A lightweight wheelchair can be an invaluable piece to life's puzzle for the elderly or anyone who struggles to get around. Having a self or attendant-propelled wheelchair can give a person a new lease of life, allowing them to venture further afield and soak in all that society has to offer. You just need to find the right one!
Brands like Drive DeVilbiss, Aidapt and MobiQuip are leading the way in ultra lightweight, folding and collapsible wheelchairs for both everyday life and travelling. We've been busy collecting the best of the wheelchair bunch to bring you a sturdy top 10 from the always-reliable Amazon, Argos and eBay, so read on to find a chair that suits your unique circumstances and needs.
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Wheelchairs have slowly but surely moved with the times, now including a whole array of modern-day design features. This simple buying guide will break down the most important parts of a high-functioning yet lightweight wheelchair so you'll have no problem picking a worthy model from the top 10 below.
The most defining variable to all wheelchairs is whether they are propelled forward by the person in them or pushed along by an attendant. This first-and-foremost choice ultimately comes down to the physical capabilities of whoever is intending to use the wheelchair.
A self-propelled wheelchair's most striking feature is its large back wheels, which are the basis for this self-propelling momentum. These wheels make it easy for the occupant to propel themselves along using only their upper body strength. They can also be an advantage when coming up against obstacles like pavements and gutters.
Attendant-propelled wheelchairs feature smaller back wheels to give the attendant more manoeuvrability when pushing the wheelchair. These smaller back wheels will also feature push-down brakes so the attendant can easily stop the wheelchair if required. The main drawback is that there's simply no way for the occupant to get around without an attendant.
When looking at wheelchairs, there are three ways in which weight affects its overall working ability. The first is, of course, the total weight of the wheelchair, but there's also the frame's material and the maximum user weight it can carry. These three weight-related factors are all worthy points of concern worth investigating.
By nature, lightweight wheelchairs should be light enough that their weight won't have an adverse effect on their usability, in other words, offering ease of movement while also staying light enough to transport swiftly when necessary.
There is a slight grey area as to what actually constitutes a lightweight wheelchair, seeing as lots of brands will want to market their products as 'lightweight'. However, you can safely assume that any wheelchair weighing over 20 kg is not classed as lightweight.
Mostly, you will find lightweight self-propelled wheelchairs sitting around the 14 kg mark and attendant-propelled wheelchairs coming in at 10-12 kg at their lightest. These are just guidelines, though, so make sure you read the fine print when noting a chair's total weight.
Every wheelchair should come with a maximum weight capacity recommendation. This measurement is based on the total weight a wheelchair can handle while still wheeling in good working order.
A plethora of structural considerations influence this all-important capacity, so it makes sense that lightweight wheelchairs in particular tend to have a lower-than-average maximum weight due to their bare-bones design. It's often in the 100 kg range, though some of the more robust designs can take 115 kg+.
If you're on the heavier side of the scales, then be on the lookout for bariatric wheelchairs. This style of wheelchair will be heavy-duty in construction with a wider seat and a maximum weight capacity of 200 kg.
It's pretty safe to say that every lightweight wheelchair is either constructed from steel or aluminium. Both of these metals make for a strong and durable frame that's designed to take a knock or two and keep on wheeling.
When comparing the two metals, it's clear that steel takes the durability cake as it's 2.5 times denser than aluminium. However, aluminium is seen as the superior choice for lightweight wheelchair frames by offering a perfectly adequate amount of durability with a lighter overall weight.
It's this lightweight construction that sees every premium lightweight wheelchair equipped with an aluminium frame, destined to make life easier when on the move. The choice between these two metals is also a price-point issue, with steel frames being the budget option designed to do the job but in a heavier-set fashion.
The most readily put-forward measurement in the great wheelchair sizing decision is the seat width. While most parts of a chair have the versatility to be extended and shortened as and when, the seat width is one measurement that is fixed. Getting the wrong size means you won't be comfortable, which isn't fun if you're in your chair for hours on end.
