Best Wheelchair Reviews in 2017 | Expert Analysis

Several years ago I had my first experience buying a wheelchair for my elderly father, and I was unprepared for the many different choices I had to make to complete this purchase. In this article I hope to help you find the best wheelchair for your needs.

I decided to write this and try to save someone else from the hours of frustration while trying to buy the perfect wheelchair for their needs, and their budget. I want you to be able to see what features each chair has, and be able to compare the devices properly.

Best Wheelchair Comparison Chart

Wheelchair Buying Considerations :

Before you can select the best wheelchair you need to know what features are available on these medical devices and which of the features will be beneficial to your circumstances.

  • The age of the disabled person
  • The size of the disabled person
  • The type of disability that the individual suffers from
  • Will the chair be used indoors or outdoors?
  • Other activities the individual may want to use the device to do; such as playing ball.
  • Personal likes and dislikes in color, style, and other features.

During the process of selecting the best six wheelchairs we carefully considered the features each chair had to offer, the strengths and weaknesses of the devices, and other important factors like durability, reliability, and availability. The following mobility devices were my favorites and I believe they will also be your favorites.

Best Wheelchair Reviews 

So, here is the list. Well, I did a deep research over the wheelchair market first. Surveyed some real time users. After comparing over 50 top rated wheelchairs finally I created this list for you. 

Drive Medical Super Light, Folding Transport Chair with Carry Bag, Blue

Editor Rating:

I chose this Drive Medical Super Light, Folding Transport Chair with Carry Bag because it makes it so easy for you to get a disabled individual to and from vehicles, and maneuvered around medical offices, and small spaces.

The chair is really light so it is easy to push, and it is durable so you can fully rely on it.

Product Features :

  • Aluminum frame weighs only 19 pounds
  • ​Comes with a carry bag
  • ​The carry bag has a shoulder strap to make it easy to carry
  • ​The chair folds so it can be stored or placed in the trunk of almost any car
  • ​Has standard wheel locks on the rear wheels
  • ​Has flip back armrests that are padded
  • ​Comes with a seatbelt
  • ​Has footrests that fold down

Things I like

  • Aluminum Framing : This chair weighs only nineteen pounds because of the aluminum frame so it is very light, and the wheels are proportioned perfectly so it glides effortlessly when it is pushed.
  • Flip Back Armrests : The flip back arm rests can be positioned so that it is easy to transfer a person from another seated position to the chair. Then the armrests can be lowered so the individual stays safely positioned in the chair with less chance of them slipping, or falling from the seat.
  • The chair Folds : The chair can be folded so that it is easy to place it in the trunk of a car, or even in the space between the car seats. The footrests fold up, the padded armrests fold up, and then the seat lifts up making the chair take up very little space.

Things I Don't Like

  • The chair is not easy to get inside the carry bag
  • The chair only comes in blue

Invacare Lightweight Tracer EX2 Wheelchair 20

Editors Rating

I like this Invacare Lightweight Tracer EX2 chair because it is a dependable piece of equipment that is both affordable and comfortable. Your loved one will be safe in this chair and you will have the assurance that they have a device that will last for as long as they own it.

Product Features

  • Adjustable seat to floor height
  • ​Weighs less than thirty six pounds without the footrests
  • Can support a person who weighs as much as two hundred and fifty pounds
  • Has permanent arms
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Components are interchangeable with the previous 9000 series of chairs from the same manufacturer

Things I like

  • Adjustable Seat Height : This mobility device has dual axles that can be positioned in such a manner as to raise or lower the height of the seat position. This allows the chair to accommodate people of varying heights more comfortably.
  • Lifetime Warranty : The lifetime warranty on the device assures you that you have a high quality item that you can rely on. If anything does happen to it you can simply return it to the manufacturer for replacement or repair.
  • Interchangeable with the 9000 Series : For the people with the 9000 series this means they do not have to buy all new accessories when they upgrade their device.

Things I didn't like

  • The main portion of the chair and the footrests come in separate shipments

Drive Medical Fly Lite Ultra Lightweight Transport Wheelchair, 17lbs

Editors Rating

This Drive medical Fly Lite Ultra lightweight chair allows you to easily transport your disabled loved one. It comes in a variety of colors so you can personalize the look of the device, and it can handle a person that weighs as much as 300lbs.

