Best Sport Manual Wheelchairs

Updated: Jul 17, 2022

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If you’re looking for a manual wheelchair—defined by its large rear wheels that allow you to propel yourself—that’s built for activity, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite sport models on the market right now. These are excellent options for seniors who want to have the option of rolling themselves or being pushed by a caregiver.

How We Found the Best Sport Manual Wheelchairs

8 Reviewers
16 Products Considered
7 Hours of Research
6 Products Reviewed
3 Top Picks

Best Reclining

Drive Medical Silver Sport Reclining Wheelchair with Detachable Desk Length Arms

$599.00

Pros

  • Hydraulic reclining backrest up to 180 degrees.

  • Various arm length options are available.

  • High weight capacity.

  • Push-to-lock wheel breaks.

  • Tall backrest height of 31 inches.

  • Padded armrests.

  • Swing-away elevating leg rests with calf support.

Cons

  • A bit pricey.

  • Slightly heavier than some chairs.

The Drive Medical SSP20RBDFA Silver Sport Reclining Wheelchair with Elevating Leg Rests provides absolute comfort while still remaining in the price range of a few hundred dollars (rather than thousands). With padding for your head, it can recline 180 degrees and has armrests that adjust to the recline. This wheelchair is a great value considering all of its features: padded calf support, swing-away footrests, and a reclining back.

The ratings on this wheelchair are also quite decent. Do take note, it weighs about 20 pounds more than some of the other chairs we’ve reviewed, which might be a dealbreaker for seniors who can’t lift heavy objects. However, if a reclining chair and elevated feet are a necessity, it’s an excellent option. We also love the fold-up option for easy storage. This chair has composite mag-style wheels that are lightweight with push-to-lock brakes and 8-inch front casters.

Our Verdict

We love the high-backrest, reclining options, and strong weight capacity on this chair.

Best On A Budget

Drive Medical SSP218DFA-ELR Silver Sport 2 Wheelchair, 18 Inch

$300.00

Pros

  • Excellent price.

  • Padded armrests.

  • Push-to-lock wheel brakes.

  • Removable swing-away footrests.

  • Carry pocket on back.

  • Outstanding ratings.

Cons

  • Leg/footrests do need to be assembled to chair.

The Drive Medical SSP218DFA-ELR Silver Sport 2 Wheelchair is an excellent all-around option for seniors who do not wish to spend a fortune on a chair. It comes with padded armrests, a pocket on the back, and is pre-assembled except for the detachable swing-away footrests. For a foldable, lightweight chair, we love this low-cost option.

There is an elevated footrest option, also. This chair is well-rated, and we also liked that the vinyl seat is easy to clean. It has foldable plastic footplates, padded calf rests, and a slightly larger-than-average seat size, at 17 x 19.5 inches. For under $200, we found this to be an excellent selection of features for a chair.

Our Verdict

For the price, this is an outstanding choice with foldability and comfort.

Best For Outdoors

Karman 24 pounds LT-980 Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair Black

$310.59

Features and Specifications

  • Fixed armrest with wide cushioned arm pads.Overall Length : 28 inch. Folded Height 29 inch
  • Swing In/Away Removable Footrest, Adjustable Height Footplates with heel loops.Back Height:19 inch
  • Backrest Pouch attached to the upholstery, Folding backrest and folding seat for easy traveling
  • 6″×1” Polyurethane solid front casters, Seat width: 18″x 16″
  • 22″ x 1 3/8” flat free polyurethane tires, high tread, flat free wheels

Pros

  • Three color options.

  • Easy to clean.

  • Anti-tippers are available.

  • Foldable frame.

  • Removable swing-away footrests.

  • Seatbelt included.

  • Highly adjustable footrest

  • Super lightweight.

Cons

  • A bit pricey.

  • Armrests are not adjustable.

The Karman 24 pounds LT-980 Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair is easy to move around and lift, even for seniors with muscle weakness. Its seat is 18 inches wide (the most popular size for average wheelchairs), and the seat height is adjustable. Padded desk-length armrests are a bonus for comfort. The company also offers anti-tippers that can be fastened onto the wheel sides if you’re concerned about side-to-side stability.

We love this chair because it’s made with super lightweight, yet highly durable aluminum. It has a foldable, compact frame, which is excellent for older adults who plan to travel with their wheelchair. It’s comfortable and easy to clean as it’s made with padded nylon upholstery. The adjustable height footrest allows for users to find a perfect fit whether you’re five feet up to six feet tall.

Our Verdict

Anti-tippers are available along with an included seat belt. With a lightweight frame, these features make it great for taking outside.

