9

I'm partially handicapped, and sometimes can only walk short distances without the use of a wheelchair, especially outside.

I like to take walks alone in the winter (especially to see winter birds), but I don't have the strength or balance to walk alone on paths with snow; and I can't always ambulate in my wheelchair by myself on snowy paths. I can drive the back wheels myself with my hands, especially if I put my thick "winter wheels" on. However, the front wheels sink in the snow and get stuck.

I've heard that gear exists to enable the front wheels to move smoothly along the snow, but I haven't seen it or met anyone who has used it.

I'm only looking for something to help me on paths where the snow is fully packed or has up to a few inches of powdery snow-cover. I'm thinking about

  • using existing paths where the snow is mostly, but not necessarily completely, packed down
  • creating new paths in areas where there are no more than a few inches of snow
  • having a way to get home if it all of a sudden starts to snow when I'm out

My ultimate goal for the gear would be something that

  • I can attach/detach on my own

  • doesn't weigh more than a few pounds

  • isn't too bulky, in case I want to keep it in my lap for part of the trip

I'm not asking for brands or prices. I want to know if gear like this exists, and if so, what criteria I should look for when making my choice. If there is no such thing, that's a valid answer.

2

Given your expected usage, I believe a more practical solution would be an add-on front all terrain wheel. Products like the FreeWheel give the front of the wheelchair similar terrain capabilities as the rear. You can attach and detach it easily, even while in the wheelchair, and it folds up and stores in the back of the wheelchair when you don't need it. It works well on snow, gravel, sand, water, ice, etc. The wheel turns and swivels so you can turn fully around without assistance.

That site shows pictures of people using this style of gear on many types of terrain. In addition to the pictures, there are helpful videos, three of which include snow travel. One specifically shows a person traveling alone along a snowy path in the woods, which I believe is what you're asking about.

FreeWheel

I found this site that offers solutions from world wide manufacturers, but the free wheel style is useful for many types of outdoor pursuits, so it seems to be the most versatile. Pictures demonstrate that it can be used for a wide variety of wheelchair designs.

  • Thanks James, this is a great idea! The FreeWheel meets all my criteria, and is extremely versatile. Even though I only had snow in mind when I asked the question, this would work in many areas I avoid because solo-travel hasn't been an option. It would also enable me to go places with friends without being a burden. I urge people who have mobility issues to take a look at the sites you linked. – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Nov 26 '17 at 21:19
5

I think what you are looking for is these attachments called Wheelblades,

Wheelblades

Image Source

essentially mini skis that lock onto the front wheels of a wheelchair, Wheelblades are designed as an easy-to-use solution that aid traction and give a little extra oomph through snow, ice and slush.

...

Like a snowshoe does for the person wearing it, the Wheelblades spread the weight over a greater surface area. Instead of slipping and sinking, the front wheels float and glide. A pair of channels on the base of the ski compress the snow, which increases stability.

...

Wheelblades use a clamp lock to secure to the wheels. They are designed to be installed within minutes by raising the wheelchair up on its primary drive wheels, lowering the front wheels on top and closing the clamp on the binding.

Source

They do have some limitations,

Wheelblades are to be used for travel on packed-down snow without any loose gravel. They are not suitable for traveling on ice, deep snow or snow-free substrata. They are not intended for use on ski or toboggan runs or the like.

Source

I have only been able to find one company making these. It's based in Switzerland, which is the location of the inventor, Patrick Meyer, who is a quadriplegic. They can be purchased in other countries however, including the United States, Canada and possibly others, although I didn't check.

I know you didn't ask, but one of their models can also be used on baby strollers, which could be a big help for winter family travel.

3

Just a thought: I used to take my mom to the beach in wheelchairs with oversized tires. They made going across the sand much easier. They're made to get wet and are easy to clean. They have a storage pouch in the back, and even have an umbrella for sun protection. I'm not sure how this would work on snow.

Here is a link showing you what I'm talking about. This picture is on that page.

enter image description here

  • Thanks Adam Orth! I've used wheelchairs for a while, and have always had to make other arrangements when I've gone to the beach, which I love to do. This is a great option. I don't know how it would work on snow either, but it's good for people here to at least have a look at it. – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Nov 26 '17 at 23:30
  • Great! In California, some of the state beaches will check these out to you for free. I could even take my mom into the water a bit so she could get her feet wet. She LOVED it. 👍 – Adam Orth Nov 26 '17 at 23:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.