Three best wheelchairs
Self-propelled wheelchairs are the smart choice for most people. These manually controlled wheelchairs are lightweight and often fold down. This allows you to pack the wheelchair into your car's trunk and take it anywhere. Additionally, manual wheelchairs are far less expensive than powered chairs. However, the only option for many people is a battery-powered wheelchair. And these models are well worth the investment when needed. But no matter which type of wheelchair you're shopping for, it's easy to get overwhelmed. That's why we've created this guide listing the important factors to consider as well as our three picks for the best wheelchairs on the market.
Considerations when choosing wheelchairs
With manual wheelchairs, you have a few different design options, each with different benefits.
Standard manual wheelchairs are good for everyday use. With a standard wheelchair, the rider can propel himself or another person can push the chair. These wheelchairs are designed to be comfortable for many hours of use.
Transport wheelchairs are often used in hospitals or medical facilities to move patients around. These wheelchairs fold down easily for storage when they're not in use. They require someone to push them, and they're not designed for comfort, as the rider will only be in one for a short period of time.
Sports wheelchairs have a few different configurations. These chairs are smaller and allow for quick changes of direction. Some people use them for athletic events like basketball games or marathons. Others use them when they need to move quickly and precisely at work.
Most manual wheelchairs fold down for transportation no matter the style. However, some are easier to fold down than others, and some have a lightweight design to make them more portable.
Consider how much time you'll need to spend in the wheelchair. If you'll be in the wheelchair for several hours consecutively, comfort is important.
Footrests and armrests
Footrests and armrests play a key role in comfort. Some wheelchairs allow you to adjust them easily for the best fit. A poorly aligned armrest can rub against the skin uncomfortably, for example. Some chairs are padded in these areas for additional comfort.
A sturdy seating area with good back support is important for someone who will be sitting in a wheelchair for a long time. Lightweight wheelchairs sometimes skimp on padding in the backrest and seat areas.
A manual wheelchair typically costs several hundred dollars. However, you can find an inexpensive wheelchair for as little as $100. Just don't expect these cheaper models to provide much in the way of comfort or support.
Q. What about powered wheelchairs?
A. If you have a difficult time controlling your wheelchair, you may want a powered chair. However, a battery-powered wheelchair will cost far more than a manual wheelchair. And a powered chair is quite a bit larger than a manual wheelchair, so it's not as portable.
Q. Are there wheelchairs that work well over rough surfaces?
A. If you'll often be on rough trails or sidewalks with your wheelchair, consider one that has suspension. This type of system works much like the shock absorbers in a vehicle. You won't feel the bumpy road as much with a suspension system.
Wheelchairs we recommend
Best of the best: Karman S-305 Ergonomic Wheelchair
Our take: This wheelchair has a number of excellent features, including smooth operation, excellent durability, and padding in just the right places.
What we like: It has the right mix of lightweight design and durability. The seat material has antibacterial properties.
What we dislike: It's pricey versus some other wheelchairs, but its quality makes it worth the cost.
Best bang for your buck: Drive Medical Cruiser III Lightweight Wheelchair
Our take: Though this wheelchair struggles to navigate narrow spaces, it rolls smoothly and has a comfortable configuration, especially for larger people.
What we like: This wheelchair is lightweight and folds down to a small size in a hurry. It features well-placed padding for comfort.
What we dislike: The front wheel posts angle outward a bit, which makes it difficult to maneuver in tight areas.
Our take: This small wheelchair folds down to fit easily in a car trunk and has fully adjustable armrests and footrests for the most comfortable fit.
What we like: It has a sturdy build quality even though it doesn't weigh a lot. Owners don't have to sacrifice comfort for a smaller wheelchair with this model.
What we dislike: The ride is not as smooth as some other wheelchairs.
Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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