Mobility

The 7 Best Lightweight Travel Wheelchairs Reviewed For 2018

Are you or a loved one in need of a wheelchair? No matter if it’s temporary or more long-term, having a wheelchair can either be a huge convenience or inconvenience, depending on which one you select.

The biggest factor in terms of convenience? Weight.

We’ve gone ahead and tested out a huge selection of wheelchairs, and come up with the best portable lightweight wheelchairs currently on the market.

We put them through a series of rigorous testing, as the devices are so crucial to quality of life and well being, that we want to give you our unbiased reviews. Let’s get started.

Quick Answer: The 7 Best Lightweight Travel Wheelchairs

  1. NOVA Medical Products Heavy Duty Transport Wheelchair
  2. Karman Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair
  3. Drive Medical Lightweight Steel Transport Wheelchair
  4. Hi-Fortune Lightweight Transport Medical Wheelchair
  5. ProBasics Aluminum Transport Wheelchair
  6. Drive Medical Rebel Lightweight Wheelchair
  7. Drive Medical Super Light Folding Transport Chair

We’ve reviewed the top rated portable wheelchairs followed by a comparison table and buying guide to help you decide on wheelchair that will work best for you.

Best Lightweight Wheelchairs

 NOVA Medical Heavy Duty Transport WheelchairKarman Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight WheelchairDrive Medical Transport Wheelchair
Wheelchair Weight:27 Pounds19.8 Pounds26 Pounds
Weight Capacity:400 Pounds220 Pounds250 Pounds
Wheels:12” Rear, 8” Front20” Polyurethane8" Front & Rear
Brakes:Locking HandCompanionLocking Hand

Lightweight Portable Wheelchairs

NOVA has been known for their attractive designs and high-quality construction for quite some time. So it’s no surprise the NOVA Transport Chair is our Editors Choice for the best lightweight wheelchair.

The lightweight mobility wheelchair features top-tier designing, and comes in either a steely blue or red.

Featuring adjustable, flip-up desk armrests, you can easily go from regular use, to sitting at a desk or a table with just one quick movement.

Expand to see more

While the 12-inch rubber locking rear wheels aren’t as large as some other competitor products, they’re perfect for just about any type of terrain, and provide a smooth ride while remaining durable.

As safety is of the utmost importance, the sturdy steel frame can support up to an impressive 400 pounds, and the Feather Touch locking hand brakes make inclines, slopes, and uneven terrain easy to maneuver.

Comfort is also crucial. The extra-wide seat allows you to sit comfortably, while the quick-release, swing-away footrest lets you sit or stand with no issues or interference.

They’re very easy to adjust, and feature a non-skid foot plate and heel loops so your feet don’t slide around. If you rather not have them, they’re also removable.

 

NOVA Medical Products Heavy Duty Transport Wheelchair at a Glance:

  • Chair Weight: 27 Pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 400 Pounds
  • Wheels: 12” rear wheels, 8” front
  • Brakes: Locking Hand Brakes
  • Footrest: Swing Away removable

Undoubtedly one of the most lightweight manual wheelchairs out there today, the Karman Ergo Flight Ergonomic Wheelchair is ultra-convenient.

Comprised of Aircraft-Grade T6 aluminum, it’s easy to push if you’re the caregiver, and also easy to operate yourself if you’re the “rider”.

The ergonomic design has both user and companion needs in mind, making it comfortable and convenient. The s-shape seating frame is proven to lower the risk of pressure sores, while simultaneously promoting good posture.

Expand to see more

Companion brakes allow caretakers to easily and safely put on the brakes right away, while standing, which is very beneficial when going down inclines.

While the wheelchair itself is already quite light, if you remove the footrest and rear wheels, it’s perfect for transport, and folds up easily. The padded seat makes sitting quite comfortable, and the anti-bacterial upholstery keeps everything nice and sanitary.

The footrest features heel loops to keep feet in place, but they’re also removable in case they’re not for you.

While the weight capacity is only up to 220 pounds, it isn’t as much as some other products on our guide, but if it works for you this is our pick for the best travel wheelchair.

 

Karman Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair at a Glance:

  • Chair Weight: 19.8 Pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 220 Pounds
  • Wheels: 20” Flat Free Polyurethane
  • Brakes: Companion Brakes
  • Footrest: Removable with heel loops

Getting a new wheelchair doesn’t have to empty out your wallet, despite what common misconceptions may have you believe.

The Drive Medical Lightweight Folding Wheelchair is an excellent option if you’re looking to save some money while still using a great product.

