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The Best Wheelchair

Last updated on April 9, 2019

We looked at the top 8 Wheelchairs and dug through the reviews from 37 of the most popular review sites including Chair Institute, Help And Wellness, Aging in Place, Unbeaten Rolling, Gadgets, Healthy Howard and more. The result is a ranking of the best Wheelchairs.

Best Wheelchair

Why Trust The DWYM Score?

DWYM is your trusted product review source. Along with our in-house experts, our team analyzes thousands of product reviews from the most trusted websites. We then create one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in a category.

Our experts reviewed the top 8 Wheelchairs and also dug through the reviews from 37 of the most popular review sites including Chair Institute, Help And Wellness, Aging in Place, Unbeaten Rolling, Gadgets, Healthy Howard and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Wheelchairs.

Our Picks For The Top Wheelchairs

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall

Karman

Ergonomic Wheelchair

Overall Take

This wheelchair is one of the most comfortable, thanks to the ergonomic contouring of its seat. An antibacterial seat keeps you safe while a lightweight design makes it easy to maneuver. It is one of the pricier wheelchairs, though, and its weight capacity maxes out at 250 pounds.

Experts Included
DWYM Health & Wellness Experts plus BestReviews, Top Products, Chair Institute, The Chair Expert. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Lightweight yet sturdy"
Cons
"Expensive. Quick release wheel can be complicated to operate."

NOVA

Lightweight Transport Chair

Overall Take

For those on the go, the NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair is a popular choice. Its design makes it easy to fold it up and store away. The braking system is designed to function whether the chair is being controlled by the passenger or pushed by a caregiver. A smooth riding experience... Read More

Experts Included
DWYM Health & Wellness Experts plus Chair Institute, Help And Wellness. Along with user reviews from Amazon, Target and Parent Giving.
Pros
" An excellent braking system"
Cons
"With the chair weighing almost 30 pounds, some people found it a little tough to lift easily."
  The Best Value

Drive Medical

Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair

Overall Take

A comfortable riding experience and portability make the Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair a good choice. This model features precision-sealed wheel bearings for durability. Its carbon steel frame makes it easy to change the back inserts. The low price also makes it a winner.

Experts Included
DWYM Health & Wellness Experts plus BestReviews, Aging in Place, Verellen Home Comfort. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Home Depot.
Pros
" Rolls smoothly. Quick-folding for transport, with removable leg cushions. Fits larger users well."
Cons
"Does not collapse"

Medline

Lightweight Transport Adult Folding Wheelchair

Overall Take

With a collapsible back and a 23.5-pound frame, the Medline Lightweight Transport Adult Folding Wheelchair is among the most portable wheelchairs. Loop-style handbrakes will keep the wheelchair in place during transfer for extra safety. Its frame also has a coating of rust-resistant powder to keep it in good shape for... Read More

Experts Included
DWYM Health & Wellness Experts plus Aging in Place, Gadgets, Healthy Howard, Best Reviews Guide, Help And Wellness, Unbeaten Rolling and 1 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.
Pros
" The frame is solid and powder-coated to prevent rust, and the chair has an overall weight capacity of 300 pounds."
Cons
"However, while it has detachable footrests, it cannot be raised and can only be moved outwards."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
15

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the wheelchairs available to purchase.
8

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products to review and score.

View All Product Rankings

37

Expert Reviews Included

Reviews from our DWYM category experts and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Chair Institute, Help And Wellness, Aging in Place, Unbeaten Rolling, Gadgets.

116,007

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Target, Parent Giving, Walmart, Home Depot and 6 others.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Karman Ergonomic Wheelchair

Expert Summarized Score
9.8
4 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.2
74 user reviews
The DWYM Expert Take

This wheelchair is one of the most comfortable, thanks to the ergonomic contouring of its seat. An antibacterial seat keeps you safe while a lightweight design makes it easy to maneuver. It is one of the pricier wheelchairs, though, and its weight capacity maxes out at 250 pounds.

What other experts liked
Lightweight yet sturdy
- BestReviews
Lightweight. Durable. Anti-bacterial seat. Ergonomic contouring.
- Top Products
It’s comfortable, and it’s highly configurable, which means that you can tweak and adjust it until it’s a perfect fit for you.
- Chair Institute
The frame is crafted from an aircraft grade aluminum, allowing it to be only 29 lbs light.
- The Chair Expert
What other experts didn't like
Expensive.
- BestReviews
Expensive. Quick release wheel can be complicated to operate.
- Top Products
We’d love to see the addition of handbrakes that the caregiver could use on those occasions, which would make the chair even better at handling sloping terrains.
- Chair Institute

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair

Expert Summarized Score
9.0
3 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.6
605 user reviews
The DWYM Expert Take

A comfortable riding experience and portability make the Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair a good choice. This model features precision-sealed wheel bearings for durability. Its carbon steel frame makes it easy to change the back inserts. The low price also makes it a winner.

