woman wishing she was pushing a lightweight wheelchairIf and when the time comes for a mobility device, the last thing you want is a heavy, clunky wheelchair that is hard to push and travel with. Wheelchairs come in all shapes and sizes… and weights! There are many factors that affect the weight of a wheelchair. Some of these you can control but many you cannot. As someone who works with wheelchairs every day, I put together this buying guide to the best lightweight folding wheelchair reviews. After reading these reviews and comparisons, choosing the best lightweight wheelchair for you will be easy!

NOTE:  For the purpose of this guide, I am reviewing manual wheelchairs – the ones that you push yourself. For lightweight folding electric wheelchair reviews, I have a separate article you will want to read.

Lightweight Folding Wheelchair Comparison Chart

Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair with Various Flip Back Arm Styles and Front...
Karman 30 lb Lightweight Wheelchair Flip Back Armrest, Black
Karman 24 pounds LT-980 Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair Black
Medline Ultralight Transport Chair, 19" Wide Seat, Permanent Desk-Length Arms, Swing Away Footrests,...
Drive Medical Aluminum Transport Chair, 19", Silver
Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair with Various Flip Back Arm Styles and Front...
Karman 30 lb Lightweight Wheelchair Flip Back Armrest, Black
Karman 24 pounds LT-980 Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair Black
Medline Ultralight Transport Chair, 19" Wide Seat, Permanent Desk-Length Arms, Swing Away Footrests,...
Drive Medical Aluminum Transport Chair, 19", Silver
Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair with Various Flip Back Arm Styles and Front...
Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair with Various Flip Back Arm Styles and Front...
Karman 30 lb Lightweight Wheelchair Flip Back Armrest, Black
Karman 30 lb Lightweight Wheelchair Flip Back Armrest, Black
Karman 24 pounds LT-980 Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair Black
Karman 24 pounds LT-980 Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair Black
Medline Ultralight Transport Chair, 19" Wide Seat, Permanent Desk-Length Arms, Swing Away Footrests,...
Medline Ultralight Transport Chair, 19" Wide Seat, Permanent Desk-Length Arms, Swing Away Footrests,...
Drive Medical Aluminum Transport Chair, 19", Silver
Drive Medical Aluminum Transport Chair, 19", Silver

Images, Product Info, and Ratings from Amazon Product Advertising API - Last update on 2018-01-17 at 01:42 - contains affiliate links (see footer).


What Makes a Wheelchair Heavy?

  1. Material – The type of metal that a wheelchair is made from is a major part of the heaviness of a wheelchair. Most wheelchairs are made from steel and aluminum. Wheelchair manufacturers use different grades of these materials to make a lighter weight wheelchair. For example, they test different diameter tubes and thicknesses for wheelchairs. It all gets very complicated sometimes. Aluminum chairs tend to make wheelchairs that are lighter in weight. Sometimes though, making a chair lighter sacrifices some of the strength.
  2. Size – The size of a wheelchair makes a big difference in the weight. (It even affects the comfort too!) Most standard wheelchairs come in one of 3 widths: 16″, 18″ or 20″. As a general rule, a 20″ wide wheelchair will weigh more than an 18″. So, an 18″ wide wheelchair will also weigh more than a 16″. Basically, the wider the wheelchair, more metal is needed to make it. To get the best lightweight wheelchair, measure across the hips of the user while seated on a firm surface like a dining room chair. Get the smallest width wheelchair that fits that hip measurement.
  3. Wheels – the size and type of wheels also help make up the weight of a wheelchair. For most standard wheelchairs, the buyer will not get a choice of wheel. You are kind of at the mercy of the manufacturer. In general, spoke wheels are lighter than mag wheels although recent improvements to composite plastics have narrowed that gap.
  4. Leg rests – the weight of the leg rests also matters if you are looking for a lightweight chair. Especially if you need the chair to be lighter for pushing it. However, most leg rests on wheelchairs are removable and are taken off when it comes time to lift them. Elevating leg rests are the heaviest style because they have more parts and support more weight. Many wheelchair manufacturers have switched over to plastic footplates which reduces the weight of their chairs.man choosing a new lightweight wheelchair
  5. Cross brace – the cross brace is the x-shaped support piece under the wheelchair seat. This is the piece that moves when the wheelchair folds. It is the major support structure for the whole wheelchair. So, it is usually the heaviest part. Heavy duty and bariatric chairs use often use 2 of these which explains why they are heavier duty chairs.
  6. Arms – The style of arms also affects the weight of a wheelchair. Some arms have 2 or even 3 support posts which all add weight to the chair. Arms are another piece that is sometimes removable. Taking them off when lifting the chair will make it easier to lift. Some people even take them off while using a wheelchair too. It just depends if the user needs the arms to rest on or to help support their upper body.
  7. Upholstery – the type of upholstery on a wheelchair affects the overall weight of the wheelchair but to a lesser extent. We are probably talking a difference of ounces here. But, in general, nylon upholstery is lighter (and more durable!) than vinyl upholstery.
  8. Accessories – this may sound like common sense but people forget about this. Adding accessories adds weight to the wheelchair! Add-ons like oxygen tank holders and maybe even cupholders are important. However, I had a lady call me one time and said she couldn’t push her chair because it was too heavy. When I went to her home to help her out, I found she had a backpack on each back cane that was full plus a purse hanging from the arm.

