Best Manual Wheelchairs (2021 In-Depth Review For Buyers)

Are you considering purchasing a new manual wheelchair or looking for your first wheelchair but need to find more information about what the best manual wheelchairs are?  If so, this guide is for you. Not all wheelchairs are created equal and if you have looked at wheelchairs you probably got overwhelmed at all your choices. 

Don’t worry this guide will provide all the necessary information to help you narrow down your choice and make the most informed purchase for your next wheelchair.  This guide will not only point you in the right direction but we hope you can also learn a few things about wheelchairs, what accessories you might need,  and more to make the best possible choice for you and your situation.

So what are the top manual wheelchairs?  Let’s find out.

What is a manual wheelchair?

A manual wheelchair is a wheelchair that is required by the user if they are alone to propel the wheelchair forward using their own power.  In terms of types of wheelchairs, there are three main types.

  • Self-propelled
  • wheelbase
  • attendant propelled

Manual wheelchairs are typically the most cost-effective of chairs when looking at a wheelchair versus an electric wheelchair

You can find wheelchairs for a few hundred dollars all the way up to a few thousand depending on make and models.  There are all types of manual chairs from sports wheelchairs, heavy-duty wheelchairs, light wheelchairs, and more to chose from. 

What is the difference between a manual wheelchair and an electric wheelchair?

Like we have stated above a manual wheelchair is something that has to be self-propelled forward by either you or someone else by pushing the chair.  An electric wheelchair is propelled by batteries and a motor that moves the chair for you.  Electric wheelchairs are more money than self-propelled wheelchairs and can be used easier outdoors depending on the model. 

Electric wheelchairs use motors, batteries, joystick controls, and braking systems that all make the price higher.  They also require more maintenance than your typical standard wheelchair. 

The 5 Best Rated Manual Wheelchairs Comparison Chart

 

Featherweight 13.5 lbs. Manual Wheelchair

Invacare Tracer Ex2 Manual Wheelchair

Medline Lightweight Manual Wheelchair

Karman Ergo Flight Wheelchair

Karman Flexx Lightweight Fully Adjustable Wheelchair

Weight Capacity:

250 lbs.

250 lbs.

300 -350 lbs.

220 lbs.

286 lbs.

Product Weight:

19 lbs.

36 lbs.

31.5 -35.5

14.5 lbs., 19.8 lbs.

28.5 lbs.

Seat-to-Floor Height:

17-17.5″

17.5, 19.5″

20″

19″

15″-21″

Seat Width:

18″

16 -20″

20 -22″

16″,

18″

16″ -20″

Seat Depth:

16″

16″

18″

17″

16″ -18″

Price:

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1. (Best Overall) Featherweight 13.5 lbs. Manual Wheelchair

If you are looking for a super lightweight wheelchair that is made with great components to allow for years of use then this is the chair you should be looking at.  It only weighs 13.5 pounds and is the lightest wheelchair you probably will find.  

This is because it uses brand-new materials that are lighter and stronger than ever before.  Almost anyone can lift this wheelchair into a trunk or car. 

This wheelchair also folds into a smaller compact package that almost every caregiver will appreciate.    Unfolding the chair only takes a minute and your off.

The wheels lock has an integrated braking system that is similar to that of a bicycle and comes in three colors.  This is one of the top lightweight wheelchairs in our opinion. 

Best manual feather weight wheelchair

Key Specifications

  • Weight Capacity: 250 lbs.
  •  Product Weight: 19 lbs.
  •  Seat Width: 18″
  •  Seat Depth: 16″
  •  Armrest Height: 26.5″

Featherweight 13.5 lbs. Review

Score: 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)

Pros

  • Lightest manual wheelchair you can find at 13.5 pounds
  • Folds quickly and easily
  • Integrated brakes that lock
  • Latest materials that are light and strong

Cons

  • Expensive, but worth the price

2. Invacare Tracer Ex2 Manual Wheelchair

This is a top choice for the standard weight wheelchair market.  This model has a dual axle seat height, vinyl seat, and removal leg rests.  It is a great option for both personal and commercial use.  

It comes with standard 8″ solid rubber casters and composite hand rims that look good and work great.  The padded armrest will ensure a comfortable time when you are resting your arms.   This wheelchair also has a five-year warranty on the cross-braces and frame.  It is a great all-around choice for an entry-level wheelchair.