What other experts liked
Rolls smoothly. Quick-folding for transport, with removable leg cushions. Fits larger users well.
- BestReviews
Comfortable and gets the job done.
- Aging in Place
Drive Cruiser III wheelchair is extremely strong and stable.
- Verellen Home Comfort
What other experts didn't like
Front legs angle out a bit, making it tough to negotiate tight spaces. Plastic foot rests may break easily.
- BestReviews
Does not collapse
- Aging in Place
Even though there's a downside to it - which is essentially difficult to fold with footrest.
- Verellen Home Comfort

Overall Product Rankings

1. Karman Ergonomic Wheelchair

Overall Score: 9.3
Reviews Included: 6

2. NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair

Overall Score: 9.3
Reviews Included: 7

3. Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair

Overall Score: 8.9
Reviews Included: 6

4. Medline Lightweight Transport Adult Folding Wheelchair

Overall Score: 8.8
Reviews Included: 10

5. Medline Lightweight and User-Friendly Wheelchair

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 10

6. Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair

Overall Score: 8.3
Reviews Included: 10

7. Karman Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair

Overall Score: 7.4
Reviews Included: 10

An Overview On Wheelchairs

When it comes to wheelchairs, there are more options than ever. You can find cushy, comfortable chairs designed for hours of sitting or lightweight, basic models for short-term use. Some are designed to get you from Point A to Point B quickly, navigating even the toughest terrain, while others are built with portability or durability in mind.

Before you start shopping, it can help to outline what you’ll need in a wheelchair. Will the rider primarily be steering, or will someone be pushing from behind most of the time? Will it need to be used to sit at a desk or table all day? When it isn’t in use, how will it be stored?

One major issue with wheelchairs is portability. Unless you plan to only use your wheelchair at home, you probably need to be able to fold it up and place it in a vehicle trunk at least occasionally. Some wheelchairs easily fold and store, while others have elements that make that a little more complicated. If the wheelchair will be used outside the house infrequently, this probably won’t matter as much as other features, but it’s still worth considering.

Comfort can vary widely from one wheelchair to another, but the seat cushion and back, armrest and footrest all play into a chair’s comfort level. If you plan to only occasionally use the wheelchair, you may not need a plush model with extra cushioning, so you might trade comfort for more portability. Some wheelchairs have something called “desk arms,” which ensure you can continue to use your wheelchair for seating when you roll up to a desk or table.

Safety factors in as well. Some wheelchairs come with seatbelts to keep you securely locked in place. The brakes on your wheelchair are also an important factor. If you plan to do most of the wheeling around yourself, pay close attention to the passenger-controlled brakes. However, some wheelchairs come with handbrakes designed for the person pushing to control stopping.

If you plan to carry items around, you should also consider adding on a wheelchair bag, which acts as a backpack. Some wheelchairs come with a handy pouch that you can use for smaller items, such as keys or a cellphone.

All the features on your wheelchair won’t matter if it wears out only a few months after you buy it. Some wheelchairs are built to last, with frames that can hold up even with constant use. Rust resistance is another factor you’ll see on some wheelchairs. Others include special wheel bearings to keep the wheels reliably moving.

Since everyone is a different height and build, the right wheelchair can be a very individual decision. Look for a wheelchair that can adjust for various heights, but it’s also important to pay close attention to weight limits. While many wheelchairs can support up to 300 pounds, you’ll find that some have an even lower limit, such as 250 pounds. Also, pay attention to the placement of the foot and armrests since those can help determine whether a wheelchair is comfortable for its rider or not.

DWYM Fun Fact

With nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population having some type of disability, it’s more important than ever that services be accessible to everyone. Those wheelchair-accessible buildings and parks in your local area aren’t the only ways this is happening, though. Tech companies have realized the importance of accessibility as well.

Airbnb is building a feature into its app that will make it easier for disabled customers to find features such as wheelchair-accessible listings. Not to be one-upped, Google is also prioritizing accessibility, with an update to its maps that helps wheelchair-bound users to navigate areas.  Ridesharing service Uber is making progress in this area as well, with a feature called WAV that will let customers hail a wheelchair-accessible vehicle as conveniently as any other type of vehicle attached to its service.

