribly surprised to find a few extras on offer.
The good news is that the extras that are included are high value and definitely enhance the utility of the chair.
There are two things to talk about here. First is the massage timer, which allows you to set the duration of any massage to 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, or 60 minutes as you prefer. That’s spectacular since most entry-level chairs have massage durations that top out at thirty minutes.
Second, you’ll find a USB charging port built into the chair that allows you to keep your phone fully charged while enjoying a massage.
Note, however, that these two models don’t have built-in speakers, so if you want to listen to your favorite music while enjoying a massage, you’ll have to rely on the speaker built into your phone. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it is something to be mindful of.
Pros & Cons of Kahuna HM 5000 & 5020 Massage Chair
For a chair offered at the lower end of the price scale, the 5000 is excellent, and the 5020 is superb.
Sure, both models have a few shortcomings, but we see these as conscious design decisions that are aimed squarely at keeping the price as low as possible rather than genuine flaws in the design.
With chairs at the entry level, it’s important to evaluate the total feature set and be sure it’s what you’re looking for because chairs like this will always, by definition, cut corners where they can in order to keep the price low.
The best features on offer here are the excellent calf and foot massage and the back heat on the 5020. They allow these chairs to punch well above their weight class.
The weakest point, in our view, is the limitation of only a single Zero-G seating option, which is something that few people will feel strongly enough about to make it a deal-breaker.
Kahuna HM Kahuna HM 5020 Review Conclusion
If you’re on a budget and looking for a well-designed chair offered by a great company, look no further than the 5020. If you can live without back heat, you can save about a hundred bucks by getting the 5000 instead. We recommend both, but we highly recommend the HM 5020.
Other Options To Consider
There are tons of entry-level massage chairs, so if the two we just talked about aren’t exactly what you have in mind, here are a couple of other options you may want to consider:
This model is a bit more expensive than the two we just talked about but offers a significant upgrade in capabilities. We consider this the best value in the massage chair market today. It’s a superb chair packed with features you’ll love—including the company’s legendary body stretch—and loaded with extras too.
Although you may not have heard of the company, Forever Rest makes surprisingly good chairs, and this is an excellent example of the company’s work. For the price, this model is almost ridiculously good and surprisingly full-featured. We were impressed, and we think you will be too!
References and Resources:
- Kahuna, Official Brand Website.
- Kahuna HM 5000 User Manual
- Does Foot Massage Relieve Acute Postoperative Pain? A Literature Review, Nurse Media Journal of Nursing.
- Massage Therapy Improves Circulation, Alleviates Muscle Soreness, Science Daily.
- The Effectiveness of Massage Therapy Intervention on Reducing Anxiety in the Workplace, Sage Journals.