Whether you need a wheelchair for a day out on the town or for full-time mobility, choosing the correct wheelchair for you is essential. We’re here to help you make this somewhat complicated decision. Out of the wheelchairs we reviewed, the Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair is our overall favorite. It provides plenty of comfort and comes in multiple sizes, so you can choose the best model to suit you.
While this wheelchair is the best option for most, there are many different needs to consider when choosing a wheelchair. How often you’re going to be using it, and your specific needs are going to have a significant impact on what chair is suitable for you. Without further ado, here are some of the best wheelchairs available.
Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair – Best Wheelchair Overall
The Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair has all the features the average user needs while also remaining inexpensive. It comes in three different sizes, so you can choose a smaller or larger chair to fit your personal needs. The arms are detachable, and it comes with swing-away legs to provide extra support. It features 18” padded nylon in the seat to help you remain comfortable. This material is inexpensive and works well for light to moderate use. However, the material will get worn out over time and compressed – just like any other padded chair.
The tires are durable and can be locked to prevent the chair from moving. This chair can be used outdoors on slightly uneven terrain, but it is not a hiking wheelchair or anything of that sort. The whole thing can be folded for easy transport and storage. Altogether, the chair weighs about 41 pounds with the footrests. This makes it easy enough for most people to lift into the car.
The Silver Sport 1 is another excellent wheelchair by Drive Medical. It features a durable steel frame that is powder-coated for extra protection for the weather and everyday bumps. The upholstery is nylon and padded. It is quite comfortable. However, the padding will wear out faster than some other options. This chair is lighter than many other models at 37.6-pounds. It comes with Urethane tires that attach to composite wheels. These wheels can handle most everyday terrains, including outdoor areas. Furthermore, they require very little maintenance. The wheels can be locked.
Padded armrests keep you comfortable and there is a convenient carrying pocket located on the backrest for the storage of a few items. Like many wheelchairs, it folds easily for transportation.
With a carbon steel frame, the Drive Medical Cruiser III is made to hold up for the long-run. It features nylon upholstery that is padded and easy to clean. In all, the whole chair weighs 36 pounds, excluding the front riggings. You can adjust the deep depth from 16” to 18” thanks to the built-in seat rail extensions and extendable upholstery. The wheels are made out of composite material and are Mag-style. These wheels are lightweight and do not require much maintenance. They come with precision sealed bearings in the front and rear to ensure that they function correctly for a long time in the future. The wheels also lock if you ever need to keep them from rolling.
This exclusive seat style does not require any seat guards, which makes inserting custom back inserts and other accessories very quickly. If you’re going to be in a wheelchair for a while or already have an attachment or two, this is a great option. The seat height can be transitioned to hemi-level very quickly with the dual-axis. The footrests and leg rest can be adjusted without using tools and the arms can be removed for smooth transfer if necessary.
Medline Strong and Sturdy Wheelchair – Best Durable Wheelchair
If you need a wheelchair that is extra durable for whatever reason, this Strong and Sturdy Wheelchair from Medline is an excellent option. It comes in two different widths, so you can choose whichever one is better for your situation. The arms and footrests both swing away to make transfer easier. The arms themselves are completely removable if you need to take them off. These removable arms are handy for dining because they can help increase your elbow room. The upholstery is made out of nylon, which is quite breathable and comfortable to sit on for an extended period. Many customers were very pleased with how comfortable this chair was, even when they spent extended hours using it. However, it is somewhat more challenging to clean and doesn’t wipe as easily as vinyl.
The chair can be folded for easy transportation, though it weighs a little more than most models at 38-pounds. Some customers reported that this chair does not move smoothly on the uneven surfaces, like sidewalks. If you get out and about often or spend much time outside, you might want to consider getting a different chair.
For extra comfort, you might want to consider the Medline Comfort Driven chair. It comes with removable arms to make it more comfortable to sit at a table and the leg rests are elevated to relieve pressure during enhanced use. This chair has a hammertone finish that is both attractive and durable. With premium welds, this wheelchair can be used for an extended amount of time, making it more suitable for those with long-term disabilities. The tires are designed to be maintenance-free and will never go flat. In all, this chair can handle 300-pounds of weight capacity and the chair itself weighs 38 pounds. This is a little heavier than most chairs.
There are three seat widths available. Consider how much room you need in your chair to remain comfortable as well as how big the doorways in your house are. The upholstery is made out of breathable nylon, which is excellent for long-term comfort but not necessarily the easiest to clean. This chair does fold for easy transportation.
Medline Premium Ultra-lightweight Wheelchair – Best Lightweight Wheelchair
This Premium Ultra-Lightweight Wheelchair is designed for those who need a chair that is extra-light. In total, this chair weighs only 31.5 pounds, making it easy to lift and transport. It does fold in half for easy transport as well. It comes in multiple different widths for you to choose the best one for you. Of course, the width you want will depend mainly on your size, but you should also consider how big the doorways are at your home or workplace. Your wheelchair won’t be of much use if you can’t fit it through your door.
