Walkers can restore some measure of mobility to those who struggle to get around due to injury, illness or age. Rolling walkers -- often called rollators -- are by far the most comfortable type of walkers for those who have enough balance to use them. Build-in seats make it easy to stop and rest on long walks, and removable storage pouches or baskets make it easy to shop independently, too.
All the rollators in this report have bicycle-style brakes built into the handgrips, plus brake locks that lock the walker in place when you use it as a seat. They also fold flat for transport for storage, but don't lock in that position; some users add a strap around their walker's legs to keep it from flopping open as they load it into the trunk of their car.
Our top choice in a rolling walker is the Medline UltraLight Freedom (Est. $90) rollator, sometimes sold simply as an "UltraLight Rollator." This lightweight aluminum walker only weighs 11 pounds and is narrow enough to fit through most bathroom doors (usually the narrowest spot in the house). Users say that despite its light weight, the Medline UltraLight Freedom feels sturdy and well-made. However, if you're close to its 250-pound upper weight limit, this is probably not the rollator for you. The FDA adverse events database contains reports of falls or breakage from walkers -- including Medline models -- that in many cases may have been avoided by observing the weight limits or doing proper maintenance on the walker.
The Medline UltraLight Freedom rollator's 6-inch wheels are big enough to move easily over all sorts of obstacles, including gravel, stone walks and grass. Users also like its padded seat and backrest, and the removable, water-resistant under-seat pouch, which comes with a shoulder strap for easy carrying. You do need to put it together, but you won't need any special tools and the most difficult part -- the brakes -- comes already assembled. This walker folds up for easy transport in the trunk of your car, but several users note that keeping it folded as you lift it in and out can be tricky -- a common quirk of all rollators we've evaluated.
The UltraLight Freedom adjusts to fit users between 4 feet 11 inches and 6 feet 4 inches tall; short users are especially thrilled with how well it fits them. However, you should be able to fit between the walker's handles (which are only 17 inches apart) in order to use it. If you need more space or a higher weight limit, consider the Drive Medical 10215 Go-Lite (Est. $115) oversize rollator, which measures 22 inches between the handlebars. This walker has 8-inch wheels, a sturdy steel frame that supports up to 500 pounds and an oversize seat with extra padding.
The downside to this sort of rollator is that, at 30.5 inches wide, it won't fit through many interior doorways. That width makes it more comfortable for larger users, however, and the padded backrest comes off without tools if you want a little more space. It also has a detachable under-seat basket for additional storage, and adjusts to fit users between 5 feet 8 inches and 6 feet 6 inches in height. The walker itself weighs 26 pounds, and users warn that it can be a challenge to get into the trunk of a small car.
Another excellent heavy duty rollator with 8-inch wheels is the Nova 4215 Mack Heavy Duty (Est. $235), which supports up to 500 pounds, measures 20.5 inches between the handlebars, and adjusts to fit users between 5 feet 5 inches and 6 feet 2 inches in height. It also comes with a removable storage basket and padded seat and, at 24.5 inches wide, the Nova 4215 Mack is narrow enough to fit through many -- thought not all -- interior doors. Users like that the padded backrest on this walker swings out of the way for storage or transport, and they say that the new hard plastic wheels last a lot longer than the gray rubber wheels on previous models.
The Mack Heavy Duty is part of a popular line that also includes the Nova 4214 Mini Mack (Est. $235) and the Nova Mighty Mack 4216 (Est. $300), which are designed for users from 4 feet 1 inches to 5 feet 5 inches and 5 feet 5 inches to 6 feet tall, respectively. The Mighty Mack also supports up to 600 pounds but is 27 inches wide, so it won't fit through all interior doorways.
A new entry in this year's bariatric category is the steel Medline Heavy Duty Bariatric Rollator (Est. $200), which weighs 25 pounds and supports users up to 500 pounds. It also comes in a 19-pound Aluminum Version (Est. $120), which has a weight limit of 400 pounds. Both rolling walkers measure 23.5 inches wide between the handles and adjust between 31.5 and 37.5 inches high, which makes them appropriate for most users between 5 and 6 feet tall.
Like most bariatric walkers, users say the Medline Heavy Duty rolling walker won't fit through all interior doorways and can be a challenge to wrestle in and out of a car trunk, even when folded. A few also wish for grippier rubber wheels instead of smooth plastic. But in general, customers that purchase the Medline Heavy Duty bariatric rollator are very happy with its performance and say those 8-inch wheels can get over almost anything, so we'll keep an eye on it to see if it moves up in future reports.
If cost is your primary concern, consider the Drive Medical 10257 (Est. $60) rollator. It has 7.5-inch wheels (which, under industry standards, may sometimes be listed as 8-inch wheels), and its handles adjust between 31 and 37 inches high, making it appropriate for most users between 5 and 6 feet tall. At 23.5 inches wide, the Drive Medical 10257 will fit easily through most interior doorways, and sports an extra storage basket under the padded seat. Users like that this rollator comes already assembled; all you have to do is bolt the brakes into place. It's also made of steel -- a great find in this price range, if you don't mind the weight of more than 18 pounds, and supports up to 300 pounds.