It has a weight capacity of 250 pounds and a product weight of 36 lbs.  

top wheelchair Invacare

Key Specifications

  • Weight Capacity: 250 lbs.
  •  Product Weight: 36 lbs.
  •  Seat Width: 16″ -20″
  •  Seat Depth: 16″
  •  Back Height: 16″

Invacare Tracer EX2 Review

Score: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Pros

  • Excellent starter wheelchair
  • Padded armrest
  • Removable leg rest

Cons

  • May be a little heavy for some

3. Medline K4 Extra-Wide Lightweight Manual Wheelchairs

An excellent choice and another best wheelchair is the Medline Lightweight manual wheelchair.   Made with a steel frame and nylon upholstery this wheelchair is not only durable but also lightweight making it enjoyable to move in.

It has the ability to hold 300 lbs to 350 lbs depending on configuration It also has smooth-rolling latex tires that are flat-free for long-lasting.   This requires low maintenance and durability with this wheelchair.  

We also love that it has push-to-lock brakes.  Not to mention it has full arms and swing away removable footrest.  Oh did we mention this wheelchair also has a folding back that allows for easier storage?  Yes, it has that feature. 

Top Manual Wheelchairs

Key Specifications

  • Weight Capacity: 300 -350 lbs.
  •  Product Weight: 31.5 -35.5 lbs.
  •  Seat Width: 20″, 22″
  •  Seat Depth: 18″
  •  Back Height: 17″

Medline K4 Extra-Wide Review

Score: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Pros

  • Easily folds for transport
  • 300 -350 lbs weight capacity
  • Smooth-rolling mag wheels flat-free tires
  • Breathable nylon upholstery that is comfortable

Cons

  • No hand brakes for caregivers who for those who push.

4. Karman Ergo Flight Wheelchair

If you are looking for an extremely lightweight wheelchair then this chair could be for you. Made from the lightest T6 Aluminum the Karman Ergo Flight wheelchair is an ultralight but strong manual wheelchair. The S-Style Ergonomic Seat frame makes sitting and propelling really easy not to mention comfortable. It also provides pressure release and increases stabilization, weight distribution.

The extremely lightweight and easy folding is very convenient to store and take with you to travel destinations. The folding backrests fold down also making it even more compact.

If you are in the market for an ultralightweight, well-made wheelchair that is easy to propel or push then this should be on your shortlist of wheelchairs.

Karman Ergo Flight Wheelchair

Key Specifications

  • Weight Capacity: 220 lbs.
  • Product Weight: 14.5 lbs., 19.8 lbs.
  • Seat Width: 16″ , 18″
  • Seat Depth: 17″
  • Back Height: 17.5″
  • Seat-to-floor height: 19″

Karman Ergo Flight Review

Score: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Pros

  • Ultra lightweight and easy to clean
  • Strong frame
  • Folding for easy storage
  • Padded arms
  • Great for travel
  • Companion brakes
  • Easy to lift in vehicle

Cons

  • Not many complaints here

5. Karman Flexx Lightweight Fully Adjustable Wheelchair

This manual wheelchair by Karman is a very flexible wheelchair in terms of how adjustable it is.  You can easily change the height of the armrests and backrests allowing for some really great customization.

On certain wheelchairs, it can take some time to change heights.  With this wheelchair, all you need are 2 Allen keys and a wrench.  The great part is that these tools are provided with the chair when you order them. 

Because of the customization, this chair can be used with many different people sizes.  From young adults to older adults and all in between. 

Karman Flexx Lighweight Fully Adjustable Wheelchair

Key Specifications

  • Weight Capacity: 286 lbs.
  • Product Weight: 28.5 lbs.
  • Seat Width: 16 -20″
  • Seat Depth: 16″-18″
  • Back Height: 17″

Karman Flexx Lightweight Adjustable Review

Score: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Pros

  • Very customizable
  • Lightweight
  • Swingaway footrests
  • Easily foldable

Cons

  • No brakes on push handle

Other manual wheelchairs to consider

Check out some other wheelchairs that are worth looking at below.  These are also high-quality manual wheelchairs.

