Transport wheelchairs are compact, lightweight and foldable, which makes them easy to take from place to place. When you buy a transport wheelchair, it’s essential to find a model that offers the right level of comfort and maneuverability for you. We selected our top picks based on customer reviews, cost and other factors. All of the transport wheelchairs below weigh less than 30 pounds and are FSA or HSA eligible.
What is a transport wheelchair, and who should get one?
Transport chairs combine the portability of a rollator with the functionality of a wheelchair. They are usually made from flexible materials and lightweight metal, which makes them more portable than standard wheelchairs.
The most significant difference between standard or recliner wheelchairs and transport wheelchairs is the type of wheels. Transport chairs have four small, equal-sized (or close to equal) wheels instead of two larger ones in the back. Unlike standard chairs, transport chairs are meant to be operated with assistance — since the back wheels are smaller, you can’t get the same leverage.
A transport wheelchair is ideal for those with limited mobility who still live moderately active lifestyles. For example, if you’re comfortable walking for short distances but don’t have the stamina for a full daytrip to the museum with the kids or grandkids, the chair lets you enjoy the day without running out of strength. Transport wheelchairs, sometimes called transfer or travel wheelchairs, are compact enough to fit into a car, so you can easily take one from place to place.
Our top transport wheelchair picks
We considered more than 30 transport wheelchairs. To narrow the options down to our top picks, we looked at each model’s average customer rating and its total number of reviews. We also compared frame materials, seat dimensions, weight capacity and cost.
Carex Transport Wheelchair
This Carex transport wheelchair features flared handgrips and adjustable swing-away footrests that are removable. Its foldable steel frame is designed for compact storage, making it portable for everyday errands and travel. The oversized 8-inch wheels allow for smooth driving and maneuverability, and it includes a seat belt. Carex specializes in wheelchairs for adults, seniors and those with disabilities.
This transport chair is less than 15 pounds, making it the lightest transport chair on our list. Medline Ultralight wheelchairs have restaurant-style armrests that let you sit closer to a table, which is useful for meals. The footrests clip to the side for easy transport or storage when the chair is not in use. We also like that the 8-inch rear wheels make it easy to reverse or change course. This model includes comfort hand grips, a seat belt and a cup holder.
Drive Medical Fly Ultra Lightweight Transport Wheelchair
The Drive Medical Fly Ultra has rear-wheel brakes with easy-to-use, push-to-lock handles. We like that it folds down with a quick release for transport and storage. The swing-away footrests are adjustable and don’t require tools to move. There’s also a seat belt and backrest pocket for carrying items. The chair is made with plaid-patterned nylon upholstery.
The ProBasics Ultralight wheelchair features a quick-release back hinge and removable swing-away footrests. The solid rubber wheels have push-to-lock rear brakes that are simple to activate. It folds down flat to easily fit in the trunk of a car, making it useful for travel. This model also has full-length padded permanent armrests covered with nylon upholstery.
The Lumex HybridLX is a little pricier than some of our other top picks, but we like that the hybrid-designed transport wheelchair can also be used as a rollator. The chair has a soft, polyester backrest and mesh seat with a storage pouch for personal items. The hand brakes can be used going down an incline or over bumpy terrain. It conveniently folds for storing, and no tools are required for assembly.
This Drive transport chair has a lightweight steel frame and front-swiveling wheels to make it easy to maneuver through narrow spaces. Standout features include swing-away footrests and cushioned armrests for added comfort. It has easy-to-clean nylon upholstery, and the chair and backrest fold flat for convenient storage and transport. The chair is designed for independent and assisted operation.
The most expensive model on our list is equipped with wheels that easily maneuver on any terrain. The rear wheels have locking brakes and anti-tippers for added safety. We like that the back has a quick-release, fold-down mechanism and that the footrests swing away. Flip-up desk arms make it easy to get in and out or sit at a desk or table. This NOVA lightweight transport chair also comes with an adjustable seat belt.