With most standard wheelchairs, the manufacturer makes most of these decisions. The best lightweight folding wheelchairs are ones that weigh less than 30 lbs with all accessories. Insurance companies also classify wheelchairs by their weight.

CAUTION! Be very careful when you read weight statistics for wheelchairs. Some wheelchair manufacturers play games with this number. Always read the fine print of the wheelchair specification used to determine the weight. I have seen weights reported that did not include any arms or footrests. Sometimes, the weight reported is a size of wheelchair that most people would not actually use, like a 14″ wide chair.

How to Buy a Wheelchair

Is buying a wheelchair is a new experience for you? Not really sure where to start? Jump over to my Definitive Buying Guide on How to Buy a Wheelchair Online. This article explains how to measure for a chair and what all of these terms and options mean.

Lightweight Folding Wheelchair Reviews

Good: Drive Medical Cruiser III Folding Lightweight Wheelchair

Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair with Various Flip Back Arm Styles and Front...

For a budget option, the Drive Medical Cruiser III offers a lot. It is one of the lightest weight folding wheelchairs in the $100 price category. For example, an 18″ wide chair weighs only 36 lb (without footrests). Available seat widths are 16″, 18″ and 20″ to accommodate a wide range of users. Other options are your choice of footrests: standard swing away or elevating style. The chair folds with or without the footrests being removed and is only 12 ” wide when folded. This makes it easy to take with you and will fit in most vehicle trunks.

Important features:

  • Weighs between 36 and 40 lbs depending on size and options
  • Self-propelled wheelchair or can be pushed by caregiver
  • Folds easily into a 12″ wide package
  • Tool-free leg rest adjustments
  • Fully Assembled
  • Color: Black
  • 300 lb weight capacity
Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair with Various Flip Back Arm Styles and Front...
373 Reviews
Drive Medical Cruiser III Light Weight Wheelchair with Various Flip Back Arm Styles and Front...
  • Carbon steel frame with silver vein finish; Nylon upholstery is durable, lightweight, attractive, and easy to clean; Weighs under 36 lbs (excluding...
  • Built-in seat rail extensions and extendable upholstery easily adjust seat depth from 16" to 18"; Padded armrests provide additional comfort
  • Composite, Mag-style wheels are lightweight and maintenance free; 8" front casters are adjustable in three positions
  • New frame style eliminates seat guides and allows for custom back inserts and accessories; Dual axle provides easy transition of seat height to...
  • Precision sealed wheel bearings in front and rear ensure long-lasting performance and reliability; Comes with push-to-lock wheel locks

Images, Product Info, and Ratings from Amazon Product Advertising API - Last update on 2018-01-17 at 01:42 - contains affiliate links (see footer).


Better: Karman Healthcare 802 Series Lightweight Folding Wheelchairs

Karman 30 lb Lightweight Wheelchair Flip Back Armrest, Black

The Karman 802 series is one of the more lightweight options – especially in the sub $200 wheelchair market. Like most of the wheelchairs, I have reviewed here, it folds up easily in a neat, clean package that is easy to load. It will also fit in nearly any trunk or vehicle. Reviews of the product are mixed on the internet. However, I have seen, touched, and felt this wheelchair in person and it seems to be solidly built. But, it isn’t for everyone. It has a weight capacity of 250 lbs and really should only be used by the average sized person under 225 lbs.

Important features:

  • Weighs around 30 lbs depending on size and configuration
  • Wheelchair can be propelled by user or caregiver
  • Folds up into a narrow 12″ footprint
  • Arms flip back, back folds down, and leg rests are detachable
  • Color: Black
  • Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
Karman 30 lb Lightweight Wheelchair Flip Back Armrest, Black
19 Reviews
Karman 30 lb Lightweight Wheelchair Flip Back Armrest, Black
  • Weighs only 30 lbs Ultra Lightweight
  • Flip Back Armrest allows for easier transfers
  • Removable Footrest; Folding Backrest
  • Solid Front and Rear Wheels
  • Proper procedure is to first engage brake, then swing out the leg rest, as with any wheelchair

Images, Product Info, and Ratings from Amazon Product Advertising API - Last update on 2018-01-17 at 01:44 - contains affiliate links (see footer).


Best: Karman LT-980 Ultra Lightweight Folding Wheelchairs

Karman 24 pounds LT-980 Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair Black

At a weight of only 24 lbs, this chair is the best lightweight folding wheelchair for people who have difficulty propelling a chair or loading one into a car. It folds into a tight, neat package – even the back folds down to make it smaller. Easily fits into most car trunks. The seat to floor height is even adjustable for someone who needs to push a chair with their feet or for shorter people who have trouble getting in and out of a wheelchair. It comes in several color choices and is also available with elevating legrests. A drawback to this chair though is that it is only available in 18″ W X 16″ D seat size. While this will fit the majority of users, heavier or taller people may not fit in it very well.

