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Wheelchair for Stairs: 14 Types that are Best for Climbing

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Are you in the market for a wheelchair that climbs stairs but you’re not really even know where to start looking?

With a wheelchair, you can navigate even tight spaces around your home like narrow hallways and be able to go outside on your own.

A stair-climbing wheelchair will only add to that convenience and help you reclaim even more independence.

Keep reading to learn more about the different types to consider.

Don’t forget to also check our review of the best lightweight wheelchair for elderly!

14 Types of Wheelchairs that Climb Stairs 

For people with mobility issues, even those confined to a standard wheelchair, the staircase is the last place they want to end up at.

lady happily using a wheelchair that climbs stairs

While climbing stairs with a wheelchair is not an impossible task (think of a situation where you have two or more people to carry you and the wheelchair upstairs) when you are alone, then you are limited to only the downstairs rooms.

For ease of mobility, a stair-climbing wheelchair is something most people with disabilities could use.

Also referred to as a wheelchair for stairs or a wheelchair stair climber, it is a mobility device that is designed to help people with disabilities go up and down the stairs with little to no assistance.

Such a wheelchair provides the much-needed independence a person with mobility issues needs like when it comes to accessing buildings that have no wheelchair ramps.

The mobility device is simply a seat that has a lift system, controls that you can operate by hand, and a source of power.

Most of them are electric-powered wheelchairs although you can still get a manual wheelchair. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best stair climbing wheelchairs on the market.

#1 Curb-Capable Wheelchairs and Mobility scooters

For anyone doing rehabilitative therapy, a good wheelchair is key.

There have been so many developments of wheelchairs and the curb capable wheelchairs and scooters are evidence that technology has really advanced.

These mobility assist devices are electronically powered with features such as high curb ability for maximum mobility.

The wheelchairs and scooters are not only easy to use but they can be used to easily navigate all manner of terrain.

READ MORE: How to Get Someone Up Stairs in a Wheelchair

#2 Tracked Staircase Climbers

The track-based stair climber is an amazing wheelchair equipped with features that make it easy to operate the wheelchair regardless of your level of mobility.

The wheelchair can climb stairs with ease and it’s a great choice for navigating indoor spaces and for unrestricted movement.

The wheelchair is also designed to maneuver all manner of stairs that may normally be a challenge for wheelchair users.

A majority of stair climbing wheelchair types make use of advanced balancing technologies and the tracked staircase climber is no different.

The wheelchair uses the latest technology to ensure that the weight of the wheelchair climber is transferred to the stairs and you never have to worry about keeping the chair balanced when going up and down the stairs.

With conventional wheelchairs, you always have to make sure that the weight is balanced to avoid falling over.

Safety is never something you need to concern yourself with when you buy this highly developed stair-climbing wheelchair.

Check the sample below:

#3 Stair Climbing Electric Motorized Wheelchair

These folding electric wheelchairs come with high-level staircase climbing abilities and will work for most types of staircases as long as the maximum height doesn’t exceed 24 centimeters.

They are also compatible with different environments which only adds to the mobility freedom of the person using them.

Because the wheelchairs are made of lightweight materials, they are suitable for people who don’t weigh as much. Since they are foldable, they are also easy to travel with.

#4 Wheel Cluster-Based Staircase Climbers

These types of robotic helpers allow for freedom of mobility thanks to their lightweight nature that adds to their stair-climbing ability.

They are suitable for staircases of all gradients hence ideal for indoor use and other areas requiring unrestricted movement.

They are electric-powered wheelchairs compatible with all types of stairs. Their assistive mobility mechanisms enable the sliders to balance on the staircase without having to distribute the weight of the wheelchair user.

#5 Wheel Cluster-Based Stair Climber With COG Modification

These stair climbing wheelchairs make use of the center of gravity to ensure that balance is maintained as the chair goes up and down the stairs.

As such, the wheelchair is compatible with all types of stairs from rough to smooth textured ones. They are also designed to handle even the steepest of slopes.

Their lightweight nature means that they are highly portable regardless of the mode of transportation you will use.

#6 The Two-Wheel Cluster-Based Stair-Climbers

The dual stair climber makes use of the rear wheels which drive the frontal wheels. The front-wheel casters, in turn, rotate making it easy for the wheelchair to go up and down the staircase.

These wheelchair types however are only suitable for standard staircases. This is because they are heavy which makes them difficult to travel with on long distances. As such, they are best suited for indoor use.

#7 The Air Hawk Power Wheelchair

This electric, stair-climbing wheelchair is one of the lightest. Because of the lightweight, the wheelchair works well when traveling and maneuvering outdoors.

It is among the best foldable chairs and you never have to worry when traveling even in a cab because you can always fold it to look like luggage.

#8 Spinal Cord Stair Climbing Stimulator 

These wheelchairs are suitable for people with severe spinal cord issues since they help ensure upper body control.

That comfortable transition is what anyone with spinal cord problems needs when going up and down the stairs.

As you go up and down the stairs, you never have to worry about hurting your spine further.

Such wheelchairs can also be used by elderly people who want additional mobility and to become more independent.

#9 The Folding Electric Stair Climber 

As far as advancements in wheelchairs go, the electric wheelchair that can fold is among the best.

