Trouble moving around because of illness, injury or weakness due to age? There are a number of walking aids that can help. The rollator (aka the 4 wheel walker with seat) is a popular choice. But, do you know how to choose the best rollator walker for you or a loved one?
If you’re thinking about getting one of these 4 wheeled walkers for yourself, or for a loved one, there are a number of things you should consider. Read the complete buying guide below before making your decision.
Medical equipment should be discussed with or prescribed by a doctor, therapist, or other health professional. They know you and your medical history. I don’t. Always follow their advice. Nothing in this article should be construed as medical advice.
- What are the Best Rollators?
- Expert Reviews
- Buying Guide: What to Look for when Buying a Rollator
- Who Should Use a Rollator?
- How to Use a Rollator
- How to Assemble and Safely Use a Rollator Walker
- Summary and Conclusions
What are the Best Rollators?
There are literally more than 100 rollators for sale at the moment. After a while, they all look the same. However, there are often subtle differences that should know about.
So, based on my hands-on experience with these products, here are the ones I like best. Feel free to ask any question about these in the comments below.
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Here are the details of each of the recommended products above – from an expert’s point of view. I’ll explain the differences between the products to you so that you can make an informed decision.
Medline Freedom Aluminum Rollator Walker
$80.57 in stock
My Expert Review
I’m going to start you out with my absolute favorite – I think this one really is the best general purpose rollator.
There are some specific reasons I like it so much too.
First, The Medline Freedom has some amazing adjustments. The height is adjustable to fit users from as small as 4’10” to as tall as 6’4″. This range is achieved by having height adjustable handles and extendable legs.
The seat height is even adjustable +/- 4 inches to make getting on and off of the seat easier. It adjusts from 18 inches to 23 inches off of the ground to fit both short and tall people.
Second, it is extremely lightweight – only 11 pounds. Most weigh between 15 pounds and 20 pounds. This makes it easy to lift and load into a car. Often, caregivers have their own medical issues and the lighter the rollator is, the better.
Here’s some other important information about this one:
- One Hand Folding. After a little practice, you will only need one hand to fold the frame of this one. Just raise the seat up then pull the bar underneath. It then folds up on itself.
- Lower Weight Capacity. Caution: The weight capacity of this one is 250 pounds. Unfortunately, this is a trade off for the lighter weight of the aluminum frame. Make sure the user weighs less than this.
- Smaller Wheels. The casters on this one are 6 inches. This makes it easy to maneuver in smaller homes but can affect outdoor use. (Click here to see other walkers that work well in small spaces.)
- All the Features. It has all the standard rollator walker features like a padded seat with a removable backrest, storage pouch, and brakes on the handles.
- Color Choices. Black, Blue, or Burgundy!
Here’s a quick video overview of the Freedom Ultralight:
My thoughts? Did I mention it’s my favorite? The light weight aluminum construction combined with the adjustment options makes this one nearly universal. It should work well for most users. At least, those under 250 pounds.
Drive Medical Four Wheel Walker Rollator
3 used from $ 52.56
My Expert Review
This Drive Medical Rollator is a good choice for someone who wants a basic rollator. It has all the standard features: padded seat with backrest, hand brakes, and a storage basket for personal items.
For those who don’t want to spend a lot, it has a great price for a product that does it’s job… and does it well.
Here’s what you should know about this one:
- Solid Construction. The sturdy steel construction that makes it solid and durable. Steel is also cheaper than aluminum which helps the price. But, there are a few trade offs for this.
- Heavier Than Some. Because it is made of steel, it is heavier than some of the other products I am reviewing. It weighs 20 pounds. This makes it harder to loader for many seniors and their caregivers.
- Weight Capacity. The steel frame also supports users up to 300 pounds.
- Folds Flat. The padded backrest folds up with the unit. This makes the entire folded unit more portable. It will take up less room in a tight trunk or storage area.
- Larger Wheels. The 7-1/2 inch caster wheels on this means it will roll a little better outside on varied terrain. (Looking for an outdoor rollator? I have more recommendations in this guide.) But, larger wheels might decrease the indoor maneuverability.
The verdict? It’s a great entry level rollator. It’s a bit heavy and only has basic features. But, it works well and does its job.
Drive Medical Winnie Three Wheeled Rollator
$72.96 in stock
My Expert Review
I’ve also mentioned The Winnie Lite from Drive medical in other rollator and walker guides. It frequently makes my “best of” lists.
This small 3 wheeled rollator from Drive Medical has a compact triangular shape specifically designed to navigate tight spaces. That shape lets it turn easier and makes it more maneuverable. At its widest point, it is 26″ wide and only 22.75″ long! The trade off? No seat!
