A wheelchair might not be the first thing to come to mind when you start thinking about your summer adventures. Surely a mobility scooter, with their larger frames and tyres, are the perfect outdoor aid for those who worry about their mobility?
While scooters are indeed terrific for outdoor use, they aren’t going to offer you much in the way of transportability, which can be a key requirement for those of you who want to take plenty of day trips with friends and family over the next few months.
Instead, you’re better off looking at outdoor wheelchairs. Cleverly designed to offer benefits on par with scooters but in a compact package, they could make all the difference to your summer. And, considering how affordable they are, you might want to consider getting hold of one as a companion to a mobility scooter you already own, or to take the load off if you get tired using a basic walking aid.
So, what do you get with outdoor wheelchairs?
1. Extra Comfort
If you’ve ever tried sitting in a travel or transit wheelchair as you ride over rough and uneven surfaces then you’ll be more than aware of just how uncomfortable it can be.
Outdoor wheelchairs like the CareCo Enduro (£299 with VAT relief, as seen at the top of the page) add a suspension system to the frame to make these journeys a lot more pleasant. These suspension systems work in much the same way as they do in your car, by absorbing the shock of impact on obstacles and then pushing the tyre into the surface to help you maintain control.
Existing conditions like arthritis can be made to feel worse by sitting in a rickety wheelchair, but with a suspension wheelchair you’ll find that these previously uncomfortable vibrations are preventing from travelling through the frame and into your body.
Even though outdoor wheelchairs are designed for, well, the outdoors, that doesn’t mean that their usefulness is limited.
They are designed to be easy to control and manoeuvre, so even if you’re navigating limited indoor space you should still be able to comfortably fit through doorways. Those large self-propel wheels can be cumbersome, though, especially if you’re wanting to take your wheelchair with you in the car or you just want to store it somewhere discreetly indoors.
Some models, like the CareCo Evolution (£279 with VAT relief), employ quick-release rear wheels. This means you can remove the large wheels from the chair but still have the benefit of two rear castors, transforming your chair into a transit wheelchair.
Generally, an increase in your independence and quality of life is the goal of any mobility aid. But outdoor wheelchairs truly are designed to help you get around by yourself if that’s what you want or need – and you might be surprised by the ability of certain models to stay comfortable and useful in places you thought could never be accessible to a wheelchair user.
The large rear wheels on models like the Excel All-Terrain chair (£329 with VAT relief) offer extra tread to let you take on anything your travels throw at you, and the hand rims are a lot more comfortable than they look, providing responsive control regardless of the terrain. If you are worried about getting tired, all outdoor wheelchairs feature push handles so that an attendant can take over for a while.