The Best Transport Wheelchairs: Lightweight, Easy to Fold, & Easy to Lift!

Certified Senior Advisor®
Senior Home Safety Specialist®
20 years of medical equipment experience
Compassionately helping seniors and their caregivers solve challenges of aging

Transport wheelchairs are small, portable wheelchairs that make it easier to take seniors and the elderly along when long periods of walking are needed. The best transport chairs are lightweight, easy to fold, and easy to load. But there are some drawbacks to them as well.

young female doctor with an elderly patient in a transport wheelchair at the hospital.
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Transport wheelchairs are great resources for the elderly who have limited mobility

They are also helpful to their caretakers who need to get them from point A to point B quickly and hassle-free!

But, when it comes time to buy one, most people don’t know where to start.

So, I created this guide to the best transport wheelchairs on the market based on my personal experience providing these lightweight chairs to my patients.

Note: because these are wheelchairs, they are considered medical products. Please consult with your doctor before using medical equipment.

Best Lightweight Transport Wheelchair Reviews

As a trained and certified wheelchair specialist, here are my reviews of each of the above transport chairs. 

Fly-Lite Transport Chair

Drive Medical Fly-Lite Transport Chair

With about 900 ratings, this wheelchair managed to maintain a 4.5 star rating and users rave about its quality. They love how lightweight and portable it is, allowing them to easily take it with them anywhere they go. It weighs just 17 pounds, has a 17″ wide seat, and folds up entirely to easily fit inside any car trunk or other small storage areas.

In terms of features, it’s the only one on the list that comes with a seat belt, which bumps it way up in my book. That added safety and security is incredibly important in these types of situations. The back wheels are slightly larger than the front wheels, giving the person pushing the chair more stability and control, and it even has a convenient pocket-size carrying case on the back.

It is heavy duty and can hold 300 pounds maximum. Plus, it comes with height adjustable swing-away footrests.

medline excel transport chair

Medline Excel Aluminum Transport Chair with 12″ Wheels

Medline is another great brand that makes top rated transportation equipment, and their transport wheelchair is no exception. With almost 1,000 reviews, it maintains a 4.2 out of 5 star rating. Reviewers love how easy it is to fold up and take along, and praise its awesome maneuverability and turning radius.

What also makes this transport chair unique is its super large 12 inch rear wheels. This chair can be used outdoors, on most uneven outdoor surfaces. If you like to go for long walks outside, but are limited to a chair, this one will give you that ability so that you can enjoy the sunshine whenever you’d like.

This lightweight aluminum transport chair has a 19″ wide seat, although it can hold 300 pounds. The easily accessible manual handbrakes are incredibly important for transfers, ensuring safety while the senior is getting into or out of the chair. It also has detachable footrests and comfortable padded armrests. All this, and it only weighs 22 pounds!

Nova Transport Chair with 12″ Rear Wheels and Fixed Arms

Nova Transport Chair with 12″ Rear Wheels and Fixed Arms

Another great transport chair that comes with those great outdoor/indoor wheels comes from NOVA. This chair has a 4.7 out of 5 star rating by users, probably due to its versatility. It comes with removable footrests that are adjustable in terms of how far off of the ground they go. This is great for longer-legged seniors.

The chair also has flip up desk arms, which is a very handy feature. The main complaint from wheelchair users is that the fixed arms prevent them from comfortably sitting at tables or desks, so this feature gets rid of that problem. And as I said before, it has indoor/outdoor wheel capabilities as well, making this one of the most versatile chairs on the list.

Aside from those features, NOVA’s hand brakes are also a patented technology, so you can be assured that they’ll work every time, whether you’re looking for added safety while getting the senior in and out, or if you’re on rough terrain and want more control.

