The Best Wheelchairs With Brakes Of 2020 (Review)

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There are tons of wheelchairs on the market, each unique and helpful in their own way. Because wheelchairs vary so much from one to the next, it can be overwhelming to discover which wheelchair works best for your wants and needs. One main design component to consider is the inclusion of a brake. 

Built-in brakes aren’t a feature on all wheelchairs, even though they are an incredibly helpful tool. When built into the handles, the companion hand brakes are useful for controlling speed when pushing a loved one on an incline/decline. Some models’ rear hand brake doubles as a mechanism to lock the wheels as well. For chairs designed for more independent use, a wheel break, at times referred to as a wheel lock, is located near the wheels to lock them in place. This is a handy feature to have when stopped on an uneven surface. 

Follow along for a detailed review of our top picks for wheelchairs with brakes, and our tips for how to find the wheelchair that most appropriately fits your needs!

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The Best Wheelchairs With Brakes

1 Medline Lightweight Transport Wheelchair With Handbrakes

Medline’s transport wheelchair has a high rating and over 1,000 reviews on Amazon. It gained attention for its noticeably lightweight design. It might weigh less than 25 pounds, but it can still carry up to 300 pounds!

Medline’s chair is a bit different from a traditional wheelchair because it’s a transport chair. Wheelchairs roll on wheels that can be propelled by the person in the chair; whereas transport chairs are meant to be pushed from behind by a caregiver or loved one.

The transport chair is made mobile by two 8’’ front wheels and two 12’’ rear wheels that are rough terrain-friendly. 

The chair has a unique loop-style handbrake design that locks the rear wheels with ease.

Key Features:

  • 8’’ front wheels
  • 12’’ rear wheels
  • Looped handbrakes
  • Powder-coated aluminum frame
  • 300-pound weight limit
  • Nylon upholstery
  • Back seat is foldable for easy storage

Specification:

  • Brand: Medline
  • Model: MDS808210ABE
  • Dimensions and weight: 27.8 x 11 x 31.2 inches; 23.5 pounds

Pros:

  • Can carry up to 300 pounds
  • Durable rear wheels
  • Lightweight and easy to transport

Cons:

  • Flimsy front wheels
  • Release lever can be finicky
  • Folding may require some time and patience

Buy Now on Amazon

2 Hi-Fortune Self-Propelled Chair With Travel Bag And Cushion

Hi-Fortune’s top-of-the-line wheelchair is compact and uber lightweight. Though more expensive than other chairs on the market, this chair was designed with efficiency in mind.

The frame is made of magnesium alloy that is reliable yet lightweight. The chair weighs in at just 21 pounds, and thanks to its foldable design that fits nicely into the included travel bag, Hi-Fortune’s mobility device is incredibly portable and hassle-free. 

Even though the chair is light by nature, it is still stacked with plush features such as padded arm and leg rests that swing in and out of position for easier transition into and out of the chair. 

The main bonus here are both a front and rear hand brake, so that whether it is being operator by the user or a helper, slowing and locking the chair in place is a breeze. 

Key Features:

  • Magnesium alloy frame
  • 220-pound weight limit
  • Very little assembly required
  • Anti-tipping wheels
  • Front/rear hand brakes
  • Swing-away footrest
  • Hand strap for carrying
  • Travel bag
  • Comes in a red or blue frame 

Specification:

  • Brand: Hi-Fortune
  • Model: HM303D
  • Dimensions and weight: 35 x 13.4 x 28 inches; 21 pounds

Pros:

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Can be used with or without assistance
  • Rear and front hand breaks

Cons:

  • Might not work with taller individuals  
  • More expensive than other models
  • Weight limit of 220 pounds

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3 Drive Medical Lightweight Expedition Transport Wheelchair With Hand Brakes

Drive Medical’s transport wheelchair is simple and to the point. The back handles are equipped with hand brakes to help slow the chair while on an incline, locking the wheels in place once at a full stop. 

The chair’s wheels are flat-free, which means they are made to resist punctures, leaks, and all the woes of a deflating tire. Therefore, this transport chair is designed to be especially durable and survive even the sharpest materials scraping against the tire.

Even considering the sturdiness of the wheels, the chair itself is far from clunky, weighing in at just under 20 pounds. 

Key Features:

  • Can fold flat
  • Comes with a seatbelt 
  • Companion-activated wheel locks
  • Flat-free wheels
  • Can carry up to 300 pounds 

Specification:

  • Brand: Drive Medical
  • Model: EXP19LTRD
  • Dimensions and weight: 38 x 22 x 38 inches; 19 pounds

Pros:

  • Fashionable red or blue frame
  • Durable wheels
  • Folds tightly

Cons:

  • Foot rest could have more stable design
  • Little back and bottom support
  • No way to lock wheels without squeezing hand break

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4 Nova Lightweight Transport Chair With Locking Hand Brakes

Nova created a transport chair that is high-end and built to last. The chair can carry up to 300 pounds. When in use, patented locked hand brakes will allow any chair companion to have control over the chair, ensuring safety for all. At rest, the wheels can be locked in place–no need to bend over to secure.