Finally, the Nova 4900 Traveler (Est. $90) three-wheeled walker is another popular choice with users, thanks to its small size and agile maneuvering on 8-inch wheels. Most three-wheeled walkers draw criticism for not offering much lateral (side-to-side) stability, but users say the Nova 4900 Traveler still feels very stable. This little walker doesn't have a seat, but it does come with lots of storage, including a large basket with a tray topper and a sizable rear pouch. At 25 inches wide it fits through most interior doors, and adjusts to fit users between 5 feet 4 inches and 6 feet 2 inches, up to 250 pounds. The steel frame makes it a fairly heavy 15 pounds.
Physical therapists often recommend using an old-fashioned folding frame walker instead of a rollator, because frame walkers are slower and won't roll out from under you. This style of walker, which you must lift and move forward with every step, is especially handy if you struggle with posture or are concerned about your ability to safely operate the handbrakes on a rolling walker. Folding frame models are also small, light and affordable, which makes them a great choice if you only need a walker for a short period.
Like rollators, the best frame walkers adjust to fit your height, feel stable and sturdy, and are narrow enough to fit through your household's interior doorways. At 24 inches wide with a weight limit of 350 pounds, the Drive Medical 10210-1 (Est. $30) deluxe two-button folding walker delivers those qualities for most users. This aluminum frame walker weighs just 7.5 pounds; users say it's easy to get into a car trunk, and the two-button folding mechanism means you can fold just one side at a time if you need a little help squeezing through any particularly narrow doorways.
The Drive Medical 10210-1's handles adjust from 32 inches to 39 inches high, making it suitable for most adults over 5 feet tall, as long as you fall within its weight limit and physically fit into the 17-inch-wide opening between the handlebars. For shorter users, a junior version is available that adjusts all the way down to 25 inches, low enough to accommodate users well under 4 feet tall. Contoured vinyl handgrips give you some extra security, but users say they may emit some odor when you first unbox this walker.
If you need a greater weight capacity or more space inside the walker, the Medline Extra-Wide Two-Button Walker (Est. $70) draws excellent user feedback for its wide, sturdy frame and 500-pound weight limit. The Medline extra-wide bariatric walker measures 22 inches between the handles and adjusts between 31 and 41 inches in height; 5-inch wheels are available and, depending on who you buy from, may come already attached to the front end of the walker. Just be warned that while this walker offers plenty of support and interior space for larger users, it's too wide to fit easily through a 30-inch interior doorway.
If you only have grip or arm strength on one side of your body, or don't need a full walker but want more support than you'd get from a cane, consider the Drive Medical 10240 Side-Style Hemi Walker (Est. $35) It weighs just 4 pounds and folds down for easy transport. Some customers use the Drive Medical 10240 as a one-sided walker, swinging it along beside them; others keep it handy to use as a support when they get out of the shower, or to help them pull themselves from sitting into standing. It adjusts between 29.5 and 37 inches -- so sub-5-foot users and 6-foot-plus users should both be comfortable with it -- and supports up to 300 pounds.
Although most walkers and rollators are designed to fold up for storage or transport, many users complain that the resulting bundles are still too large and unwieldy. One solution is a folding travel walker like the Stander EZ Fold-N-Go (Est. $123), which weighs less than 8 pounds and folds up small enough to store easily in the overhead compartment of an airplane or the floorboard of a car. Users particularly like that it still stands on its own when folded, which makes it easy to tuck out of the way -- but not out of reach -- in public places like restaurants.
There are a few trade-offs to having a walker that folds this easily. Although the Stander EZ Fold-N-Go supports up to 400 pounds, it doesn't have a seat. Its two swiveling, 6-inch wheels are great for maneuverability, but users point out that they "seem to go every which way" on rough surfaces. If you have the most recent version of this walker, you can use an Allen wrench to set the wheels to fixed positioning -- but users say this makes the walker harder to navigate.
Still, the Stander EZ Fold-N-Go is a favorite with those who are fairly steady on their feet and just need a little agile, highly portable support now and then, especially if they do a lot of traveling or dining out. At 25.5 inches wide it fits through many interior doorways, although it is only a surprisingly petite 18 inches wide between the handles.
Although expert testing of walkers is hard to come by, it's helpful to read the accident reports in the FDA database of adverse incident reports. We also consulted the Mayo Clinic's expert advice on how to choose and use the best walker for you.
Consumers -- both users and relatives who buy walkers for them -- provide the best available reviews of specific walker models. Amazon.com and Walmart.com both provide a wealth of user feedback, with some models accumulating hundreds or thousands of user reviews. In terms of quality, some of the best user reviews came from SpinLife.com and 1800Wheelchair.com; often, these reviews come from the walker users themselves.