Product Features

  • Comes with a seatbelt
  • ​Comes with a carry pocket on the back of the chair
  • Can support a person who weighs as much as two hundred and fifty pounds
  • Has rear wheel locks
  • Has 6” casters on the front and 8” casters on the back for stability and more mobility
  • Adjustable footrests require no tools to reposition
  • ​Back folds down to make the device easier to transport
  • ​Can transport a person who weighs up to 300lbs
  • ​Available in multiple colors

Things I liked about this Product

  • Handy Carry Pocket : With the handy carry pocket on the back of the chair you can carry supplies that you might need during the day without having to carry a travel bag. The pocket is really handy on the days that you have to go to doctor’s appointments or outings away from your home.
  • 6” casters on front with 8” casters on back : Having the larger casters on the back of the mobility device makes it possible to use the device on uneven surfaces like rock driveways, or when you have to maneuver across grass.
  • Adjustable footrests : The ability to adjust the footrests will allow the rider to be more comfortable.
  • Wheel locks on rear wheels : When you lock the rear wheels you can be assured that the chair will not roll away. This is a safety feature that needs to be on every mobility chair.

Things I didn't liked about this Product

  • Some assembly required

Self Transport Folding Wheelchair with Footrests

Editors Rating

A folding transport chair is a convenience that every person who has limited mobility can benefit from owning. The Self Transport Folding chair is one of the best wheelchairs for this purpose because it has all of the basic features at an affordable cost.

Product Features

  • Lifetime warranty on the framework
  • Black nylon upholstered seat
  • Elevating footrests
  • Swing-away footrests that can be detached
  • Armrests that can be detached
  • 24” rear wheels with 8” front casters
  • Rear wheels have soft grip tires
  • ​Available in multiple colors

Things I liked about this Product

  • Soft grip tires on rear wheels : The soft grip tires allow you to have better traction. The rear wheels are larger than the front wheels and that makes the chair roll easily across uneven terrain.
  • Detachable armrests : By detaching the armrests you can make it easier to transfer a person from a bed to the chair. The armrests can also be in the way if the person is trying to position themselves at a table so removing them makes the chair handier to use.
  • Swingaway footrests : When you are transferring a person from a car to a wheelchair the footrests can be in your way. These swingaway footrests will easily be moved so you can make the transfer and then put the footrest back into position for the rider.
  • Nylon seat : The Nylon Materials makes it very easy to clean the seat of the chair.

Things I didn't liked about this Product

  • The seat to floor height is not adjustable
  • It only comes in black

Medline Transport Wheelchair With Brakes, Red

Editors Rating

This is an ideal transport chair that has a great braking system. The brake system is easy for the person seated in the chair to handle so it gives them more freedom to go out on their own.

Product Features

  • Powder coated aluminum frame
  • Can carry a person weighing up to 300lbs
  • Loop style hand brakes
  • 12” rear wheels
  • Nylon upholstery
  • Weighs only 22lbs

Things I liked about this Product

  • Loop style hand brakes : The loop style handbrakes are easy for the person that is seated in the chair to use. They can lock the wheels of the chair anytime they want the chair to stay stationary, and release the locks when they are ready to roll without anyone assisting them.
  • Powder coated aluminum frame : The aluminum frame is the reason that this chair weighs only twenty two pounds, but is capable of supporting a person that weighs three hundred pounds. I like the strength and durability of aluminum.
  • Red frame : I love the red frame of this chair. The color does nothing for the functions of the chair but it is cheerful and I believe that is important.

Things I didn't liked about this Product

  • Some assembly required
  • The seat height is not adjustable

Drive Medical Lightweight Steel Transport Wheelchair, Fixed Full Arms

Editors Rating

This chair is a great choice for a transport chair. The back folds up and the armrests fold so the chair is easy to store, and easy to carry in vehicles.

The upholstered handles make it comfortable for anyone who is assisting the person in the chair and the rear locking wheels make it safe to use.

Product Features

  • Upholstered handles
  • Foldable backrest
  • Foldable armrests
  • Padded armrests
  • Padded armrests
  • Weight capacity of 250lbs
  • Rear locking wheels
  • Nylon seat material

Things I liked about this Product

  • Foldable backrest : The foldable backrest makes it possible to get this wheelchair in and out of vehicles easily. It also allows you to store the chair in a small space.
  • Padded armrest : The padded armrests are more comfortable for the rider to use. They reduce pressure ulcers that can occur from the arms being in one position on a hard surface for long periods of time.
  • Upholstered handles : The upholstered handles are more comfortable for someone who is pushing the wheelchair to grip.

Things I didn't liked about this Product

  • Seat height is not adjustable
  • Seat is only sixteen inches wide between the armrests

List of Wheelchair Types

When shopping for the best wheelchair the main consideration you will have will be what type of mobility device to buy. When you know what type of device you are looking for then you can compare the different styles, and brands of devices.

