Ray Butcher is a man with many talents. After studying nursing at Felician University in New York, he realized it’s not exactly what he wanted to dedicate his whole life t read more
Last updated: November 10, 2020
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Wheelchairs can vastly improve your quality of life if you have limited mobility. Choosing a wheelchair for the elderly is a very important task, but there are lots of considerations when choosing one. Whether you’re looking to get a manual or electric wheelchair, you need to make sure that a model you get is lightweight and easy to handle. The best lightweight wheelchairs enable you to socialize and go out and about with friends and family, but you’ll be surprised to learn that they are not created equal.
When choosing a wheelchair, you need to look at some of its important features, including the wheelchair type and weight, seat dimensions and weight limit, as well as durability. We looked at the best lightweight wheelchairs on the market and compared all these features and more to make it easier for you to choose the one that best suits your needs and lifestyle.
Other features: AEGIS upholstery; removable footrest
Karman is one of the most popular manufacturers of wheelchairs on the market, and they have been producing quality wheelchairs for over three decades. The Karman Healthcare Ergo Flight Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair is a manual wheelchair that is super ergonomic and lightweight at the same time.
This wheelchair weighs only 19.8 pounds and is made from lightweight 6061 T-6 Aircraft-grade aluminum. It features fixed armrests with ergonomic arm pads and comes with a storage pocket behind the backrest, which comes in very handy to store your personal items when you’re out and about.
The Karman Healthcare Ergo Flight Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair is very lightweight but sturdy at the same time, and it is very easy to maneuver. It folds to compact size for easy transport and storage, and it comes with a limited lifetime warranty for extra peace of mind. The AEGIS upholstery is comfortable and durable, and the footrest is removable for a highly customizable experience.
What do we love it for? The Karman Healthcare Ergo Flight Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair is sturdy and easy to maneuver, while also being incredibly lightweight for its dimensions.
What were we disappointed with? The small diameter of the wheels makes rolling a bit difficult, and some reviewers mentioned that the grey color of the seating makes it difficult to clean.
Other features: high-grade aluminum frame; Stow-N-Go Clips to secure footrests
The Medline Ultralight Transport Wheelchair boasts a highly durable aluminum frame and features a backside that can be folded down for extra versatility. This is a manual transport wheelchair that’s easy to use and maintain, while also sporting an attractive design.
At the backside of the chair, there are multiple attachments such as a key ring, cell phone pocket and a free cup holder. The Medline Ultralight Transport Wheelchair only weighs 14.8 pounds but has a weight limit of 300 pounds, being the perfect choice for packing up for traveling.
The footrests are easy to fix thanks to the Stow-N-Go clips and there’s no need to use any tools to put them in place. The padded armrests are extra comfortable and the chair comes with loop-lock handbrakes that are sure to keep you extra comfortable. The Medline Ultralight Transport Wheelchair has large rear wheels that ensure steadiness on any surface. As a result, the chair is suitable for use in the outdoors.
Why did it make our list? The Medline Ultralight Transport Wheelchair is very lightweight and easy to pack, being the ideal choice for those looking for a wheelchair for traveling.
What is not ideal about it? The chair doesn’t have any sort of shock absorbers and the seat belts may get in the way when not in use.
Other features: high-strength magnesium alloy frame; padded armrests; rubber front wheel; front and rear brakes
Our budget choice is the Hi-Fortune Lightweight Medical Manual Wheelchair, a manual wheelchair that features a high-strength magnesium alloy frame that’s extremely light yet highly durable. Because it only weighs 21 pounds, this wheelchair is very easy to maneuver whether you’re a caregiver or the user yourself.
The Hi-Fortune Lightweight Medical Manual Wheelchair folds down small, which makes it the perfect choice for users who want a lightweight wheelchair they can store away in a vehicle or even take on an airplane. The wheelchair is also very easy to assemble and you don’t need any tools to attach the back safety rollers or footrests.
The rear and hand brakes of this lightweight wheelchair make your ride safer, and the chair also comes with anti-tippers for extra safety. The weight limit of the Hi-Fortune Lightweight Medical Manual Wheelchair is 220 pounds, and the larger rear wheels provide enhanced performance on uneven surfaces.
What makes it stand out? The Hi-Fortune Lightweight Medical Manual Wheelchair is very durable and lightweight, and it folds own small enough to be stored easily in a vehicle or for airplane travel.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? The seat of the Hi-Fortune Lightweight Medical Manual Wheelchair is a bit too wide, and users may have trouble getting through some doors.
Other features: removable flip-back desk arms; elevating leg rests; foldable design; adjustable seat back and arms; nylon upholstery
The Medline MDS806550E Lightweight & User-Friendly Wheelchair is a strong and robust wheelchair that’s lightweight enough at 33 pounds. It has a weight capacity of 300 pounds and features extra comfortable removable flip-back desk arms. Its foldable design makes the wheelchair very easy to store and transport, and the seat back and arms are adjustable for increased versatility.
