Wheelchairs can be a big pain to transport. They are big and bulky, and when it comes time to go in the car, it can be a pain to try and fit it in the trunk. Lightweight wheelchairs may be easier to carry, but they too can be difficult to fit into tight spaces. However, the best folding wheelchairs allow you to fold the chair down small enough that it can be placed in the backseat or trunk of a vehicle.
These chairs come in either assisted or self-propel options, and they’re able to accommodate people anywhere from 200 – 300+ pounds. In this article we highlight manual options. Click here if you would like to see our list of folding electric models we recommend.
Comfortable, soft and sturdy, these folding wheelchairs also have footrests and armrests that can folded or be removed to allow for an even more compact design. You’ll find that each model has its own perks, but for the most part, the difference between each model is minimal.
Models with larger wheel sizes, such as the first model on our list, benefit from being able to be pushed on rougher terrain. However, the bad part of these larger wheel sizes is that they make the chair heavier and more difficult to pick up and put into a vehicle.
We’ve taken everything into consideration and picked five of the leading wheelchair models on the market today. These folding wheelchairs make it fast and easy for a user to enter and exit a vehicle without fearing that their wheelchair will be too cumbersome.
Top 5 Foldable Wheelchairs
1. Medline Lightweight Transport Wheelchair
Medline’s lightweight transport wheelchair comes in red, offers 12-inch rear wheels for better performance and is one of the best folding wheelchairs in Medline’s lineup. This model features:
- 12-inch rear wheels
- Loop-style handbrakes
- Aluminum frame
- 300-pound weight capacity
- Collapsible back
- Full length armrests
- Detachable footrests
- Nylon upholstery
Larger rear wheels allow for easier transport over uneven, outdoor surfaces. The wheelchair cannot be propelled by the user, so it’s important to have someone to push the wheelchair from behind. Handbrakes help keep the chair from moving or the pusher from losing control.
The armrests are permanent and full length, allowing for the utmost in comfort.
The leg rests are removable, which allows the chair to easily fold up. Users are kept firmly in place thanks to the attached seatbelt. When it comes time to put the wheelchair into the trunk of the car or bring it up stairs, you won’t have to struggle. The chair weighs just 23.5 pounds, so it’s light enough to transport with ease.
2. Drive Medical Lightweight Steel Wheelchair
Drive Medical’s steel wheelchair is durable and comes in sizes 17″ and 19″. You’ll also be able to pick from detachable desk arms and fixed full arms. The durable steel frame allows for users up to 250 pounds to confidently use this transport chair.
The steel wheelchair features:
- 250-pound weight capacity
- Cushioned arm rests
- Swing away footrests
- Backrest and chair that folds flat
- 8-inch composite wheels
- Maintenance-free design
- Nylon seat
Drive Medical has incorporated 8-inch wheels that offer superb mobility outdoors and indoors. Eight-inch wheels are large enough for outdoor maneuverability, yet the wheels are small enough to maneuver in tight spaces indoors.
Simple to clean, the nylon seat is both comfortable and durable.
The armrests are padded for added comfort, and when it comes time to transport the wheelchair, it folds together by pushing the sides together. The backrest is simple to fold, too. Footrests do swing away for easy folding or to allow the user to place their feet on the ground.
Lightweight, the chair can fit in trunks or in the backseat of most vehicles.
Overall, this is a great wheelchair that folds up into a compact, transportable unit. The model does have the complaint of being too narrow for some users, so make sure you choose the appropriate size for your needs.
3. Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair
The Blue Streak wheelchair is one of the best folding wheelchairs on the market, and it has a flip back with desk arms for added versatility. The model is an 18″ size, and the cutting-edge design makes mobility a breeze.
This model features:
- Folding design
- 18″ padded wheelchair seat
- Durable tires
- Push-to-lock brakes
- Detachable desk arms
- Swing-away footrests
- 300-pound weight capacity
You’ll also find that this model comes in three different seat sizes: 16″, 18″ and 20″. What’s great about this wheelchair is that the user can propel the chair themselves. There’s no need for someone else to propel the chair, but there are handles that do allow another person to push the chair as needed.
Footrests also swing away to make folding or getting out of the wheelchair easier.
When it comes time to fold the wheelchair up, you simply push the sides together and it folds up for easy storage. And with a blue powdered frame, the wheelchair is resistant to chips and cracks.
But being able to propel the chair means that it is significantly heavier than other options, weighing 41.25 pounds.
4. Drive Medical Cruiser III
Drive Medical’s Cruiser III model has a steel frame model that does allow for self-propelling. You’ll find that this model comes with several sizes, ranging from 16″ to 20.” It also has removable arms, swing away footrests and a slew of features that make using this wheelchair a breeze.
This model’s features are:
- Carbon steel frame
- Seat depth adjustment of 16″ and 18″
- Seat rail extensions
- Padded armrests
- 8″ front caster wheels that adjust between three positions
- Push-to-lock wheels
- Weight capacity of 350 pounds
The Cruiser III offers a very high weight capacity of 350 pounds. And with adjustable options, the wheelchair allows for seat rail, armrest, front cast and footrest adjustments. The wheelchair is easily propelled by the user, but this function makes the chair heavier at 36 pounds.
Wheels feature precision sealed wheel bearings for added performance and reliability.
Quick and easy to fold, the Cruiser III remains one of the best self-propelling wheelchairs in Drive Medical’s lineup. Extra-durable, the seat rail extensions make the III comfortable and provides a seat depth adjustment between 16″ and 18″ for a better overall fit.
5. Drive Medical Super Light
The final folding transport chair on our list is the Super Light Drive Medical, and comes with a carry bag and blue color. This model has padded, flip-back armrests and fold-down footrests for added comfort.
Users cannot propel the chair on their own.
Drive Medical’s chair features:
- 19-pound weight
- Fold-up armrests
- Fold-down footrests
- Composite wheels
- Maintenance-free design
- Rear wheel locks
- 250-pound maximum user weight
When closed, this chair folds down into just a 9-inch width with an overall length of 30 inches. A carry bag with a shoulder strap is included, and the easy-to-push model comes with 19″ of space between the armrest pads and a seat width of 18.25.”
The seat’s depth is 17.”
Offering a classic, silver aluminum frame, the Super Light has a maintenance-free design with composite wheels. There are also rear locks for added control.
Wheels offer a smooth ride on most surfaces, and users up to 250 pounds can confidently use the Super Light without worrying about being over the chair’s weight capacity.
For pure transport needs, this the best folding wheelchair based on weight alone.
Tim is a professional caregiver who has helped hundreds of seniors gain back their freedom and independence. He has been actively helping the senior community for 20+ years.