Best Lightweight Folding Wheelchair: Our 5 Favorites Reviewed

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 best folding lightweight 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 Lightweight Foldable Wheelchairs

1. Drive Medical Lightweight Steel Transport Wheelchair

Drive Medical Aluminum Transport Chair
Drive Medical Aluminum Transport Chair

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.

Features and specs:

  • Seat depth: 18 inches
  • Seat width: 16.5 inches
  • Wheel size: 8 inches
  • Weight capacity: 250 pounds
  • Chair weight: 26 pounds
  • Cushioned arm rests
  • Swing away footrests
  • Backrest and chair that folds flat
  • Maintenance-free design
  • Nylon seat
  • Adjustable arm and leg rests

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 upholstery 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.

If you are looking for a transport wheelchair that is super light, then this is one of the best lightweight wheelchairs you can buy today.

Click here to view pricing and availability on Drive Medical lightweight transport chair.

2. Medline Lightweight Folding Wheelchair

Medline Lightweight Folding Transport Wheelchair
Medline Lightweight Folding 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.

Features and specs:

  • Seat depth: 18 inches
  • Seat Width: 16 inches
  • Wheel size: 12 inches
  • Weight capacity: 300 pounds
  • Chair weight: 23.5 pounds
  • Loop-style handbrakes
  • Lightweight aluminum frame
  • Collapsible back
  • Full length armrests
  • Detachable footrests
  • Adjustable arm and leg rests
  • 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.

Click here to view pricing and availability of the Medline lightweight wheelchair on Amazon.

3. Drive Medical Blue Streak Folding Wheelchair

Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair
Drive Medical Blue Streak Wheelchair

The Blue Streak wheelchair is one of the best folding lightweight 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.

Features and specs:

  • Seat depth: 16 inches
  • Seat width: 18 inches
  • Wheel size: 8 inches
  • Weight capacity: 300 pounds
  • Chair weight: 41 pounds
  • Folding design
  • Durable tires
  • Push-to-lock brakes
  • Detachable desk arms
  • Swing-away footrests
  • Adjustable arm and leg rests

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 lightweight wheelchairs, weighing 41.25 pounds.

Click here to view pricing and availability for the Blue Streak lightweight wheelchair on Amazon.

4. Drive Medical Cruiser III Transport Wheelchair

Drive Medical Cruiser III Transport Wheelchair
Drive Medical Cruiser III Transport Wheelchair

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.

Features and specs:

  • Seat depth: 16 to 18 inches
  • Seat width: 20 inches
  • Wheel size: 8 inches
  • Weight capacity: 350 pounds
  • Chair weight: 36.5 pounds
  • Carbon steel frame
  • Seat rail extensions
  • Padded armrests
  • Push-to-lock wheels

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.

Click here to view pricing and availability for the Cruiser III lightweight wheelchair on Amazon.

5. Drive Medical Super Light Folding Transport Wheelchair

Drive Medical Fly Lite Ultra Lightweight Transport Wheelchair
Drive Medical Super Light Transport Wheelchair

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.

Features and specs:

  • Seat depth: 16 inches
  • Seat width: 17 inches
  • Wheel size: 8 inches
  • Weight capacity: 300 pounds
  • Chair weight: 16.5 pounds
  • Fold-up armrests
  • Fold-down footrests
  • Composite wheels
  • Maintenance-free design
  • Rear wheel locks

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 15.25.”

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 300 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.

Click here to view pricing and availability for this ultra lightweight transport chair.

6. NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair

NOVA Lightweight Folding Transport Chair

NOVA’s lightweight transport chair comes with two brakes for added safety, anti-tippers and is designed to hold users of up to 300 pounds. The footrests are adjustable to fit taller and shorter users, and the unit folds nicely when not in use.

Features and Specs:

  • Seat depth: 15.75 inches
  • Seat width: 18.5 inches
  • Wheel size: 12 inches
  • Weight capacity: 300 pounds
  • Chair weight: 27 pounds

Feature-rich, the hand brakes are the chair’s standout feature and keep you from having to bend over the lock the chair. The adjustable armrests and footrests allow for an ergonomic fit, and users of all heights can fit in the chair comfortable.

Fold the chair when it’s not in use, or bring it out on rough terrain thanks to the large rear tires.

