The typical wheelchair is designed to go across smooth floors, pavement, and carpet. While you might be able to wheel it over some short grass while enjoying a summer’s day in the park, things can get pretty bumpy pretty quickly.
For wheelchair users who have a more adventurous spirit, they need a chair with wheels that are ready to go wherever they feel like exploring.
Enter the market of all-terrain wheelchairs.
Where We’re Going, We Won’t Need Roads
All-terrain wheelchairs are designed to go on forest trails, through mud, and up hill. Though the design varies depending on the manufacturer, they typically share some common traits: hand-controlled drivetrains that operate similarly to a mountain bike, thick, off-road wheels, and a centralized third wheel for steering.
Of course, there are also powered all-terrain wheelchairs, but those are a little different.
For a manual powered, off-road wheelchair, two of the leading developers are GRIT and Mountain Trike.
The GRIT Freedom Chair
Founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts, GRIT was founded to build a better, more versatile wheelchair. Their freedom chair is made entirely of bicycle parts, making it easy to find repair and replacement parts.
The Freedom Chair features two lengthy handles that the user pumps with their arms to move forward. The handles also operate as breaks for each wheel. Pull both back stops the chair, while pulling one back allows you to steer. It’s also easily compact-able, so it will fit nicely in the back of disabled vehicles.
Another great thing GRIT has going is the Leveraged Freedom Chair (LFC ) that they developed specifically for developing countries.
From an engineering standpoint, the LFC is almost identical to the standard Freedom Chair, allowing for increased mobility in areas that often lack proper roads and sidewalks. The LFC is sold in bulk quintiles to NGOs, governments, and aid agencies. If you’d like more info, check out their site here.
The Mountain Trikes
If you’re looking for a slightly more extreme chair, one of Mountain Trike’s all-terrain chairs might be better suited for you. With the third wheel placed behind the chair, you’re able to take on steeper hills without risk of falling backwards.
Another unique feature is that steering done by pivoting the right handle, allowing you to turn without losing speed or momentum.
Mountain Trike actually offers a number of different chair models to meet your needs, two of which were just released. Though based in the UK, Mountain Trike has distributors in many countries, including the US and Canada.
You can check out their products and learn more about their company here.
Have you ever used an all-terrain wheelchair? Did we leave out your favorite brand? Let us know below!