Karman Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair

Last updated date: March 27, 2019

Review Melt Score
7.4

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We looked at the top 1 Wheelchairs and dug through the reviews from 7 of the most popular review sites including BestReviews, Aging in Place, Mobility With Love, Chair Institute, Elevating Seniors, The Chair Expert, Graying With Grace and more. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Wheelchair you should buy.

Overall Take

In our analysis of 44 expert reviews, the Karman Karman Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair placed 7th when we looked at the top 7 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note April 9, 2019:
Checkout The Best Wheelchair for a detailed review of all the top wheelchairs.

Expert Summarized Score
7.4
7 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
7.5
139 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
Light enough at 24 lbs. to lift easily into a vehicle. Offers smooth ride at home or on sidewalks.
- BestReviews
The Karman 24 pounds LT-980 Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair is easy to move around and lift, even for seniors with muscle weakness.
- Aging in Place
The chair is foldable for compact storage and transport.
- Mobility With Love
It’s functional and reasonably well-built, which is what most people are after in alight- to a moderate-duty wheelchair.
- Chair Institute
Karman’s wheelchair is both comfortable and functional.
- Elevating Seniors
It is crafted from aluminum and despite its light weight, it is extremely durable.
- The Chair Expert
This chair will be much easier for caregivers to load into a car.
- Graying With Grace
What experts didn't like
Wheels are smaller than some expect, though it provides a good tradeoff in weight. Hand wheels are uncomfortable for some to grip. Front wheels are a bit wobbly.
- BestReviews
A bit pricey. Arm rests are not adjustable
- Aging in Place
It has smaller wheels than most other chairs.
- Mobility With Love
This chair wasn’t designed for sustained, long-term use.
- Chair Institute
Maximum weight capacity is unknown
- Elevating Seniors
A drawback to this chair though is that it is only available in 18″ W X 16″ D seat size. While this will fit the majority of users, heavier or taller people may not fit in it very well.
- Graying With Grace

From The Manufacturer

Karman Healthcare continues to innovate and pioneer the ultra lightweight wheelchair category by offering the LT-980 series. At just about 24 pounds without footrest, the LT-980 series continues to push the envelope in design, function, and appeal for non custom, ultra lightweight wheelchairs. Utilizing the lightest, yet strongest aluminum, the LT-980 is equipped with standard features suitable for almost any daily wheelchair user that is looking to save weight, but maintain a certain budget in mind. The foldable, compact frame allows any family member or companion to lift and store the item just about anywhere. Comfort is also considered behind the design by including a padded nylon upholstery which is easy to clean, and maintain. An additional comfort feature includes the padded desk length armpads for ease of use when sitting at a desk, or table. The height adjustable footrest allow for a near perfect fit, for users between five feet, and up to six feet tall. Natural fit handrims which allow for a more contoured feel are also equipped standard, as well as solid, poly urethane 22 inch rear wheels, and 6 inch front casters that allow the chair to be utilized on just about any surface. Seatbelt included for additional safety. Built in pouch located on back upholstery. Easy to use removable height adjustable footrest. Solid Polyurethane 22 inch rear wheels and 6 inch front casters, Seat width: 18″x 16″. Ultra lightweight design, weighs only 24 pounds without footrest

Overall Product Rankings

1. Karman Ergonomic Wheelchair
Overall Score: 9.3
Expert Reviews: 4
2. NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair
Overall Score: 9.3
Expert Reviews: 2
3. Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair
Overall Score: 8.9
Expert Reviews: 3
5. Medline Lightweight and User-Friendly Wheelchair
Overall Score: 8.5
Expert Reviews: 7
6. Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair
Overall Score: 8.3
Expert Reviews: 5
7. Karman Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair
Overall Score: 7.4
Expert Reviews: 7

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.

Review Melt 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.