If you are the primary caregiver of someone who has movement restrictions, then lightweight wheelchairs make a ton of sense for you. Lightweight wheelchairs are known for being small, sturdy and easy to handle. While lightweight wheelchairs may seem restricted due to their design, this category of chair actually has a ton of depth and room for customization.
Lightweight wheelchairs offer all of the add-ons of a traditional wheelchair inside of a lighter, easier to handle package. While there are some marked differences between lightweight chairs and heavier chairs, the majority of these differences are mitigated by the benefits that the lighter models can offer.
Lightweight wheelchairs are ideal for individuals who travel often and want to ensure that their movements are unchecked by bulkier designs.
Let’s go ahead and review a few of the top models in each category.
Lightweight Wheelchairs for Travel models
Types of Lightweight Wheelchairs
A lightweight wheelchair is typically made of aluminum and will weigh, at most, around 30lbs. Lightweight wheelchairs are lighter than traditional wheelchairs, but not by as much weight as you’d expect. These chairs are most often made of steel or aluminum.
- Ultra Lightweight
This is the lightest model of wheelchair that you can get. Ultra-lightweight wheelchairs will weigh, at most, 25lbs. These wheelchairs can also weigh as little as 10lbs. These chairs tend to be designed with titanium as the primary frame material.
- Heavy Duty
Also known as ‘bariatric wheelchairs’, heavy duty wheelchairs accommodate users who require a larger carrying capacity. These wheelchairs can handle up to 600lbs if you get the right model.
This almost isn’t even considered a wheelchair at all. Transport chairs are ideal for moving someone from one room to the next, such as in a nursing home or hospital, with a caregiver guiding the movement.
Sports wheelchairs are designed with activity in mind. Users who want to get outside in order to enjoy the weather will likely enjoy this style of chair.
- Rigid Wheelchair
A rigid wheelchair is a type of lightweight wheelchair that does not fold down and compress for traveling purposes. Instead, rigid wheelchairs are renowned for their stability. If you want to pack away your rigid wheelchair for travel, you must take it apart.
- Folding Travel Wheelchair
For quick and simple transportation, a folding wheelchair cannot be beaten. These wheelchairs simply compress into an easier to carry package. These are ideal chairs for people who are frequently going to be in and out of their home.
How To Choose Your Lightweight Wheelchair for Travel
Lightweight wheelchairs are known for being portable and simple to handle. Whether you are taking your senior loved one on vacation or just transporting them to and from their day-to-day errands, you’ll want a lightweight travel chair that can accomplish the job. Let’s highlight a few of the most important factors to consider.
- Mobility & Stability
The ability to quickly fold down the chair for storage is important, as is the ability to erect the chair for quick use. Lighter chairs are simple to keep stored in your van or near your front door so that they are ready when you are.
Additionally, you’ll have to pay attention to the stability of the chair that you are looking at. Sometimes you’ll be exchanging stability for a lighter weight and that isn’t always ideal. The lighter your wheelchair gets, the more likely that it can succumb to being tipped over. You can opt for a ‘rigid’ wheelchair if you want to ensure that your chair is safe and stable. With that being said, there are two primary types of lightweight traveling wheelchair.
- Self Propelled
A self-propelled wheelchair is maneuvered by the rider. This is the common type of wheelchair that you are no doubt familiar with seeing. Large rear wheels, typically sizing in at 24 inches, are gripped by hand in order to propel the rider forward. These wheelchairs are ideal for outdoor use or for individuals who want to retain their own independence.
Transit wheelchairs are primarily associated with clinical facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes. These chairs are standard sized and possessed of manual breaks attached to the wheel rims. However, transit chairs are typically propelled by a caregiver as they are intended to be pushed from the rear. Transit, or transport chairs as they are sometimes called, function well when the goal is to bring a person from one area to another without having them seated for too long.
- Type of Frame
The body of the wheelchair itself will end up deciding much in regards to your overall price point. Typically, lightweight wheelchairs are made out of aluminum or carbon steel. The lightest of lightweight wheelchairs might even use titanium as an alternative metal. Traditionally, the lightest wheelchair that you can find will clock in at around 10lbs while the heaviest lightweight wheelchair will weigh in at 35 lbs.
- Quality of Materials
Every inch of your wheelchair is designed with some type of material. The better wheelchairs will have better quality materials that give you a more comfortable ride. You need to pay attention to at least the following material builds:
- Wheel Type
- Seat Material
- Leg Rests
- Frame Material
Each lightweight and ultralight wheelchair will be made slightly different. Pay attention to all of the small details in order to ensure that you are getting the best product available in order to help those that you are taking care of.
- Important Features
You’ll want to look out for swing-away footrests, extendable armrests, ergonomic design, and adjustable seating level to start with.
- Removable Armrests vs Fixed Armrests
- Elevating Leg Rests vs Swing-Away Leg Rests
- Rear Wheels
A) Seat To Floor – If you don’t measure your loved one’s height in comparison to the seat-to-floor ratio, your chair user could end up with cramped knees and chronic pain.
B) Seat Width – Even the lightest travel wheelchair has to have an appropriately wide seat for comfortable use. If your loved one cannot position themselves comfortably on their seat, due to a measurement mismatch, that will cause a consistent issue.
C) Backrest Level – The level of the backrest can directly interfere with your rider’s ability to sit comfortably. A backrest that is too high will cause pain in the neck and spine while a backrest that is too low will cause stability issues.
D) Chair Width – You’ll need to know that you can get the chair in and out of your van and house with ease. Additionally, you’ll want a chair that won’t cause issues when going through doors and halls at medical facilities.
E) Weight Capacity – Weight capacity is important even if you are taking a short trip. There are wheelchairs that are rated to accommodate every body type that there is. Make sure that you get a chair that is rated to handle your loved one’s weight.
Their health is a priority, so make sure you are doing everything you can in order to tailor their wheelchair to their needs.