The Best Wheelchairs of 2019 (Reviews and Buyer’s Guide)
Wheelchairs are one of the most widely used forms of medical equipment in the world. They play a big part in helping people who are impaired when it comes to mobility. They are perhaps the top choice when it comes to devices that let users move safely and smoothly from one point to another.
In this guide, we provide all of the necessary information to make an informed purchase and help you find a wheelchair that fits you best.
We have tested different kinds of wheelchairs and analyzed them in terms of performance, comfort, special features, safety, and other factors to identify the best of the best. Lightweight wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs, wheelchairs for the elderly – we’ve looked at them all, compared their attributes, and present the best ones.
From our in-depth research, the Karman Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair stood out as the clear overall winner. It checks every box on our list. It features an ergonomic design with the health and comfort of its users in mind. It’s got a high-quality build, it’s very lightweight, and it’s our number one pick.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Wheelchairs
|1. Top Wheelchair Pick||Karman Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair||4.6/5|
|2. Best Motorized Wheelchair||EZ Lite Cruiser Deluxe DX12||4.4/5|
|3. Best Wheelchair for Seniors||Medline Lightweight & User-Friendly Wheelchair||4.2/5|
|4. Best Lightweight Wheelchair||Featherweight Wheelchair from 1800Wheelchair||4.6/5|
|5. Best Budget Wheelchair Pick||Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight||4.4/5|
Our Top Pick: Karman Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair
The Karman Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair’s seat comes in the form of an S-Shape. This helps relieve pressure, as well as promote good posture, especially when used for extended periods.
This wheelchair comes with a set of brakes for caretakers as an added safety measure, and it’s designed in a way that bending down to press it isn’t necessary. This is especially important when it’s used on slanting terrain.
In terms of weight, it only weighs 13.5 lbs if you remove the rear wheels and footrest, making it suitable for transportation purposes.
All in all, the Karman Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair is a good option for a large number of people, offering plenty of helpful features for both the user and, if they have one, their caregiver.
Karman Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair Key Features:
- Ergonomic design
- Easy to transport
- Safety braking system
- S-Shaped seat
Best Electric Wheelchair: EZ Lite Cruiser Deluxe DX12
The EZ Lite Cruiser Deluxe DX12 is one of the latest generations of electric wheelchair that feature foldability features and lightweight designs. It uses a finely-crafted frame that makes it comfortable for users who weigh up to 305 pounds.
This model can be easily folded into a more compact shape to make transportation easier. You can further break down its components through the quick release mechanism that splits the model into three separate pieces. This is especially useful if you’re still having a tough time storing it even in its folded state (although we never had any issues in our testing).
The Cruiser Deluxe is perfect for users who lack the arm strength to handle a manual wheelchair. It uses a 10 Ah Battery to power itself, with the option to connect it with another battery using a dual battery connector (if you want to cover greater distances on a single charge.)
EZ Lite Cruiser Deluxe DX12 Key Features:
- Lightweight and Compact
- Foldable and can be separated into three pieces
- 10 miles of distance on a fully charged battery
- Adjustable armrests
- Carpet and floor-friendly wheels
Best Wheelchair for Seniors: Medline Lightweight Wheelchair
Owing to its reliability and comfort, this impressive manual wheelchair from Medline is a great option for seniors, rated for weights of up to 300 lbs.
The seat of the chair uses nylon upholstery that is very soft and breathable, a far better choice than vinyl, especially considering how much easier it is to clean.
The model also features removable elevating leg rests to enhance comfort. These are especially useful to help prevent leg symptoms that the elderly may experience, such as swelling and increased pressure. It also comes with desk-length armrests that can be flipped back when not in use.
This model is a good wheelchair for seniors who want to lead a more active lifestyle. It is also worth noting that this chair doesn’t weigh much (22 lbs), which is impressive considering the number of useful features that it has.
Medline Lightweight and User-Friendly Wheelchair Key Features:
- Nylon material
- Leg rests
- Removable armrests
Best Lightweight Wheelchair: Featherweight Wheelchair
The lightest wheelchair you’ll find on the current market, Featherweight’s 13.5 lbs wheelchair is an excellent choice for easy, lightweight, transport.
This model uses light and durable materials that set a whole new standard for other brands in the market.
The Featherweight can be folded down into one neat and compact package, and sports wheels with a quick-release feature allow the user to remove the large, rear wheels with just a press of a button.
Unfolding and reattaching this unit takes little effort and time. It was very easy for us to dismantle and re-mantle.
