Topics: Sports & Activities, Accessibility & Adaptations

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Beach Wheelchairs

What makes a beach wheelchair? Beach wheelchairs first became a reality over 25 years ago. Wheeleez invented their, now, world-famous hard plastic inflated tires and several beach wheelchair makers have come to the surface since, all hoping to become the go-to beach wheelchair for the average wheelchair user.

The only problem is that there are now dozens of beach wheelchairs on the market. It can be overwhelming to decide which chair to buy. Many of them look fantastic, but are all of them equal? That is a definite no, but it doesn't mean there aren't still a handful that are worth looking at.

When picking a beach wheelchair first decide what you need it for. Do you just want to soak in the sun rays or do you want to go swimming? Different activities call for different wheelchairs in the beach wheelchair world. See what we mean below.

The Good

Beach BomberBeach Comber

From Box Wheelchairs, a cutting-edge wheelchair company from California, the Beach Bomber Wheelchair is their beach wheelchair that enables manual wheelchair-users to push themselves independently through the sand. This beach wheelchair also has the capability of going into the surf, but only minimally. To traverse the beach, it has 5” wide back tires and large inflatable front wheels to get through most beach sand. The Beach Bomber costs around $4,500.

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Hippocampe

HippocampeFrom France, the Hippocampe sits low to the ground and can be self-propelled by the person sitting in it. Avoid beach wheelchairs that only can be pushed by an able-bodied assistant. The Hippocampe also has the ability to go into the water and float, which is spectacular for swimmers. This wheelchair does have two drawbacks: 1) It doesn’t do well in deep sand and 2) It is tricky to transfer out of it since it is so low to the ground so you may need assistance to get out of it. Price is under $4,000.

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Sand Rider

Sand RiderSimilar to the Hippocampe, the Sand Rider Offroad Beach Wheelchair is different in that it can be completely customized in a variety of fun colors and has bigger oversized back wheels. It also is able to go in the water. It’s made by Virginia Beach Products in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and it uses the beach wheelchair wheels from Wheelez. Financing is available for anyone who needs a beach wheelchair but cannot afford it as well; a rarity. The Sand Rider costs approx. $2,300.

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cadWeazle

cadWeazleA high-power beach/off-road wheelchair made in Germany, the cadWeazle runs completely from batteries, making it very eco-friendly for such power. It has an optional solar panel roof and balloon wheels. This chair does sit higher from ground, making it harder to relax at eye level with other beachgoers but for those that want to really zoom and explore the sand/beach (not the water), it’s a great option. Price is $14,000.

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Beach 'n BuggyBeach 'n Buggy

A power beach wheelchair that sits low like the Hippocampe beach chair, this fun chair is made in California. The Beach 'n Buggy can be customized as well. This low-level wheelchair has over-sized wheels, a headrest, and a large foot plate, making it perfect for quadriplegics.

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Freedom Trax

Freedom TraxIf you use a manual wheelchair, one of the easiest ways to enjoy the beach is with a Freedom Trax, a manual wheelchair accessory that lets you to enjoy the beach without getting out of your wheelchair. All you do is roll right on up onto the track-lined platform, grab the joystick and go. You can’t go into the water with it, but it does drive seamlessly through the thickest sand thanks to its tank-like tracks. Price is $6,000.

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Colours Razorblade All-Terrain WheelchairColours Razorblade All-Terrain Wheelchair

Made by Colours Wheelchairs, this is their beach wheelchair - the Razorblade. It is a manual wheelchair with wide wheels and large 8" front caster wheels that can be pushed through the sand. This is a great chair because it can be taken off the beach as well; an interchangeable wheelchair for your full day’s activities. Price is $2,400.

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The Bad

Generic All-Terrain Wheelchair

Generic All-Terrain WheelchairIf you have a high-level spinal cord injury and cannot use your arms, this generic All-Terrain Wheelchair is an option to consider for the beach. For anyone who can use their arms, this is not a good beach wheelchair experience. As you can see, it is intended for the user to be pushed from behind, making you completely dependent on someone to move anywhere. Price is only $1,000.

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The Ugly

SandRoller

SandRoller

A manual beach wheelchair with the largest wheels ever spotted on a wheelchair is the SandRoller. While its wheels are so large that it makes it highly impractical, it is something someone could enjoy on a private beach. It was created two years ago, but it did not get its Kickstarter funding and does not appear to be available for purchase. The large back wheels measure a foot wide and the front wheels measure 6 inches wide. It can be taken into shallow water only. Price unknown.

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Tiffiny Carlson

Written by Tiffiny Carlson

Since 1998, Tiffiny Carlson has been a prolific commentator on all things SCI in a number of prominent magazines, blogs and websites. Hailing from Minnesota, she was the SCI Columnist for New Mobility Magazine for 13 years and she currently works as the Executive Director of SPINALpedia, one of the leading websites for people with SCI to share videos and stories. She has been a C5-6 quadriplegic since a diving accident 24 years ago. Tiffiny has also been a fierce advocate for SCI research. In 2016, the Morton Paralysis Fund honored her for her work. While all SCI topics interest her, dating, love and the business of relationships have always been where her passion lies the most.

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