|1. Drive Medical Blue Streak||2. Medline Ultralight||3. Drive Medical Cruiser III|
Those who use or have used wheelchairs know- how crucial it is for them to be comfortable and smoothly functioning for the best mobility. From injured people to the differently-abled, pregnant women, and senior citizens, everyone has their specific needs.
Since each and every wheelchair user has their own unique requirement, it calls for an exclusive solution in every such case.
But how do you figure out which is the best wheelchair suited for your requirements? Browsing through all the possible options in the market or even online is an added difficulty on its own. But worry not! We’ve got you covered.
We dived deep into the web and have brought to you our top picks from Amazon.com best suited for various cases. In this guide, we will discuss the types of wheelchairs, their maintenance, the things you should consider while purchasing a wheelchair, the best wheelchair brands, and best wheelchairs in the market as of 2019.
Types Of Wheelchairs
1) Manual Transport Wheelchair
These types of wheelchairs are the best fit for hospitals, stores, and other such places. Their small rear wheels cannot be maneuvered by the user.
A pair of handles at the back of the wheelchair can be held by an assistant to transport the wheelchair (hence its name – Manual Transport Wheelchair).
2) Folding Frame Manual Wheelchairs
Folding frame wheelchairs are perfect for traveling and compact storage solutions. A normal wheelchair can be bulky and difficult to carry to far-off places whether you’re commuting by car, bus, train, or even an airplane.
A folding frame manual wheelchair gives you that ease to carry along with you. However, it is not recommended to use a folding frame manual wheelchair on a daily basis as it isn’t as sturdy and comfortable to sit on for long stretches of time.
3) Rigid Frame Manual Wheelchairs
Rigid frame manual wheelchairs are the most common form of wheelchairs. They are popular because of their durability. They cannot be folded, stored, or taken along to far off places, but they are perfect for daily use.
Along with being durable and strong to carry you all day, they are comfortable so that you can actually use them day in and day out. They further come in various forms and adjustments, like wheel diameter, kind of cushioning, length of back support, depth of seat, etc.
4) Non-Magnetic Wheelchairs
Non-Magnetic wheelchairs are another commonly-purchased model especially by hospitals (since they’re necessary in MRIs). In a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) room, any magnetic object is strictly not allowed, so these wheelchairs become crucial for patients.
They are made up of PVC tubes and the rims of its wheels are composed of non-magnetic materials, making it MRI safe.
5) Portable Power Wheelchairs
Portable power wheelchairs are lightweight wheelchairs that can be dismantled to fit into a trunk. This type of wheelchair is not known for its strength but is instead quite portabile with a decent durability.
Since these are motorized and nicely cushioned, the comfort level is naturally more than those of foldable manual wheelchairs. Also, because of its light weight and travel-friendly design, these wheelchairs consume the least amount of power to give the maximum output.
6) Full-size Power Wheelchairs
Full-size power wheelchairs are a step ahead from the portable power kind because of their higher strength and functioning. The comfort in these wheelchairs is also much better than those of foldable ones owing to superior cushioning comfort in the form of back support, seat cushioning, curved spine support, arm rests, foot rests, and shoulder support.
These full-size power wheelchairs also come in various forms, like Orthopaedic wheelchairs, gel-cushioning wheelchairs, etc. They wheelchairs have a bigger battery than those of portable power wheelchairs and give a longer run time per change in comparison.
7) Heavy-Duty Power Wheelchairs
Heavy-duty power wheelchairs are the most comfortable wheelchairs as they provide the comfort of a recliner backed by a heavy-duty battery that offers additional runtime per charge.
This kind of wheelchair is perfect for those who do not mind spending a significant amount on the device and its electricity consumption. Although it costs the most amongst the other options available in the market, it is designed to hold more than 3000 pounds.
These wheelchairs come with options to accessorise it further, like cupholders, pouches, carry baskets, a hanging rod, top-cover, etc. Heavy-duty power wheelchairs have larger seats, bigger armrests and footrests, and reinforced side-supports to provide the best plausible comfort to its user.
Manual vs Power Wheelchair
Manual wheelchairs may seem quite cumbersome and the motorized power type might appear to be the most comfortable option out there, but this is not true. Motorized wheelchairs too have some hidden drawbacks when set against their manual counterparts.
One cannot weigh them down to what is best, but with the help of this guide, you can choose which suits you perfectly.
A) Operational Breakdown
Power wheelchairs are prone to operational breakdowns more than manual wheelchairs. Since motorised wheelchairs have Integrated Circuits and countless electric connections in the mechanism, this level of intricacy makes them more vulnerable to breakdowns.
