- 1 Top 7 Best Wheelchair Compared
- 1.1 #1 Drive Medical Cruiser III Wheelchair
- 1.2 #2 Drive Medical Lightweight Steel Transport Wheelchair
- 1.3 #3 NOVA Lightweight Transport Wheelchair
- 1.4 #4 Carex Transport Wheelchair
- 1.5 #5 Medline Excel Extra-Wide Wheelchair
- 1.6 #6 Innuovo Intelligent Electric Wheelchair
- 1.7 #7 Hi-Fortune Wheelchair
- 1.8 How We Decided
- 2 Best Wheelchair Buying Guide
The best wheelchair can help improve an elderly person and those with limited mobility, standard of living, allowing them to move freely without assistance. Our evaluation focused on weight capacity, seat comfort, warranty, swing-away footrests/armrests, weight, and its ability to fold for easy storage.
After more than 17 hours of researching and testing, our top pick goes to the Drive Medical Cruiser III Wheelchair. It boasts a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds, includes a generous lifetime warranty and its seat widths can be adjusted to 16”, 18” and 20”, accommodating different body types.
Top 7 Best Wheelchair Compared
#1 Drive Medical Cruiser III Wheelchair
Award: Top Pick
WHY WE LIKE IT: This wheelchair makes our top pick for its 3 seat widths and built-in 2” seat extension. It is an excellent option for consumers whose weight and waistline fluctuates regularly who prefer a “one size fits all” wheelchair.
Thanks to its swing-away footrests and flip-back detachable arms, it is really easy to get up from this chair. Our favorite feature is its built-in seat extensions, which increases seat depth an additional 2 inches, which is great if you use back cushions. Bonus points for its hemi-spacing, which uses pre-drilled holes to adjust the chair’s tilt to sit straight or relaxed.
This wheelchair’s nylon upholstery and padded armrests make it really comfortable to sit on. 8-inch front wheels create a smooth ride on rockier terrain. Push-to-lock wheel locks also keep it firmly in place like a car’s parking brake.
#2 Drive Medical Lightweight Steel Transport Wheelchair
Award: Honorable Mention
WHY WE LIKE IT: This wheelchair features a lightweight (only 26 pounds) and a quick release fold-down back for easy storage in a trunk or closet. It is an excellent choice if you live and work in tight, narrow spaces e.g. small apartments and offices.
This wheelchair comes with swing-away footrests and detachable armrests, which makes it easier to sit at tables with varying heights. Its nylon seat and plush armrests provide plenty of cushioning. Unlike our #1 pick, the Drive Medical Cruiser III, all wheels are the same size, providing better stability for those with limited arm and leg strength.
Thanks to this wheelchair’s foldable backrest, it folds flat in less than 5 seconds, making it easy to transport and great for people who leave the house regularly. We also love this wheelchair because of its push-to-lock hand brakes, which doesn’t rely on pesky lever brakes that require you to reach down. This works well for a wheelchair user that has limited flexibility, arm, and hand strength. You will also want to choose the best wheel chair ramp with that in mind.
#3 NOVA Lightweight Transport Wheelchair
Award: Best Transport
WHY WE LIKE IT: This wheelchair offers a sturdy lightweight aluminum frame (23 pounds) and large 12″ rear wheels. It is an excellent choice if you move from bed to chair often.
We really love this wheelchair’s strong hand brakes, which brings it to a full stop without forward thrust. Footrests can be positioned in different angles, locking into place for different rest positions. Heel hoops also help by releasing tension on the toes and balls of the foot.
This wheelchair works well with all body types, supporting up to 300 pounds. Its 8-inch front wheels and 12 inch rear wheels provide a tighter turning radius. Bonus points go to its quick release, fold-down back, which folds and stows away in seconds. This Lightweight Transport Wheelchair makes it much easier for traveling than a standard wheelchair. Another great option is the best folding mobility scooter.
#4 Carex Transport Wheelchair
Award: Best for Travel
WHY WE LIKE IT: This wheelchair features a lightweight frame that is very easy to fold. It is an excellent choice for frequent errand-runners and travelers.
We were really impressed with this wheelchair’s large 8-inch wheels, which works well on all types of terrain, including cobblestone and low lying grass. With its lightweight frame, it is an excellent choice if you make frequent stops running errands. It is also easy to fold and stow in a car trunk.
Thanks to its large 19′ padded seating area, it is really comfortable to ride on for extended periods. It also has a weight capacity of 300 pounds. Swing-away removable footrests make it easy to get up and sit back down or provide clearance when seated at a dinner table. Also, make sure that your sidewalk is safe for your wheel chair by using things like the best ice scraper for sidewalk.
#5 Medline Excel Extra-Wide Wheelchair
Award: Best for Large People
WHY WE LIKE IT: This extra-wide wheelchair comes with a massive 500-pound weight capacity and oversized seating at 24 inches wide. We love it for people 6’ or taller and weighing over 300 pounds.