Important features:

  • Weighs only 24 lb without footrests / 27 lb with footrests
  • Can be self-propelled or pushed by caregiver
  • Only available in 18″ W x 16″ D
  • Arms flip back, back folds down, and leg rests are swing away and detachable
  • Elevating leg rests are available
  • Adjustable seat to floor height
  • Colors: Black, Burgundy, or Silver
  • Weight Capacity 250 lbs
Karman 24 pounds LT-980 Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair Black
97 Reviews
Karman 24 pounds LT-980 Ultra Lightweight Wheelchair Black
  • Weighs only 24 lbs
  • 18"x16" Seat
  • Swing Away Removable Footrest
  • Seatbelt Included
  • 22" Rear Wheels and 6" Front Casters

Images, Product Info, and Ratings from Amazon Product Advertising API - Last update on 2018-01-17 at 01:42 - contains affiliate links (see footer).


A Few Honorable Mentions Worth Considering

Transport chairs are also worth considering for people who need a lightweight wheelchair. It does depend on the needs of the user however. Some people need a wheelchair they can move themselves and some do not. Check out this article for more differences between a wheelchair and transport chair.


Medline Ultralight Folding Transport Chair –  only 15 lbs

Medline Ultralight Transport Chair, 19' Wide Seat, Permanent Desk-Length Arms, Swing Away Footrests,...

If you need a super lightweight folding wheelchair for getting back and forth to doctor or shopping trips, this is the one. It is extremely lightweight at only 15 lbs. It folds up into an easy to transport package – even the back folds down and the leg rests flip back for easy storage. Medline even included a cup holder and seat belt which are extras on most chairs. Keep in mind, though, this is a transport chair which means the user must be pushed. It has small wheels only – no big wheel in the back for the user to self-propel. Also, because of the small wheels, it will not do very well on rough terrain like gravel driveways or yards that are not smooth.

Important features:

  • Weighs just 15 lbs!
  • Cannot be self-propelled. Must be pushed by caregivers
  • Swingaway legrests
  • Easily folds into a small package
  • Includes a cup holder and seatbelt
  • Colors: Black, Blue, Silver, Red
  • Weight Capacity 300 lbs
Medline Ultralight Transport Chair, 19' Wide Seat, Permanent Desk-Length Arms, Swing Away Footrests,...
509 Reviews
Medline Ultralight Transport Chair, 19" Wide Seat, Permanent Desk-Length Arms, Swing Away Footrests,...
  • Travel light and make outings easier with our 300 lb weight capacity ultralight transport chair
  • Stow-n-go clips allow the footrests to be locked to the side of the chair when not in use
  • The compact design folds up easily for travel and storage; this durable transport chair weighs less than 15 lbs
  • Restaurant-style permanent armrests allow the user to sit closer to tables and desks
  • Soft nylon upholstery; 8" rear wheels; Made of high-grade aluminum

Images, Product Info, and Ratings from Amazon Product Advertising API - Last update on 2018-01-17 at 01:42 - contains affiliate links (see footer).


Drive Medical Aluminum Transport Chair

Drive Medical Aluminum Transport Chair, 19', Silver

This lightweight transport wheelchair from Drive Medical is a great choice for the budget shoppers. You can usually buy one for $100.00 or less. With a total weight of 19 lbs and an easy folding mechanism, you will be able to take it about anywhere. Note that Drive makes several models of transport chairs so if you want a lightweight version, choose one made from aluminum rather than steel.

Important features:

  • Weighs 19 lb
  • Folds up easily and simple to transport
  • Back folds down
  • Includes lightweight upholstery and seatbelt
  • Colors: Red, Blue, Black, Silver
  • Weight Capacity: 300 lbs
Drive Medical Aluminum Transport Chair, 19', Silver
363 Reviews
Drive Medical Aluminum Transport Chair, 19", Silver
  • Aluminum frame is lightweight (Weighs only 19 lbs) and strong; Nylon upholstery is comfortable, lightweight and easy to clean
  • 8" composite wheels are lightweight and maintenance free
  • Aluminum casted back-release hinge allows back to fold down for easy storage and transport
  • Padded armrests provide additional comfort and a safety belt provides security
  • Folded Dimensions: 33" x 9" x 39.5"; Seat Width Between Arms: 16.5"; Seat Depth: 15.75"; Seat Height: 19"; Weight Capacity: 300 lbs

Images, Product Info, and Ratings from Amazon Product Advertising API - Last update on 2018-01-17 at 01:42 - contains affiliate links (see footer).


Finding the Best Lightweight Folding Wheelchair

Lightweight wheelchairs are a tremendous benefit. This is especially true for seniors who have caregivers who cannot lift a standard wheelchair. Lighter wheelchairs are also easier to propel for users.

I really hope this article has helped you find the best lightweight folding wheelchair for you and your needs. If you have any questions or other suggestions, please leave them in the comment section below and I’ll get right back to you!