Lightweight Wheelchairs

Lightweight wheelchairs have frames that weigh less than the standard wheelchair frame weighs. A standard wheelchair weighs between thirty eight and fifty pounds, where the lighter varieties of chairs will weigh between twenty nine and thirty four pounds.

The lightweight varieties include chairs:

  • That can be folded so they fit into small spaces like the trunk of a car
  • Big wheeled chairs
  • Small chairs
  • Ultra light or feather weight chairs
  • chairs with removable arms

All wheelchairs that are considered to be lightweight will be manually operated. Colors and material types will be determined by manufacturer of the device.

Ergonomic Wheelchairs

Ergonomic wheelchairs are classified as lightweight wheelchairs. These mobility enhancing devices are considered to be some of the lightest weight chairs on the market. They are designed for both comfort and increased mobility.

They have unique seating shapes to improve the comfort and stability of the individual using the device. The seating allows the weight of the individual to be evenly distributed and this reduces the chances of the individual developing a pressure sore or spinal injury from sitting in the chair.

These chairs are well suited to people who have to stay in the chairs all of the time.

Manual Wheelchairs

Manual chairs are mobility devices that rely on the power of the individual to propel them. These devices usually have handles that protrude from the rear of the chair that will allow another person to push to push the chair.

Manual chairs may have big wheels that allow them to traverse over uneven surfaces easier, or they may have small wheels that are better suited to indoor usage.

These chairs may have no arms on the sides to make it easier for a person to get in and out of the chair from another location. They may also have removable arms that make transferring easier to accomplish.

Transport Wheelchairs

Transport chairs are designed for caretakers to be able to easily push the chair for the individual. They are not well suited to being propelled by the person seated in the chair.

The transport chairs are almost always made of the lightest materials possible to make it easier for them to be used in cars, and make it easier for the person pushing the chair to maneuver it.

Transport wheelchairs are usually designed to fold so they are easily placed in the trunks of cars, or stored in small spaces when they are not being used.

Standing Wheelchairs

Standing wheelchairs are relatively new technology that allows the individual to be in an upright position while they use the chair. This technology will help to prevent spinal injuries and pressure sores that can be caused by a person sitting in one position for long periods of time.

​The individual using the chair will have the option of standing or sitting in them because the chair changes positions. They are great for people who are paraplegic, or those who do not have the ability to stand on their own.

​These mobility devices are motorized units. They have joystick style controls that allow the individual to manipulate movement with them.

​They are best used on smooth or relatively even surfaces.

Activity Based Wheelchairs

The activity based wheelchairs are designed so people can get out of the house and participate in activities that are usually reserved for people who can walk or stand. These chairs allow people to have a higher quality of life because they allow them to participate in activities that they enjoy.

These chairs may have no arms on them so they are easier for the person to maneuver when participating in a sport or game.

They are usually lightweight in design so they can move faster, and let the person participate in races, and sporting activities like playing ball.

Manual Wheelchairs VS. Power or Electric Wheelchairs

Though I described 5 types of wheelchairs above, but actually there are two main types of wheelchairs, manual and power or electric wheelchairs. Manual wheelchairs are propelled and controlled by pushing on rims attached to the wheels while electric wheelchairs are powered by a large battery and controlled by means of a joystick. Read more the electric wheelchair guide.

Here are The Differences :

Manual wheelchairs can be divided into two types as can be seen in previous section of this article about rigid versus folding wheelchairs. Rigid wheelchairs are generally lighter and better performing while folding wheelchairs have the advantage of folding relatively flat so they can be conveniently put in the back of a car without removing the wheels. Rigid wheelchairs are generally the option of choice for an active wheelchair user, while folding wheelchairs are generally the option of choice for someone who is not very active. However, folding wheelchairs are constantly improving and while the difference in weight and performance is decreasing, rigid frames are still usually recommended for active wheelchair users.

There are two types of electric powered vehicles for disabled people, power wheelchairs and mobility scooters. While they have a lot in common as can be seen in this article about Best Electric Wheelchair, there are several key differences. For example the turning radius of an electric wheelchair is smaller and so the electric wheelchair is more maneuverable. However, a scooter looks more like a motorcycle and thus draws less attention. From the esthetics point of view, many disabled people prefer a scooter.

Conclusion

Buying the best wheelchair is the goal for anyone who is shopping for one of these items. We all want our loved ones to have the most mobility possible, and we want them to feel confident, comfortable, and safe, using their mobility devices.

I sincerely hope that this review has given you ample information to help you select the right wheelchair for your circumstances.

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