This wheelchair has a very sturdy, carbon steel frame, making it much more durable than standard aluminum. Our favorite feature is its padded armrests and seat, which were very comfortable to sit and lean on. We felt no soreness when sitting on this seat for 2 hours.
Thanks to its adjustable axles, it can lower and raise the seat 2 inches to make it more comfortable to sit on. Elevating, push-button footrests with padded calf pads also provide relief for tired legs and make it easy to stand. It can also double as a light office, with a large roomy storage pocket in the back to store laptops and smaller items. Since we are talking about making it easier to stand, the best power lift recliner will make life easier.
#6 Innuovo Intelligent Electric Wheelchair
Award: Best for Parapalegic
WHY WE LIKE IT: This wheelchair features a very reliable electric motor and 360 degree joystick. It’s an awesome choice if you have limited arm and hand strength and need an extra assist moving on your own.
Thanks to a 360-degree joystick and an electro-magnetic braking system, ride quality is really smooth.Two 250W motors were strong enough to go up small slopes (think, 8 degrees). In our testing, turning radius’ were pretty sharp and its joystick was very responsive, coming to a quick and full stop regardless of terrain.
Range is very respectable (12.5 miles when fully charged). Though it has sufficient range for indoor and outdoor travel, it is a bit slow with a maximum speed of 3.7 MPH. If you are in no particular hurry to get somewhere, this wheelchair is a safe bet. And if you need to get a patient into the chair, the best patient lifts are what you need.
#7 Hi-Fortune Wheelchair
Award: Best for Everyday Use
WHY WE LIKE IT: This wheelchair features a lightweight construction (only 21 pounds) with a 220-pound weight capacity.. It is our favorite pick for everyday use
Our favorite feature of this wheelchair is its quick-release wheel button which allows you to remove it with the push of a button. It is great for people with smaller cars like Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas with limited trunk space. A levered fold seat back and removable footrests also makes it easy to stow and sit up and down easily.
We loved how this wheelchair seems to glide with its large wheels, even on rockier terrain. It uses both front and rear hand brakes, using a push button to come to a complete stop. Anti-tippers also let you roll up a slope without tipping over. You can also look at the best knee scooter.
How We Decided
Choosing the best wheelchair could mean the difference between staying at home and enjoying the great outdoors.
In determining the best wheelchair to buy, one should consider its weight, weight capacity, wheel size, seat height adjustment, and type of leg rests and footrests.
Lightweight transport chairs weighing less than 30 pounds are easy to lift, carry, and maneuver, especially important for moving out and about regularly. Weight capacity to seat width ratio is very important, with 17 and 19-inch seats best for people weighing 150+ pounds and 21-inch seats best for people weighing 300-plus pounds.
Wheel size is critical. Many wheelchairs carry larger back wheels and smaller front wheels for a tighter turning radius, with equally sized wheels better for anyone with diminished arm and leg strength.
Best Wheelchair Buying Guide
The Most Important Features to Consider
- Seat width
Wheelchair seats usually come in two configurations – medium and wide. Medium wheelchairs measure 18 inches wide and are ideal for users who weight between 120 and 300 pounds. Wide, or extra-large wheelchairs, are 20 inches or wider and best for users over 300 pounds.
- Arm Rests and Footrests
The best wheelchairs come with removable armrests and swing-away footrests that make it easier to get up and climb back into your wheelchair. Removable armrests also allow you to lean up again a table to work, eat, or play.
The lighter the wheelchair, the easier it is to lift and stow it away in a closet or car. This is ideal for users who are always out and about running errands and staying active.
A quick folding mechanism allows wheelchairs to fit into narrow spaces, such as a small pantry or car trunk. Some even come with detachable footrests and arm rests for greater space savings.
- Electric vs Manual
Manual wheelchairs require dexterity and arm strength to maneuver with constant pushing of both wheels, especially on inclines or rocky surfaces. The best manual wheelchair for your loved one should be available in a wide range of sizes, and should also be easy to transport. Some self-propelled manual ones may require wheelchair users to move the chair using their arms and legs. Electric wheelchairs, like the Innuovo Intelligent Wheelchair, are better suited for those with diminished arm and hand strength e.g. paraplegics. They may also have a greater variety of power seating positions with the ability to tilt and recline. When choosing a powered or electric wheelchair, it’s best to go for one that has good customer service and aftersales care, just in case anything goes wrong.
Many of our picks carry lifetime warranties, which offers assurance wheelchair frames will hold up to general wear and tear over the life of its use. Be sure to read all of the full coverage terms to decide if the warranty covers enough scenarios.
- Wheel Type
There are two types of wheels – inflatable and solid core. Solid core tires, with rubber or foam inner core, are generally hole-proof and absorb hard terrain well. However, traction may suffer on wet surfaces.
What is a wheelchair used for?
A wheelchair is used for those with limited mobility to move about. It can be manual or electric and accommodates different seat widths and weight capacities to make it work for people large and small.
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