Logs, rocks, ruts, mud, brush, the great outdoors can be demanding and the basic fact is the majority of wheelchairs offered in the mainstream simply do not cover the demands placed on them by wild nature. It is the jumping off point. To truly get off the pavement and to get into primal wilderness requires particular tools to make that jump. This week’s article will hopefully give you insight into some of those tools at a price-point you can live with.
Let me be frank, there are other options than the ones provided in this article; everything from home-made to uber-sophisticated international models. I recognize I am only giving you a slice and not the whole enchilada. However, what I am giving you is what some consider the best options available. So, take it for what it’s worth – ka’peesh?
|Scott and Stephanie Anderson on a BeachScoot|
At the lowest cost is The Beach Scoot. Priced at $7,900 it is your basic 4 wheeled (back wheel drive only) scooter with bigger tires that help you stay above the sand, mud and brush. I have personally used one of these at the beach and they do work. Battery life was limited due to the sand. Terrain and body weight will always dictate the length of a charge. On solid ground, I am certain that the length of the charge would have been substantially better. I did get stuck in the sand once or twice but at the price, it is a serious option.
Next up is the Action Track Chair and they offer a couple of options. As the name of the chair mentions, this is a tracked chair and can take on almost anything Mother Nature throws at it from the beach to the forest. They have a sit down model with a base price of $10,200 and a stand up version with a base price of about $15,000 that allows a paraplegic to raise up into a standing position. The chairs come with an awesome 5 year warranty on the frame and the tracks. I spoke with the dealer for my area, Mr. Doug Carlson of Carlson Mobility in Austin, Texas, about this chair and he is arranging for me to test it in the near future. Doug mentioned that one of the unique characteristics of this chair is that it has the ability to tilt backwards or forwards twenty degrees for riding on sloped terrain as well as for comfort. The company offers a mind-boggling 26 different accessory options that are available to add to the base price to help with any of your outdoor needs.
The next chair in the line-up is the Trac-Fab. The company offers two different models. The first which is 36 inches wide has a starting price of $12,000. They also offer an ADA compliant model which is 30 inches wide and can navigate through the vast majority of indoor obstacles as well as outdoor terrain too. Price of the ADA compliant chair is $14,000. They even show pics of it exiting a vehicle which is an interesting twist as most of the others simply will not fit into an accessible van comfortably.
Last up is a real monster! It’s called the RipChair 3.0. Yes it’s tracked but that is where the similarities end. You roll your wheelchair into the bay and lock in. You then crank the 30 horsepower, 4 stroke gas engine and away you go! Due to the fact that it is gas operated means you are guaranteed to not be limited by weight and terrain as in a battery operated electric chairs. They even have accessories like a snow plow or a mowing deck! Whuuut...are you kidding? No! Top speed is 17 mph. So, you are asking what this bad boy will run you, right? I couldn’t get them on the phone the day I wrote this article but I have been told that the base price is at or above $27,000. Hey if you have the cash, get the Cadillac. Know this though, the specs of this chair demands that you are going to have to put it on a trailer just like you would any other ATV. But, everything in a man says, “GIVE IT TO ME!” it will go where no one in a wheelchair has ever gone before. It truly is one small step for man and one giant leap for a person in a wheelchair.
I wanted to end this article by thanking all of you for your loyalty in reading it each week. Due to your diligence handicappeodutdoors.com is now in the number one position on Google when you search for it. Yes, that's a big deal and I owe it all to you – Thanks!