Manual wheelchairs have a simple mechanical system which is less vulnerable to operational breakdowns.
B) Repairing Cost
Motorized power wheelchairs will cost you more money for a trip to the repair shop. Owing to their complex mechanism, comparatively expensive parts, and rarity of those components, repairing a power wheelchair is generally expensive.
On the other hand, manual wheelchairs have a fairly simple mechanism which can be repaired at home easily. The hardware is cheaper, easy to find, and much more durable than that of a motorized wheelchair.
Motorized power wheelchairs are often bulkier than the manual ones. Despite the comfort provided, this may prevent you from entering small doorways or cruising narrow or crowded lanes.
Manual wheelchairs often have an added advantage of foldability and lightweightedness that can help you cross constrained ways.
The bulky size of power wheelchairs also makes it necessary for you to have a big car or van wherein you can fix a custom ramp and a place for the wheelchair to sit.
D) Power Problems
Motorized power wheelchairs can also possibly leave you in an awkward situation of battery drainage. Since these wheelchairs cannot be maneuvered manually, one must keep the battery charged to avoid getting stuck in such a situation.
The help of an assistant while using these wheelchairs may become necessary in order to maneuver them manually whenever the need arise.
Power wheelchairs might have some technical barriers, but that must not discourage you from availing the comfort they offer. Owning a motorized wheelchair will help you travel longer distances significantly in comparison with the manual kind.
One certainly cannot have an assistant everytime and everywhere. Also, operating the wheelchair manually is a hectic task in itself and will make it harder to visit places due to of the efforts it requires.
In terms of comfort, motorized power wheelchairs are much ahead of the manual ones.
Best Wheelchairs: How to Choose one?
Manual wheelchairs and Motorized wheelchairs are blanket terms to cover scores of types and models of wheelchairs available in the market. With this wide variety, it gets difficult to find the one best suited for your needs.
Since it is a device that helps you easy your life and is a one-time investment, you must pick up a model that will fulfill all your requirements and overcome hurdles. Things like dimensions, price, material, make, etc. are some important things that you must look into while purchasing your wheelchair.
So here is a list of things that you must look for while buying your wheelchair.
The dimensions of your wheelchair are an important factor in determining its suitability. You must look out for the dimensions of the seat and whether or not it’s comfortable for you.
Along with that, you must check if the height of the seat is in accordance to the length of your legs so that your legs neither hang in the air nor touch the ground. Your legs should be comfortably touching the footrest.
The dimensions of the back support are the next important thing you might want to look out for. There are various heights of back supports available, like mid-back, up to shoulder, mid-head, and over the head.
Another essential factor to verify is the dimensions of the arm rest and the foot rest.
According to the many variants of wheelchairs, they come in a wide range of price ranges. You can grab a set of wheels for less than a 100 dollars, but will it suffice your requirement?
Not compromising with your needs while keeping a limit on your spending is the key to efficient purchasing. If you’re looking to buy a transport wheelchair, you may set your budget to around a 100 bucks. But if you’re looking for a motorised power recliner wheelchair, you may have to loosen your pocket way more than that.
As a smart shopper, you should always compare the prices of various brands catering to your needs. To survey various models in different price ranges, you can directly scroll down to our top picks in this guide.
Wheelchairs are primarily made from titanium, steel, carbon fibre, and aluminium. Steel wheelchairs are the heaviest and are not recommended for travelling, although they are much sturdier than the other variants available. So if you weigh on the heavier side, you might prefer a steel wheelchair for daily use.
Aluminium wheelchairs fall under the heavy weight category but are lighter than steel wheelchairs. You can opt for aluminium wheelchairs if you have a muscular or robust build but do not weigh much.
Titanium wheelchairs are lightweight and can be carried around easily. They are best suited for people who do not weigh as much.
Lastly, carbon fibre wheelchairs are the lightest and they are perfect for travelling to far-off places. They can easily be carried single-handedly, and if you opt for a foldable carbon fibre wheelchair, you may simply throw it in the trunk as a luggage piece. Also, if you’re opting for an MRI, you will be made to sit on a wheelchair made up of PVC rods and other non-magnetic materials.
The make of the wheelchair is yet another important aspect to look for while purchasing your model. If you’re someone who usually has company to assist you and would not mind maneuvering your wheelchair, you can opt for a manual wheelchair.
If you can afford to spend a handsome amount for comfort, however, you should go for an automated or power wheelchair.
Also, if you want a wheelchair for the short term, you must go for a transport wheelchair as it is both economical and has a bigger market for resale. You should also consider the inclination, height, and support in the model you plan to purchase.
