Transport Wheelchair Buyer's Guide

“Transport wheelchairs are a necessary part of life for many people with disabilities. All wheelchair users will require at least one in their lifetime, and even though they can be an important sidekick, transport wheelchairs are often purchased haphazardly, with little thought or research going into the process. “After all,” people think, “how many different options can there be, and what’s the difference anyway?”


As it turns out, there are a lot of options – and a lot of differences between those options as well!


With an enormous number of transport chairs available for purchase, it can often be daunting to wade through the options to determine which one will suit you best. Lucky for you, we rent and sell thousands of wheelchairs every year and have used our 20+ years of expertise to compile this detailed Transportable Wheelchair Buyer’s Guide.


We'll start by answering some of the common questions people might have when buying a transportable wheelchair. Then, we’ll provide a list of some of the best products and where you can get them. If you don't have any questions and just want to see what's out there, feel free to skip this short FAQ section.



Transport Wheelchair FAQs

What is a transport wheelchair?

Transport wheelchairs are lightweight, narrow mobility chairs that combine the function of a wheelchair with the maneuverability of a rollator or walker. They are meant to be pushed by a caregiver, as their small wheels make it impossible for the wheelchair user to propel themselves.


Transport chairs are usually purchased as an additional mobility device for vacations, outings, or other types of travel outside a wheelchair user's home. While manual transport wheelchairs typically aren’t a user's primary means of mobility, a lightweight transportable scooter or portable powerchair can certainly serve this purpose.

What is the difference between a transport chair and wheelchair?

Wheelchairs are made for people who can self-propel themselves using their arms. Conversely, a traditional, non-electric transport wheelchair usually requires the person be pushed around by a companion or caregiver. They are often used in hospitals and airports and are ideal for people who don’t have the ability to operate a standard wheelchair.


However, even if you can push yourself around, a transport wheelchair can still be a great investment. Since transport chairs are generally lighter, more compact, and often foldable, they are an excellent choice for people with limited mobility who love to travel. The easier it is to get your chair onto a bus, plane, train, or boat, the more fun you'll have when adventuring!

standard wheelchair
Standard Wheelchair
transport wheelchair
Transport Wheelchair

How much does a transport wheelchair weigh?

Transport wheelchairs come in various weights and sizes. The best option for you depends on several factors, including your own weight, how frequently you’ll need to lift the chair, and how many features you'd like the chair to have.


An ultra-lightweight wheelchair might weigh 19 pounds or less, yet still be able to support a person who weighs 300 pounds. Models like this – along with lightweight folding wheelchairs – tend to be a little more minimalist. It’s important to remember that the more frills a transportable wheelchair has, the more it is likely to weigh. While lightweight transport wheelchairs are typically defined as weighing 25 pounds or less, transport chairs that weigh 35 pounds or more do exist. However, these models tend to look almost like standard wheelchairs.

What is the lightest transport wheelchair?

Any unit weighing less than 19 pounds is considered an ultralight transport wheelchair, and some of these chairs can be made even lighter if you choose to forgo the optional footrests. You'll only ever find manual transport chairs available at this weight.


But what is the absolute lightest manual transport chair? Currently, the lightest on the market is the Medline Ultralight Transport Chair, which comes in at under 15 pounds

medline ultralight transport chair
Medline Ultralight Transport Chair

Where can I buy a lightweight wheelchair?

The old days of shopping for wheelchairs in person are largely over. Now, most wheelchair users prefer the multitude of options provided by online retailers.


Scootaround has wheelchairs to rent and wheelchairs to buy, with many lightweight options available. Our products are organized by category, allowing you to specifically browse for transportable wheelchairs. This makes it easy to search through all your options and find exactly what you’re looking for.

What is the width of a transport wheelchair?

Because they have smaller wheels and less add-ons, transport wheelchairs are almost always narrower than traditional wheelchairs. Transport chairs can be quite thin and are normally only a couple inches wider than their seat cushion size. Standard manual wheelchairs, on the other hand, are typically around 8 inches wider than their seat cushion size due to their large wheels.


The narrower transport chair models tend to be around 21 inches wide.

Can transport wheelchairs go through bathroom doors?

Yes, absolutely – transport chairs can scoot through many doors that average wheelchairs can't.


Even in the oldest houses, bathroom doorways are rarely less than 23 inches wide. While some doors can fall into the 23 to 27 inch range, it’s more common for bathroom doors nowadays to meet the ADA-accessible standard of 32 inches wide. This is good news for people with limited mobility who love to travel, as transport chairs will have no problem whatsoever fitting into an ADA-approved bathroom.

Where can I buy a narrow transport wheelchair ?