Drive Medical CV features flip-back armrests that are padded and removable. The footrests swing away and do not require tools to adjust their height. Magnets secure the footrests against the lightweight aluminum frame to prevent the chair from swinging open during storage. We like that the back of the chair has a two-way, push-and-pull release lever that allows the chair to easily fold forward.
With so many transport chair options on the market, it can be challenging to find the right one for your specific needs. To make sure you’re happy with the one you pick, consider the following factors when shopping:
Comfort: Look at the overall design of the chair, including the seat, backrest, armrest and leg and footrests. If you think a straight-back chair without any give to it is uncomfortable, look for a chair that is made of a more flexible material. Get a chair with some cushion if you expect to be sitting for long periods. Armrests are available in a variety of styles, such as flared, rounded or flat and with or without padding. Consider what style would give you the most comfort. Additionally, you want the footrests to be adjustable for the best fit.
Safety: Transport chairs have a few different braking system options. Some have brakes on the rear wheels that the person sitting in the chair and the person pushing the chair can access. Other chairs have hand brakes on the handlebars, similar to those on bicycles, that the person pushing the chair can use. Hand brakes add another level of safety on inclines and bumpy roads. They also let you control the speed and lock the chair yourself. Some chairs have both rear brakes and hand brakes. Consider your needs when deciding which braking system is safest for you.
Portability: A small wheelchair is easier to move than a large one. Look for transport chairs that fold easily and don’t require tools to assemble or disassemble. Lightweight folding wheelchairs for travel typically have seats that are made from flexible materials that fit in a car trunk. Since transport chairs weigh less than 30 pounds, they’re perfect for taking anywhere you need to go, whether it’s a doctor’s appointment or a vacation.
Maneuverability: The small wheels on transfer wheelchairs are designed to swivel. The design allows them to quickly change direction and maneuver through crowded spaces, narrow openings and twisting hallways.
Transport wheelchair FAQ
How much does a transport wheelchair cost?
Transport wheelchair costs start at around $75. For newer models, the average price ranges from $100 to $200.
What is a transport chair used for?
A transport chair is used for mobility assistance. Since it requires another person to push it, a transport chair is typically pushed by a family member or caregiver.
How much does a transport wheelchair weigh?
The average weight of a transport wheelchair is around 22 pounds. Some weigh as little as 15 pounds.
What is the difference between a transport chair and a wheelchair?
Standard wheelchairs have large rear wheels and are designed to let people use their arms to propel themselves. Transport wheelchairs have smaller rear wheels and typically require someone to push the chair to move it around.
Will Medicare pay for a transport chair?
Yes. Medicare pays for 80% of a transport chair under Medicare Part B as durable medical equipment (DME) if your doctor prescribes it for use in your home. However, Medicare only covers specific medical issues, so consult your policy and primary physician to determine if you’re a candidate.
How wide is a transport wheelchair?
The overall width of a transport wheelchair runs between 20 and 25 inches. The average seat is 19 inches wide, and when folded, a transport chair is usually under 10 inches wide.
What are the benefits of a transport wheelchair?
There are many benefits to owning a transport wheelchair. For starters, they cost less than a standard wheelchair and can still carry the same amount of weight. Transport wheelchairs are also lightweight and fold into a compact size, making them easier to store and travel with.
Are transport wheelchairs FSA or HSA eligible?
Yes, most transport wheelchairs are eligible for FSA or HSA.
Transport wheelchairs are lighter and more compact than a traditional wheelchair. They’re typically foldable and easier to move in and out of vehicles, so they work in multiple situations outside a wheelchair user's home, such as vacations, doctor appointments, grocery shopping and running errands.
As a member of the ConsumerAffairs Research Team, Kathryn Parkman believes everyone deserves easy access to accurate and comprehensive information on products and businesses before they make a purchase, which is why she spends hours researching companies and industries for ConsumerAffairs. She believes conscious consumption is everyone's responsibility and that all content deserves integrity.
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