Best Reclining Wheelchairs: Wheelchairs That Recline for Comfort

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

Reclining wheelchairs have backs that recline to a nearly flat position to improve user comfort and posture. Like most things, they have their pros and cons. This guide will teach you more about them plus I'll show you some of the best reclining wheelchairs on the market.

best reclining wheelchair
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Wheelchairs are designed to improve mobility. If you are the victim of old age, an accident, or some form of trauma that has affected your movement, then having the right wheelchair can really make your life easier.

The vast majority of wheelchairs today have numerous unique features and provide a variety of movement options, which can make the user’s movements easier. Reclining wheelchairs are an excellent example of modern wheelchairs that have unique features and movement capabilities.

What Is a Reclining Wheelchair?

A reclining wheelchair is similar in almost all ways to a standard wheelchair with the only major difference being that it allows the user to recline the backrest. It typically has a higher back and head rest for supporting the user while reclined.

The wheelchair’s leg rest may even provide additional calf support. A reclining wheelchair can be an excellent option for a person that has trouble sitting for extended periods of time or needs to change positions frequently.

What’s the Difference Between a Reclining Wheelchair and a Tilt Wheelchair?

People often assume that a tilt wheelchair and reclining wheelchair are one and the same thing. However, while they have several similarities, they are actually two separate types of wheelchairs with different features and functionalities.

The entire seat, arms, back, and foot rests of a tilt wheelchair tilt back in tandem thus positioning the user into a reclining position. In contrast, reclining wheelchairs may have a reclining back that adjusts to different angles with some actually offering foot-and/or leg-rests that can be lifted to ensure better positioning. However, the seat of the wheelchair doesn’t tilt back to get to the reclining position as is the case with a tilt wheelchair.

What Features Should You Look for When Buying a Wheelchair That Reclines?

It is always important to remember that since there are many options available in the market, you should know about the features to look for when making your purchase so that you may end up buying the right one for your needs. Here are some of the most important features to look for:

  • Adjustable Armrests: A wheelchair with adjustable armrests improves mobility considerably. The armrests can be pulled up with some being completely detachable thus providing the necessary space and convenience for better movement. They also ensure better comfort for the users.
  • Headrest: Reclining wheelchairs generally have a much higher back than other types of wheelchairs. If the user fully reclines on the wheelchair, a good headrest provides the support they require.
  • Seat Cushion: It is always advisable to look for a wheelchair that comes with a comfortable seat cushion. A good cushion ensures that the users always has the best support when using the wheelchair.
  • Size: The size of the wheelchair is another important consideration when making your purchase. The choice here ultimately depends on the size of the individual that will be using the wheelchair.
  • Seat Shape and Angle: The shape and angle of the wheelchair’s seat will improve comfort for the user and reduce the chances of him/her slipping out while using the wheelchair. That’s why you should only get one that’s properly designed.
  • Anti-Tipping Feature: The anti-tipping feature is important since it prevents the wheelchair from tipping backward or forward accidentally. It is therefore important to consider this when making your purchase.
  • Elevating Leg Rests: Not all reclining wheelchairs also allow users to lift their legs up. Unfortunately, keeping the knees bent while the user’s back fully reclines is awkward, uncomfortable, and may even cause nerve damage. So, make sure that the wheelchair you buy has this feature.
  • Load Capacity: The wheelchair’s load capacity is an important consideration since some are designed to carry heavy weights while others are intended for lighter users. You need to consider the wheelchair’s load capacity and the user’s weight to pick the right one.

Figuring out which reclining wheelchair to choose for your needs or the needs of the person you are caring for might seem like a challenging task, but if you know exactly what to look for, it shouldn’t be very difficult. Use the above criteria to choose the best wheelchair for your needs.

The 5 Best Reclining Wheelchairs

Reclining wheelchairs are not created equal. Some are actually considerably better than others. Here are 5 of the best models with the features that you need and that have earned high ratings from other users.

Karman Reclining Back Wheelchair

Key Stats: Seat Widths: 16″ – 20″ | Product Weight: 50 lbs | Weight Capacity: 250lbs/300lbs

  • Full-length armrests
  • 2 Weight Capacity options depending on size
  • Smooth recline
  • Very Comfortable

The Karman Reclining Back Wheelchair is one of the best options available since it is fully customizable. It can recline up to 180 degrees and is foldable for easier transportation or storage.

