Oftentimes when people think of off-roading, wheelchairs may not be the first thing to come to mind. But what happens if someone who is wheelchair-bound wants to explore the forest or spend some time on the beach? Some companies have begun specializing in all-terrain wheelchairs because it’s time we started making inclusivity the norm.
So, what does it mean for a wheelchair to have the capability for off-roading and which company makes the best one? Well, usually it means thicker tires (and maybe a third or fourth wheel), a lower center of gravity, and other adjustments which make the toughest terrains maneuverable for wheelchairs. The detail that is often most important when creating these types of vehicles is that the chair will not just easily tip over, but there are other additions that companies sometimes make in order for the wheelchair to better fit a specific environment, like the beach.
There are many variables when it comes to choosing a wheelchair for off-roading, such as the choice between a manual or an electric device. Depending on your needs, there is almost guaranteed to be a chair which will fit what you want perfectly. Here are some of the best all-terrain wheelchairs and why they work so well to their user’s advantage.
The Vipamat Hippocampe
This wheelchair, designed to navigate the sandiest of beaches, features double wheels which are thick enough that the chair won’t sink into deep sand and a third wheel in front of the user’s feet which allows for better balance. The Hippocampe can also come with and extra set of “balloon” wheels, which makes riding over sand even easier. The chair allows its user to enjoy a leisurely day at the beach, rather than worry about whether or not they will be able to make it up close to the water without getting stuck. A total of 12 accessories are offered along with this chair, including parking brakes, arm rests, a transport bag, a headrest, a backrest, the aforementioned “balloon wheels”, a waist belt, a harness, a front and rear ski kit (for use in snow instead of sand), a backrest bag, and an online configurator. The Hippocampe is even collapsible, and allows for extremely easy transport when it’s not being used. The goal of every all-terrain wheelchair is to make life simpler, and Vipamat makes sure that you will have one less thing to worry about than you did before.
This product is an example of a manual off-roading wheelchair, but there are many battery-operated options which offer a solution for those who need assistance with propulsion.
Trac Fabrication Inc. (TracFab) specializes in a different type of all-terrain chair: one that’s meant for dirt, mud, snow and rocks; this machine will get you where you want to go. What makes TracFab’s wheelchairs travel so efficiently are the rubber tracks which propel the chair over most any surface, with an additional two wheels on the back to reduce the risk of tipping. TracFab’s 36’’ Electric even has a remote (with a joystick) for the precision steering of the vehicle, along with an adjustable seat and a harness to maintain safety even through rough rides. Adjustable seats are important for versatility of use; sometimes, the user may need to adjust backwards because they need to pass under a low branch, or sometimes adjustments need to be made simply for comfort. Operated by a pure lead AGM battery, this off-roading wheelchair pulls out all the stops in order to keep its user safe while having fun.
While this chair is a great option for flatter and muddier terrains, there is also a need for those who like to hike uphill for fun.
The Mountain Trike is another example of a manual all-terrain wheelchair, but it features levers which the user can pump in order to go forward. Instead of getting your hands dirty by having to push yourself forward on the wheels, you can enjoy the scenery or your activities without worry. When the levers are pushed forward, they drive a chain which propels the wheels, sort of like a bike. The levers leave the driver in a much more convenient position and, not to mention, you can steer entirely with only one hand, leaving your other hand available for other tasks. The trike features two large tires equipped with reliable treads, as well as two smaller tires in the front and one in the back for extra stability on all the hiking trails the Mountain Trike will take you on. The back wheel is also used for steering, and can be turned left and right by using the right lever as a joystick.
The aluminum body of this off-roading wheelchair is sleek and comes in many different colors that will satisfy any customer. Furthermore, the Mountain Trike keeps its user safe by having the option of a seatbelt, as well as hydraulic disk brakes placed conveniently on the levers, just as a bike would have them.
Mountain Trike’s website is full of testimonials from customers raving about their great experience with the product, and it seems to be a favorite among those who have experience purchasing these sorts of chairs.
The HexHog serves as a heavier duty, crossover between an ATV and a wheelchair, type vehicle. There’s no stopping this all-terrain wheelchair, as it is equipped with six tires that are thick enough to roll right over hills, rocks, dirt, mud, and whatever else you may throw at them. This vehicle is bulkier than others previously mentioned, but that will give it all the more stability when on an incline and when rolling over large bumps and other obstacles. The chair is adjustable so that its user can comfortably get seated and situated with the seat lowered, and then it can be raised again once the user is ready.
The six wheels are placed flexibly enough to where it almost seems that they move independently of one another. This feature will inspire confidence in being independent, leaving almost no possibility for the user to tip over and be stranded somewhere. Not to mention, you will leave the ground unchanged because of the forgiving wheels. Also, the HexHog is extremely easy to steer, and gets its precise navigation from the use of a joystick.
The World is Your Oyster
Vipamat, TracFab, and Mountain Trike, and HexHog are just four of the many companies who are leading the way in making the world a more accessible place. With new technology, there is no reason to leave folks with disabilities without a way to explore places with different terrain. The all-terrain chairs that were mentioned all have something unique to offer and are good for different things, so the choice may be difficult, but you can’t really go wrong with any one of them. If you want to use your wheelchair mainly for the beach, the obvious choice is Vipamat’s Hippocampe.
If you intend to travel through the woods often, maybe for hunting or fishing, the TracFab will do wonders for you. If you’re a mountaineer and find that you want to hike your way to the nearest waterfall, the Mountain Trike will help propel you upwards towards your destination. Or, if you’re looking for the perfect mix between an ATV and a wheelchair to take you across multiple acres, then the HexHog is your best friend. All these different off-roading wheelchairs offer a little slice of heaven for the wheelchair-bound outdoorsman, and, depending on the preference of the user, each chair will open up the possibility of the outdoors in a slightly different way.