Comprised of a durable steel frame, you’ll feel reassured using it either on your own, or with assistance. The narrow design makes it perfect for navigating through all kinds of situations, such as narrow hallways or groups of people.

Expand to see more

The cushioned armrests and swing-away footrests will give you a good level of comfort. The only issue we had with the chair, was that the armrests don’t have the ability to separate from the rest of the frame to allow for easy desk/table use.

The nylon seat upholstery is super easy to clean, while still remaining sturdy and comfy enough to sit for hours on end. Weight capacity is 250 pounds, which is pretty average for a wheelchair, and as the chair itself weighs less than 20 pounds, it’s pretty substantial.

The chair and backrest fold flat, so altogether, it’s one of the best portable wheelchairs to take you where you need to go.

 

Drive Medical Lightweight Steel Transport Wheelchair at a Glance:

  • Chair Weight: 26 Pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 250 Pounds
  • Wheels: 8″ Front & Rear
  • Brakes: Hand Brakes
  • Footrest: Removable with heel loops

There are countless wheelchairs on the market today, but few can be found with such an impeccable build, light weight, and innovation that the Hi-Fortune Lightweight Transport Wheelchair features.

Made from extremely light yet highly-durable magnesium alloy, it comes in at just 21 pounds, so whether you’re a caregiver or the user yourself, the chair will be very simple to maneuver, as well as fold up for non-use transport.

Due to how small it folds down, it can easily be stored away in vehicles, at home, or even on airplanes!

Expand to see more

At first glance, you can already tell how comfortable this chair is. The red, upholstered red nylon is not only durable and light, but also highly enjoyable to sit in – not to mention, it looks very attractive.

It feels more like a piece of cozy furniture. Footrests can either be adjusted by flipping them up or swinging them away from the chair, or can even just be removed entirely.

Non-slip rubber, rear hand brakes are super easy to control speed, while front hand brakes let you stop yourself with just a push of a button rounding our one of the best transport wheelchairs on our list!

 

Hi-Fortune Lightweight Transport Medical Wheelchair at a Glance:

  • Chair Weight: 21 Pounds
  • Weight Capacity: n/a
  • Wheels: 12” Rear Wheels, 6″ Front Wheels
  • Brakes: Rear and Front Hand Brakes
  • Footrest: Swing-Away and Flip-Up/Removable

The ProBasics Aluminum Transport Wheelchair is great for both caregivers and independent users, alike. Made with easy-to-use back release hinges, the chair is super easy to fold down in just seconds for simple storage and transport in vehicles or air.

Safety features are heavy, with user-activated push-to-lock brakes, along with companion-activated rear, lockable handbrakes. It even has flared handles to make for a more ergonomic, comfortable design for caregivers/assistants.

Expand to see more

12-inch rear rubber tires make for more smooth, sturdy performance on uneven surfaces, and also navigate well through potential obstacles.

Fitted with padded, lightweight, breathable nylon upholstery, you’ll experience a high level of comfort, making sure there’s always a good airflow going. In addition, it’s very easy to clean.

In addition, it’s also capable of holding up to 300 pounds, which is definitely more than adequate for most users, and it’s also quite affordable, considering all of the high-level features it comes with.

 

ProBasics Aluminum Transport Wheelchair at a Glance:

  • Chair Weight: 22 Pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 300 Pounds
  • Wheels: 12” Rear Wheels
  • Brakes: Rear Hand Brakes and Front Push-to-Lock
  • Footrest: Composite footplates and heel loops

The Rebel Lightweight Wheelchair is another great budget option if you’re looking for a top-tier wheelchair at a low price.

The chair is highly portable, as the back and frame are made to easily fold tightly to fit into small spaces, and the swing-away footrests are quick and simple to remove for even more convenient storage.

The chair comes with quick-release rear wheels, which lets you remove the large wheels to fit easier, too.

Expand to see more

Desk-style armrests making transferring to/from a table or desk quite easy, while also making the wheelchair more accessible and user-friendly.

The frame itself is relatively lightweight, although, in comparison with the other products on our list, it is notably heavier. The seat is, however, large, accommodating, and rather comfortable, which is great for the rider. In addition, the tight turning radius is a bonus in small spaces or hallways.

It does pretty well in just about any type of terrain thanks to the durable rubber rear wheels, however, on super-slick surfaces, it does have a bit more of a challenging time gripping on.