1. Karman Healthcare Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight Manual Wheelchair

This sleek, light and comfortable wheelchair is only 25 pounds and has used the Karman globally patented s-shape seating frame.  It has a removable footrest, excellent concave arm pads, a fordable backrest, and removable upholstery that is anti-bacterial.   It also has extending brake tips that are all standard with this wheelchair. 

We love that the mesh seating system is also washable and removable.  This wheelchair is a step up from a lot of other chairs on the market. 

What you should know about this wheelchair: 

Harman Healthcare Ergonomic Ultra Lightweight manual wheelchair

Key Specifications

  • Seat width: 18″
  • Seat Depth: 17″
  • Overall width: 23″
  • Overall height: 36″
  • Weight capacity for this wheelchair: 250 lbs
  • Folded width: 12″

Score: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Pros

  • Anti-bacterial washable upholstery
  • Ultra-lightweight: Only 25 pounds
  • Ergonomic hand rim
  • Ergonomic armrest-pads
  • Removable washable seat

Cons

  • Expensive

2. Karman Ergonomic MVP Reclining Wheelchair

A top choice for reclining wheelchairs is the Karman Ergonomic MVP Reclining Wheelchair. With its patented ergonomic / Anti-sliding V-Seat so it helps to prevent sliding. And relieve sores and pressure overall on the person using the wheelchair.

The backrest can recline from 93° to 160° which helps to provide great comfort for a prolonged time in the wheelchair. With 3D elevation leg rests and ergonomic armrest, this chair is one of the top reclining wheelchairs. You will also love the upholstered material that is anti-microbial AEGIS Microbe Shield for better sanitation.

Karman Ergonomic MVP Reclining Wheelchair

Key Specifications

  • Weight capacity: 250 lbs.
  • Product weight: 36 lbs.
  • Seat Depth: 16″, 18″
  • Overall width: 24″ -28″
  • Overall height: 52″
  • Seat-to-floor height: 20″

Score: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Pros

  • Anti-bacterial washable upholstery
  • Backrests reclines from 93° to 160°
  • Micro-adjustment legrests
  • Articulating armrests
  • Anti-microbial upholstery
  • Folds compact

Cons

  • Customizing can add much more to this chair that is already expensive

3. Medline Mobility Ultralight Transport Wheelchair

Even though this is not a manual chair in the sense of the user can propel it still a good wheelchair in the ultra-light division.  You would need someone to actually push you in this chair. This ultralight wheelchair makes our list as one of the best lightweight transport wheelchairs.

It has a rating capacity to hold 300 pounds and the chair itself only weighs 15 lbs making it a great transport or rehab wheelchair. 

We love the folding design because it makes it really easy to transport once it is folded.  It is made from high-grade aluminum for years of use. 

Specs you should know:

Best Manual Wheelchairs lightweight

Key Specifications

  • Weight of this chair: 14.8 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs.
  • Size of seat:  19″ Width x 16″ depth
  • Back wheel size: 8 inches

Score: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Pros

  • Super light at under 15 pounds
  • Made from Aluminum
  • Able to fold for easy transport
  • 300-pound weight limit

Cons

  • No handle breaks
  • Need someone to push you
  • Wheels may not handle all types of roads outside

Best Manual Wheelchairs Buying Guide

Buying guide

Looking for a wheelchair but you are not sure what to look for when purchasing?  This guide will shed some light on what you should keep in mind when getting ready to purchase a wheelchair.  Let’s take a look at some of the features you should be aware of when searching for the top wheelchairs.

Who is best suited for a manual wheelchair?

Anyone who has issues or trouble physically walking would be someone that could use a wheelchair to help with mobility issues.  These wheelchairs can help give that person their freedom back and increase mobility.  

As you know manual means that they are not propelled by a power source or any other methods.  They are powered by upper body strength by the person sitting in the wheelchair or by someone who psychically pushes them from the handles of the chair.

New chairs are now lighter, stronger, and more compact than their older models so more people are able to use them easier. 

Those that do not possess the power to self propel a manual wheelchair because of age or other health issues and need help to move a wheelchair should look at some of the best electric wheelchairs to gain back independence.

How heavy is the wheelchair?

When using a manual wheelchair the heavier the more difficult it will be over the long haul to keep pushing yourself.  It will also be harder to pick up and store the wheelchair in a car. 

