The best all-terrain wheelchair

Medical Supplies & Equipment

The first user-propelled wheelchair was invented in 1665 by Stephen Farfler, a parapalgeic clockmaker.

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Which all-terrain wheelchairs are best?

Just because you are in a wheelchair doesn’t mean you should be limited in where you can go. All-terrain wheelchairs have rugged components, high-traction pneumatic wheels and other features that allow them to travel over dirt, gravel, grass and other surfaces traditional wheelchairs struggle on.

Whether you use a manual or electric wheelchair, there is an all-terrain option to fit your needs. The Forcemech Navigator XL falls into the latter category and boasts a sturdy build and an impressive 18-mile range yet folds up compactly for transport and weighs just 60 pounds.

What to know before you buy an all-terrain wheelchair

Who will be using the wheelchair?

Not everyone requires the same type of wheelchair. Children and smaller adults need a small, lightweight wheelchair they can comfortably propel on their own. Larger individuals may need a bariatric wheelchair with an extra-wide seat and a high weight capacity. Those with limited upper-body mobility may require an electric wheelchair. Consider both the size and ability of the user before purchasing any wheelchair.

How easy is it to transport?

Consider how convenient a wheelchair is not only when it is actively being used but in between uses, such as when packing it into a vehicle. Nearly all manual wheelchairs fold up for storage and transport, but not all electric models do. Some are notably lighter than others.

What to look for in a quality all-terrain wheelchair

Adjustability

The more adjustable a wheelchair is, the better you can customize it to your body. The most common parts you can adjust are the height of the armrests, footrests and seat; some models allow you to adjust the angle of recline.

Upholstery

The upholstery of a wheelchair affects how comfortable it is. Ideally, the fabric should be durable, breathable and easy to clean. The most common materials are nylon and vinyl. There also are all-terrain wheelchair models with canvas and other cloth-like materials.

Padding

All-terrain wheelchairs vary greatly in the amount of padding they have. Some come with thick padding on the seat and back. Others have very little padding, so you may want to purchase additional cushions to increase comfort.

Brakes

Brakes are an important safety feature on any wheelchair. In addition to user-operated brakes, some manual models feature companion brakes for a helper.

FAA-approved

If you fly often and want to use your own wheelchair when on the plane, choose an FAA-approved model.

Range

If you are considering an electric all-terrain wheelchair, the range is the determining factor in how far you can travel throughout the day. Some models have as little as a 10-mile range before the batteries need to be recharged, while others offer as much as 20 miles. You may have the option of purchasing additional batteries.

Top speed

The average top speed for an all-terrain electric wheelchair is 5 miles per hour. However, those looking to go faster can find options that have top speeds up to 10 miles per hour.

How much you can expect to spend on an all-terrain wheelchair

All-terrain wheelchairs need to be more rugged than standard wheelchairs, which means they are more expensive. Expect to pay between $400-$1,000 for a manual model, and $1,500-$5,000 for an electric model.

All-terrain wheelchair FAQ

Do you need to be fitted for a wheelchair?

A. While it isn’t absolutely necessary to get professionally fitted for an all-terrain wheelchair, it is a smart idea. Professionals can help you determine what size wheelchair will be most comfortable for you based on your hip width, thigh depth and leg length. They also measure the width and depth of your shoulders and elbows. If you choose not to get professionally fitted, it is best to buy an all-terrain wheelchair that offers a lot of adjustability.

Where can an all-terrain wheelchair go?

A. Every all-terrain wheelchair is different, which means they are suitable for different kinds of surfaces. For example, some models are designed for beach use and can float in water and travel over sand well. Others are suitable for hard-packed dirt but may struggle on loose gravel or grass. To determine if a particular wheelchair will suit your needs, carefully read the product specifications or contact the manufacturer with your questions.

What’s the best all-terrain wheelchair to buy?

Top all-terrain wheelchair

Forcemech Navigator XL

Forcemech Navigator XL

What you need to know: With powerful brushless motors, an 18-mile range and the ability to climb slopes up to 12 degrees, there are few places the Navigator XL can’t take you to.

What you’ll love: It is FAA approved for airline travel, folds up small enough to fit in most trunks and has an effective shock-absorption system for a smooth ride.

What you should consider: It doesn’t accommodate individuals taller than 6 feet, 2 inches well.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.

Top all-terrain wheelchair for the money

Voyager Outdoor All-terrain Wheelchair

Voyager Outdoor All-terrain Wheelchair 

What you need to know: Featuring plenty of padding and large pneumatic wheels, the Voyager self-propel offers a comfortable ride on all kinds of terrain.

What you’ll love: It folds flat and the rear wheels are removable for compact storage and easy transport. The armrests and footrests are height adjustable.

What you should consider: The seat belt is too short for larger users.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.

Worth checking out

Hippocampe All-terrain Beach Wheelchair

Hippocampe All-terrain Beach Wheelchair

What you need to know: This wheelchair isn’t suitable for daily use but there are few better options for heading to the beach.

What you’ll love: Its thick ballon wheels travel over sand well and act as flotation devices when in water. Also, thanks to its aluminum, plastic and stainless steel construction, you don’t have to worry about it rusting if it gets wet.

What you should consider: It’s very expensive for a purpose-made wheelchair from which you may get limited use.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.

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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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