If you are the primary caregiver of someone who has movement restrictions, then lightweight wheelchairs make a ton of sense for you. Lightweight wheelchairs are known for being small, sturdy and easy to handle. While lightweight wheelchairs may seem restricted due to their design, this category of chair actually has a ton of depth and room for customization.
Lightweight wheelchairs offer all of the add-ons of a traditional wheelchair inside of a lighter, easier to handle package. While there are some marked differences between lightweight chairs and heavier chairs, the majority of these differences are mitigated by the benefits that the lighter models can offer.
Lightweight wheelchairs are ideal for individuals who travel often and want to ensure that their movements are unchecked by bulkier designs.
How To Choose Your Lightweight Wheelchair
Lightweight wheelchairs are known for being portable and simple to handle. Whether you are taking your senior loved one on vacation or just transporting them to and from their day-to-day errands, you’ll want a lightweight travel chair that can accomplish the job. Let’s highlight a few of the most important factors to consider.
1) Mobility & Stability
The ability to quickly fold down the chair for storage is important, as is the ability to erect the chair for quick use. Lighter chairs are simple to keep stored in your van or near your front door so that they are ready when you are.
Additionally, you’ll have to pay attention to the stability of the chair that you are looking at. Sometimes you’ll be exchanging stability for a lighter weight and that isn’t always ideal. The lighter your wheelchair gets, the more likely that it can succumb to being tipped over. You can opt for a ‘rigid’ wheelchair if you want to ensure that your chair is safe and stable. With that being said, there are two primary types of lightweight traveling wheelchair.
A) Self Propelled
A self-propelled wheelchair is maneuvered by the rider. This is the common type of wheelchair that you are no doubt familiar with seeing. Large rear wheels, typically sizing in at 24 inches, are gripped by hand in order to propel the rider forward. These wheelchairs are ideal for outdoor use or for individuals who want to retain their own independence.
Transit wheelchairs are primarily associated with clinical facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes. These chairs are standard sized and possessed of manual breaks attached to the wheel rims. However, transit chairs are typically propelled by a caregiver as they are intended to be pushed from the rear. Transit, or transport chairs as they are sometimes called, function well when the goal is to bring a person from one area to another without having them seated for too long.
2) Type of Frame
The body of the wheelchair itself will end up deciding much in regards to your overall price point. Typically, lightweight wheelchairs are made out of aluminum or carbon steel. The lightest of lightweight wheelchairs might even use titanium as an alternative metal. Traditionally, the lightest wheelchair that you can find will clock in at around 10lbs while the heaviest lightweight wheelchair will weigh in at 35 lbs.
3) Quality of Materials
Every inch of your wheelchair is designed with some type of material. The better wheelchairs will have better quality materials that give you a more comfortable ride. You need to pay attention to at least the following material builds:
A) Wheel Type
B) Seat Material
D) Leg Rests
E) Frame Material
Each lightweight and ultralight wheelchair will be made slightly different. Pay attention to all of the small details in order to ensure that you are getting the best product available in order to help those that you are taking care of.
4) Important Features
You’ll want to look out for swing-away footrests, extendable armrests, ergonomic design, and adjustable seating level to start with.
A) Removable Armrests vs Fixed Armrests
B) Elevating Leg Rests vs Swing-Away Leg Rests
C) Rear Wheels
A) Seat To Floor – If you don’t measure your loved one’s height in comparison to the seat-to-floor ratio, your chair user could end up with cramped knees and chronic pain.
B) Seat Width – Even the lightest travel wheelchair has to have an appropriately wide seat for comfortable use. If your loved one cannot position themselves comfortably on their seat, due to a measurement mismatch, that will cause a consistent issue.
C) Backrest Level – The level of the backrest can directly interfere with your rider’s ability to sit comfortably. A backrest that is too high will cause pain in the neck and spine while a backrest that is too low will cause stability issues.
D) Chair Width – You’ll need to know that you can get the chair in and out of your van and house with ease. Additionally, you’ll want a chair that won’t cause issues when going through doors and halls at medical facilities.
E) Weight Capacity – Weight capacity is important even if you are taking a short trip. There are wheelchairs that are rated to accommodate every body type that there is. Make sure that you get a chair that is rated to handle your loved one’s weight.
Their health is a priority, so make sure you are doing everything you can in order to tailor their wheelchair to their needs.
Different Types of Wheelchair
A lightweight wheelchair is typically made of aluminum and will weigh, at most, around 30lbs. Lightweight wheelchairs are lighter than traditional wheelchairs, but not by as much weight as you’d expect. These chairs are most often made of steel or aluminum.
