Your Transport Wheelchair Buying Guide

A Transport Wheelchair. Notice the small rear wheels. Copyright (c)

A transport wheelchair is a wheelchair designed for purposes a bit distinct from the standard wheelchair


Most common uses for a transport wheelchair are a chair that can be taken from home to the doctor's office, the mall, or other errands and trips. The transport wheelchair is typically lighter than a standard wheelchair, and it usually has a folding mechanism that makes the chair small and easy to fit in a car.


Other aspects of the transport wheelchair are smaller in scale too, because the chair is designed to give the user the best possible chance to fit wherever it is going. And obviously, many trips we take, whether they are short ones to the grocery store, or long and elaborate ones involving an airport for a business trip or vacation to another country, we cannot possibly plan for every environment we may potentially find ourselves.

For example, elevators, stores, restaurants, hotels, other people's homes, banks. The furniture placement, corridors and doors, and plumbing fixtures are all in different locations with different spacing.

Smaller in Scale

So the transport wheelchair is easy to recognize by its small wheels. Where a standard wheelchair has large rear wheels that allow the user to rotate for propulsion and steering, the transport wheelchair has small, low rear wheels and thus requires a companion to push the chair.

This design makes the transport chair a smaller scaled chair, and thereby more nimble in tight spaces.

Even though the chair is smaller in scale, that does not mean these chairs are not made with sizing options for you to consider. At, an online retailer, you can find transport chairs in 3 seat width ranges:

  • Standard: 17" - 19"
  • Narrow: 15" - 17"
  • Wide:  19" - 24"

There are also transport wheelchair weight options:

  • Standard chairs weight a minimum of 35 lbs.
  • Lightweight chairs weight 29 lbs. - 34 lbs.
  • And ultralight transport chairs are classified as anything weighing less than 29 lbs.

So why wouldn't everyone just choose the lightest possible chair so that the burden of traveling with the chair is minimized? Well, while lightweight chairs can certainly be considered "well-made" and "durable", typically a heavier, larger person is going to need a wider chair with a higher weight capacity. To get this degree of durability, the chair would typically need to be designed with heavy duty steel supports, which thus make the chair heavier. In fact, some chairs can weigh 36 lbs. and some can weigh close to 60 lbs. if the chair has other special features such as a high back or a reclining mechanism.


There are options with wheels too. Various online retailers offer different ranges, but typically you'll find:

  • 7" or less
  • 8" wheels
  • 12" wheels

You'll want to look for "flat-free" tires. There are enough wheelchairs made now with rubber tires that won't deflate while you are on the go. Hold out for this feature to reduce your chance of problems and hassles while traveling.

While 7" wheels will make your chair lighter, some people prefer the larger wheels because they want a feeling of increased stability.


Finally, there are cushion choices. Wheelchairs come with a fabric or vinyl seat, but if you spend more than a few hours in your chair each day, you will most likely want to get a cushion for extra padding on the seat. You may even consider another cushion, separately, for your back.

Seat cushions come in 3 general categories to serve slightly different purposes:

  • Comfort Cushions: Made of foam or gel for... you guessed it! Comfort!
  • Positioning Cushions: These cushions have a contoured shape to their design which puts the user's hips and legs in proper alignment.
  • Preventative Cushions: These are designed to prevent pressure ulcers. Preventative cushions are made of either air or gel because those materials are best for skin breathability and reduced chances for friction.