As the standard seat width of adult wheelchairs found online ranges from the narrowest at 40 cm to the widest at 56 cm, it's likely there's a model out there to fit everyone's unique size. Wheelchairs for kids have a scaled-down seat width, sometimes as little as 20 cm but typically in the 35 cm range.
If you don't fit within this seat size range, then do not fear. There are plenty of other sizes available, you'll just have to look to a more specialised wheelchair to find that perfect fit.
Wheelchairs can either come equipped with solid tyres or those filled with air, which are known as pneumatic. Solid tyres are seen as the standard in wheelchairs, but if an all-terrain chair is your priority, it's all about getting a set of pneumatic tyres.
Solid tyres are constructed from rubber and, as the name suggests, are completely solid, ensuring a puncture-proof roll across stable ground. They are more suited to attendant-propelled wheelchairs for both indoor and outdoor use though, as they can struggle to gain ground on more obscure types of terrain.
Pneumatic tyres, meanwhile, eat off-kilter terrain for breakfast. They are moulded from mountain bike tyres, requiring a firm and pressurised PSI to keep them rolling. They have a greater level of shock absorption than solid tyres too, through their air-filled tyre lungs. Just remember to pack a repair kit, as they can puncture!
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Attendant Propelled Wheelchair
Lightweight Aluminium With the Premium Drive DeVilbiss Touch
All Terrain Wheelchair
The G-Explorer Will Tackle All Perceivable Terrain and Keep on Wheeling
Self Propelled Wheelchair
Practical and Plush With Solid Rubber Tyres
Attendant Propelled Wheelchair
Light, Simple and Effective Wheelchair That Just Works
A Reliable Bariatric Chair Constructed From Heavy-Duty Steel
Thick-Treaded Pneumatic Tyres Make the Voyager Poised for Adventure
Attendant Propelled Wheelchair
Ultra Lightweight and Fuss-Free Attendant Propelled Chair
Attendant Propelled Wheelchair
A Collapsible Wheelchair for Travelling That Fits in a Carry Bag
Self Propelled Wheel Chair
A Great Budget Option for Indoors or Transfers
Wheelchair for Children
A Funky Self-Propelled Chair for Children to Wheel Around Proudly
As far as lightweight, attendant-propelled wheelchairs go, this wheelchair rises above the rest. Stylish, practical and built on an ethos of safety and comfort, this Drive DeVilbiss wheelchair is preordained for greatness. Weighing a delightfully light 12.4 kg means using this wheelchair will feel like you're rolling on thin air.
The silver finish aluminium frame sets a nice contrast to the all-black padding, offering up a subtle element of style-driven design. The solid rubber tyres eliminate any risk of a puncture and ensure this wheelchair to be a head-turning, in-house, big-ticket item.
The G-Explorer by MobiQuip is anything but cautious. With large, chunky pneumatic back tyres and a name like the G-Explorer, it's little wonder that this wheelchair is destined for adventure. It also has numerous users proclaiming how incredibly comfortable and easy to use it is with its lightweight yet strong aluminium frame.
On top of this, it boasts an above-average weight capacity of 113 kg and a low total weight of 12 kg, showing this really is a thoughtfully-designed chair. If you have a penchant for heading out into the countryside (or you live on a cobblestone street!), choose the G-Explorer to take you further than your wildest wheeling dreams.
Weighing in at 14 kg, this self-propelled aluminium chair from Aidapt is light, well-made and built to last. Boasting increased padding in all the right places, it's also a plush wheelchair set to bring you straight on through to wheeling comfort heaven.
On top of being a self-propelled wheelchair, it also has loop brakes, allowing an attendant to feel in control when you don't feel like it. The puncture-proof rubber tyres mean it'll suit the spoils of a smoothly-paved way of life perfectly.
Days Escape have created a simple and effective wheelchair that's both light in weight and poised to wheel along effortlessly. The main component that gives this attendant-propelled chair its desirable 11.5 kg weight tag is the fact it has an aluminium frame.
A narrow seat of just 41 cm makes this wheelchair perfectly poised to fit teenagers or smaller adults down to a tailor-made tee, though the seatbelt is generously adjustable. It will excel on smooth surfaces thanks to its solid tyres and the max. weight capacity of 100 kg is quite commendable considering the simple and narrow design.