The removable arms make it possible to sit comfortably at a table, and the comfort you experience in this chair. The Medline MDS806550E Lightweight & User-Friendly Wheelchair has flat-free tires so you don’t have to worry about remaining stranded when using it. The nylon upholstery is breathable and soft, and the chair is also very easy to maintain and clean. Many of the users who tested and reviewed this lightweight wheelchair liked the paint job that mixes black and silver for a highly appealing look.
Why are we impressed? The Medline MDS806550E Lightweight & User-Friendly Wheelchair has a sleek design and is easy to fold. It also has flat-free tires so you don’t have to worry about remaining stranded.
What negatives must you be aware of? The leg pads could be better, and many users mentioned that the handles are relatively low, which might not suit all users.
Other features: aluminum rear wheel locks; 33″ x 9″ x 36″ folded dimensions
The Drive Medical Fly Lite Ultra Lightweight Transport Wheelchair only weighs 19 pounds and is one of the lightest wheelchairs on the market. It features an attractive blue plaid nylon upholstery that is easy to clean and durable at the same time. This chair features a carry pocket on the back rest so you have enough room to store all your personal belongings.
The seatbelt makes this chair very safe to use, and you don’t have to use any kinds of tools to assemble it. The foot rests can be adjusted in height and you can also swing them out of the way if needed. The back release makes it super easy to fold down the back, which means the chair is very easy to transport and store. The aluminum frame of the Drive Medical Fly Lite Ultra Lightweight Transport Wheelchair is strong yet lightweights, and the black paint job makes it suitable for most users.
When it comes to the braking system, the Drive Medical Fly Lite Ultra Lightweight Transport Wheelchair has responsive aluminum brakes and its safety is enhanced by the standard rear wheel locks.
Why is it special? The Drive Medical Fly Lite Ultra Lightweight Transport Wheelchair is extra light and folds down easily for storage and transport.
What are the flaws? Some of the users who tested this chair mentioned that it is a bit difficult to pass over higher doorway transitions in this chair.
Other features: solid rubber front casters; elevating leg rests; 2-inch seat extension; nylon upholstery; 11” wide when folded
The ProBasics Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair is one of the sturdiest lightweight wheelchairs we tested, thanks to its cross-brace aluminum frame design. It also has a premium feel thanks to its black powder coat finish. Another thing that makes this wheelchair stand out from the crowd is the fact that it’s quite feature-rich. It comes complete with adjustable anti-tippers, a height adjustable seat, easy push-to-lock wheel locks, and adjustable padded removable desk length arm rests.
This chair is available with swing away foot rests and you can choose from heel loops or elevating leg rests. The ProBasics Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair weighs 34 pounds and has a weight limit of 300 pounds. The nylon upholstery is breathable and resists bacteria and mildew.
One of the best things about this lightweight wheelchair is that is can be folded flat in a matter of seconds. When folded, it is only 11 inches wide, so it’s super easy to store and transport.
What makes it stand out? The ProBasics Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair is very well built and comes with a limited lifetime warranty. It folds quickly, which makes it very easy to store and transport.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? The chair could be a bit lighter and some users mentioned that the small parts and accessories could be better built.
Wheelchair weight: 41 lbs (38 lbs without riggings)
Weight limit: 350 lbs
Dimensions: 36.5” x 28” x 32.5”
Warranty: limited lifetime
Other features: push-to-lock wheel locks; adjustable seat depth; elevating leg rests
A lightweight wheelchair with removable flip-back arms, the Drive Medical K320DFA-ELR Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair is quite light at 41 lbs (38 lbs without riggings). It features an adjustable seat depth so you can customize it as you wish to increase the level of comfort. The chair comes with push-to-lock wheel locks for extra safety.
The Drive Medical K320DFA-ELR Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair sports a carbon steel frame that allows for custom back inserts and accessories. The large back wheels provide extra stability, and the 8-inch front ones offer a smooth ride no matter the surface.
This chair comes with standard detachable flip back arms and you can choose to use the swing away or elevated footrests. The black nylon upholstery makes for an attractive look and is also very easy to clean.
What are our favorite features? The Drive Medical K320DFA-ELR Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair is very comfortable thanks to the adjustable seat depth and it comes with limited lifetime warranty for extra peace of mind.
What could be better? The wheels of the Drive Medical K320DFA-ELR Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair might feel a bit wobbly at times.
Warranty: limited 5-year on battery; 1-year on other parts
Other features: foldable; 16-mile range; hide-away armrests; 33” turning radius
If you’re interested in an electric wheelchair that’s also lightweight, the Porto Mobility Ranger Foldable Electric Wheelchair is one of the best choices on the market. This chair is compact but powerful, and it can easily be folded to the size of a suitcase, making it ideal for traveling. The chair comes with a joystick for easy operation, and it can be fitted for both left and right-handed controls.
The chair has a wireless battery that is airline compliant, so you can take it on any of your trips. A universal charger is included, and the Porto Mobility Ranger Foldable Electric Wheelchair also comes with a storage bag for under the seat and a backrest storage pouch so you can keep all your personal belongings safe.