 

Drive Medical Rebel Lightweight Wheelchair at a Glance:

  • Chair Weight: 40 Pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 300 Pounds
  • Wheels: Quick-release rear wheels
  • Brakes: Push-to-Lock
  • Footrest: Removable

The Drive Medical Superlight Folding Transport Chair is another good budget product that we couldn’t leave off of our list. It’s basic enough, but it still has some highly desirable features.

First off, it weighs just 19 pounds, thanks to its silver aluminum frame and lightweight composite wheels with rear wheel locks.

Expand to see more

It folds like your regular folding chair, coming complete with a handy carry bag for easy storage and transportation.

Coming with padded flip back arms, they’re not only comfortable to rest your arms on, but are great for going from a table or desk without the hassle of trying to get close enough.

The footrests are not removable like the other chairs on our guide, but they do fold down.

 

Drive Medical Super Light Folding Wheelchair at a Glance:

  • Chair Weight: 19 Pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 250 Pounds
  • Wheels: 8” Rear Wheels, 7″ Front Wheels
  • Brakes: Push-to-Lock
  • Footrest: Non-Removable

Lightweight Portable Wheelchair Comparison Table

Lightweight Wheelchair WeightCapacityWheelsBrakesRating
NOVA Medical Products Transport27 lbs400 lbs12” Rear, 8” FrontLocking Hand4.4 / 5.0
Karman Ergonomic Ultra19.8 lbs220 lbs20” PolyurethaneCompanion4.6 / 5.0
Drive Medical Lightweight Transport26 lbs250 lbs8" Front & RearLocking Hand4.3 / 5.0
Hi-Fortune Lightweight Transport21 lbsN/A12” Rear, 6" FrontLocking Hand4.3 / 5.0
ProBasics Transport Wheelchair22 lbs300 lbs12” Rear, 7" FrontHand & Push-to-Lock4.3 / 5.0
Drive Medical Rebel40 lbs300 lbs24" Rear, 7" FrontPush-to-Lock4.4 / 5.0
Drive Medical Super Light19 lbs250 lbs8” Rear , 7" FrontPush-to-Lock4.1 / 5.0

How to Choose the Best Lightweight Travel Wheelchair – Buying Guide

best portable wheelchair

Now that you’ve taken a look at all of the best portable lightweight wheelchairs, you may have already decided on the one for you or your loved one.

However, chances are, you may still have some questions. That’s why we’ve gone ahead and created the buying guide below, to ensure you’re getting exactly the one that fits your needs!

Weight

Obviously, since we’re talking about lightweight wheelchairs here, weight kind of matters. If this is your first wheelchair, or you’re a caregiver and this is your first experience with one, then you may not understand just how significant this aspect is.

The weight of the chair can make or break your experience. You’re not just going to be pushing the wheelchair around, or operating it yourself, although weight does matter here, too. You’re going to be most likely lifting it, carrying it at times, lifting it up into a car, and much more.

The lighter the chair is, obviously the easier it will be to do all of these things. Anything under 20 pounds is considered very lightweight, although this will also depend on your strength level.

Wheels

What’s so important about wheels? Oh, just about everything! “Flat free” rubber tires are always a good idea, as they’re not going to go flat, as the name would suggest, and are great on all kinds of terrain, providing a smooth ride.

However, large wheels can be easier for many people, as you don’t have to exert as much energy with them as you would chairs with smaller rear wheels. Typically, transport chairs come with tires in three sizes: 7 inches or smaller, 8 inches, and 12 inches.

The smaller wheel sizes are typically just seen with smaller chairs. We recommend 12 inches, if you can swing it, for extra stability, and a smoother, easier ride.

Leg Rests/Footrests

Generally, you’re going to find there are 2 types of foot rests: swing-away, or elevating/removable, which lets you raise your legs up to 90 degrees, which can be quite comfortable if you’d like to put your feet up while sitting in the chair.

Most chairs come with swing-away removable ones, but this isn’t always the case. Swing-away leg rests move to the side of the chair, making it easier to get in and out.

We always recommend a chair where you have the option of removing the footrests, just in case you need to take them off for easier storage or added comfort, depending on your preferences.

Armrests

Armrests are extremely important, as they solely provide arm and shoulder support. You can easily end up with neck, back, and/or shoulder pain in the matter of a couple of hours if your armrests aren’t doing their job correctly.

There are typically three types of these: Full-Length, Height-adjustable, and Removable/Flip-Back. Full-Length is going to run the entire length of the seat, and the desk length will let you get comfortable and close to the table or desk in questions.