On top of all this, this wheelchair has wheel locks that are readily accessible to its user, located at the frame’s front. This prevents any unwanted backward or forward movement.
Featherweight Wheelchair by 1800Wheelchair Key Features:
- The lightest model on our list
- Quick-release wheels
- Two braking systems
Best Budget Wheelchair: Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight
The Cruiser III is one of the most durable wheelchair models in the market, and it comes with an affordable price tag to boot.
This model uses a frame made with carbon steel that eliminates the need for a seat guide and allows the use of back inserts and other useful wheelchair accessories. It comes with wheel bearings that are precision sealed, ensuring that its performance and quality remain steady over a long period.
Its armrests can be flipped back, and it sports a footrest that can be elevated, depending on the user’s needs. Overall, this is a solid choice for those on a tight budget, looking for a high-quality unit.
Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Key Features:
- Carbon steel frame
- Long-lasting wheel bearings
- Nylon material
- Folding armrest and footrest
Important Features to Consider
Manual or Electric
When buying yourself a wheelchair, one of the first things you need to consider is your capability of propelling yourself or if you need a little bit of assistance. For manual wheelchairs, they usually come with specifications that help its user in terms of travel. It often uses large wheels for the back and its rear wheels sport push rims.
Caregiving transport wheelchairs, on the other hand, come with handles that the attendant can use to maneuver the unit with ease. They also have larger wheels, which helps stabilize the chair when traveling through rougher surfaces and pavements.
Finally, electronics wheelchairs use a motor to propel the unit in the direction set by the remote control device. While generally more expensive, this allows the user to move about without much effort or assistance.
Wheelchair Weight and Size
A wheelchair’s weight and dimensions are extremely important factors when transportation and storage come to mind. A wheelchair’s weight is also directly proportional to the required effort it takes to move it manually.
Heavier wheelchairs might be too difficult for individuals who don’t have enough arm strength. If you want a lightweight wheelchair, look for ones made from lighter materials like aluminum or carbon steel that aims to minimize its total weight.
In addition to the above, most wheelchairs will have removable parts that can help reduce the weight of the whole unit when needed.
User Strength and Ability
If you’re in the market for a new wheelchair, you need to consider your physical strength as one of the main factors. If you don’t have the capability to move your own weight, then consider choosing models that include power-assisted wheels or even an electric one. Granted, they are more pricey, but it’s a good investment that can improve your lifestyle and health.
You also need to consider where you’re going to use it. Is it just for home use, or are you planning on riding it outside where the terrain can be rougher? Most wheelchairs nowadays come with a set of wheels that have high traction to add more stability, so you can look into those if you want one for outdoor use.
User Body Type (Shape, Weight, Build, Height)
It’s important to consider your physical build before you lock in a purchase of a wheelchair. Consider every aspect of your physicality, from your age to your sex, height, and weight to find a model that’s the right fit for you.
Consult with your doctor or physiotherapist and ask for a wheelchair recommendation that fits your needs. You can also check the detailed specifications and dimensions of a wheelchair with just a quick online search.
Personal Needs and User Requirements
Different people use different wheelchairs for different reasons.
For instance, individuals who are paralyzed or have amputations will have special needs compared to those who aren’t. Some users require more balancing systems and safety features to prevent a fall.
Consulting with a medical professional is usually the best course of action to know the specifics of what your condition requires.
You need to take your lifestyle into consideration when purchasing yourself a wheelchair. If you need to do specific tasks for your work, or you simply just need a unit to make movement easier, there are models that will fit your needs more so than others.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, you might want to consider a wheelchair with excellent traction to make traversing over rough surfaces easy. If you’re a homebody, getting a wheelchair that’s easy to maneuver will make moving through tighter spots in your home less of a hassle.
Different wheelchairs will have various components, features, specifications, and properties; it’s up to you to determine which ones will most fit your lifestyle best.
Personal Taste and Preferences
When purchasing a new wheelchair, you need to take your personal taste and preferences into account. After all, you’re one who’s going to use it regularly. Personally, we couldn’t see ourselves driving around this bright yellow chair:
If you’re having a hard time looking for a model that checks all your boxes, you can ask your family or friends with wheelchair experience to offer up some suggestions that you can try out.
If you find a unit that you think will do the job, read its online product reviews first. This way, you’re fully informed of what you’re going to get by learning from other people’s experiences with the product.
Transport and Storage Capabilities
There are plenty of wheelchairs available on the market that offer compact designs or folding features that enable easier transport and storage. Even if this factor isn’t the top of your priorities, you should still consider getting a wheelchair with these capabilities to save you the trouble of having a bulky and inconvenient model.
