10 Best Manual Wheelchairs + Buying Guide (2021 Edition)
A manual wheelchair is a choice worth considering when you need some help getting around. Various age-related illnesses may affect our ability to move and walk, and good manual wheelchairs can be of much aid in such cases.
Manual wheelchairs don’t rely on batteries or motorized mechanisms but are moved by a person. That way, you have the ability to stay independent for longer and enjoy higher levels of mobility.
You can find many different types of wheel chairs and select the adequate one based on your needs and preferences. A hand-powered wheelchair is often more cost-effective than other types, and it is much easier to store and transport.
It is quintessential to choose the right manual wheelchair, especially if you are a first-time user. If you are not sure what to look for in a wheelchair, keep reading to discover what defines the best wheelchair, how to choose one, including 10 top-rated wheelchairs worth considering in 2021.
4 Types of Manual Wheelchairs
There are several types of manual wheelchairs suitable for different needs, conditions, and preferences. For example:
Standard wheelchairs are the most reliable and long-lasting solution. However, they might not be suitable for everyone. Most of them are made of steel, are budget-friendly, and easy to operate.
Transport or companion wheelchairs are convenient for travel but may affect a person’s independence because they require help from a caregiver. These wheelchair types are often made from aluminum, have smaller wheels and swing-away footrests, making them incredibly lightweight and compact. They can easily fit through doors and under tables.
If you are looking for a comfortable wheelchair, an ergonomic wheelchair is the way to go. They are designed to improve posture and relieve back strain, and their low weight allows you to store them easily.
Ultra-lightweight wheelchairs are those that are foldable and easy to lift. Still, it doesn’t mean they aren’t durable or high-quality. They feature either small or big wheels and are convenient for transportation and travel.
How to Choose the Best Manual Wheelchair
Your or your loved one’s physical condition, medical needs, and personal preferences are the most significant factors to consider when buying a wheelchair, manual or electric. Other things to keep in mind include the budget and the chair’s portability.
The person’s weight is a crucial factor that directly impacts the wheelchair choice. For instance, heavier individuals may need a heavy-duty chair made from sturdy materials for extended durability and support.
On the other hand, lightweight models may be a more convenient choice in case an older adult is taking care of their spouse. That way, they can put a chair into a car much more easily.
While wider wheelchairs are more comfortable for a senior, you’ll want to ensure they fit the door frames in your house and your vehicle’s trunk width. If you plan on using the chair indoors, we suggest you pick a smaller model.
The wheelchair’s comfort depends on many factors, including the quality of the padding, upholstery, leg rests, and armrests. Consequently, if you choose a chair made using top-quality materials, you can expect more comfort.
The Person’s Mobility
Seniors with severely affected mobility may opt for electric wheelchairs since they require less upper mobility than standard wheelchairs. An electric wheelchair may also be a more suitable solution for those who don’t have a caregiver to help them move.
If you are looking for an easily transportable and compact wheelchair suitable for traveling, go for lightweight and foldable models you can easily put in a vehicle. In contrast, if you need a manual chair for home use, you may opt for bigger and heavier types that promise durability and long-lasting optimum function.
Finally, your choice will depend on your budget. Manual wheelchairs may cost $100 to $1,000, depending on their function, material, and brand. Before making a final decision, research thoroughly and explore all the options to save money without sacrificing the quality.
Best Wheelchair Brands
Here is the list of wheelchair manufacturers with long-standing experience in the industry:
Best Manual Wheelchair Reviews in 2021
We have chosen the 10 best wheelchairs suitable for different weights, purposes, and mobility levels.
1. Best Manual Chair Overall: Invacare Tracer SX5
- 250 lbs. weight capacity
- Adjustable seat
- Highly customizable.
The best thing about the Invacare Tracer SX5 is the ability to choose from different sizes, armrests, and footrests. As a result, this is the best all-around model characterized by low weight and enhanced durability. Additionally, it features a dual-axle that allows you to convert the chair into a Hemi-height chair and propel it with your feet.
PROS// Various customization options, Anti-tippers to prevent potential falling, High-performance chair, The seat features a heavy-duty inner liner to prevent stretching, Leg rests offer even three elevations.
CONS// Not suitable for long-term use.
Customer review: Purchased for my 96-year old mother. It was just what she needed. Strong and sturdy.
2. Premium Designed Self-Propelled Wheelchair: Drive Medical BLS18FBD-ELR Blue Streak Wheelchair
- 250 lbs. weight capacity
- Pretty compact
- Comfortable leg rests.
Drive Medical BLS18FBD-ELR Blue Streak Wheelchair features a cutting-edge design that allows independent mobility and incredible support. It is made of durable, high-quality materials that ensure enhanced functionality and safety. Besides, it is lightweight and easy to clean, making it suitable for traveling and transporting.
PROS// Detachable desk arms and leg rests for customizable support, Sturdy and durable, Durable tires for added functionality and safety, Push-to-lock wheel locks, Comfortable.
CONS// The plastic on the armrest is a bit flimsy.
Customer review: This has made a huge difference for going outside and getting around. Very easy to fold up and unfold, and the legs are very easy to put in, adjust in height and level.
3. Best Ultra-Lightweight Manual Wheelchair: Karman Ergonomic Wheelchair Ergo Flight
- Anti-bacterial upholstery
- Removable footrest
- Ultra-lightweight (19 pounds)
Karman Ergonomic Wheelchair Ergo Flight is the best ultra-lightweight manual chair you can take wherever you want. It is compact and easy to fold, and its extra features, such as caregiver brakes, add more safety and peace of mind. The S-shaped seat delivers more comfort, promoting better posture and less back strain.
PROS// Ergonomic seating, Enhanced mobility and maneuverability, Travel-friendly, Sturdy aluminum material, Caregiver brakes.
