Wheelchairs—whether powered or manual—provide nearly 2.7 million people with the freedom to get around who would otherwise be unable or have difficulty doing so.

Best for Short-Term Use

Drive logo

Drive Medical Silver Sport 2

Drive Medical Silver Sport 2
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Pros
  • Affordable
  • Custom options available
  • Swing-away footrests or leg rests
Cons
  • Not good for long-term use

Features

  • Type: Standard manual
  • Seat width: 16”, 18”, 20”
  • Arm style: Fixed or adjustable options, full-length or desk-length, detachable
  • Weight: 40 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 250 pounds, 300 for 18” seat width
  • Warranty: 3-year limited warranty
  • Price: Starting at $199 (as of 1/24/22)

For occasional or short-term use, Drive Medical’s Silver Sport 2 standard wheelchair checks all the right boxes. It’s compact, durable, and foldable for easy transportation. This affordable wheelchair is built with a reinforced steel frame and easy-to-clean embossed vinyl upholstery. It also comes with a carry pocket on the backrest.

Best Standard Wheelchair

Invacare logo

Invacare Tracer SX5

Invacare Tracer SX5
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Pros
  • Durable construction
  • Several custom options
  • Anti-tipper option available
Cons
  • One of the more expensive standard wheelchairs

Features

  • Type: Standard manual
  • Seat width: 14”, 16”, 18”, 20”, 22”
  • Arm style: fixed or adjustable options for full-length or desk-length, detachable
  • Weight: 40 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 250 pounds, 300 for 20” and 22” seat widths
  • Warranty: Five-year limited warranty on frame and cross braces, one-year warranty on all components
  • Price: Starting at $1,108.28 (as of 1/24/22)

In the realm of standard wheelchairs, Invacare’s Tracer SX5 is one of the best. Its carbon steel frame is lightweight and durable, making it good for both long- and short-term use. It’s also equipped with a heavy-duty inner liner to keep the seat and back from stretching and a dual-axle that can convert to hemi-height so that it can be propelled by the user’s feet.

Best Durable Wheelchair

Medline logo

Medline Lightweight and User-Friendly Wheelchair

Medline Lightweight and User-Friendly Wheelchair
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Pros
  • Affordable
  • Elevating leg rests
  • Removeable, flip-back desk arms that are great for dining or office work, easy transfers
Cons
  • Not suitable for long-term use
  • Limited custom options

Features

  • Type: Standard lightweight
  • Seat width: 16”, 18”, 20”
  • Arm style: Adjustable, removable desk-length arms
  • Weight: 34 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 300 pounds
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty on frame, one-year warranty on components
  • Price: Starting at $219.99 (as of 1/24/22)

This Medline wheelchair is a lightweight folding wheelchair that’s also durable. It can support occupants weighing up to 300 pounds. It’s designed with flip-back desk arms to slip behind desks and tables easily. It also comes with flat-free tires, an adjustable seat back, and a dual-axle that converts to hemi-height for foot propulsion.

Best Lightweight Aluminum Wheelchair

Karman logo

Karman Ergo Flight Wheelchair

Karman Ergo Flight Wheelchair
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Pros
  • Ultra-lightweight and compact
  • Ergonomic design for added comfort and functionality
  • Fixed axle or quick-release axle available
  • Companion brakes that allow caretakers to engage the brakes safely
  • Padded seat, armrests, and back upholstery
Cons
  • Fixed arms
  • Weight capacity is only 220 pounds

Features

  • Type: Standard lightweight
  • Seat width: 16”, 18”
  • Arm style: Fixed desk length
  • Weight: 19.8 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 220 pounds
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty, one-year warranty on parts
  • Price: $870 (as of 1/24/22)

The Ergo Flight Ergonomic Wheelchair by Karman Healthcare is made with an aircraft-grade metal frame, making it one of the best lightweight aluminum wheelchairs on the market. It’s designed with an ergonomic seat and hand rim for added comfort and functionality. It also has an S-shaped seating frame that follows the body’s natural curves to reduce the risk of pressure ulcers and scoliosis.