The chair only weighs 41 pounds, making it very light for an electric chair. The weight limit is 265 pounds, and the chair comes with a limited 5-year warranty on battery and 1 year on other parts. When you buy the Porto Mobility Ranger Foldable Electric Wheelchair, you also get a comprehensive instructions manual to get you started right away.
What makes it stand out? The Porto Mobility Ranger Foldable Electric Wheelchair folds to the size of the suitcase and the battery is airline compliant, making it perfect for those who are looking for a wheelchair that’s suitable for traveling.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? The wheelchair feels underpowered at times, especially when it comes to getting over thresholds.
Things to Consider
Wheelchairs are essential items for many elderly people or people with disabilities, and choosing a lightweight model can make your life so much easier. The best lightweight wheelchairs are easy to maneuver and are often foldable and highly portable to suit your lifestyle.
What wheelchair can be considered lightweight?
Lightweight wheelchairs typically weigh anywhere between 14.5 and 40 pounds. They usually have an aluminum frame that’s lightweight enough to be carried in one hand when folded. Ultralight wheelchairs such as the Medline Ultralight Transport Wheelchair weigh under 15 pounds.
Features to consider before you buy a wheelchair
There are lots of features to consider when choosing a wheelchair, with the most important of them being the type of wheelchair, seat size, overall dimensions, materials and durability, weight limit and wheels.
Wheelchair type: Electric or manual, standard or transport
There are two main types of wheelchairs available: manual and electric. Manual ones are propelled by the user’s own strength, whereas electric ones have a motor and can be operated with the help of a joystick.
Standard wheelchairs are made with the user in mind, which means they can easily operate them themselves. Transport ones are suitable for situations where another person pushes the chair and are also more suitable for travel.
The seats are generally available in different widths and lengths, so it’s important to make sure you choose a comfortable one. Some models offer firmer seats and you can also enjoy more postural support with extra cushioning.
The overall dimensions of the wheelchair are important not only because they often determine how lightweight the chair is, but also because you need to make sure the chair will fit your home and lifestyle. If you opt for a foldable model, make sure it folds to the right dimensions to fit in the trunk of the car, for example. The Porto Mobility Ranger Foldable Electric Wheelchair is a model that folds to the dimensions of a suitcase.
Materials and durability
Most lightweight wheelchairs have a frame made from aluminum, which is not only lightweight, but also durable. Our editor’s choice, the Karman Healthcare Ergo Flight Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair, has a frame made from 6061 T-6 aircraft-grade aluminum. The seating part is generally made from nylon, which is comfortable and easy to maintain at the same time.
Most wheelchairs have adjustable armrests and footplates so you can easily find a comfortable position. Removable armrests are a good option if you want to feel comfortable at the table.
Most standard wheelchairs that are self-propelled generally have larger back wheels for easier control, but this makes them bulkier and more difficult to load in a car. Lightweight wheelchairs designed to be pushed by someone else have smaller wheels that are easier to navigate and control for the person pushing.
The main difference between regular manual wheelchairs and transport ones is the fact that those built with transport in mind are foldable, so you can easily pack them in the trunk of the car or take with you on an airplane just like you would do with a suitcase. Some models pack very small, like the Hi-Fortune Lightweight Medical Manual Wheelchair, for example, which makes them ideal for travel. Transport wheelchairs are also ideal if you’re looking for a model that can be pushed easily by someone else.
A quality wheelchair should last for at least five years, and many models last much longer than that. The lifespan of your wheelchair depends on the build quality but also on the way you maintain and store it. Some components and features are often subject to quicker wear and tear, so it’s important to inspect them frequently to insure they work properly.
Choosing the right wheelchair size generally depends on the width of the seat you need. This generally dictates the overall size of the wheelchair, including the layout, size of the wheels, and other features. The average seat width for wheelchairs is 18 inches, but you can find models that are larger or smaller than that.
Wheelchairs that are designed to be pushed by someone else than the user are generally easier to push. When it comes to the wheels, smaller ones make wheelchairs easier to maneuver, which in turn makes pushing easier.
After reviewing the best lightweight wheelchairs on the market, we concluded that the Karman Healthcare Ergo Flight Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair is the best choice for most users and featured it as our editor’s choice. This wheelchair is very lightweight but sturdy at the same time and folds compact so you can take it everywhere with you.
In second place we have the Medline Ultralight Transport Wheelchair, a wheelchair that offers great value for money and comes with multiple attachments including a key ring, cell phone pocket and a free cup holder. This wheelchair’s larger rear wheels ensure steadiness on most surfaces.
If you’re looking for the best lightweight wheelchair on a budget, the Hi-Fortune Lightweight Medical Manual Wheelchair is a suitable option. This wheelchair folds down small, being perfect if you want a lightweight wheelchair that you can store away in a vehicle or even take on an airplane.
Keys to manual wheelchair configuration | Agency for Clinical Innovation
The configuration of a manual wheelchair must achieve a balance between wheelchair stability, manoeuvrability and the preservation of the client’s upper limb function.