Best Foldable Wheelchairs: Lightweight and Portable

People for whom age or accident has imposed some limitations on their movement can regain valuable mobility and independence with a well-designed wheelchair. With the best folding wheelchairs, range and possibilities can be greatly expanded. 

We recommend three different types depending on your needs: the self-propelled Drive Medical Silver Sport 1 Wheelchair, the NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair, and the Porto Mobility Ranger D09S electrically powered chair.

Our Picks for Best Folding Wheelchairs

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Best Foldable Wheelchairs Reviewed

Everybody has particular needs, so we have had a good look at what makes the best folding wheelchairs in each category.

The six collapsable wheelchairs in our review stand out for their special features and qualities:

1. Drive Medical Silver Sport 1 Wheelchair: Best Overall

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This durable transporter and self-propelled chair has full arms to make getting in and out easier. It features a lightweight construction with a powder-coated steel frame, easy-clean upholstery, and urethane tires. 

The Drive Medical is a great all-rounder that folds into a compact format with folding back canes and can easily be stored out of the way or fitted into the back of your car without buying an extra wheelchair carrier. A decent choice for people needing a no-frills option for moving around a lot, indoors and outdoors, or even for traveling

Pros

  • Swing-away, removable footrests for quick entering and exiting.
  • Push and lock wheels for safety on slopes.
  • Weight capacity of up to 250 pounds.
  • Closed width is only 11 inches.
  • Backrest has a carry pocket for personal items.

Cons

  • Seat and back have no extra cushioning.
  • Seat width limited to 18 inches.
  • Weighs nearly 38 pounds.

2. Invacare TREX20RP Tracer EX2 Wheelchair

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The varying needs of users looking for a sturdily built wheelchair that they can take with them on their travels are well catered for with this self-propelled wheelchair. Manufactured with a durable carbon-steel frame and offering plenty of customization options, you can’t go wrong with this choice.

The foldable chair is available with full arms for easy entry and exit, or with recessed arms for working at an office desk. Footrests and elevating padded footrests are optionally available. Different seat width options can also be selected.

The vinyl-covered seat and back are easily washable, and the dual-embossed upholstery is comfortable to sit on for extended periods. Heavy-duty inner liners prevent stretching.

Pros

  • Available with permanent, full or desk arms—offset for extra comfort.
  • 16-inch seat depth with 16-inch, 18-inch, and 20-inch seat width choices. 
  • Dual axle position for simple repositioning of hemi seat-to-floor height from 17 ½ to 19 ½ inches.
  • Strong build with urethane tires, no-flex wheels, carbon steel, and 14-gauge cross braces.
  • 250-pound carrying capacity.

Cons

  • Arms do not fold away.
  • Not very light, weighing around 37 pounds (actual weight depends on options fitted).

3. NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair

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The Nova Transporter is a versatile product that maximizes mobility in everyday life or even when you are traveling.

The lightweight design, with rugged 12-inch rear wheels, is easy to maneuver around the house and outdoors. Locking hand brakes and anti-tippers add to safety. The arms are removable or just flip up for secure transfer. Footrests can be easily folded out of the way or removed as needed. 

Pros

  • Lockable handbrakes for safety on uneven terrain.
  • Flip-up desk arms for easy entry and sitting at tables.
  • 8-inch front wheels and 12-inch back wheels for best stability on any terrain. 
  • Lightweight aluminum frame is much lighter than steel.
  • Seat belt for security on slopes.
  • Quick-release fold-down back for quick, compact storage.
  • Swing-away footrests with heel loops for resting feet.

Cons

  • The seat-back angle is uncomfortable for longer periods of sitting.
  • Thick carpet can make pushing harder because of the smaller wheels.

4. Drive Medical TR37E-SV Lightweight Transport Wheelchair

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If you are reliant on a companion moving you around, then we have your top choice for the best folding wheelchair. For indoor use, the Drive Medical TR37E-SV is a great option to have stowed away or bring along without much hassle. 

The small wheels maximize maneuverability. Fixed arms, locking brakes, swing-away footrests, and a stable frame make it easier to get in and out without assistance. This lightweight folding wheelchair is easy to clean with nylon upholstery, padded armrests, and a powder-coated steel frame.

Pros

  • Only 8 inches wide when folded.
  • Easily carried, weighs only 26 pounds.
  • Adjustable, removable, fold-away footrest. 
  • Seat width accommodated up 19 inches wide.
  • 250-pound carrying capacity.

Cons

  • Small wheels are not well suited for outdoor use.

5. Porto Mobility Ranger D09S Power Wheelchair

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Going anywhere with electric power is possible with the Porto Mobility Ranger that positions itself as an all-terrain, weatherproof, and super heavy duty foldable wheelchair. By foldable, they mean small enough to fit into the back of a small car like a Honda Civic. This chair’s turning radius is also small at 33 inches.

The seat and back cushion are thickly padded and breathable for comfort but are removable for easy cleaning, and the dual rear suspension, solid footrest, and double-jointed raisable armrest add to the sturdy feel.