This chair’s arms flip back and are removable, making it suitable for sitting at a desk or table. The leg rests also swing off to the side. The upholstery is made out of nylon for breathability and comfort. This material is extremely comfortable and makes spending long hours in your wheelchair entirely possible. The wheels are quick-release, which makes transportation extremely easy.
Drive Medical Aluminum Transport Chair – Best Transport Chair
This Transport Chair from Drive Medical is designed to be as lightweight as possible. It weighs only 19 pounds and is made of aluminum. This material isn’t necessarily as strong as steel, but it provides enough stability while still being lightweight. The wheels are only 8”, which contributes to why this chair is so light but makes it inappropriate for outdoor use. They are maintenance-free, however. The back of the chair will fold down when you press the release hinge, allow it to fit into tight spaces more easily for storage and transport.
The armrest is slightly padded to provide enough comfort for short rides, and a safety belt is provided for extra security. As you might imagine, this chair is only designed for very short uses and can only be used with someone else pushing you. This can be useful if you only need the chair for a short period after surgery.
What We Considered When Choosing Each Product
In nearly every instance, you’re going to need to transport your wheelchair around with you. Even those who don’t need their wheelchair all the time when they’re at home will likely want it close by when they’re out and about. Because of this, the weight of the wheelchair is significant. You or someone else is going to need to pick the wheelchair up and put it in the car to transport it. Most lightweight wheelchair models weigh around 30 pounds, while bigger models can reach upwards of 45 pounds.
Consider how much you can lift and how much help you’re going to have when it comes to transporting your chair. You may need a lightweight version to make travel possible, or you may be able to get away with a more substantial chair.
You’re going to spend a lot of time in your chair, so being comfortable is vital. Some chairs don’t focus much on support at all and can be very uncomfortable to sit in for an extended period. Sometimes, uncomfortable chairs can even cause pressure sores and other ailments. There are many different cushioning options available. Most chairs today use nylon because it is breathable and lightweight.
In general, you can expect any chair’s padding to wear out after a while. However, it is possible to change this padding with an aftermarket product. If you are in love with a particular wheelchair but don’t like how it feels, you might want to consider switching out the padding with something of higher quality.
A wheelchair’s wheels are essential. Most of the time, wheels are at least somewhat able to go over uneven surfaces and different terrains. Generally, any wheelchair is going to be able to move across a sidewalk quickly enough. However, not all wheelchairs can handle outdoor terrains equally. Some get hung up on gravel, and others can’t handle unevenness at all.
If you plan on going outside often, be sure to get a chair that is designed to go out and on uneven surfaces.
It can be challenging to sit at a table or desk with a wheelchair. The arms tend to get in the way of your elbows, which makes you have to eat and work in a considerably uncomfortable position in some cases. Luckily, many wheelchairs come with removable arms that make sitting at tables much more comfortable. Whether or not you need this feature depends on your lifestyle. If you’re a student who needs to spend lots of time at a desk, removable arms are a must. However, if you don’t spend any time at a desk at all, this is probably a feature you can safely overlook. Overall, while this feature is essential for those who need it, it can be carefully looked over by those who don’t.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I buy a wheelchair?
While there are bricks and mortar stores that sell wheelchairs, depending on where you live, it may be difficult to find one near you. Fortunately, there are online shopping options, including Amazon, which stocks some of the most popular models.
How much does a wheelchair cost?
At the budget end, a simple wheelchair can be found for less than one hundred bucks. From there, the sky is the limit, with more features bring higher price tags. High-end electric wheelchairs can cost thousands of dollars.
How do I measure someone for a wheelchair?
If you’re wondering how to measure for a wheelchair, the first step is to measure the user’s hips, straight across. Add around 2 inches for comfort and this is the chair width that you should look for. You may also need to determine seat depth by measuring the distance from the back of their backside to the crease of the knee, while they are seated. It is also important to measure the user’s weight and ensure that the chosen wheelchair is suitable.
How wide is a wheelchair?
Wheelchairs come in a variety of widths, depending on the type and the needs of the user. Most standard wheelchairs are approximately 5 inches wider than the seat width, eg. a wheelchair with a seat width of 18 inches, will be about 23 inches wide. Electric wheelchairs tend to be wider, often 25 inches, however, heavy-duty power wheelchairs may be as wide as 32 inches.
What width wheelchair do I need?
The important measurement is the width of the user across the hips. The seat of the wheelchair needs to accommodate them comfortably – add approx. 2 inches to their width across the hips to allow for comfortable sitting. Another factor to consider is the width of doorways in the user’s dwelling.