-- rolling walkers with seats -- make long walks easier
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. Built-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.
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.
seem like pretty straightforward pieces of equipment, in fact, you can be
injured by improper use. The Food and Drug Administration used to maintain an
adverse events database that contained reports of falls or breakage from
walkers and rollators. Although this information is no longer available online,
it reinforced just how important it is to observe the maximum weight limits for
any walker or rollator model. Many of the adverse events reported in the FDA
database may have been avoided by observing the walker weight limits or doing
proper maintenance on rollators.
Our top choice
in a rolling walker remains the (Est. $85) 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; keep reading for sturdier models that are
designed with a higher weight limit.
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. Said pouch comes with a shoulder strap for easy carrying,
although we do see some indications that the latest version of that pouch is a
little harder to get on and off the walker than previous models.
You do need to
assemble the Ultralight Freedom rollator, 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.
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 (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, although if you live in an ADA wheelchair-accessible
facility or house, it'll fit through those doorways very easily. That extra width
also makes the Drive 10215 Go-Lite rollator more comfortable for larger users,
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.
excellent heavy duty rollator with 8-inch wheels is the (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 -- though 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 (Est. $230) and the (Est. $350), 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.
In our previous
update, we had our eye on the steel (Est. $200), a new entry in the bariatric category that
weighs 25 pounds and supports users up to 500 pounds. It also comes in a
19-pound (Est. $150), 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.
these models for a year, we can say that most users like them for the same
reasons they'd like any bariatric model: The 8-inch wheels can roll over almost
anything, and the walker itself is sturdy and roomy enough for larger users,
while smaller users enjoy the stability and having enough space to add extras
like cup holders or simply lounge around in comfort.
models suffer from the same issues as other bariatric walkers -- for example,
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.
The best budget rollators
If cost is your
primary concern, consider the (Est. $50) 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.
If you only need
a walker for balance but not for major weight-bearing, you might prefer a
three-wheeled walker like the (Est. $90). This "trike" walker is
very popular with users who are able to "walk with" the rollator
instead of walking up to it, then moving it forward for another set of steps.
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.
Although it's a
popular choice, the Nova 4900 Traveler might have some competition from the (Est. $100). Like the Traveler, the Winnie
Lite Supreme is highly maneuverable, easy to fold, and easy to transport; it
weighs just 11 pounds, and users say it fits easily into the trunk of even a
compact car. They also like its sturdy carry pouch, which can be swapped out
for an optional wire basket instead.
that the Drive Winnie Lite Supreme feels sturdy and reliable up to its
300-pound weight limit but, like all three-wheeled walkers, it has a few
limitations. It lacks a seat, and if you take turns too fast or put all your
weight on just one of the handles, it'll tip. And finally, although the
7.5-inch tires are great for speedy stability, a few users warn that three-wheeled
walkers just don't cut it for going over really rough pavement or grass. But
for relatively strong walkers who only need a little bit of balance help, the
Drive Winnie Lite Supreme and the Nova 4900 Traveler are great choices that are
easy to transport and fit easily through most doorways.
folding frame walkers
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.
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 (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
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 are able to 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 (Est. $80) 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
to suit most users between 5 feet, 5 inches and 6 feet, 4 inches in height. It
also has optional 5-inch wheels and, depending on who you buy from, said wheels
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 (Est. $30). 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.
walker for travel
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 (Est. $125), 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.
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. We also found a couple
of user comments that Stander's customer service department is quick to help
out in case of problems. At 25.5 inches wide it fits through many interior
doorways, although it is only a surprisingly petite 18 inches wide between the
Expert & User Review Sources
testing of walkers is hard to come by, the Mayo Clinic offers 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 and Walmart are the best
sources for that 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.