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Top Rated Wheelchairs: Durable & Lightweight Mobility Aid For Easy & Safe Transportation

Last Updated: September 19, 2021

Life is boring when you can't move as much as you want, and you have to depend on others to help you around.

And...

A wheelchair might be the best solution for your immobility, whether on a short or long-term basis. For that reason, we may ask, how can you find the best wheelchairs?

Before we answer this question, we'll review the top-rated brands, look at their pros and cons, then explain how you can tell the best from the rest.

Let's look at the Medline Desk-Length Arms Wheelchair as the first wheelchair on our list.

Reviews Of 7 Best Wheelchairs

1. Medline Desk-Length Arms Wheelchair - Best Manual

Medline Desk-Length Arms WheelchairThe Medline Desk-Length Arms Wheelchair stood out for us as the best wheelchair for several reasons.

First, the desk-length arms make it more than a mobility aid as you can use it at the family table or in a formal gathering with high tables. These armrests flip back, freeing more space for you to move your arms.

Plus, you can elevate your legs using the leg rests for a more comfortable sitting position.

The upholstery is soft, and it allows easy circulation of air on the wheelchair even under hot weather outdoors.

One of the other prominent features of this wheelchair is its set of smooth mag wheels that you roll with your hands wherever you'd like to go. Hence, there's no need for a carer to take you around anymore.

But if one comes along, or even a grandkid, they can push the wheelchair for you using the handles. The backrest is adjustable to the height you want it.

The Medline Desk-Length Arms Wheelchair looks a bit complex when unfolded as you have to set the leg rests; but, since it's a self-propelled wheelchair, it means you're in good health to set it out. If not, have someone do it for you as it takes a few seconds. Lastly, anyone weighing up to 300 pounds can use this wheelchair.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Adjustable backrest
  • Flip-back armrests
  • Desk-length armrests
  • Elevating leg rests

Cons

  • You need a caregiver to set it out for you.

Takeaway

It is a manual, self-propelled wheelchair with smooth mag wheels, flip-back armrests, elevating leg rests, and an adjustable backrest. For these reasons, it's the best manual wheelchair.

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2. Medline Lightweight Wheelchair - Best Budget Buy

Medline Lightweight WheelchairThis affordable mobility device uses 12-inch wheels to glide through outdoor terrain, giving the elderly the freedom to listen and see nature almost like before

The only difference is that the Medline Lightweight Wheelchair requires a companion to push it, but the senior sitting on it will not feel the uneven surface underneath as the wheels take in most of the vibrations.

This wheelchair has loop-style handbrakes to lock the rear wheels as you transfer from the seat to a chair. Therefore, you can even spend time with your older grandkids and have them push you around the backyard.

Its safety belt secures you on its seat when gliding over rough surfaces indoors or outdoors as you rest your arms on full-length armrests.

The armrests are permanent, so you can only slide from the wheelchair to your bed from the front. But, you can detach the footrests and use a cane to stand up.

With it, you can travel beyond your neighborhood as it's lightweight and easy to fold for transportation. You'll only need someone to help you load it and set it out for you when you arrive. Could this be your chance to plan a family vacation?

The Medline Lightweight Wheelchair is a durable mobility aid with powder-coated aluminum to withstand regular cleaning. Its sturdy frame can hold up to 300 pounds, a feature that makes it suitable for many seniors.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Full-length armrests
  • Budget-friendly
  • Folds easily
  • Large wheels for outdoor use
  • A 300-pound weight capacity
  • Detachable footrests
  • Has a seat belt

Cons

  • Permanent armrests

Takeaway

The Medline Lightweight Wheelchair supports up to 300 pounds, and it has a seat belt to secure the user as a carer pushes it through outdoor terrain. Its 12-inch rear wheels keep it sturdy, and when it's time to disembark, the handbrakes lock the wheels.

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3. Drive Medical Expedition - Best Lightweight Wheelchair

Drive Medical Lightweight ExpeditionWe ranked it as the best lightweight wheelchair for it weighs 19 pounds only, the lowest in this review. Its weight makes it easy to fold and transport, so your carer can handle it without looking for assistance.

Plus, it'll take up a small space in your storage area as it folds flat, and there's a hand lever at the back to help you fold it fast. The Drive Expedition comes with a safety belt for even greater comfort as you use it outdoors.

On top of that, it has large wheels averaging 12 inches to glide over any terrain without giving you a bumpy ride.

The companion wheels lock, enhancing your safety as your carer pushes the wheelchair wherever you'd like to explore.