If you’re going on a bumpy ride, there’s a handy seat belt you can strap on for peace of mind. And there’s a storage pouch to hold on to necessary items wherever you are going! 

The flip-up arms are what make Nova’s chair unique. To make moving in and out of the chair easier, all Nova wheelchair users have to do is flip the chair arms away, slide in and out of the chair, and when they’re done, they can swivel the arm right back into place.

Key Features:

  • Hand brake that slows and locks wheels
  • Removable anti-tippers
  • Swing away footrests that lock in place and have heel loops to keep feet in place
  • 300 pounds weight capacity 
  • Flip-up arms for easy movement in and out of places
  • White, red, or baby blue frame
    Built-in storage pouch
  • Quick release fold-down back

Specification:

  • Brand: Nova Medical Products
  • Model: 352R
  • Dimensions and Weight: 16 x 25 x 37.5 inches ; 27.1 pounds

Pros:

  • Unique flip-up arm feature
  • Easy to fold and transport
  • Adjustable, lockable foot rests

Cons:

  • Might not be comfortable for user sitting for a prolonged amount of time
  • Transport chair not for independent use
  • Heavier than other models

Buy Now on Amazon

5 Karman Ergonomic Wheelchair Ergonomic Flight With Quick Release Axles

Karman’s ergonomic wheelchair comes with a hefty price tag for good reason. In every sense, Karman’s wheelchair exudes luxury and efficiency for both the rider/user and the caregiver, if being used as a transport chair.  

The chair has an S-shaped seating frame that improves posture long-term and prevents chair sores from extended use. In addition to the mindful seat design, the wheelchair has 20’’ flat-free rear tires, so you won’t have to worry about getting a flat while out and about. 

The chair has companion rear hand brakes to aid when pushing the chair on an incline or decline, but note that it can’t be used to lock the wheels in place. There is a wheel lock near the wheels that can be used by either the person seated or the companion. 

The chair weighs under 20 pounds, making it extremely easy to lift and store. 

Key Features:

  • Antibacterial upholstery
  • 20’’ flat-free rear wheels
  • S-shape seating frame
  • Companion hand brakes
  • 220 pounds weight capacity
  • Storage pocket behind the backrest
  • Removable footrest

Specification:

  • Brand: Karman Healthcare
  • Model: S-2512q
  • Dimensions and Weight: 38 x 27 x 36 inches; 19.5 pounds

Pros:

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Companion-friendly, but not required
  • Cushioned seating and S-shape frame for maximum comfort

Cons:

  • More pricey than other models
  • Only carries 220 pounds
  • Companion break can’t also be used to lock wheels

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6 Drive Medical Silver Sport 2 Wheelchair

Drive Medical’s black wheelchair is a great option for people who require a larger wheelchair.

There’s a 16’’ wide, 18’’ wide, and 20’’ wide option depending on your size and how much wiggle room you’d like to have. The 20’’ can accommodate up to 350 pounds. There are also a number of options in terms of arm and leg rests, some removable, some fixed, some elevating, so there is surely a combo to fit your needs. 

The chair is made with an extremely sturdy black steel frame and is fortified by urethane tires.

This wheelchair is more heavy duty than others, making it quite a bit heavier than other products in this list, so be sure to keep that in mind. There is no companion hand break either if being used as a transport chair–the brake is located near the wheel itself to lock it in place. 

Key Features:

  • Three size options
  • Variety of arm and foot rest options
  • Can accommodate up to 350 pounds
  • Steel frame 
  • Urethane tires
  • Embossed nylon upholstery
  • Push to lock wheel break

Specification:

  • Brand: Drive Medical
  • Model: SSP220DDA-ELR
  • Weight:  37 x 33.5 x 13 inches; 45 pounds

Pros:

  • Inclusive of different weights and sizes
  • Incredibly sturdy 
  • Variety of arm and foot rest styles to accommodate various needs

Cons:

  • Considerably heavier than other models
  • Not as portable due to size
  • No companion hand break 

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7 ProBasics Aluminum Transport Wheelchair With 19’’ Seat

ProBasics’ transport chair is an affordable option for those who would benefit from a mobility device.

The chair is 19’’ wide and has a weight capacity of 300 pounds. Two 12’’ rear wheels are built to work well even on rockier terrain. If you’re using the transport chair inside, the material used for the tires is designed to not scuff floors, so no need to worry about causing damage or requiring more frequent floor cleaning.  