Directional controls that are connected to the wheelchair’s armrest are the most conventional type of control system for electric wheelchairs. These are straightforward and easy to operate. They do, however, have a bit of a learning curve.
Wheelchair Components and Features
The seat is a fundamental component of a wheelchair, being the part you sit on.
These come in a variety of different dimensions, but most brands can custom fit your unit to your body type. Pick a seat that offers excellent lumbar support and sufficient cushioning to keep you comfortable for long periods of time.
(2) Cover Material
The cover material is, as the name suggests, the material used to cover the wheelchair’s cushion.
Materials that are easy to clean and maintain are desirable. They should also be lightweight and resistant to dirt and bacteria.
Your wheelchair may have a headrest to support your neck.
(4) Footrests and Armrests
Footrests and armrests offer a lot of support and comfort when needed, but it’s also good to have ones that are removable and adjustable so they can be taken away when not in use.
(5) Storage Bags
Some models come with a storage bag to help with transport.
(6) Added Customization, Adjustments, and Accessories
Many manufacturers customize units to fit the preferences of their buyers. Ask your supplier what accessories your model offers.
(7) Weather Protection
There are plenty of useful features that come with modern or high-end wheelchairs. Some, for example, have a waterproof feature or added leg warmers to help you maintain a comfortable temperature during cold weather.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the lightest wheelchair on the market?
The lightest wheelchair on the market is the Featherweight 13.5 lbs Wheelchair from 1800 Wheelchair.
What is a bariatric wheelchair?
A bariatric wheelchair is a specialized model that can handle more weight than a conventional wheelchair. On average, normal models can handle users who weigh up 250 lbs, while bariatric models can support far more than that.
What is the price difference between a manual wheelchair and a motorized one?
Wheelchair prices can vary widely depending on the brand, model, and type, along with the accessories and features that they come with.
Manual wheelchairs can be as cheap as a few hundred dollars or cost thousands for premium, custom, models.
However, electric wheelchairs are considerably more expensive compared to their manual counterparts because of the manufacturing cost, material cost, and development cost. Prices can range from a thousand dollars and they go up to ten thousand depending on the features that the model offers.
Can you get a wheelchair for free?
Yes! Thankfully, there are a number of great charities and government programs out there that can help you get a wheelchair for free. These organizations are committed to helping people in need get the wheelchairs they require so that they can live their lives to the fullest.
Other Wheelchairs We Reviewed
For those who want something reliable and cost-effective, Invacare’s lightweight model is a good choice. This model puts precedence on the user’s safety and relaxation, featuring the latest technology to improve its accessibility.
This wheelchair has dual axle positioning that allows various sitting positions and heights to meet your needs and preferences. It weighs a total of 36 lbs, and it can support users who are below 250 lbs.
It also sports removable armrests and footrests that can be replaced when needed. You also get a cushion to make your seat more comfortable, and extension handles for the breaks to allow easier access.
What’s even better is that Invacare offers the users of this model a lifetime guarantee for its cross braces and frames, an added insurance in case your unit breaks!
- Lifetime guarantee for certain parts
- Free extra cushion
- Removable armrests and footrest
- Extension handle breaks
Medline has released its own lightweight chair that features a design suited for both outdoor and indoor usage. This wheelchair comes with all the much-needed features that offer convenience and safety.
The model uses a frame that is very light and can be folded for transportation and storage purposes. It also has rear wheels that can be removed to make transport even easier.
It weighs a total of 31.5 lbs and can support users of up to 350 lbs, an impressive feat considering how light the unit is! Please note that the unit also has an extra-wide seat that can meet the needs of a bariatric individual.
In terms of adjustment capabilities, the height of the chair can be lowered or raised by two inches, with an adjustable back height to allow more fine-tuning.
These wheelchairs elevating leg rests are an excellent addition that will help relieve any pain or pressure.
- Can support 250 lbs
- Can fit the needs of bariatric individuals
- Good adjustment capabilities
Despite having a lightweight frame, Healthline’s Lightweight Wheelchair is specifically built to withstand larger body weights during regular and consistent usage.
Being made with a carbon steel material, it is sturdy, robust, and lightweight.
Another great thing that this model offers is its easy maintenance and cleaning. The chair is made from bacteria and mildew-resistant material that is easy to wipe clean.
In terms of maneuverability, its wheels have been designed to make moving easier. Overall, Healthline Trading’s Lightweight Wheelchair is a solid choice for people looking for a sturdy model that will last a long time.