This transport wheelchair is slightly heavier than others on the list at 27.5 pounds. Reviewers don’t seem to be deterred by that though, reporting that they love how portable and lightweight it is. It also has a heavy duty weight capacity of about 300 pounds, so its suitable for any size person. The NOVA lightweight transport chair is a great option if you can handle a little more weight and want some added versatility in your chair.

drive medical steel transport wheelchair

Drive Medical Steel Transport Chair

Next, Drive Medical Products makes another highly rated model that users are very impressed with as well. This brand is somewhat known for elderly transportation gear and equipment. Their steel transport wheelchair has a durable, sturdy frame lined with nylon upholstery, so it’s very stable and easy to clean (although this does mean you compromise on comfort a bit).

The main advantage here over the previous choice is it’s a great wheelchair for tight spaces. It’s slightly smaller in width, so if you have a lot of narrow doorways or hallways in your home, this might be a better option (with an added cushion!)

What is a Transport Wheelchair?

Man in a Transport Chair being loaded onto a bus

Transport wheelchairs, aka transport chairs, are small wheelchairs that are more portable than their larger cousins. They typically come with four small wheels and are easy folding wheelchairs and lift for quick and efficient portability.

Advantages of a Transport Chair

A transport chair is best wheelchair for a senior who has a caretaker and occasionally needs mobility assistance.

Maybe they use a walker most of the time, but just need a break every now and then. Or maybe they have limited mobility in their arms, hands, or wrists and can’t push themselves in a regular wheelchair with larger back wheels.


Transport wheelchairs are extremely lightweight. Many of these chairs are made of lightweight aluminum and weigh 19 lbs or less.

Because they weigh less than most other wheelchairs, they are easy to take places with you. This makes them very easy to pick up and place in the trunk of your car or the back of a pickup truck.

Because of this, they are often used for trips away from the home rather than longer-term use in a home.

Often, a senior’s primary caregiver is their spouse who may have their own health problems. These lightweight transport wheelchairs are easier for them to lift, load and push for them as well!

Fold Easily

You want a folding wheelchair that folds flat. And this style folds much flatter than regular wheelchairs.

There are no parts of the wheelchair that need to be removed to fold up the chair. Just flip up the footplates, pull up on the seat upholstery, and the chair is ready to go.

The best lightweight transport chair models also have backs that fold down. This leaves a smaller, more compact package to load into the vehicle.

Cheap to Purchase

Transport wheelchairs are generally inexpensive. Many of these cost less than $150.00 with some coming in under $100.00. They are even affordable enough for gift giving!

Disadvantages of a Transport Chair

Like most medical products, there are always tradeoffs.  Here are a few potential disadvantages of transport wheelchairs.

Cannot Self Propel

The rider will always need to be pushed.

Transport wheelchairs have 4 small caster-sized wheels and no hand rims. This means the rider will not be able to propel themselves in the chair because they can not reach the wheels.

Someone must always be available to move the rider when needed. This is why transport wheelchairs are typically used to meet short-term transportation needs like doctor visits, quick trips to the store, etc.


Transport chairs don’t have many options or accessories for cofort.

These chairs usually only come with basic nylon upholstery. The upholstery is also stretched pretty tightly between the sides of the wheelchair.

While this makes the chair easy to fold, this can make the seat surface uncomfortable. Especially if the rider will be sitting in it for a long period of time. 

Few Size Options

There aren’t many size options to choose from either.

Most of the transport wheelchairs only come in 17″ or 18″ wide seats. These sizes are probably fine for the majority of people. However, if the rider is a bit overweight, fitting into one of these chairs may be difficult or even impossible.

Summary and Final Thoughts

Transport wheelchairs are awesome alternatives to the typical wheelchair because they make it easy for a caregiver to transport a senior from one place to another without much hassle. it also doesn’t take up nearly as much room as a typical wheelchair. If you’re looking for portability and ease of use, and you have a caregiver available, transport wheelchairs are an affordable alternative to traditional wheelchairs.

Another transport chair to consider is one of the combination rollator transport chairs. These clever little devices look like a rollator walker so you can walk and use it for stability. But, if you get tired, you can quickly change it over to a transport chair. Then someone else can push them. Learn more about these here.

If you’ve had any experience with transport wheelchairs before, please share below! Also, if you found this information helpful, please share it on your favorite social media.

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Senior Home Safety Specialist (SHSS)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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