Additionally, it comes with a comfortable, large seat measuring 19 by 16 inches wide to prevent the ills of sitting in a rigid position for too long.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to fold
  • 12-inch wheels for outdoor use
  • Spacious seat
  • A safety belt
  • Companion wheel locks

Cons

  • Requires a companion to push you

Takeaway

Though it doesn't give you complete independence because you need a carer to push it, you'll have the liberty to escape the indoor space and breathe some fresh air outdoors. What's more, it's lightweight and compact for easy transportation.

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4. Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair - Best Folding

Drive Medical Blue Streak WheelchairAs your caregiver helps you transfer from your wheelchair to the bed or chair, you can detach the desk arms for more movement space. Even when you're alone, you can slide out of the wheelchair into a chair or a restaurant booth.

The leg rests give you more independence as they swing away for you to stand using a cane.

The Blue Streak gives you various seat dimensions like 16, 18, and 20-inches, and we're reviewing the 16-inch seat.

Its ergonomic seat will give you the comfort to spend hours on the aid without feeling numb from sitting down. Plus, there's a calf strap to keep your feet firmly on the leg rest as you propel the wheelchair in your home.

You'll also feel safer using this wheelchair, knowing that its wheels have a push-to-lock feature. Don't worry about cleaning it, as the seat features materials like nylon, all easy to clean.

Additionally, Drive Medical is one of the best wheelchair brands, so you're getting quality engineering.

Pros

  • Armrest lift by the push of a button
  • Various seat widths
  • Folds easily
  • Easy to propel alone

Cons

  • It's heavy
  • Accommodates up to 250 pounds only

Takeaway

The Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair folds and unfolds easily. Its brakes are solid to make its use safe for you and others around you. Plus, the wheels are durable, and its ergonomic seat is comfortable.

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5. Drive Medical Cruiser III - Best Heavy-Duty Option

Drive Medical Cruiser IIIThe Drive Medical Cruiser III wheelchair is durable because it has a carbon steel frame with a weight capacity of 350 pounds.

Further, it has durable nylon upholstery that withstands regular wear and tear and is easy to clean. If the seat feels a bit too rigid, you can adjust its depth from 16 to 18 inches.

Your arms rest on comfortable, long padded armrests as your caregiver pushes the wheelchair to your next destination indoors or outdoors.

These armrests flip back when it's time to transfer from your wheelchair to your bed.

However, the Cruiser III isn't an attendant-propelled wheelchair only as you can self-propel it using its lightweight mag wheels.

Pros

  • 350 pounds weight capacity
  • Low maintenance mag wheels
  • Flip-back armrests
  • Easy to maintain silver vein finish
  • Adjustable seat depth

Cons

  • It's expensive
  • It's heavier than other models in this review.

Takeaway

The Drive Cruiser III has a durable carbon steel frame that will hold up to 350 pounds. It has adjustable seat depth for a more natural sitting position. The flip-back armrests enable transfer from the wheelchair to your bed, and you can self-propel this wheelchair or have a carer push it.

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6. Drive Medical Fly Lite - Best Simple Design

Drive Medical Fly Lite Transport WheelchairThis simple wheelchair has a seat belt to keep you stable on it as you're wheeled. It also has a simple storage bag on the back to carry lightweight personal items.

On top of that, when you travel, your carer will fold it within seconds as the back folds down.

Even its maintenance process takes a short time as it has a few features, and its upholstery needs basic cleaning with a mild soap.

You can use the Drive Medical Fly Lite Transport Wheelchair outdoors as it has 6-inch front casters and 8-inch rear wheels. Even though its design is simplistic, it can hold up to 300 pounds. You can adjust the armrests to your height or swing them away when transferring to your bed.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to clean
  • 8-inch rear wheels
  • Swing-away armrests

Cons

  • Attendant-propelled, no freedom

Takeaway

The Fly Lite looks simple, but it's a sturdy aid with height-adjustable armrests. It's easy to clean, and there's a pouch on the back to carry a few items.

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7. Medline Strong & Sturdy - Best Swing Away Leg Rests

Medline Strong & Sturdy WheelchairYou'll differentiate Medline Strong & Sturdy from the Medline Desk-Length Arms Wheelchair we started our review with by looking at the leg rests. This model lacks elevating leg rests suitable for people with swelling or too much pressure on the foot.

Instead, it has leg rests that you swing away to have a clear front area from where to transfer to a bed or vice versa.

The armrests also flip back, so the wheelchair looks like an open seat with mag wheels on the side.

The Medline Strong & Sturdy is an excellent choice when you want total independence to propel your wheelchair anywhere, and only use the armrests or leg rests when necessary.

Pros

  • Swing-away leg rests
  • Smooth mag wheels
  • Flip-back armrests
  • Large seat, 20 by 18 inches wide
  • Desk arms
  • Attendant or self-propelled

Cons

  • It's heavy, as it weighs over 35 pounds.