- Very light carbon steel material (36 lbs)
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Customizable backrest
This lightweight model from Bangeran is a great choice for those who need an electric wheelchair. Coming with an efficient lithium bttery, a full charge will enable the user to travel up to 12 miles!
The Bangeran Fold n Go is also aviation and FDA approved.
Its seats have very plush cushioning that is both breathable and comfortable, and its wheels give a smooth riding experience across most terrains.
- Aviation and FDA approved
- 12-mile range for 1 fully charged battery
- Lifetime warranty
- Includes a free extra battery
One of the most lightweight motorized wheelchairs in the world, this Foldawheel model is made from aluminum, as very light and durable material, weighing a mere 45 lbs. Despite being electric, this wheelchair is designed with convenience in mind; it is compact enough to fit the trunk of almost any car.
Despite its compact design, the motor that this unit carries is pretty powerful, using Polymer Lithium-Ion batteries that are very lightweight and have longer lifespans than most lithium batteries in the market.
Its motors were optimized to save as much energy as possible while giving off relatively low noise levels during use. You can control the chair using its joystick controller that’s easy to master.
For extra convenience and comfort, its arm and leg rests are adjustable, with an anti-tilt feature using a hydraulic system that reduces the risks of tumbling backward. It also comes with a convenient travel bag to put your charger and other necessities.
- Lightweight (considering that it’s a motorized model)
- Efficient battery
- Extra stability
With Medline Transport, you can finally move about with more ease than before. This is a good investment for those looking for a solid model with great features.
The Medline Transport is very compact and lightweight, allowing its users to move easily, and because of these traits, it’s also easy to store in smaller spaces. This wheelchair comes equipped with features that you would want out of a good model such as nylon coverings, full-support armrests, removable footrests, and a seatbelt. It also uses 12-inch wheels for its rear to give a smoother movement.
A few other aspects that add more security is its handbrakes with a loop lock design. This model can support users up to 300 lbs in weight, and its own mass is considerably low due to its aluminum frame.
- Nylon material
- Removable footrest
- Smooth movement
The Self Transport Folding Wheelchair provides ample comfort and security in a single model. In terms of transport and storage convenience, this model really shines.
It can easily be folded into a compact shape and make it smaller by removing its footrests.
To add more traction during use, this unit uses sizeable rear wheels and solid front castors with added grip tires. This model is specifically designed for users on a budget who want a comfortable and reliable unit to travel with. Its steel frame adds extra points for durability but makes this unit a bit heavier than other models.
With economical transport in mind, the Self Transport Folding Wheelchair uses padded upholstery that’s easily maintained and cleaned because of its nylon material. Its armrests also have padding for added comfort. The wheels can be easily locked because of its simple design, ensuring safety in case the user loses control. This model has the capacity to transport users below 250 lbs.
- Compact and foldable
- Removable footrest
- Extra traction
- Padded, nylon material
- Easy-lock system
Drive’s Medical Wheelchair offers versatility and comfort for its users. Due to its very smart design, its chair can allow for several positions depending on the users’ preference.
It sports a backrest that can be reclined to a full 180 degrees that is easy to adjust. Its armrests are sufficiently padded to provide additional comfort, and footrests for leg support. Users can relax and recline whenever they want to without any hassle. It also uses a Mag-style wheel to help prevent its users from tipping over.
In terms of movement, this model uses 8-inch caster wheels that give smoother rides. Our favorite feature this wheelchair offers is that it has two modes- self and companion, that changes its breaking security depending on who’s using it.
- Two modes of movement
- Mag-style wheels
- Allows for full recline
- Padded armrests
This Wheelchair from NOVA is an excellent mix of versatility and durability that enhances the mobility of its users and a whole slew of other benefits.
The unit features locking handbrakes that ensure the user’s safety when traversing through rougher terrain. It can also be easily folded into a compact shape to makes transportation and storage easier. Its comfortable armrests can be folded when not in use, leaving more space when maneuvering in smaller spaces. In addition, this model can support individuals below 400 lbs, ensuring the safety of any user within that weight range
- Can support heavier users
- Transportation and storage-friendly
- Locking breaks
- Foldable armrests
Weighing a mere 21 lbs, this model from Hi-Fortune is one of the best models you’ll find, sporting a frame made from strong magnesium alloy that can support people under 220 lbs.
This self-propelled unit can be folded to fit a suitcase of 29in. or inside the travel bag that comes with it. The combination of swing leg rests, hand straps and hand/rear brakes ensure the user’s safety and security.
- Anti-tipping mechanism
- Rear/hand brakes
- Comes with a travel bag