The best place to shop for a narrow transport wheelchair is online through Scootaround. Our large selection of equipment, easy-to-navigate website, and knowledgeable, friendly sales staff are what our users like most about us. We carry various models, ranging from basic, manual transport chairs to high-tech power wheelchairs like the sleek, ultra-modern WHILL Model Ci.

brakes on the rear wheels of a transport wheelchair
Brakes located on the rear wheels
brakes located on the handlebars of a transport wheelchair
Brakes located on the handlebars

How important are handbrakes on a transport wheelchair?

Different transport chairs can have different braking systems. Many have brakes located on the rear wheels, while other chairs feature handbrakes similar to bicycles. Some models may even have both! Handbrakes are located on the handlebars and are operated by the person who is pushing the chair, while back-wheel brakes are typically accessible to both the person sitting in the chair and a companion.


A combination of handbrakes and rear-wheel brakes can be beneficial, especially if the chair will be pushed over uneven terrain or up and down hills. Handbrakes can also help increase safety and are a good option if the occupant of the transport chair is on the heavier side. Ultimately, however, it depends on how you're going to use the unit. If you plan to use the chair on a daily basis or take it exploring with you, we recommend adding handbrakes to the list of features you're looking for.

How much does it cost to rent a transport wheelchair?

Rental prices vary by location and duration of rental. For example, in popular locations like Las Vegas, you can rent a basic, manual transport chair for an average of $12/day for a 3-day rental, whereas in Chicago the same rental would be closer to $27/day. Scootaround offers discounts for multi-day rentals, so the longer you rent for, the better the price. If necessary, you can also rent a scooter or powerchair, which will typically be $20 to $60/day for a 3-day rental.


It's easy to rent a transport wheelchair either online at Scootaround's website or over the phone toll-free at 1-888-441-7575.

How to choose a transport wheelchair ?

If you're unsure which transport wheelchair is right for you, it’s best to browse multiple options and find one that falls most in line with your needs. It's easy to be swayed by the cool features on some of the transport wheelchairs out there – that's why we recommend that before you start researching, you make a list of what features and specifications are most important to you.


Do you always search for the lowest price, or does comfort matter more? Where will you store the chair and how large is that area? Who, if anyone, will be assembling and disassembling the chair? Is the chair's weight important? How often do you plan on using the transport chair? Will it mostly be used for vacations and travel or simple, everyday outings? Would it make your life easier if you had a chair that folded up? Who would be responsible for folding it? How much control would you like to have, and building off of that, is a user-operated handbrake important to you?


Your answers to these questions should help guide your purchasing process. Scootaround’s website offers a huge selection of products, so it's best to have an idea of what you’ll need before you start to search. However, we also recommend always keeping an open mind – there may be new models and captivating features out there you didn't even know you needed. Don’t be afraid of falling in love with a chair you weren't looking for!


Buying Guide: How to Choose a Transport Wheelchair


Feature #1: Ability to Fold the Chair


Why You Want It:

Almost all lightweight portable wheelchairs are foldable these days, but this is something you'll want to confirm before hitting the “purchase” button.


Highlighted Transport Chair #1: Super Light Folding Transport Wheelchair


Like we mentioned, most traditional transport wheelchairs fold up without a hitch and many models are lightweight. Though it appears quite basic, the Super Light Folding Transport chair is a prominent example of both these qualities. The chair weighs just 19 pounds, making it one of the lightest on the market, and folds like a conventional folding chair would. It even comes with a bag for easy transportation! Despite its ultralight weight and convenience, the wheelchair still has some ideal extra features, including padded, flip-back arms and fold-down footrests.


Highlighted Transport Chair #2: Drive Designer Flyweight Aluminum Transport Chair


Just like the Super Light chair above, the Designer Flyweight Aluminum Chair weighs only 19 pounds, 30% less than most traditional transport chairs. It features a lightweight aluminum frame, giving the unit additional strength and durability, as well as deluxe, all-aluminum rear wheel locks. Unlike many of its counterparts, the chair also comes in a couple of interesting color patterns: red plaid or tan plaid fabric. This makes it a good option for users who are looking for something a little flashier than the typical black design.

super light folding transport wheelchair
Super Light Folding Transport Wheelchair
designer flyweight aluminium transport wheelchair
Designer Flyweight Aluminum Transport Chair
transport aluminium transport wheelchair
Transport Aluminum Transport Chair
travelite transport wheelchair in a bag
Travelite Transport Wheelchair Chair in a Bag

Feature #2: Ability to Disassemble the Chair


Why You Want It:

Sometimes the easiest way to transport a chair is to take it apart. Wheelchairs that disassemble are easier to stash indoors and pack for your travels. Plus, the total weight of the chair matters a lot less when you are breaking it down every time you move it!


