Best wheelchair models reviews
Before we get into the meat of our discussion today, let’s briefly showcase four of the best wheelchairs currently available for sale. We sorted out these four wheelchairs into two categories: best overall use and best value.
Best Overall Wheelchairs
- Quickie 2 Folding Wheelchair
The Quickie 2 is our top overall model of wheelchair for regular, everyday use. The Quickie 2 was developed by Sunrise Medical with the goal of being a lightweight, foldable wheelchair that was easy to operate and affordable for most everyone. The wheelchair features a streamlined design, flip back armrests, and adjustable angles for the backrest.
- Karman LT-980
As runner-up to our #1 overall wheelchair, the Karman LT-980 offers plenty of features in a lightweight frame. At under 20 lbs in total weight, this is one of the lightest wheelchairs in the industry. With footrests that can be removed and wheels that will never, ever go flat, you can’t beat the ‘sit and go’ quality of the LT-980.
- Invacare Tracer EX2
When we look for value-driven options in the wheelchair industry, our focus is always going to be on quality of construction first and foremost. The Invacare Tracer EX2 is a manual wheelchair that has functional armrests that can be adjusted for desk use and everyday use. With black vinyl padding, padded armrests, and 8″ rubber casters, there is a lot to like about the Invacare Tracer EX2. The carbon steel frame means that you won’t be worrying too much about maintenance over the duration of time that you use the EX2.
- Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair
Drive Medical has earned their reputation for offering affordable, high-quality medical products and the Blue Streak Wheelchair is no exception. Featuring detachable arms and a wide-open seat, the Blue Streak Wheelchair is an effective chair in a sleek package.
We’ve already highlighted a handful of the top wheelchairs available for sale today. With that being said, there are many different sub-categories of wheelchair that we need to discuss in order to appropriately paint a complete picture for you. Generally, standard wheelchairs are designed to be lightweight and easy to maneuver.
However, as you’ll soon find, different categories of wheelchair can have dramatically different applications. From bariatric wheelchairs which are designed for heavier carrying capacity to rehabilitation wheelchairs which are designed for the sole purpose of injury recovery, the options are seemingly endless. We combed through countless wheelchair ratings in order to compile the following list, so keep reading and find the right wheelchair for you!
Best manual wheelchairs
Otherwise known as the standard wheelchair. This type of wheelchair is known for being lightweight, easy to maneuver, and comfortable for general usage. While not packed with extra features, manual wheelchairs are simple, effective and easy to operate.
- Featherweight Wheelchair
If you want a manual wheelchair that can get you from point A to point B in comfortable fashion, the Featherweight Wheelchair is perfect for you. Considered one of the lightest wheelchairs around, the Featherweight Wheelchair is renowned for being durable and easy to transport. Featuring a completely foldable body, the Featherweight also includes wheel locks, special cushions and a convenient carrying back.
Best travel wheelchair
Also known as transport chairs, these really aren’t wheelchairs at all. Instead, a travel wheelchair is designed to be pushed by a companion. With small wheels and no hand rims to operate, these are ideal for making routine trips to healthcare facilities.
- Steel Transport Chair by Drive
Drive is one of the top suppliers of quality, affordable medical products in the world. Their Steel Transport Chair is a durable transport wheelchair that features comfortable upholstery, 8″ wheels, and an accordion-like folding ability when not in use. Featuring a carbon steel frame, you can’t beat the Steel Transport Chair.
Best motorized wheelchair
A motorized wheelchair is a chair that is possessed of multiple motors that operate both the rear and mid wheels. There will be a joystick that operates the wheelchair mounted on the armrest. These wheelchairs can vary in terms of price based on the brand.
- Invacare Pronto M51
Shopping for a motorized wheelchair can be intimidating, but Invacare makes it easier with their Pronto M51. The Invacare Pronto M51 has a great turning radius exceeding 19.5″ and it features an easy-to-charge battery that can log up to 12 miles on a single charge. This ultra-durable wheelchair can climb up to a 9-degree incline and can handle indoor and outdoor use with credible ease. The one downside of the Invacare Pronto M51 is that it is a relatively heavy chair, all things considered.
Best bariatric wheelchair
Bariatric wheelchairs are ideal for when heavy duty usage is required. Bariatric wheelchairs tend to run larger in terms of seat width so as to accommodate a larger carrying capacity. Most bariatric wheelchairs are made of steel and can handle nearly 500 lbs.
- Karman BT10 Bariatric Wheelchair
If you need a durable wheelchair that can handle a little extra weight, you can’t go wrong with the BT10 Bariatric Wheelchair by Karman. The BT10 can support 550 lbs with ease. The BT10 features a strong frame, a special bracing bar, and an easy folding system for when the wheelchair is no longer in use.