Because it is physically smaller, it is also lightweight. Only 11 pounds! Many people can lift it with only 1 hand. This makes it easy to transport and load into vehicles.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Easy to Fold. The Winnie folds easily with just one hand. Simply pull the lever then fold it vertically. You are left with a thin, flat footprint that is easy to store and very portable.
- Unique Looks. The plaid print design of this one is a little different too. The stylish plaid storage pouch helps carry and hide small personal items or accessories.
- Height Adjustable. It fits most users from 5’3″ tall to 6’2″ tall because of the adjustable handles which adjust from 32″ to 38″ high. No tools required!
- Very Maneuverable. It will easily fit through doors that are 26″ wide or wider. The overall length of this walker is only 22.75″ long.
- Large Wheels. The casters are 7.5 inches in diameter which are large enough for outdoor use in yards, gravel etc. The shape though keeps it maneuverable indoors as well.
- No Seat Though. Because of the triangle shape, there is no room for a seat. So if you require a seat for resting, choose another one. The Winnie does not have a seat.
- Weight Capacity. The Winnie supports users up to 300 pounds.
Do I recommend it? Yes. This is one of my favorites. If it had a seat, it probably would be my favorite. But, it is a great choice for seniors with small homes or who live in tight spaces. You can learn more about rollators that work well in small spaces in this guide.
Medline Heavy Duty Rollator Walker
$109.99 in stock
4 used from $ 82.08
My Expert Review
I wanted to include an option for larger people too. This bariatric rollator walker from Medline is my favorite one for larger people.
It has a higher weight capacity AND a wider seating area. Many rollators, even some bariatric ones, don’t fit people with wider hips very well. This has one of the widest seating areas between the handles (23-1/2″) plus the additional weight capacity (500 pounds).
There is a trade-off though! The wider seat makes the whole walker wider. Assembled, the width of this one is 29 inches overall. It is also heavier than others. If you like this one, make sure all doorways in your home are 30 inches or wider.
Here’s what you need to know about this bariatric rolling walker:
- Durable Construction. This one has a tubular steel frame which gives it the high weight capacity (500 pounds).
- It’s Heavy! Because of that durable steel construction though, it is heavy! It weighs 25 pounds. Consider that when you think about transporting it. You might need someone to help.
- Large Wheels. It has the largest wheels available on a rollator – 8 inches. This gives it a sturdy feel outdoors and inside too.
- Adjustable Height. The handles adjust from 31-1/2″ to 37-1/2″ off of the floor. It should fit people between 5’2″ and 6’0″ pretty well.
- Standard Features. You do get the standard options: locking hand brakes, padded seat with storage bag, and it folds for storage and transportation.
My final thought? For those needing a heavy duty rollator, it is one of the best. It has a great track record in my industry with few problems. Keep in mind the trade-offs for having a larger product. Click here to see more options.
Drive Medical Duet Dual Function Transport Wheelchair Walker Rollator, Blue
6 used from $ 133.77
My Expert Review
The Drive Medical Duet is a hybrid mobility aid that addresses several different mobility needs.
The Drive Duet easily transforms from a rollator to a transport wheelchair and back again. It is a great choice for users who may need a little help every now and then or who needs to be pushed for long distances. Just flip up the armrests, flip down the footrests and the user may be pushed safely and securely like a transport wheelchair.
These steps are easily reversed to convert it back again.
Here is a great video from actual users explaining the benefits and how to convert it:
Here’s what you need to know:
- Rollator and Transport Chair. The Duet combines features of a rollator with a transport chair. The user can walk when they want and have someone push them when needed. This is a great combination of independence and safety.
- Reversible Back Rest. The back has 2 positions depending on if it is in walking mode or wheelchair mode. That way, the user will always have a back support for their safety.
- Height Adjustable. The handles adjust from 31-1/2″to 37″ off of the floor fitting users between 5 feet and 6 feet tall.
- Heavier than Some. Because it has extra parts for its dual purpose, it weighs 20 pounds which is heavier than some of the others.
- Standard Features. The product has the standard features I’ve talked about several times (padded seat with storage, locking hand brakes, and it folds). Plus, it adds the footrests of a transport chair.
- Good Weight Capacity: Supports up to 300 pounds in both modes.
This special type of rollator has a lot of benefits for people with mobility problems. You can learn more about rollator transport chair combos by clicking here.
What is a Rollator, Anyway?
A rollator is a rolling walker that goes by the more common name: a four wheel walker with seat. It is a mobility aid for seniors with difficulty walking.
They are usually fairly small with handles that reach up to about waist height. Between these handles is a padded seat that often covers a pouch or basket. The purpose of this seat is to give you a place to rest should you need it.
If you get tired while using a rollator, you simply lock the hand brake on the handles. Then, turn around and sit on the padded seat. Once you feel rested, you can continue!
Buying Guide: What to Look for when Buying a Rollator
There are a number of features and options you should consider when shopping for a rollator.