The Wheelchair features 24-inch mag wheels on the back and front rubber tires. The 8-inch front tires are rubber and caster style. They ensure maximum flexibility when it comes to steering the wheelchair. The wheelchair has adjustable leg rests that allow users to make suitable adjustments when reclining. They can even be removed to allow for easier and safer mounting and dismounting

The chair has anti-tipping features to ensure stability even when fully reclined. It also features a seatbelt that secures the person riding in it in place. It has adjustable toggle wheel locks that allow the user to adjust to a desired level for additional safety.

ProBasics Reclining Manual Wheelchair

Key Stats: Seat Widths: 16″ – 22″ | Product Weight: 51 – 60 lbs | Weight Capacity:300 lbs/400 lbs

  • Thick padding for maximum comfort
  • Sturdy and durable frame
  • Smooth and quick recline mechanism
  • Stable without any sway when reclining

The ProBasics Standard Reclining Wheelchair features a slide tube steel frame for maximum durability. It has a maximum load capacity of 400 pounds depending on the option selected, which means that it can accommodate most users. The frame has a chip resistant finish.

This manual wheelchair has composite mag wheels. The precision bearings have a dual seal that prevents dirt and debris from accumulating in them thus causing damage. The wheelchair also reclines smoothly and quickly.

The back and seat are a vinyl upholstery that resists both bacteria and mildew. Enough padding is provided to ensure maximum comfort during rides as well as when reclining. The leg rests and armrests also have padding. The leg rests can be elevated when reclining.

The ProBasics Standard Reclining Wheelchair comes in different size options with the least maximum weight capacity being 300 pounds and the highest maximum load capacity being 400 pounds. The chair has thick padding too and the full-length armrests are removable.

Drive Medical Silver Sport Full Reclining Wheelchair

Key Stats: Seat Widths: 16″ – 20″ | Product Weight: 59 – 61 lbs | Weight Capacity 300 lbs/350 lbs

  • Very comfortable
  • Removable armrests
  • Skid-free wheels
  • Easy to clean nylon upholstery

The Silver Sport Full Reclining Wheelchair is one of the best since it can recline up to 180 degrees. It basically means that users can actually lay flat if they so wish. The wheelchair’s armrests have extensions to provide adequate support to users when in a reclined position. Depending on the model chosen, it can accommodate a maximum load of 350 pounds.

The wheelchair has lightweight composite mag wheels that don’t require any maintenance. However, the wheels are positioned back a bit further than those of a regular wheelchair. The anti-tipping feature ensures maximum stability when the chair is fully reclined.

The wheels also have a push-to-lock feature that prevents the chair from moving when reclining or when the user is either getting on or off. The wheelchair has 8-inch front caster wheels that allow for easier maneuvering when operating it.

McKesson Reclining Single Axle Wheelchair

Key Stats: Seat Widths: 18″ – 20″ | Product Weight: 60 – 61 lbs | Weight Capacity 300 lbs/350 lbs

  • Comfortable backrest
  • Retains its sturdiness even in full recline
  • Durable with reliable history
  • Smooth and adjustable reclining motion

The versatility of the McKesson Reclining Wheelchair is what makes it one of the best reclining wheelchairs. It has a maximum load capacity of 300 pounds and its seat is 18 inches wide. The chair can recline to an impressive 180 degrees.

The chair has a carbon steel frame that ensures optimal durability in the long-term. Its tires are made of urethane material, which means that you never have to worry about premature wearing down. The frame’s finish protects against the elements.

The wheelchair has breathable and lightweight nylon upholstery that’s east to clean. The bearings have a precision seal that protects them against the accumulation of debris or even premature wear.

Invacare SX5 Recliner Wheelchair

Key Stats: Seat Widths: 14″ – 22″ | Product Weight: 51 lbs | Weight Capacity 250 lbs/300 lbs

  • Comfortable seat
  • Strong and sturdy frame
  • Lighter weight & easier to push
  • Full recline up to 180 degrees

The Invacare SX5 Recliner Wheelchair has a chrome-plated carbon steel frame. It has strong and high-quality upholstery that’s not only flame retardant but also resists mildew, bacteria, and UV damage from the sun. It reclines anywhere from 90 to 180 degrees.

The armrests are padded and removable. The seat and back have an inner lining to ensure that they don’t stretch and that they maintain their shape. Two versions of the chair are currently available. One has a maximum load capacity of 250 pounds while the other has a maximum load capacity of 300 pounds.

To ensure maximum durability, the wheels are no-flex. The rear wheels are made of urethane to ensure optimal stability when the wheelchair is in use. The bearings are dual-sealed thus protecting them against damage as well as the accumulation of debris. The rear wheels have anti-tippers.


If you have mobility issues or care for somebody with mobility issues, you should consider investing in a reclining wheelchair. To help you out with your buying decision, you should consider following the tips, information, and advice provided here.

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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