Best Foldable

Giantex Folding Medical Wheelchair Manual, 20” Seat, Large 23″ Durable Rubber Wheel Smart Brakes 8″

Price not available

Features and Specifications

  • 【User-Friendly Designs】A big pocket was behind the wheelchair for your little collections. Two hand brakes over the big wheels are easy to use, besides, the brake system can be adjusted if you are not satisfied with the brake tightness or speed. The…
  • 【Space Saving and Easy Transport Folding Design】You can fold the wheelchair effortlessly. It can be folded easily and helps you save much space when it is not in use. It is easy for to move or put in a car trunk for transport.
  • 【Comfortably Padded Armrests】The armrests are softly padded and offer ultra comfort to you. The height is suitable for your daily use to place a table over the wheelchair for office work or have your meals
  • 【Sturdy Reinforced Steel Frame and Soft Seat and Back】The wheelchair has sturdy reinforced steel frame to ensure the sturdiness and solidness. The seat and back uses soft customized PVC material to ensure the comfortableness of sitting on it
  • 【Calf Support Belts and Flipped Pedals】The calf support belt offers support to your calf and effectively reduces the pressure. The pedals can be flipped to the side, leaving spaces for you to easily stand up.

Pros

  • Adjustable hand breaks.

  • Comes pre-assembled.

  • Rubber tires.

  • Padded armrests.

  • Calf-support belt.

  • Flip footrests.

  • Completely foldable.

Cons

  • A few complaints about the company’s customer service.

The Giantex 24-inch Foldable Medical Wheelchair with Footrest features a large pocket on the back of the chair to carry necessary items with you. It also has hand breaks on the large rear wheels. Some customers like this feature, while some prefer not to use them. Be sure to evaluate if this is a specification that would work for you and your needs.

This chair does weigh almost 40 pounds, a comfortable load for some to manage, although it can be more difficult for others. The cushioned seat, calf support strap, soft armrests, and flappable footrests make this a great overall chair for older adults who value comfort. The ability for this model to fold up for easy transport is also an excellent bonus.

Our Verdict

We love the value of this completely foldable, lightweight chair.

Best With Movable Arm Rests

Medline Lightweight & User-Friendly Wheelchair With Flip-Back, Desk-Length Arms & Elevating Leg Rests

$279.95

Features and Specifications

  • UNMATCHED COMFORT: This user-friendly folding wheelchair for seniors and adults features a comfortable, height-adjustable seat (from 18” to 20” H); chair weighs 34 lbs., with a 300 lb. weight capacity
  • STURDY AND DURABLE: Experience effortless maneuverability with this lightweight wheelchair for indoor/outdoor use; durable frame ensures stability and reliability for navigating various terrains
  • USER-FRIENDLY: Swing-back, desk-length arms for easier lateral transfer and access to tables and desks; elevating leg rests for greater comfort
  • HIGH-QUALITY MATERIALS: The wheelchair features a breathable nylon upholstery that is soft to the touch and easy to clean
  • DIMENSIONS: 30”L x 25.5/27.5”W x 38”H (assembled)/30”L x 10.5”W x 38”H (folded)

Pros

  • Space-saving, flip-back armrests.

  • Available in three seat sizes.

  • Adjustable (up and down) backrest.

  • Sturdy steel frame.

  • Moderately priced (depending on seat size).

  • Rubber tires.

Cons

  • The seat is nylon but not cushioned.

The Medline Lightweight and User-Friendly Wheelchair has flip-back, desk-length armrests to make navigating under tables easier. The leg rest can be elevated or removed if needed. The seat of nylon upholstery is breathable, which also adds comfort, especially for older adults who live in warmer climates.

Available in three seat sizes, the company recommends a 16-inch seat for smaller adults, their 18-inch seat for an average-sized adult (also the most popular size), and the 20-inch seat for a larger adult.

The width of the entire chair is about 26 inches wide, so be sure to measure doorways around your home before deciding on a chair with armrests. We love that the foldable armrests on this model are thin enough to make maneuvering through doors easier than an extra-wide chair, yet still comfortable.

Our Verdict

Space-saving, flip-back armrests and a decent price make this one of our favorites.

Best All Court

Sunrise Quickie All Court Wheelchair

Features & Specs

  • Seat to floor height adjustment 16 inches to 21 inches.
  • Seat widths 12 inches to 20 inches.
  • Seat depths 10 inches to 20 inches.
  • Weighs 24 pounds.

Pros

  • Adjustable seat and back height.