Takeaway

It is almost identical to other models from the same brand until you compare their leg rest designs. This one swings away, it has flick-back armrests, mag wheels, and desk arms to use the wheelchair at a table.

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That's the first part of our review where we've looked at the top wheelchairs for seniors.

Now, as promised in the introduction, let's turn to the second part:

How To Choose A Wheelchair

wheelchair on a pavement

It might look like we've already highlighted the best models from the list above, but when you look at each feature more closely, you'll see more differences between the wheelchair models.

A Manual Or Electric Wheelchair?

In this review, we've talked about manual wheelchairs. But, there are also electric wheelchairs in the market.

Electric wheelchairs suit people without the body strength to propel a mobility aid by rolling mag wheels. Additionally, it's for anyone craving independence as an electric wheelchair eliminates the need for a caregiver to push your mobility aid.

Some electric wheelchairs are specifically for indoor or outdoor use, while others work in either environment.

Two essential features when comparing different models of electric wheelchairs are the drive control and the charging duration of the batteries.

Now, let's look at manual aids.

It's the best option if you can self-propel it as you'll be exercising your body in the process, which is vital for seniors.

A manual wheelchair is also easy to maintain as it doesn't need battery recharge or drive control repairs.

This type of wheelchair has either a folding or rigid frame. The folding frame collapses the wheelchair from the center, making it easier to transport using the best wheelchair carrier.

On the other hand, you have to remove the rear wheels of a rigid frame and fold the back down. That's tasking unless you have someone to do it for you whenever you want to transport your wheelchair.

So, have we convinced you to get a manual wheelchair?

The other factor is...

Your Needs

woman pushing a wheelchair with elderly woman

As we've mentioned earlier, the manual wheelchair suits someone with the strength to propel it or someone with a caregiver to push it. Therefore, if you're in recovery after surgery, a self-propelled manual wheelchair won't suit your needs.

But, if you have someone to push the wheelchair as you explore outdoors, a carer-propelled manual wheelchair is fine.

For outdoor use, you'd need a sturdy mobility device with large caster wheels ranging from 8-inches.

Some of the models discussed in our review have 8-inch or 12-inch caters to navigate uneven spaces. Also, think about how long you'll use the aid because one for long-term use should have a sturdy, durable frame and seat.

The Size & Width

These dimensions matter because if your wheelchair is too wide, it may not glide through a conventional door. You'll also look at seat dimensions to get a wide one at an appropriate height.

Plus, you have to worry about the storage space a wide wheelchair will need when transporting it.

What Accessories Do You Need?

Even though all wheelchairs have a seat, unlike rollators, the quality varies. You'll be looking out for the correct seat padding, material, and seat length. Add-ons to consider in your package include a headrest and a storage bag.

We're nearing the last section of our review. As a recap, we've looked at six top wheelchair options and how to choose the best from this list. 

FAQs About The Best Wheelchair

What Is The Most Comfortable Wheelchair?

After looking at several brands and models, we can conclude that the Drive Medical Cruiser III is the most comfortable design as you can adjust the seat's depth to find the level suitable for your body.

Watch the review of this wheelchair here:

What's more, the armrests flip back to let you transfer from your bed onto the wheelchair and vice versa. Plus, you can customize its backrest using back inserts to make it more comfortable.

Read on to know the best overall wheelchair.

How Much Does A Wheelchair Cost?

A wheelchair costs over $100 depending on the model, the brand, and features included. Especially if you're considering joining various wheelchair sports. Some with advanced features like flip-back armrests and adjustable seat depth are more expensive than wheelchairs with permanent armrests.

The self-propelled designs are pricier than the attendant-propelled aids, but an electric wheelchair cost is the highest.

Do I Have To Consult A Doctor Before Buying A Wheelchair?

Yes, you'll know the best model for you after a needs assessment by your doctor. As you have read above, differentiate designs and brands beyond their weight limit and armrest height. The aid should suit your medical state.

For example, a self-propelled wheelchair needs upper body strength, and you may strain if you're recovering after surgery.

On top of that, a doctor's assessment is mandatory if your insurance provider, Medicaid, or Medicare are paying for the wheelchair.

The Verdict

We spoke briefly about the most comfortable design earlier, but the best overall is the Medline Desk-Length Arms Wheelchair for its array of features.

To mention a few, it has an adjustable backrest, the desk-length armrests let you glide under a table smoothly, and its elevating leg rests lift your feet to relieve any pressure.

For a budget-friendly option, go for the Medline Lightweight Wheelchair. It holds up to 300 pounds, and you'll have a seat belt on as you glide over rough terrain outdoors. The full padding on the armrests also confirms you'll not tire when using it outdoors.

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