Drive DeVilbiss are a wheelchair brand with a reputation for excellence, and this bariatric chair is no exception. It has dual reinforced steel cross braces and heavy-duty, nylon-reinforced upholstery, making for an attendant-propelled wheelchair that's built to last while handling up to 200 kg.
Owing to its name, the extra-wide seat width of 56 cm gives larger users the chance to feel comfortable and at ease on their trusty, wheeling steed. There are also rubber tyres and attendant-controlled loop brakes, so this is a safe option for indoor and smooth surface use.
With a noticeably-sharp rise in price comes the Voyager from Elite Care, which is a premium wheelchair with thick-treaded pneumatic tyres to tackle any terrain. It has a formidable maximum user weight of 115 kg too, and, while self-propelled, there are attendant handbrakes should you need them.
The heavily-cushioned seat with a width of 46 cm also means that most adults should have no problem slipping straight into this delightfully-designed chair. The only reason it's not higher up the rankings is that a few reviewers have noted the odd fault in construction. All things considered, it's still a solid, valiant wheelchair worthy of its price tag.
This attendant-propelled wheelchair from RHealthcare is a good mid-way point on price and design. As well as looking good, it benefits from a lightweight aluminium frame and has a total weight of 10.4 kg. Another welcome feature is the loop brakes, which enable a quick and stress-free stop by the attendant when required.
Higher push handles are also included, in order to create less back strain for the attendant. However, the slightly-pulled in seat width of 43 cm mean this wheelchair is more suited to people on the slimmer side. It's branded as being for both indoor and outdoor use, but with small, solid tyres, it can be assumed that any bump or crack in the pavement will be felt.
Elite Care have taken the lightweight wheelchair to lighter heights with this 9.3 kg attendant-propelled offering that collapses to fit into a carry bag, making it an excellent travelling wheelchair. The aluminium frame is what gives this its incredibly low weight, as well as its basic design with no bells or whistles to speak of.
All of this, alongside the maximum weight capacity of 100 kg and the solid rubber tyres, tell us that this wheelchair is not designed for every-day, all-terrain use, but rather as an occasional chair to use for days out or holidays.
This self-propelled wheelchair is perfectly-sized to fit most adults with a tried-and-tested seat width of 46 cm. The steel frame ensures a sense of strength and keeps costs down, but once again, it leads to a total weight of 16 kg which is nearing the top end for truly lightweight wheelchairs.
The maximum weight capacity of 100 kg is on the lower side for adult wheelchairs, but it's still passable. Coming equipped with solid rubber tyres make will make for a bumpy ride outside, gearing this wheelchair toward a quiet life inside or for guiding the user to bed or into a car.
With a bright red frame and colourful patterned fabric, this self-propelled wheelchair is bound to give its user a sense of pride. As it has a slim seat width of 34 cm, it's more geared towards children, but it could also suit a slender adult or teenager.
A solid steel frame is what gives this wheelchair a fairly hefty total weight of 16 kg, which makes it less than ideal for transporting but incredibly strong and destined to withstand a few inevitable knocks at the hands of children. This and the solid rubber tyres make it more suited to life indoors or on solid ground.
Now that you've ticked off your next lightweight wheelchair, why not invest in some divine driving gloves to keep your hands protected as you wheel? Check out our top ten unisex driving gloves to bring unbridled comfort while looking suave. We've also collected the best rollators found online if you are willing and able to use, drive and thrive with a rollator, too.
A trusted wheelchair is a priceless tool, aimed at giving people freedom and confidence in society. We hope this article shed some light on the lightweight wheelchair world and you were able to find your next conpanion on four wheels.
Author: Connor Macanally
No. 1: Drive DeVilbiss | Attendant Propelled Wheelchair
No. 2: MobiQuip | All Terrain Wheelchair | G-Explorer
No. 3: Aidapt | Self Propelled Wheelchair
No. 4: Days Escape | Attendant Propelled Wheelchair
No. 5: Drive DeVilbiss | Bariatric Wheelchair
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