2) Ultra Lightweight
This is the lightest model of wheelchair that you can get. Ultra-lightweight wheelchairs will weigh, at most, 25lbs. These wheelchairs can also weigh as little as 10lbs. These chairs tend to be designed with titanium as the primary frame material.
3) Heavy Duty
Also known as ‘bariatric wheelchairs’, heavy duty wheelchairs accommodate users who require a larger carrying capacity. These wheelchairs can handle up to 600lbs if you get the right model.
This almost isn’t even considered a wheelchair at all. Transport chairs are ideal for moving someone from one room to the next, such as in a nursing home or hospital, with a caregiver guiding the movement.
Sports wheelchairs are designed with activity in mind. Users who want to get outside in order to enjoy the weather will likely enjoy this style of chair.
6) Rigid Wheelchair
A rigid wheelchair is a type of lightweight wheelchair that does not fold down and compress for traveling purposes. Instead, rigid wheelchairs are renowned for their stability. If you want to pack away your rigid wheelchair for travel, you must take it apart.
7) Folding Travel Wheelchair
For quick and simple transportation, a folding wheelchair cannot be beaten. These wheelchairs simply compress into an easier to carry package. These are ideal chairs for people who are frequently going to be in and out of their home.
Lightweight Wheelchair Reviews
Let’s go ahead and review a few of the top models in each category.
1) Best Travel Wheelchair – Medline Lightweight Transport Adult Folding Wheelchair
The best travel wheelchairs are going to offer you a ton of design elements in an easy-to-handle package. Medline is one of the most prominent wheelchair designers in the industry.
The Medline Lightweight Transport wheelchair has a powder-coated aluminum frame that is durable which makes it ideal for travel. This wheelchair also showcases 12 inch rear wheels for better pushing performance by the caregiver in charge. There are handbrakes and locking rear wheels to make sure that stopping and transferring your loved ones is as simple as ever.
This is a transport chair which means that it was designed with a caregiving attendant in mind. The Medline Lightweight Transport chair folds away, withstands heavy usage, and makes comfortable seating possible for your loved one.
Weight: 18 lbs
Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
2) Best Lightweight Wheelchair – Sunrise Quickie QRi Rigid Wheelchair
The Quickie QRi has an ultralightweight titanium frame that is rigid which means it cannot collapse. The dual-tube feature allows for the navigation of rough terrain without worrying too much about your tires. The whole wheelchair gives off intense outdoorsy vibes which can be just the thing for your senior or disabled loved one.
Weight: 19.5 lbs
Weight Capacity: 265 lbs
3) Best Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair – Karman Healthcare S-115 Ultra-Lightweight Manual Wheelchair
Karman has a history of producing premium, ultra lightweight wheelchairs that are comfortable to ride in and simple to use for riders. The S-115 is a manual wheelchair that is revered for feeling lighter than air while retaining durability and strength.
The sleek design of the S-115 should appeal to most people and the abundance of customization is a definite plus. Riders can remove the armrests and legrests in order to allow for easier transfers from chair to bed or desk while being allowed to retain their own comfort. The chair is outfitted with anti-bacterial upholstery that has stain-resistance material.
Weight: 25 lbs
Weight Capacity: 250 lbs
4) Best Lightweight Folding Wheelchair – Best Choice Foldable
Simplicity doesn’t have to be scary and the Best Choice Foldable wheelchair definitely lives up to that concept. This minimalist wheelchair was built with a steel frame that will allow for heavy-duty usage without concerns for wear and tear over time. The upholstery is backed by high-quality PVC and the entire chair is a breeze to clean and maintain.
What makes this wheelchair particularly alluring is the fact that it can be completely folded away in a manner of a minute. Merely trigger the folding mechanism and put the wheelchair away until you need to bring it back out again. As far as lightweight folding wheelchairs for travelling go, this is a model that is able to hang tough with the best of them.
Weight: 40 lbs
Weight Capacity: 350 lbs
5) Best Lightweight Portable Wheelchair – Hi-Fortune Lightweight Medical Manual Wheelchair
Featuring a strong ultra-lightweight frame possessed of magnesium alloy, this is a unique lightweight travel wheelchair that was designed to last.
The entire wheelchair is designed with being comfortable as a primary focus. Everything is padded with easy-to-clean materials that are colored a striking red. The leg rests swing-away for additional space and ease of transport. The wheels are quick-release and the leg rests can be immediately removed in order to quickly condense the wheelchair down for transport.
As far as movements go, Hi-Fortune focused on a sleek frame backed by extra-large rear-wheels in order to handle uneven terrain. A top-level handbrake also adds in a little bit more control for riders who want that level of independence.
Weight: 17 lbs
Weight Capacity: 200 lbs