As the name suggests, this motorized wheelchair is powered by electricity and can also be folded to make transportation easier.

The wheelchairs use the latest climbing mechanisms to ensure that the patient is always safe when going up and down any staircase.

#10 Foldable Ambulance Fire Evacuation Chair

While most buildings have put into place emergency measures, elderly people and people with disabilities most of the time find themselves trapped in case of emergencies like fires.

This aluminum alloy EMS evacuation stair chair is light in weight and is designed to allow for a quick descent down the stairs in case of such an emergency.

The chair’s design eliminates almost all the work that is needed during multi-level evacuation situations.

While it is best suited for older people with mobility issues, it can also be used by people with disabilities who need help evacuating a building fast in case of an emergency.

#11 BM3 PowerChair 16mph, Lithium Wheelchair

The 16mph fast, long-range, lithium wheelchair is probably the best stair-climbing wheelchair for added mobility freedom.

It comes equipped with a lithium battery that you can charge at home or in the car while on the move.

The battery lasts just as long. So, what’s so special about this particular wheelchair that climbs stairs?

The control! Compared to other power wheelchairs, this futuristic wheelchair is easy to use since it works on your commands doing exactly what you tell it to do.

Coupled with the higher operational speed of up to 16mph and the larger battery, the BM3 PowerChair is ideal for even long-distance travel.

#12 The Overhead Wheelchair Hoist With Portable Chair Lifter

With a manual wheelchair, a wheelchair lifter is a must-have if you want to go up and down the stairs and into vans.

The overhead wheelchair hoist however comes with a portable wheelchair lifter that makes it easy to move a patient into and out of a van quickly.

Though these wheelchair types can climb stairs, their ability to do so is limited to standards stairs.

They operate just like the many general-purpose operated wheelchairs on the market.

#13 Wheel Cluster-based EPW-SC Wheelchairs

Thanks to the compact mechanism, these wheelchairs remain stable as the patient moves up and down any kind of stairs.

While the structure is as simple as they come, the wheelchairs are powered by electricity so that the control system can work efficiently.

Besides maintaining balance, the wheelchairs also use the control system to simulate some movements.

#14 Leg based EPW-SC Wheelchairs

These wheelchairs make use of complex leg-based mechanisms so as to ensure stability as the chair goes up the stairs.

With very few shortcomings when it comes to movement, these wheelchairs are suitable for different kinds of environments.

The wheels of the wheelchair rotate to improve mobility and to ensure that you can easily go up all types of staircases including a spiral staircase.

Wheelchair That Climbs Stairs FAQs 

What is the best stair-climbing wheelchair?

The BM3 PowerChair 16mph, long-range, lithium wheelchair is the best stair-climbing wheelchair overall. It comes with a big lithium battery and is three times faster than other power wheelchairs. It also works well on all kinds of stairs regardless of the texture.

How do I go upstairs without a stairlift?

a man in a wheelchair about to climb a stair

If you don’t have a stairlift, a platform lift will work to take your wheelchair upstairs. The platform is simpler to use and it’s also cheaper than a stairlift. Expect the platform lift, however, to take up a lot of space in your home which is why they are mostly applicable in public buildings.

How do you get a person with mobility issues in case of an emergency?

The first thing you need to do is to consult with the person on how they would prefer to be carried downstairs. Some options include using two people to carry them, using an office chair, or if applicable an evacuation wheelchair such as the foldable ambulance fire evacuation chair but make sure to inform the emergency personnel.

Conclusion

The stairs will always pose a challenge for wheelchair users from elderly people with mobility issues to persons living with disabilities that affect their mobility.

While that person may be confined to a wheelchair, it doesn’t mean that movement is restricted. There are so many ways of getting a wheelchair upstairs.

Two people can carry the chair with the user on it but the best alternative is to use a wheelchair that climbs stairs.

There are so many types of staircase climbers like the COG modification wheel cluster-based stair-climber, aluminum alloy EMS evacuation stair chair, dual wheel cluster stair-climber to the many stair climbing mobility scooters. The list is endless!

References

  • Sasaki, Kai, Yosuke Eguchi, and Kenji Suzuki. 2016a. “A Wheelchair with Lever Propulsion Control for Climbing up and down Stairs.” 2016 38th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC), August. https://doi.org/10.1109/embc.2016.7591447.
  • ———. 2016b. “A Wheelchair with Lever Propulsion Control for Climbing up and down Stairs.” 2016 38th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC), August. https://doi.org/10.1109/embc.2016.7591447.
  • Tao, Weijun, Junyi Xu, and Tao Liu. 2017. “Electric-Powered Wheelchair with Stair-Climbing Ability.” International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems 14 (4): 172988141772143. https://doi.org/10.1177/1729881417721436.
back view of a lady using a wheelchair that goes down the stairs

Have you tried using a wheelchair that climbs stairs? Please share your experience below!

About Liliane

Lilian Wamaitha is a passionate writer and avid cyclist with over 4 years of experience in blogging. As a lifelong learner, she is driven by her curiosity to discover and learn new things. This curiosity and passion eventually sparked a love for the senior writing niche. She has written countless articles to help seniors find their footing in this world through healthy and holistic living. She’s passionate about seeing the seniors in society live a more fulfilling life to the end. Follow her on LINKEDIN

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