Wheelchairs come at heavy prices and maintaining them is quite necessary. If you do not maintain them and keep a check of a proper functioning, they may call for a repair which may cause yet another hole in your pocket.
You should always look for a wheelchair that has the longest warranty coverage. So in case your wheelchair malfunctions, you can get it sorted out within that scheme. This would not only save you some money, but products covered under a warranty reflects the seller’s trust in its own product.
A seller believes that its product will not give any sort of trouble for the next few years and displays that confidence as warranty. So a smart buyer should always look for a warranty even if he/she knows how to repair the product at home.
Wheelchairs are a support used not just occasionally but throughout the day. In this case, you need to equip them with all the things you require.
Many wheelchairs available in the market have accessories attached to them for user convenience. Accessories like pouches, nets, water bottle holder, trolleys, and trays are just a few. You can even customise these accessories according to your measurements for better comfort.
Accessories may seem like an added cost if they aren’t complementary with the wheelchair, but they prove much more worth than the money you spend on them. For instance, eating on a wheelchair may be a difficult task if you do not have a custom table around all the time. But if you have a tray and a glass or bottle holder in your wheelchair, this becomes a cake walk.
Similarly, you cannot carry much stuff in your hands all the time in a wheelchair, so having a net to shove some things and a trolley to carry along heavier and bigger loads prove really helpful.
Since wheelchairs are an expensive affair and you need them all the time, it is really important to choose a model that’s widely available. This is because common wheelchairs will have readily-available spare parts that make your repairs comfortable.
Buying a rare or unique wheelchair which may eventually demand a repair will make it difficult for you to find a repair shop that has spare parts.
Keeping all the factors in mind, we’ve dived deep into the web and picked out some gems from the deep ocean. So here are our top 10 recommendation for you if you’re planning to buy a wheelchair.
Top 10 Best Wheelchairs 2019
1. Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair with Swing Back Desk, Arm and Footrest
The speciality of this wheelchair is that it comes with a desk at the back that can be turned into the front. You do not need to buy additional accessories such as a tray or cup holder with this wheelchair as the desk will serve those purposes.
Along with that, this is one of the most economical wheelchairs out there. It costs you less than a 100 bucks. Owing to all these features and the price point, this is one of Amazon’s most purchased and highest-rated wheelchairs and also on the top of our list.
2. Medline Ultralight Transport Wheelchair
This wheelchair is a typical transport wheelchair made out of aluminium – perfect for elderly people, hospitals, or even small kids who cannot maneuver themselves. It is lightweight and is hence not recommended for plus size people.
This model from Mediline comes in four colours, namely red, silver, blue, and black. It has a 19-inch seat which can easily accommodate a mid-build person.
The manufacturers claim that this is the lightest wheelchair available in the market. It weighs only 14.5 pounds, perfect for a user with an assistant who cannot drag those bulkier wheelchairs around. It can also hold up to 300 pounds.
Other great features include a cup holder, a seat best, and comfortable armrests. It gets folded into a small compartment and is easy to store. It also has a back pocket for caregivers to keep their phone, keys, and other things.
All this along with the wheelchair and its highly-rated reviews cost just a little above a 100 bucks.
3. Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair
It weighs up to 30 pounds and can carry about 300 pounds. When closed, this wheelchair can accommodate into a space as narrow as 12 inches. It comes with three different seat sizes of 16 inches, 18 inches, and 20 inches.
The walls of the armrest and back support are quite high in this wheelchair for additional comfort. It has extra brakes in the wheels which work on a push lock system. It also has a built-in seat rail extension and an upholstery that can also be extended.
The only drawback we see in it is that it comes with plastic footrests. If you’re someone who would like to have sturdier footrests, you can swap them with metal ones. Otherwise, this is a really good wheelchair for its price point.
4. Karman 24 pounds LT-980
The Karman 24 pounds LT-980 wheelchair comes at a little above 300 dollars, all because the wheelchair is loaded with features. The most prominent offering of this wheelchair is its adjustable height system. Along with this, you can also change the angle of the chair based on where you’d like to apply pressure.
The model comes with anti-tippers for rough terrain and hilly areas, and such safeties are a must. The speciality of Karman wheelchairs is their soft touch brakes that no other brand offers.
A removable footrest is attached in such a way that it adds strength to the whole design instead of breaking off, which is common in most cases. It comes with an 18-inch seat, which is the most commonly-used width in wheelchairs of this category.