Best Choice for Travel

Innuovo logo

Innuovo Electric Power Wheelchair

Innuovo Electric Power Wheelchair
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Pros
  • Rear-wheel drive construction for improved stability and maneuverability
  • Lightweight and foldable for easy transport
  • Thick seat cushion to provide comfort and prevent bedsore
Cons
  • Arms are not adjustable
  • Some consumers have issues with the loud backup warning beeper

Features

  • Type: Power, rear-wheel drive
  • Turning radius: 35.5 inches
  • Maximum speed: 3.7 mph
  • Driving range: 6.25 miles
  • Seat width: 18.2”
  • Arm style: Flip-back
  • Weight: 50 pounds 
  • Weight capacity: 265 pounds
  • Warranty: One-year warranty on joystick, controller, and motor
  • Price: $1,999 (as of 1/24/22)

Innuovo’s power chair is a foldable, lightweight wheelchair designed with active users in mind. It can easily be lifted into and out of vehicles. It’s also airplane friendly, making it one of our top choices for travel. One of the best power wheelchair brands, Innuovo’s power wheelchair has numerous safety features, including a seatbelt, 360-degree joystick, solidly stable front and rear wheels, and an electromagnetic braking system for better motion control and quicker stopping.

Best Stability

Spinlife logo

Spinlife Go-Chair Pride

Spinlife Go-Chair Pride
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Pros
  • Rear-wheel drive construction for improved stability and maneuverability
  • Tight turning radius
  • Swing-away under-seat storage bins
  • Available in 10 colors
  • Long-distance driving range
Cons
  • Wheelchair is heavy and can be difficult to transport

Features

  • Type: Power, rear-wheel drive
  • Turning radius: 25.5 inches
  • Maximum speed: 3.7 mph
  • Drive range: 13.20 miles
  • Seat width: 18”, 20”
  • Arm style: Adjustable width and height, flip-back
  • Weight: 128 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 300 pounds
  • Warranty: Five-year limited warranty
  • Price: Starting at $1,549 (as of 1/24/22)

Spinlife Go-Chair Pride mobility offers optimal stability and maneuverability of a rear-wheel-drive wheelchair coupled with an impressive 25.5-inch turning radius. At 128 pounds, it’s not easy to transport (the chair disassembles into six smaller pieces), but it’s more durable, as it is able to accommodate occupants up to 300 pounds. It also comes with comfort features, such as a roomy stadium-style seat and flip-back armrests that are both height and width adjustable.

Wheelchairs are covered by Medicare Part B as durable medical equipment, but only if the user’s doctor submits a written order stating that the user requires a wheelchair in their home and has met all requirements for limited mobility required by Medicare.

How much does a good wheelchair cost?

The cost of a wheelchair varies depending on the type of wheelchair and its features and accessories. Manual wheelchairs are less expensive, costing as little as $100 up to more than $1,000. Power wheelchairs are more expensive and cost about $1,500 to more than $30,000 for specialized models.

How do I choose a wheelchair size?

Wheelchairs come in different seat width sizes. To determine the proper seat width, measure the intended occupant at their widest point–this is usually from hip to hip, but in some cases from thigh to thigh–then add 2 inches to the measurement.

How long do wheelchairs last?

On average, wheelchairs last about two to three years. However, they can last up to five years. Generally speaking, the more a wheelchair is used, the shorter its lifespan.

Do I need a prescription for a wheelchair?

You do not need a prescription for a wheelchair unless you’re relying on Medicare for payment. Medicare won’t cover the cost of one without a doctor’s prescription.

What is the difference between a wheelchair and a transport chair?

A transporter chair is a type of mobility chair that combines the function of a wheelchair with the maneuverability of a rollator or walker. Instead of two large wheels, transporters have four smaller wheels. Also, the chair doesn’t allow the user to push it. Instead, it must be pushed by a caregiver.

Pricing is accurate as of February 24, 2022.

Author: Jennifer Walker-Journey