Best lightweight wheelchair
These manual wheelchairs are lightweight and easy to maneuver. Typically built out of aluminum, lightweight manual wheelchairs require less effort to operate. As an added bonus, lightweight wheelchairs are also extremely easy to pack down and travel with.
- Giantex Foldable
If you want a mobile wheelchair that is foldable and easy to store when not in use, you could do much worse than the Giantex Foldable Wheelchair. Made out of a steel frame and high-quality PVC materials, the Giantex Foldable scores high marks for being comfortable, easy to use, and easy to stash when not in use. The Giantex Foldable also features swing-away footrests so that you can easily get in and out of your chair as needed.
Best Active Wheelchair
Active wheelchairs are ideal for people who plan on putting their wheelchair through some rigorous usage. Specifically, active wheelchairs are ideal for sports such as wheelchair racing and basketball. These chairs tend to be lightweight and built out of durable materials.
- S-ERGO 305
If you plan on being active in your wheelchair, you need a chair that can keep up with your demands. The S-ERGO 305 is a quality active wheelchair with a low body weight and a high carrying capacity. There are plenty of adjustable features, including maneuverable armrests and leg rests, to go along with premium padding options. The seat of the S-ERGO 305 is also anti-bacterial so you can sweat with some peace of mind in the chair.
Best specialty chair
Specialty chairs are an entirely different concept than the rest of the wheelchairs on our list. Specialty chairs can offer anything from reclining abilities to stand-up abilities, depending on your specific needs. These wheelchairs are highly specialized and ideal for people living in unique situations.
- Tracer SX5 Recliner
If you are in the market for a specialty chair that offers reclining capabilities, the Tracer SX5 Recliner is likely your best option. Developed by Invacare and renowned for being a durable and low-maintenance model, the Tracer SX5 offers a reclining range from 90 to 180 degrees. This wheelchair is made of a carbon steel frame and it features heavy duty liners for comfort. The wheels are ‘no flex’ wheels that feature urethane rear tires.
Best pediatric wheelchair
Pediatric wheelchairs are designed with your children in mind. Consult your physician when shopping for a pediatric wheelchair in order to ensure that you get the best model for your child.
- Zippie Iris Pediatric Wheelchair
The Zippie Iris Pediatric Wheelchair is one of the top chair options for children around. Thanks to patented space technology, the Zippie Iris allows its frame to rotate based on the child’s own center of gravity. With smooth tilting and a wide rotation range, the Zippie Iris can give more than just comfort to the user, it can give real usability as well. Easy to transport and easy to fold away, you can’t beat the Zippie Iris.
Best Power Scooter
Finally, we’ll take a moment to highlight the best powered scooter option available. While not explicitly a wheelchair, these 3 or 4 wheeled chairs come with a motor, bicycle-style handlebars, and a basket. Powered scooters have their own limitations and benefits, which we will highlight in our companion review.
- Drive Medical Scout Compact
Motorized scooters can be a huge boon to individuals who live with mobility impairment. Thankfully, the Drive Medical Scout Compact power scooter is a viable option for just about anyone. Weighing in at under 100lbs and with a top speed of 4.25 MPH, you can get to where you are going in comfort and with some speed. The scooter is easy to take apart for storage and even easier to put together. You’ll find a quick-connect battery on board the Scout Compact for easy charging. The Scout Compact also utilizes non-marking tires and features reflective material so that you can feel comfortable driving wherever it is that you need to go.
How to Choose a Wheelchair
Purchasing a wheelchair can be one of the most important tasks that you take on. Wheelchairs and scooters are vital modes of transportation for people of all ages and situations. Whether you are personally mobility challenged or you are shopping for a loved one, you need to know that you are selecting the right chair for your situation. As we highlighted above, there are many quality wheelchairs available on the market but finding the right one can be a tough task. Listed below, you’ll find a list of key considerations, as well as questions you need to ask yourself, that will aid you in your shopping endeavors.
Whether you are looking for a standard wheelchair or a specialty chair that is perfect for reclining or standing up, you need to consider a few specific points of interest before making your purchase. Consider the following information before making your purchase.
- Seat Size
While all wheelchairs look similar to one another, one of their biggest variabilities is the size of the seat. Take time in order to ensure that you are finding the right wheelchair for your needs. Get measurements for the seat size so as to make sure that you are comfortable. Seat width will range anywhere from 17″ to over 20″.
- Chair Weight
The weight of your wheelchair is going to be important for a variety of different reasons. Ideally, you will pick a wheelchair that is heavy enough to be sturdy while still being light enough to be easy to maneuver and pack away from traveling. Chair weights come in a variety of ranges depending on the category of chair that you are purchasing. Consider 20 to 30 lbs as a baseline for the average wheelchair weight.