Pros

  • Footrests lock into place and are adjustable
  • Armrests flip up and are easy to remove
  • Patented hand brakes for added safety
  • Anti-tippers to reduce injury
  • 12-inch rugged rear wheels for easier transport

Cons

  • Prolonged sitting is uncomfortable

Click here to purchase the Nova Lightweight transfer chair from Amazon

7. Giantex Folding Medical Wheelchair

Giantex Folding Medical Wheelchair Manual

The Giantex folding manual wheelchair is FDA approved and has a 24-inch large rubber wheel that provides ample ability to ride over all terrain types. The chair has 8-inch caster wheels for easy turning, and has handled if someone wants to push you.

Features and specs:

  • Seat depth: 16.5 inches
  • Seat width: 19.5 inches
  • Wheel size: 24 inches
  • Weight capacity: 250 pounds
  • Chair weight: 39.6 pounds

There’s a large storage pocket in the back for easy storage. Foldable, you can store the chair in your trunk and makes transport easy. The armrests are comfortable and padded, and the frame is made of reinforced steel.

The chair also has calf supports and the pedals flip up for greater comfort.

Pros

  • Two handbrakes keep the chair firmly locked in place
  • PVC material back adds to comfort even when sitting for long durations
  • Calf supports provide added comfort
  • Full length armrests are comfortable and padded
  • Folding option allows for easy storage in the home or a trunk

Cons

  • Wide, so not good for smaller kids or adults
  • Steel makes the chair heavy

Click here to purchase the Giantex folding medical wheelchair from Amazon

How to Choose a Lightweight Wheelchair

Lightweight wheelchairs (also called transport wheelchairs) provide an easy means of transport for anyone who is lacking full mobility. Heavier wheelchairs may be complicated to fold or disassemble, but lightweight chairs make it fast and easy to fold.

If you’re planning on going to a concert or the park, a lightweight wheelchair is a lot easier for transport.

When first looking for a lightweight model, you may not know how to choose a lightweight wheelchair. There are a lot of features and specs to consider. A few of the main considerations are:

Manual vs Transport Chair

Two main types of lightweight wheelchairs are available: manual or transport. A manual chair provides the user with a means of propelling the wheelchair without assistance from someone else.

A manual wheelchair is all about freedom, and have a small caster wheel and a large wheel for propelling the chair.

Transport wheelchairs do not have the ability to be propelled manually, so it is up to the user to have someone else push them. An aide or family member will be responsible for moving the chair from one point to the next.

If a person has the upper body strength and dexterity to manually push the chair, a manual option may be a good choice.

Weight

Weight doesn’t matter much to the user when using a lightweight transport chair. Heavier steel may be used in some chairs, making them heavier but also allowing for a higher maximum weight for the user.

But the weight of the chair is most important to the person that will be folding the chair and placing it into their trunk. Chairs that are lightweight will have weights between 25 and 30 pounds, but heavier chairs will be higher and might weigh as much as 40+ pounds.

Adjustable Armrests and Footrests

An adjustable armrest and footrest are two of the most important comfort features when choosing a wheelchair. Users of different heights and sizes will need to have adjustable footrests at the very least.

Improper footrest position can cause:

  • Discomfort
  • Ankle pain
  • Hip pain

Proper height adjustments will allow you to maintain a proper leg height and sit comfortably in your chair for longer.

Armrests may or may not have the adjustable feature. When armrests adjust, they allow the user to properly position their arms and also maintain a natural trunk position. These armrests click into place to make sure that they don’t move on accident.

Depth

Seat depth is another dimension of lightweight wheelchairs. You have to measure the depth of the chair against the length of the knee to the hip when sitting at a 90-degree angle. Proper measuring will allow you to determine if the depth of the chair is sufficient.

If the depth is too short, the user’s knees will not line up properly with the footrests and can make sitting uncomfortable.

When the depth is too deep, the depth can make it difficult to place your back against the backrest. Poor posture will follow if the user’s back does not sit flush with the back of the chair.

Most chairs will have a depth and will also provide all measurements so that you can be confident the chair will fit your user.

Seat to Floor Height

A wheelchair’s seat to floor height will allow you to determine if a person’s feet will dangle or if the person’s feet will end up dragging on the floor. You’ll want to also consider if the person will be using their feet to propel the chair.

Some users use their feet to propel their wheelchair, so you might want to consider a slightly lower wheelchair that is lower than the person’s presumed height.

Back Height

Another important thing to consider is the chair’s back height, which you can measure from the top of the seat to the top of the backrest. You may be able to find accessories that will extend the top of the backrest, but ideally, you want a chair that’s already an appropriate height.

I hope these reviews and tips helped you find the best folding lightweight wheelchair for your needs and budget.