CONS// It may be difficult to the wheel by yourself.
Customer review: Light wheelchair that fits all my requirements! I needed a wheelchair I could lift to transport my 98-year mother when necessary and begin to train her to use a wheelchair so she could be more independent. The wheels and feet rest remove and reattach easily. Great design.
4. Best Manual Wheelchairs for Outdoor Use: Medline Excel Extra-Wide Wheelchair
- Exceptionally safe
- Suitable for overweight patients
- Wide seat
The Medline Excel Extra-Wide Wheelchair is quite suitable for plus-size seniors, mainly due to its seat dimensions – 24” in width and 18” in depth. Additionally, it features a great weighing capacity (500 lbs.), foldable design, and navy vinyl for prolonged durability. It is convenient for travel and spending time outdoors.
PROS// Sturdy, Supports up to 500 lbs, Great value for money, Suitable for outdoors, The armrests and footrests.
CONS// Sits too high for short people.
Customer review: Sturdy, well built, arrived on 2 days from order date.
5. Best Manual Wheelchair for Beach – Healthline Medical Beach Wheelchair
- Comfortable back design
- 250 lbs. weight capacity
- Patented balloon wheels to roll over sand, dirt, and rocks
With the Healthline Medical Beach Wheelchair, you or your loved one can enjoy a beach day with peace of mind. This chair is quite sturdy yet lightweight, allowing you to roll it over sand, rocks, and even water with ease. The wheels are non-corrosive and will not puncture regardless of the terrain.
PROS// Lightweight, Rolls over sand and water flawlessly, It comes fully assembled, Durable, Swivel model that makes it easier to turn the chair.
Customer review: Very lightweight, easy to transport. Highly recommend it for anyone who has difficulty reaching the sand and water. Will put a big smile on their faces.
6. Most Comfortable Wheelchair: Medline – MDS806550E
- Flip-back, desk-length arms
- Breathable upholstery
- Reliable and durable
The Medline – MDS806550E has an excellent set of features that allow you to navigate easily. Its elevating leg rests enhance comfort, while a breathable nylon upholstery is incredibly soft, ensuring a pleasant ride. It has 300 lbs. weight capacity.
PROS// Low-maintenance and smooth-rolling tires, Removable leg rests, Easy to navigate through tight spaces, Easy to fold up, Adjustable seatback.
CONS// Small armrests.
Customer review: This is an excellent product. It was easy to assemble and arrived quickly. I find it very easy to self-propel on a variety of floor surfaces, including carpeting.
7. Safest Manual Wheelchair: Drive Medical Deluxe Lightweight Wheelchair
- Easy to store and transport
- Easy to clean.
Whenever you are looking for a wheelchair with added safety features, look no further than the Drive Medical Deluxe Lightweight Wheelchair. It has a seat belt and brakes for a safer ride, and since it is lightweight, you can fold it, store it, and transport it easily. The wheels provide a smooth ride on most surfaces.
PROS// Easy to maneuver in tight areas, Easy to transport, Low-maintenance wheels, Affordable, It comes with a seat belt.
CONS// Armrests and footrests aren’t adjustable.
Customer review: This is the best purchase made for our mother to get her around in the house. The biggest bonus is it fits through a normal bathroom door! It is sturdy, built well, and minimal effort to assemble.
8. Most Durable Manual Wheelchair: NOVA Medical Products Lightweight Transport Chair
- Ideal for transport
- Suitable for all-terrain.
NOVA Medical Products Lightweight Transport Chair is lightweight and easy to transport while featuring a sturdy construction for extended durability. It is incredibly versatile and suitable for every terrain. It has patented locking hand brakes that allow a caregiver to control the speed and park the brakes.
PROS// Flame retardant, Black nylon upholstery, Dual axle for seat height adjustment, Strong and sturdy, Lightweight and easy to transport.
CONS// The wheels could roll better.
Customer review: Love it. It is light enough my daughter doesn’t have any problem lifting it into and out of the car trunk. And I find it very comfortable to sit in. The hand brakes are very useful when going down an incline.
9. Best Ergonomic Manual Wheelchair: Karman S-305 Ergonomic Wheelchair
- Ergonomic S-shape
- Flip-back arms
- Lightweight (29 lbs.)
Karman S-305 Ergonomic Wheelchair is designed to maximize comfort. It features S-shape contours that accommodate the body’s natural curves, increasing the overall support and relieving back pain. Thanks to this self-propel wheelchair’s design, a person will be able to move easily, lowering the risk of developing scoliosis, muscle tightness, and tension.
PROS// Easy to transport, Adjustable height, Ergonomic shape that improves posture, Sturdy and safe brakes, Removable back cushion.
CONS// The manual does not explain how to assembly the chair.
Customer review: Very well balanced. My husband says it’s very easy & smooth getting me upfront & back steps. Comfortable, lightweight, but not at all ‘flimsy.’
10. Best Pediatric Wheelchair: Circle Specialty Ziggo 12” Seat
- Practical design
- Smart features for everyday ride
Circle Specialty Ziggo 12” Seat is a highly convenient solution for your child because of its practical design and lightweight design. It is pretty easy to store and carry, featuring eye-catching colors, padded desk-length armrests, adjustable footrests, and other exceptional characteristics for a pleasant everyday ride.
PROS// Easy to fold, Increased maneuverability, Smooth ride both indoors and outdoors, Easy to maintain, Easy to assemble.
CONS// According to a few parents, some of the optional add-on features should come standard with the wheelchair.
Customer review: Bought this for my 5.5y/o who broke his leg. It’s a great product. It came assembled, and he fits well in it. He also was able to maneuver it very easily. Really happy with it. Not super heavy to lift.