The Wheelchair Buying Guide

  • If you ever need to pack your wheelchair up, it’s important to ensure it’s easily foldable. This is especially true if you need to toss it into the trunk of a vehicle. The NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair is designed for portability, packing in removable leg cushions and a frame that folds up quickly. The Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair is also designed to fold up quickly and allow you to remove the leg cushions. The footrest can make it a bit tougher to fold up, though. The Medline Lightweight Transport Adult Folding Wheelchair has a collapsible portable back to make it easy to fold down and tuck into a trunk.
  • Weight will also factor into how easily your wheelchair is to transport. The Medline Lightweight Transport Adult Folding Wheelchair is the lightest, at only 23.5 pounds. Second to that is the Karman Ergonomic Wheelchair, at 29 pounds, followed by the NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair, at 30 pounds.
  • As important as it is to be able to get around in your wheelchair, it’s equally important to be able to come to a stop when necessary. The NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair comes with a great braking system that works whether you’re doing the braking or the person pushing you is.
  • For those who will be pushed in their chair, handbrakes are essential. The NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair has patented Feather Touch handbrakes that are reliable even on sloped terrain. The Medline Lightweight Transport Adult Folding Wheelchair features loop-style handbrakes that lock the rear wheels while the passenger is being transferred. The Karman Ergonomic Wheelchair doesn’t come with handbrakes, so this wheelchair is best for those who will be doing most of the driving on their own.
  • Whether you’re riding around your house or tackling cracked city sidewalks and grassy lawns, you’ll need a wheelchair that offers a smooth ride. The NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair and Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair both feature smooth, comfortable riding experiences.
  • It’s important to note that the Karman Ergonomic Wheelchair has a maximum weight capacity of only 250 pounds, compared to the NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair and Medline Lightweight Transport Adult Folding Wheelchair, which max out at 300 pounds each.
  • Wheelchairs can endure some tough treatment over their lifetimes. It’s important to find one with lasting power to keep things moving forward. The Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair has precision-sealed wheel bearings in both the front and the rear to ensure many years of reliable performance. The frame of the Medline Lightweight Transport Adult Folding Wheelchair is powder-coated so that it resists rust. However, some of its parts are on the more delicate side, so you may have breakage in those areas.
  • The Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair is made of a carbon steel frame. This design makes it easy to switch out back inserts.
  • One bonus of the Karman Ergonomic Wheelchair is its removable antibacterial seat, which will help you resist infection.
  • If you’ll be spending hours in your wheelchair, comfort is essential. The seat on the Karman Ergonomic Wheelchair features ergonomic contouring. Additionally, the seat is adjustable so that you can find the height that works best for you.
  • The Medline Lightweight Transport Adult Folding Wheelchair, on the other hand, doesn’t have the comfort of other models, but it’s designed for short-term use. It’s best for those recovering from surgery or who only occasionally use the wheelchair for short time periods. In addition to its seating not being as plush, this wheelchair can’t be raised to adjust for height differences.
  • If you’re looking for an affordable wheelchair, stick with the Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair and Medline Lightweight Transport Adult Folding Wheelchair, both of which retail for less than $200. The NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair will cost you at least $100 more. On the higher end of price is the Karman Ergonomic Wheelchair, which tops $600.
  • If you already have in mind how the wheelchair will be used, you can match it to the wheelchair you choose. The Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair can have difficulty getting through tight spaces due to the way the front legs stick out. The Medline Lightweight Transport Adult Folding Wheelchair may not be the most comfortable, but it can handle any terrain, which is a huge benefit if you plan to use it outside of your home frequently.
  • Some wheelchairs come with something called “desk arms,” which make it easy for you to ride the wheelchair up to a desk or table and use it as a chair while you’re seated there. The NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair and Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair both offer this feature.
  • Some wheelchairs come with seatbelts, which add an extra layer of safety as you move around. The NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair’s seatbelt can adjust up to 47 inches. It also has a pouch that can hold keys or a cellphone. The Medline Lightweight Transport Adult Folding Wheelchair also has a seatbelt.
  • Storage can come in handy when moving around in a wheelchair. Not all wheelchairs come with this feature. However, you can purchase a wheelchair bag for a nominal fee that acts as a backpack and hooks on to the back of your chair. This is also a way to carry your oxygen bottles or medical supplies.