Highlighted Transport Chair #1: Transport Aluminum Transport Chair


While this lightweight transport chair conveniently folds for travel, the padded, flip-back arms can also be detached from the rest of the unit, making it easy to store in small spaces. The chair also has magnets that keep the footrests secure against the frame and stop the chair from swinging open when it’s carried. Like the Drive Designer Flyweight, this chair has an aluminum frame for added durability, but clocks in at an even lower total weight of 17.5 pounds.


Highlighted Transport Chair #2: Travelite Transport Wheelchair Chair in a Bag


Okay, so many transport chairs don't actually break apart, but that's because some of the best options don't need to! This folding transport wheelchair is quite lightweight and folds up to fit into a compact carry bag. The bag itself has wheels on the bottom, making it very simple to transport in airports or through bustling tourist destinations. It comes with flip-up arms (another feature we like) and weighs in at 20.5 pounds.

Feature #3: Low Price


Why You Want It:

Sometimes it all boils down to your budget. Inexpensive transport wheelchairs can be appealing, especially if the unit isn't going to be your main ride. If that's the case, you needn't worry – there are plenty of awesome options on Scootaround's website that won't hurt your wallet. With the suggestions below, you can be confident you're getting a great bang for your buck!


Highlighted Transport Chair #1: Drive Steel Transport Chair


If you’re looking for something economical, there's no better option for a lightweight portable wheelchair than the Drive Steel Transport Chair. Scootaround lists this unit for a mere $134.00 USD, but don’t let the price fool you – this chair doesn’t skimp on the features! It boasts swing-away leg rests, a seatbelt, and a fold-down back, all of which are useful features that are usually found in pricier models. This transport wheelchair also folds up to an impressive 9” wide and comes with comfy, padded armrests and a client-operated brake.


One possible downside is that it's not quite as lightweight as some of the other options, weighing in at 33 pounds. However, this added weight allows it to support riders up to 300 pounds.

steel transport wheelchair
Steel Transport Chair
whill model ci
WHILL Model Ci

Bonus Highlight: WHILL Model Ci


Over the past few years, WHILL has released some of the most cutting-edge personal mobility devices on the market. Their latest device, the Model Ci, is perfect for indoor and outdoor use and even breaks down into three easily-manageable pieces, making it a great option for an electric transport chair. Users love its ability to turn on a dime and clear obstacles up to 2 inches high. However, what makes it really awesome in our book is its built-in USB port and the fact it can be controlled remotely with an iPhone app via Bluetooth. The Model Ci also allows users to monitor the health of their chair and battery, as well as customize speed settings to find the drive mode that’s right for them .


Other Features to Consider When Buying a Transport Wheelchair

In the sections above, we talked about some of the most critical features to consider when buying a transport chair, including the chair’s ability to fold and its price. However, there may be other qualities that are important to you, so to end this guide, here are some additional features you should think about when browsing for a travel or lightweight wheelchair:


  • Removable arm or leg rests

  • Fold-down back

  • Custom seat cushion size

  • User-operated brakes

  • Battery weight

  • Battery life and range

  • Turning radius

  • In-chair storage space

  • Controller options for electric chairs

couple transport wheelchair

Additional Questions to Ask Yourself When Buying a Transport Wheelchair


To make sure all your bases are covered, here are some basic questions to guide your search for a portable transport wheelchair:


  • How often will I be using this wheelchair?

If the answer is “not too often,” perhaps a simpler, less expensive option would be best. If the answer is “very often,” then for your own comfort, you'll want to look into chairs with more customizable options. The more frequently you use a mobility device, the more the little details start to matter. Besides, it's always nice to be able to personalize the wheelchair to your liking by choosing its color or seat width.


  • Where will I need to store this wheelchair?

If you've got a large garage (or a room with ample space) and don't intend to use the chair for travel in planes, trains, or cars, then it might not matter whether the chair is foldable or not. This will open up a number of other buying options for you.


  • How often will I need to transport this wheelchair when I am not in it?

If the answer to this question is “somewhat often”, then those ultra-lightweight models that fold up to fit in a bag, especially a bag with wheels, can start to look really good. In fact, if you'll be transporting the chair a lot without you in it, you might want to consider this an essential feature!


  • Who will be folding and transporting this wheelchair?

If you've got an able-bodied travel companion, the weight of the chair and the ease which it folds, unfolds, assembles and disassembles might not be a huge factor. However, even if that’s the case, most wheelchair users want to give their friends, family members, and caregivers a break whenever possible!


Conclusion


While the wheelchairs listed above are some of our favorites, they certainly aren't the only options out there. Everyone has different needs and preferences, and there are plenty of other chairs with unique and desirable features that may be perfect for you. While we've given you a solid overview of the things you’ll need to consider when buying a transport wheelchair, the discovery process and final decision is up to you.

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