Pros

  • Dual 500W motors can handle up to 350 pounds of passenger weight.
  • Travel cover and back storage pouch included.
  • Comes fully assembled with dual lithium-ion batteries and charger.
  • Leg Extension, Headrest, and Cup Holder Phone holder optional. 
  • Collapses to 30 x 13.5 x 24 inches (H x W x D).

Cons

  • Limited to 19-inch seat width to still fit airplane aisles.

6. Forcemech Voyager R2 Foldable Power Wheelchair

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The weight and size of typical electric chairs discourage their use for traveling, but the Forcemech Voyager at only 43 pounds opens new possibilities. With a built-in battery and motor, the US-designed and built product is also certified by the FDA for air travel. 

The Voyager has shock-absorption springs, a comfortable padded seat and back as well as fold-away arms. The footrest sits on a solid frame and isn’t just made of plastic plates. A thick handlebar at the back permits a companion to assist in tight spaces. Safety is emphasized with a bright yellow frame and rear reflective lights. 

Pros

  • Joystick control of the front wheels.
  • Electric motor reaching a maximum speed of 4MPH. 
  • Travels 16 miles with one battery charge.
  • Weight capacity of up to 265 pounds.
  • Folds compactly to 26 x 13 x 30 inches (L x W x H).
  • Money-back guarantee.

Cons

  • Seat height is relatively high at 20 inches.

How to Choose the Best Lightweight Folding Wheelchair

Choosing a good wheelchair is a little like buying a bed—you, or the person you’re helping, are going to spend a lot of time in the chair, so you want to be sure to get it right. Let’s simplify the exercise by looking at a few considerations to get right before you need to worry about the color.

Self-propelled, Pushed by a Companion or Electrically Powered?

You probably already have your preference in mind, but do consider that it need not be an either-or choice.

If the user of the wheelchair doesn’t have the ability to propel themselves, then an alternative to a transporter chair is an electric chair. 

Another reason to get a transporter chair is for easy storage and even to use for assisted bathing. But a lightweight folding wheelchair like the Drive Medical Silver Sport 1 Wheelchair serves that purpose while still giving a user the independence to move by themselves if required.

Basic measurements

If you’re using a wheelchair already, then you’ll have some idea about the measurements to look out for, but otherwise get some advice from your health provider or look for an opportunity to trial the options available.

Seat width and seat depth are the first measurements to take into account. Just keep in mind that the seat width will affect maneuverability. The Invacare TREX20RP Tracer EX2 Wheelchair comes with three different seat width options, ranging from 16 to 20 inches.

Similarly, the hemi seat-to-floor height determines foot placement and comfort. The Invacare EX2 can be adjusted from 17 ½ to 19 ½ inches.

Fixed, Folding, or Recessed Armrests?

Users have different abilities and preferences for how to enter and exit a wheelchair; this will dictate the choice for fixed armrests that allows a person with good arm strength to leverage themselves in and out of the chair. Others are better able to shift into the seat with the armrests raised. A recessed armrest, in turn, is designed to allow the chair to be moved in close to a table or desk. Doing this will position the upper body at a convenient distance from the edge.

The Invacare TREX20RP Tracer EX2 Wheelchair comes with all these options, even allowing for the possibility to modify the chair should ability and needs change, for example, when an invalid returns to the workforce in an office setting.

Best Foot Rest Options?

Like armrests, the best options depend on ability and preference. Footrests normally should be able to be moved out of the way to allow a person to approach the chair easily. However, this may not always work well for independent use. 

An alternative design is to have the footrest on a bar that folds down. This design may be more comfortable for those able to move their legs more easily like found on the Forcemech Voyager R2 and the Porto Mobility Ranger D09S.

Also, think about the need for a heel rest, or to be able to elevate a leg when you make your selection.

What Can Make a Collapsable Wheelchair Safer?

No matter how careful the user and their companion are in operating the wheelchair, the product design will be an important factor affecting safety. Getting in and out of the chair is the riskiest moment, so you want to lock brakes and strong, easy to grip handles for the user and their companion.

The anti-tippers attached to the recommended NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair are also a useful safety feature if typical movement involves reaching out of the chair.

A seatbelt is also advised to prevent the user from slipping out of the seat on any slope.

There’s also a risk of back injury for the companion when loading the wheelchair into a car; this is where the weight of the chair matters.

Lastly, give some consideration to the wheel sizes of the transporter and electric chairs. Chairs with small front castor wheels are more prone to tipping, especially when they’re electrically powered.

Our verdict

If you are looking for the best foldable wheelchair, there are three different options to consider. 

For a self-propelled versatile, robust, and collapsable wheelchair, we recommend the Drive Medical Silver Sport 1 Wheelchair

The most lightweight folding wheelchair is a companion operated transporter chair, like the versatile NOVA Lightweight Transport Chair, which we liked best. 

Modern battery technology has made electric folding wheelchairs possible that can cover a considerable distance, are very maneuverable, and can even be taken on a plane—all features that the Porto Mobility Ranger D09S ticks straight out of the box.

Disability is not a barrier
Cherry

Hi, buddy! I am the main editor of this site. I studied in the health-related area for 6 years and obtained a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology and a master's degree in Adapted Physical Activity. I hope the information on this site can offer you some help.

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