Height-adjustable rests allow you to adjust the height, as you probably already guessed. Finally, the Removable/Flip-Back style does exactly that for easier transfer in or out of the chair.

Comfort

There are various aspects to consider when looking at how comfortable a chair potentially is. First, you’ll want to look at the length and height of the armrests, the seating area, and so on.

After that, take a look to see if the actual seat part is cushioned. There are contoured cushions, encouraging proper posture, as well as preventative cushions made with gel or air to help the user avoid bed sores caused by pressure points.

Either one is going to feel pleasant, but it just depends on what your preferences are.

Seat Height

The “standard” seat height is going to be 20-21 inches from the ground, which works well for those over 5 feet tall. However, if you’re 5 feet tall or under, you may find that this height is just too tall, and could have a difficult time getting out of your wheelchair.

In these cases, you’ll need to ideally, get a chair that has a shorter seat height for safety and comfortability reasons.

FAQs For Portable Wheel Chairs

We understand that selecting a wheelchair is a huge deal, with a lot of consideration being placed into the purchase. With that, understandably, comes a lot of questions.

We’ve gone ahead and answered the most frequently asked questions down below to make sure all of your own questions are properly contested, and you feel solid about your selection.

Q: If I can’t afford a new wheelchair, what funding sources are available to me?

In the United States, there are various sources for you to look at. Some even offer zero percent interest financing, which can really help a lot of our readers out.

Medicaid, SCHIP, Medicare, or other government insurance programs are worth checking out if you have them, and seeing what they can offer you. MedWaiver, private insurance, early intervention programs, disability groups (MDA, MS Society, etc.), and even community programs like Rotary clubs, Lions, etcetera can all be off possible assistance.

Between all of these options, you have a very high chance of finding at least a bit of assistance to go towards the purchase of your new lightweight portable wheelchair.

Q: How do you control the speed of the wheelchair?

The speed is typically controlled (on these models) through either rear hand brakes used by an assistant/caretaker, or front hand brakes that you, yourself, control.

There are also push-to-lock brakes on most models, that are on the rear, although these you have to lean down and engage. Hand brakes are extremely useful when going up or down slopes.

Q: What are some typical daily challenges?

Older buildings with small hallways can be difficult to maneuver, unless you have a chair with a more narrow frame. Uneven or rough terrain, particularly with sloping ground can be very difficult at times, but rubber no flat wheels can help with this in many cases.

Of course, you may encounter other challenges, but these are definitely the most common, so keep this in mind when making your selection.

Tips For Choosing A Portable Wheel Chair

Tip #1: Caregivers/assistants are going to find that pushing a wheelchair over either soft or rough terrain will have an easier time if they pull the wheelchair backwards, rather than pushing it forward.

Tip #2: If you have a standard wheelchair with seat upholstery, the easiest way to fold it is going to be by gripping on to the front and rear of the upholstery, and lifting straight up. Unfolding can be done by tipping the chair onto its side, then pushing down on the seat rail on the opposite side.

Tip #3: Having the wheels’ bearings checked annually for wear and possible adjustments will greatly boost the lifespan of your wheelchair, and also make it easier to push and maneuver.

Tip #4: The most effective way to get over a curb for a caregiver, would be to push down on the back, side frame with one foot, and pull back on the push handles to kind of tip the wheelchair/user backwards. Once this happens, the assistant will push the casters onto the curb, then push the back wheels up while lifting up the push handles. This only works if anti-tippers are taken off or flipped out of the way.

Tip #5: If you’re an independent user and are finding climbing ramps or grades difficult to scale without rolling backwards, you can purchase grade aids (also known as “hill holders”), to keep yourself from rolling backwards, and can be disengaged simply for flat-ground maneuverability.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve had the chance to read through each one of our in-depth reviews, the buying guide, as well as our FAQs and tips, you should be all set!

We hope that our efforts have helped you out, and that you’re all set on the best portable lightweight wheelchair for either yourself, or your loved one. We want to thank you for your time, and hope to see you again soon!

Comfort
Portability
Value

The NOVA Medical Products is our Editors Choice for the best lightweight wheelchair with its combination of portability, quality and value.

User Rating: Be the first one !
Notice: HealthWellness365 is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees sold through by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Amazon offers a small commission on products sold through their affiliate links. Each of your purchases via our Amazon affiliate links supports our efforts to bring you the best possible product reviews at no additional cost to you. We appreciate your support here at HealthWellness365.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close