  • Available in a variety of colors.

  • 16-degree and 20-degree camber options.

  • Anti-slip to assist with secure movement.

  • Hemi height option.

  • Air-filled tire option.

  • Excellent ratings.

Cons

  • Expensive

  • Back does not recline.

The Sunrise Quickie All Court Wheelchair has patented center-of-mass adjustment. This allows an athlete to adjust the chair for ideal body positioning, all without affecting the wheelbase or the stability of the chair. It’s lightweight yet large tubing allows for quick movement, while remaining durable to impact.

While it’s a bit costly, this chair has outstanding ratings, particularly for stability. It has quick-release axles, the option for pneumatic tires, and a wide selection of colors to pick from. This chair comes with a one-year warranty as well as a limited lifetime warranty. It’s an excellent choice for active, athletic seniors who want a nimble chair.

Our Verdict

An air-filled tire option and superior traction and movability make this our favorite for the court.

There are a few crucial components to manual wheelchairs in general. Once you begin looking at sport models and those specifically designed for more activity, there is an additional level of features to review and keep in mind.

Wheelchairs are such a personal choice, so you will need to list your priorities before deciding on any model. A chair designed for more activity or sports will require more thought about the events you take part in, the stability of the chair, its weight, and the tires.

Size

One feature to consider is how much space you’ll have and if you’ll be rolling the chair down slim hallways or through narrow doorways. Double check the width of your doors at home to determine if they are too narrow, and compare those measurements with potential chair measurements.

How To Select A Size

Seats are generally available in three sizes: narrow (16 inches), medium (18 inches), and wide. Narrow chairs are usually best for users under 120 pounds. Medium seats are ideal for those between 120 to 300 pounds. Wide is best for those over 300 pounds.

Weight Of Chair

You must consider how much you or your caregiver is able to lift if you want the best fit in a chair for you. Certain types of frames, such as aluminum, can weigh much less than steel. However, be sure to check into the reviews and FAQ sections for chairs to see if other users have commented on their weight and ability to maneuver.

If you’re using your manual wheelchair for sports or extremely active use, you may want a sturdier frame. If you have a caregiver helping you, or you can lift a decent amount of weight, a structure made of stainless steel or something durable might be the right fit for you.

Foldability

Most manual wheelchairs will have a folding option. On the rare occasion one does not, factor this into your priorities and decide how vital being able to fold your wheelchair will be to you. This is an important feature especially if you’re using a sport model, or using your chair for travel and need to be able to get it in and out of cars.

Armrests

Most manual wheelchairs will come with either removable or flip-back armrests. Both help you get in and out of the chair. However, removable armrests will require finding a spot to set them down (if you’re at a restaurant, for example) and can be a bit more challenging to deal with than flip-backs. If you can get the chair you like with raising or flip-back armrests, we recommend that style.

Armrests also come in two lengths. The shorter style is desk-length, the longer being full-length. You’ll need to consider if you’re tall and have long arms, or want more support in getting out of your chair. In these cases, full-length armrests are fantastic. Conversely, perhaps you don’t want armrests bumping into things and feeling “in the way.” If you need to be able to wheel up to a desk comfortably, the desk-length would be more ideal.

Wheels/Tires

On a sport manual wheelchair, the wheels or tires are more crucial to check within each chair’s specifications. If you’re playing active sports such as basketball, it might be ideal to have pneumatic (air-filled) tires. The Sunrise Quickie All Court Wheelchair has this option, for example.

You might not be playing team sports, but just wanting some decent tread on standard wheels, in which case something like the Karman 24 pounds LT-980 Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair can be an excellent choice. If a standard manual wheelchair (often polyurethane) is fine for your needs, don’t stress too much about having something like pneumatic tires, as they can up the price a bit.

Wheelchairs are such a personal choice, so you will need to list your priorities before deciding on any model. A chair designed for more activity or sports will, of course, require more thought about the events you take part in, the stability of the chair, its weight, and the tires.

If you’re looking for an excellent all-around daily model, we love the Medline Lightweight and User-Friendly Wheelchair as it has numerous reviews and customizable seat size. For more intense sports activity, we recommend the Sunrise Quickie All Court Wheelchair. Regardless, all of the options here are fantastic as you long as you remember to select what is right for you.

Buying a sport manual wheelchair can help you stay active long into older adulthood. These chairs are designed for quick and nimble movement, which is perfect for sports or other athletic activities. Finding the right sport manual wheelchair for you may take some research, but we believe it’s totally worth the investment since these chairs can help you stay independent and healthy even later in life.

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