The seat is a very important distinction between rolling walkers and a rollator. Having the option to safely sit when needed saves a senior from falling and makes them generally safer. It’s like having a built-in rest stop.
The seat is attached between the handlebars. Most are padded but some models have molded plastic seats. (I recommend rollators with padded seats for obvious reasons!)
They usually have wire baskets or pouches for storage under the seat. Some models also have extra wire baskets on the front. Fabric storage pouches are generally best because small items will fall through like a wire mesh basket.
Having a place to store items like purses, bags, and personal items is convenient but also helps with safety while using it. That way, women won’t have to balance a purse on your shoulder or other items while using the rollator.
Rollators have hand brakes that are like those on a bicycle. The brakes work with a gentle squeeze and keep these rolling walkers from rolling away.
The brakes also lock by pushing them down until they click. This locked position is necessary when the user is using the seat. This is safer because it keeps the device from moving while they are sitting on the seat or standing. Locking the brake reduces the fall risk.
Look for brakes that are easy to operate. The tension on the brake can usually be adjusted with basic tools to suit the user.
For safety and support, rollators have a bar on the front that doubles as a back support. That way, when the elderly person sits on the seat, they have a place to rest their back. It also keeps them from falling backwards off the seat.
Padded back supports are generally the best choice and are the most comfortable.
Adjustable Handle Bars
Regular walkers are used by holding onto the walker itself. Rollators, however, have extendable arms with handles and rubber grips.
These handlebars are adjustable by knob or push button to match the height of the person using it. The handles also reach out towards the back for more balanced walking.
It is very important that the arms are adjusted to the proper height for the user. When they are set correctly, the handles will be about the same height as the wrists of the user.
If they are too low, the user has to bend over too far causing back pain and poor balance.
If they are too tall, pain in the arm or shoulder results and the rollator will not properly support the user.
Easy to Fold
You also want a rollator that is lightweight and easy to fold. This is important because they are usually loaded into the trunk of a car or even the back seat for travel. Often the person that is lifting them is the spouse or caretaker of the user. This makes it easy on them especially if they have health problems of their own.
Who Should Use a Rollator?
Always discuss using a walking aid with your healthcare professional or therapist. Here is some advice provided by The Mayo Clinic.
As a general rule, rollators are recommended for people who:
- are able to bear weight on both legs
- unable to use a walking cane safely
- need a little help with balance
- tire easily requiring frequent rest breaks
They are NOT recommended if:
- the user cannot bear weight on both legs
- the user cannot sit or stand by themselves
How to Use a Rollator
A rollator is used for both short and long distance. It provides stable support and even a place to rest if you get tired.
Here is how to safely use a rollator:
- Make sure the walker is in front of you and close to your body.
- Make sure the brakes are off.
- Hold on to both handles and wheel the walker in front of you as you move.
- When turning, don’t try to force the walker into a tight turn, instead go wider, this will stop it overbalancing.
- Keep the walker within reach when you sit down or do other tasks.
Rollators are light pieces of equipment, so you can’t use it to pull yourself up from a chair. To sit down, back up until your legs hit the chair and put the brakes on the walker. Rest your hands on the arms of your chair as a guide and sit down.
To stand up again, make sure the brakes are on, lean forward, and use your chair arms to boost yourself up. Do not push or pull on it to get up or down.
How to Assemble and Safely Use a Rollator Walker
Assembling and set up is very important. Here is a quick video from a home medical company that walks you through the process.
Here are some of the key points made in this video:
- Set the height of the arms so that the arm has a slight bend. Arms should not be straight
- Make sure to snap the backrest in place.
- Always make sure the cross brace underneath is locked.
- Know how to lock the brakes.
- Learn how to safely get up and down from the seat.
Summary and Conclusions
Rollators are a real improvement on standard walkers because they add the safety of a built-in seat. The seat provides a nice place to rest as a senior tires. This also improves their safety and reduces the chance of a fall.
Many share similar features: they fold for travel, have handles with locking brakes, larger wheels, and the seat discussed above. But, the best rollator walkers for seniors also are lightweight, easy to use, and improve seniors lives.
My personal favorite is the Medline Freedom Rollator . It has all of the basic features plus it is very lightweight – only 11 lbs. It is also narrow enough to fit in most doorways and homes. But, because it is so adjustable, it fits both tall and short people. It even folds up to a nice, small easy to carry package.
Looking specifially for a rollator to use outdoors? You can check out my recommendations here.
Did you know that you can get rollators that convert to wheelchairs? They are great options for seniors who can walk some of the time but may need to pushed for others. You can learn more about these mobility aids by clicking here.
Do you have any experience you would like to share with my readers? Have I left a rollator off the list that you like and would recommend? Just leave a comment below!