- Material Build
When buying a wheelchair, you are going to have to decide what type of construction material your chair is made out of. Wheelchairs come in a range of different material choices: Carbon Fiber, Aluminum, Steel and Titanium. Each specific metal has a list of pros and cons. Let’s briefly examine each material below.
- Carbon Fiber & Titanium
The most expensive wheelchair options available, you’ll commonly find Carbon Fiber chairs being used for sports and athletics such as racing and basketball. This material build is ideal for active wheelchair users who need to know that their chair will be durable.
While aluminum can get a bad reputation for being a cheaper material, the truth is quite the opposite. Aluminum is a popular build material for wheelchairs due to the longevity of the metal and how it helps to keep the weight of the chair down. Aluminum is preferred by individuals who want a mobile wheelchair that is lightweight and long-lasting. Additionally, aluminum is resistant to corrosion.
Steel is another popular material option for a wheelchair’s frame. Steel is durable and can take a beating. However, steel is the heaviest material on our list and thus can take some getting used to. Steel frames are ideal when you need a wheelchair that is strong but you don’t plan on needing extensive mobility. Steel wheelchairs have the negative connotation of being ‘outdated’.
- Weight Capacity
As we went through our list of the best rated wheelchairs, we pointed out the weight capacity differential between different categories. Most basic wheelchairs are going to be rated to handle anywhere from 200 to 300 lbs of weight. If you need a wheelchair that can accommodate more weight, consider looking into a Bariatric wheelchair. Bariatric wheelchairs are rated to handle up to 500 lbs, on average. Special wheelchairs are available if you need a higher weight capacity.
- Maintenance Level
While the majority of wheelchairs that we listed above are made to last, there are still going to be times when you need to practice proactive maintenance habits. From adding air to your tires to washing and replacing your seat and arm cushions, you need to take into account all facets of owning and maintaining a chair.
- Bonus Features
Finally, you also need to be on the lookout for any potential bonus features that you might want to see from your wheelchair. From ergonomic arm and leg rests to specialized seat padding, there is almost no limit to the different feature options available for your wheelchair.
Choosing a Wheelchair: Key Questions To Ask Yourself
Now that we know how to buy a wheelchair, we need to take some time in order to make sure that we are buying the perfect chair for our specific needs. As no two users are identical, the needs of the specific person must be taken into account. Listed below, you’ll find a few key questions that you need to ask yourself before buying any one of the top rated wheelchairs that we listed above. These questions will point you toward the specific model that you need.
- Does my home or place of business have appropriate ramp access? If not, what wheelchair will be easiest to use in this situation?
- Do I want to be able to use my wheelchair at my desk? If so, does my wheelchair support the proper seat-to-floor ratio required to roll up to my desk?
- What doorways do I anticipate passing through on a regular basis? Making sure that my wheelchair fits in all of my routine doorways and halls is absolutely vital to making the correct purchase.
- Will this wheelchair be comfortable for me? If we have to spend hours on end seated in this chair, we need to make sure that we are purchasing the most comfortable wheelchair available.
Tips To Consider When Buying a Wheelchair
Now that we have a well-rounded understanding of the different types of wheelchairs available, as well as their benefits, we can leave you with a few more ideas to consider. Purchasing a wheelchair is a huge decision because it will impact your life on a daily basis. Consider the following concepts after you purchase your wheelchair.
- Buy Insurance
Protect your wheelchair against loss, damages, and theft. Most people don’t consider that they might ever have their wheelchair stolen, but it is a very real possibility. Wheelchairs are valuable products that dramatically improve the lives of the people who own them. It stands to reason that someone would find that valuable enough to steal.
- Consider Storage
If you have a motorized wheelchair, you’ll need a storage area that has a charging port. If you have a traditional wheelchair, you’ll want to store your chair somewhere secured where the elements won’t do damage to your chair.
- Practice Maintenance
Whether you have a manual or a motorized wheelchair, you need to get into the habit of practicing routine maintenance. From filling the tires with air to changing out your seat covers, you should treat your wheelchair like an extension of yourself. For people with motorized wheelchairs, consider hiring a professional technician to service your chair.
- Shop For Accessories
Finally, you must also consider purchasing important accessories to have around the house. From ramps that can be moved around to textured surfaces which will prevent loss of control, there are many useful wheelchair accessories available.
Purchasing a wheelchair is an incredibly important decision that you will be making. Only when you are properly equipped with all knowledge available will it be possible for you to get the perfect wheelchair for your specific needs and situation. Use the buying guide that we outlined above, coupled with the top wheelchairs from our reviews, in order to make your purchase. Remember, your situation is unique so you need the best wheelchair available to assist you.