The chair is designed to be used with a companion, but fortunately, the chair has brakes accessible for both the chair user and companion if needed. The rear hand brakes double for slowing the chair while pushing and also locking the wheels in place. 

Key Features:

  • 12’’ rear wheels
  • Aluminum frame
  • Companion hand brakes that slow and lock wheels
  • Swingaway footrests
  • Padded armrests
  • Seat belt
  • Flared handles
  • User wheel lock

Specification:

  • Brand: Roscoe Medical
  • Model: TCA191612BK
  • Dimensions and weight: 27.5 x 10.2 x 37 inches ; 22 pounds

Pros:

  • Carries up to 300 pounds
  • Affordable price
  • User and companion hand breaks, ability to slow and lock chair

Cons:

  • Molded plastic details aren’t flexible
  • Some users reported front wheels are difficult to maneuver over raised thresholds 
  • Slightly heavier than other models

Buy Now on Amazon

Wheelchairs With Brakes Buying Guide

One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to wheelchairs, especially those that feature brakes. Let’s break down some important things to consider when debating which model is best for you or a loved one.

Transport Versus Traditional Wheelchair

Transport chairs and wheelchairs are completely different mobility devices, even though they might look quite similar at first glance. Transport chairs are unique from traditional wheelchairs because they are designed to only be pushed by a caregiver or loved one instead of the chair user pushing themselves. You can see the difference as transport chairs have significantly smaller rear wheels that users can’t reach. Most traditional wheelchair have handles for a caregiver to push, but might not have all the design features that are aimed at making the job easier for the one pushing, such as hand brakes or a lightweight frame designed for easy transport. 

Type Of Brake

Many traditional wheelchairs will feature a brake located near the rear wheel that can simply be pushed to lock the wheels in place. This is ideal when stopped on uneven surfaces to prevent unwanted rolling.

With some transport chairs, an additional rear, or companion, hand brake will be featured near the handles. Depending on the model, this secondary brake will work similar to a bicycle hand brake–simply squeeze to slow down. This is very helpful for navigating chairs on a decline or incline. Some models’ companion break can also be used to lock the rear wheels in place, but not all, so be sure to check the product details closely.

Wheel Design

Obviously, the size of the rear tires will largely depend on if the chair is a transport or traditional wheelchair. Ideal wheel size is largely dependent on use cases, as larger tires can add bulk but also more stability. 

Another focus should be on material and construction. If you can, look for flat-free tires. Flat-free wheels are what they sound like–they’re constructed to be puncture proof. Depending on the manufacturer this is achieved a variety of ways, but at the end of the day, all methods provide peace of mind that your tires will be durable. 

Also be sure to consider the tread of the tire, and if it will be better suited for outdoor or indoor use. Ideally your tire will be able to handle both, but for those who plan to use their wheelchair primarily on carpet versus those who plan to use while out and about might want to consider different style tires.  

Weight Capacity

Weight capacity is a very personal issue that varies from wheelchair user to wheelchair user. Before investing, be sure to check the maximum capacity. If close to the maximum, we would advise to look for a chair with a higher weight limit to ensure structural integrity. 

Chair Size And Weight

Choosing the right sized wheelchair will ultimately depend on both the user and caregiver. Breakthroughs in technology has allowed for chairs to be structurally strong while still very lightweight, a definite bonus for transporting and pushing the chair. On the flip side, the more lightweight the chair, the less stable it will be to double as a walker, so if that is a feature you’re looking for, be sure to stick with a heavier model. 

Also be sure to pay close attention to all product dimensions. You’ll want to ensure the seat is both wide and deep enough for the user, the back rest is tall enough to provide adequate support, the foot rests can be adjusted to proper height for comfort, and that the chair will fit through the doorways of your or your loved one’s home. Some of these factors can be adjusted after purchase, such as adding a cushion to elevate the user in the seat, but this is just another product to purchase and carry around. 

Foldability 

Each wheelchair provider has a slightly different approach to folding their product. Though most wheelchairs with brakes should have the option to fold, look into that in advance. A good wheelchair will do two things: fold easily and fold snugly. Don’t fall for a product that’s collapsible if it requires a ton of unnecessary pushing and shoving to get it to fold. Neither you nor your caregiver will want to put in that work if you don’t have to! 

Additional Features

A wheelchair, by definition, is just a chair with wheels, but we all know there is much more to it than that. Besides the brake, consider which features will be most beneficial to you. Do you need removable arm rests to easily move yourself or loved one in and out of the chair, or will a more durable, permanent arm rests suit your needs? Do you need the foot rest to simply swing out of the way, or be completely removable? Will a simple seat design work for quick use here or there, or will a more cushioned chair be needed for longer use? Will an added storage bag add convenience or bulk? Ultimately these questions are up to you and your loved one or caregiver to decide, but they are important to answer.