5. Drive Medical Lightweight Expedition Transport Wheelchair
The Drive Medical Lightweight Expedition Transport Wheelchair comes in two colours – red and blue – and costs a little more than a hundred bucks. It is a transport wheelchair with a height of 38 inches and a lightweight frame of around 19 pounds.
It can carry up to 300 pounds and gets folded into a small flat piece that can be stored into a cupboard as well. A seat belt provides additional safety apart from the hand brakes. It also has activated brakes.
The wheelchair has 12-inch flat free wheels for a smooth and stable cruise on various terrains. The seat width is 18 inches and the arms rests are padded with cushioning for additional comfort.
Owing to all these features, this is yet another highly-rated product on Amazon.
6. Karman 19.8 lbs Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair
The Karman 19.8 lbs Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair is a manual wheelchair that comes in two variants – fixed axle and quick release axle. Its manufacturers have truly redefined the class of lightweight wheelchairs.
Composed of aircraft-grade T6 Aluminium and constructed in a sturdy geometry, it costs around 700 dollars and aims to replace expensive titanium wheelchairs.
The wheelchair has an ‘S’-shaped seating frame which prevents sores and provides comfort to the user and the caretaker as well. It comes with companion brakes, so the caregiver can apply them quickly without bending down every time.
The frame of the wheelchair weighs only 13 pounds. Including the upholstery and accessories, this number comes up to around 19 pounds. Moreover, the upholstery used is antibacterial and extendable.
The wheels of this wheelchair are flat-free and of 18 inches, thereby ensuring a stable ride across various terrains. The footrests of this chair are removable as well, making it yet another highly-rated product on Amazon owing to its ergonomic style.
7. Drive Medical Fly Lite Ultra Lightweight Transport Wheelchair
This is a transport wheelchair made of aluminium, which makes it lightweight and hence convenient for the caregiver. It has 8-inch hind wheels equipped with a rear locking mechanism. The high back can be folded into a low back and also into a smaller version for storage.
Its lightness makes it easy for you to take it along to far-away destination. It weighs only 17 pounds along with its accessories and upholstery.
The upholstery on this chair is quite attractive, unlike other transport wheelchairs. It comes with a pouch at the back that makes it convenient to carry one’s own essentials. It also has a cup holder socket to attach a cup holder into the wheelchair (which has to be purchased separately).
8. Medline Excel Extra-Wide Wheelchair, 24″
The frame of this wheelchair is sturdy and strong enough to lift up to 500 pounds. It has a carbon steel frame to bear heavy loads and a chrome finish to make it rust and chip free and also add a chic factor.
The upholstery is made of vinyl, which is easy to clean. Moreover, the armrest is well-padded and upholstered.
With removable leg rests and foot rests, it is recommended as the best bariatric mobility wheelchair by many buyers.
9. Karman 29 pounds S-305 Ergonomic Wheelchair
The silver metallic body and the pearl upholstery add to the chicness. This wheelchair also comes with ergonomic arm rests and handrims (since it is a manual wheelchair).
Costing around 600 dollars with decent feedback from buyers regarding user safety, the model comes with push-to-lock rear brakes and companion-friendly hand brakes so that the caregiver won’t need to bend every time he/she applies brakes.
10. ProBasics Aluminum Transport Wheelchair
The ProBasics Aluminum Transport Wheelchair is a 19-inch, foldable wheelchair with 12-inch wheels for a smooth ride. The wheelchair costs a little less than 200 dollars and is one of the most highly-rated transport wheelchairs in the market.
The upholstery is made up of nylon and features an attached seat belt for safety. The handles are flared and come with a grip for the convenience of the caregiver. In addition, the armrests are well-padded and hand brakes for the user provide extra convenience..
The wheels of this chair do not leave scuffs on the floor. Being easy to assemble with a user-friendly manual for all ages, customers who bought this product are happy with the narrow foldability and aptness for senior citizens. Even elderly assistants can lift this model with ease and put it in a van or store in a cupboard.
Many users suggest adding cushion with pommels for more comfort and making the seats slide-free.
Best Wheelchairs: Have you Made a Choice?
Buying the best wheelchair available in the market is not enough if you do not look after or maintain it. Maintaining your wheelchair is as important as making a purchase.
If you are a wheelchair owner or are planning to buy one, you must ensure to have it looked at at least once a quarter. Along with buying a wheelchair, you may also buy wheelchair oil and cleaning supplies to increase the life of your investment.
Since wheelchairs are equipment used to enhance the ability and are a long term investment, one must put comfort and functionality a step forward than budget or any other factor. We hope our well-researched guide eases the process of buying a wheelchair for you!