If you are a smaller person or someone who will have difficulties moving a heavy wheelchair on your own you may want to opt for a lighter model.  Ultralight wheelchairs weigh anywhere from 15 lbs to 25 lbs.

Comfort

Sitting in a wheelchair for prolonged periods of time you are going to want to make sure you are as comfortable as possible.  Look for seats and armrests that are padded.  However, you can purchase accessories for your wheelchair to make it more comfortable.  Jay Gel cushions or contorted foam cushions on the seat can make for a really comfortable chair. 

Folding chairs

Most of us who use wheelchairs will need to bring them in a vehicle from time to time.  With that said models that fold more than others may be of more interest to you.  If you do not have a large truck or car that can accommodate a larger wheelchair without it folding may not be an option for you.  Most of the models above either fold or the back folds for easier transport. 

Know your measurements before you commit to a wheelchair

One of the most common complaints about sitting in a wheelchair is the person does not properly fit into the wheelchair.  

Wheelchair seat width:

Know the seat width, depth, and height.  The most common seat width is 18 inches.  You should allow for at least two inches especially when you were winter clothes.  This will give you the room required to still fit into the wheelchair.

Wheelchair seat depth:

Check to make sure you have enough room for the seat depth.  You should be able to fit at least 3 fingers horizontally from the person’s back of his or her knees to the front edge of the seat.  If you can you should have enough room.

Wheelchair seat height:

This measurement can be done by going from the person’s heel to the middle of the knee pit.   From this point, you would ideally like to have at least two inches so you can make sure the footrest is the proper amount from the floor.

Use gloves when propelling yourself in the best manual wheelchair

Keeping your hands in good working order is key to helping you propel your wheelchair easily.  If your hands get cut up or bruised from not wearing gloves it could really impact your ability to move on a manual wheelchair.

Using great gloves can not only help your hands stay healthy but it will also make moving your wheelchair easier. 

Basic wheelchair parts

Wheelchair parts

The above parts are what is on a typical manual wheelchair.  Depending on the model and make you could see different parts or upgraded features you may not see on some models.

  1. Push handle
  2. Armrest
  3. Push ring
  4. rear wheel
  5. Brake
  6. Frame
  1. Castor
  2. Footplate
  3. Calf strap
  4. Seat
  5. Cushion
  6. Backrest

Frequently asked questions

What is a bariatric wheelchair?  A bariatric wheelchair or heavy-duty wheelchair is designed and structured to support more weight than a typical wheelchair.  As you search for wheelchairs you will notice that most wheelchairs can handle weights around 250 -275 pounds.  Bariatric chairs can handle weights much higher and some can handle weights in excess of 600 pounds or more. 

Can I get a wheelchair free?  Yes.  There are a few different government programs along with charities that can help a person get a free wheelchair.  These types of organizations dedicate their time to helping people get free chairs and other mobility devices that can help people get mobile again. 

Will medicare pay for a wheelchair? Yes, it is possible if your doctor determines that it is medically necessary and they proscribe a prescription. There are specifications that need to be met before you could qualify.

Final thoughts on the best manual wheelchairs

A manual wheelchair is a very affordable option when it comes to a mobility aid to get back your independence. It can also provide the tools needed to get you back out in the world after an injury.

These aids are lightweight, easy to use, and can be brought with you almost anyplace you go so you can easily get around when you need to. We hope this in-depth guide sheds light on what to look for in a manual wheelchair, what type of wheelchair is best for you, and your needs.

Following this guide should help you make the smarter choice with it comes to your next wheelchair.

So, what are the top manual wheelchairs?

Choosing the best possible wheelchair for your needs is important.  Not all wheelchairs will be right for you.  Picking the best one will come down to what your need is and if you properly fit into it. 

Our top choice for the best manual wheelchair is…

Featherweight 13.5 lbs. Manual Wheelchair 

This wheelchair provides good comfort, it’s lightweight enough that it can be transported easily, folds, and is sturdy for its size.  This is a great choice and a great price for a self-propelled wheelchair. 

5/5 (2 Reviews)
About ASmith

Adam Smith is the main researcher and contributor at Mobility Medical Supply. Adam has many years of research in public data, and software security. With Mobility issues within Adam's family, he decided to dedicate in-depth guides on mobility products to anyone looking to improve movement and gain independence.