Many wheelchair users face the problem of getting up from stairs or elevated surfaces. The struggle of either having to be carried or looking for built ramps is already a huge barrier, though there are cost-effective solutions to it. Portable wheelchair ramps are designed to make life easier and help you get up without the extra effort or hassle on you and your carers. While I appreciate the many different portable ramps available for wheelchairs, the many choices made it difficult to choose from! If you’re also having trouble deciding what the best portable ramp is for you and your wheelchair, read on!
I’ll show you the top five best portable ramps for wheelchairs in 2020, as well as a comprehensive guide on choosing one.
Top 5 Portable Ramps for Wheelchairs
1. Prairie View Industries SFW330
The Praire View Industries SFW330 is a portable single-fold ramp, coming in four different dimensions, ranging from 2-5 feet with a 30-inch width across all sizes. Because of its single-fold design, it’s easier to set up and folds down, taking only a few minutes. As for its portability, it comes with a handle to easily bring around and/or store, similar to carrying a suitcase. This portable ramp is made of a durable welded construction, being welded rather than riveted for longevity and stability. It’s also made with an anti-slip skid-resistant tape, giving it more traction to prevent accidents. Take note that it has a weight capacity of up to 800 pounds.
- The Praire View Industries SFW330 is lightweight and easy to carry around.
- High weight capacity with enough support for 800 pounds.
- Folds and assembles easily, only takes a minute or so.
- It can be used in any residential or commercial applications.
- Hinges of the Praire View Industries SFW330 stick out in the middle.
- Slippery underneath, better to purchase a rug pad for friction.
Whether you need it for the house or commercial buildings, the Prairie View Industries SFW330 Ramp can ease your mobility. You can take it wherever you go and place it on the elevated surface, ascending without the worry of its support and traction. It may require a rug pad underneath when on slippery surfaces, but other than that, there aren’t any major problems.
2. DMI Portable Wheelchair Ramp
The DMI Portable Wheelchair Ramp is made best for a variety of applications, whether residential or commercial. These are telescoping ramps made for wheelchairs, whether it’s on vehicles, curbs, steps, and other elevated surfaces. What makes these a great choice is its lightweight properties and ease of adjustment and storage. You can adjust it to lengths between 3-5 feet, having a seven-inch width per panel to fit a variety of wheels. There aren’t any challenges in assembly, as you won’t need any tools to set it up. It’s built with the rust-resistant aluminum, making it last longer and support weights up to 600 pounds. After use, you can store it in a nylon storage bag to store and bring around with ease.
- Smooth adjustment and retraction with different lengths.
- Weighs six pounds each, made of lightweight aluminum.
- Rust-resistant and durable, built to last for long periods.
- DMI Portable Wheelchair Ramp comes with a nylon bag and warranty.
- Some difficulty ascending from two narrow parallel DMI Portable Wheelchair Ramps.
- Be careful keeping wheels lined to avoid catching on railed sides.
If you need something very easy to bring around and to use anywhere, you’ll like the DMI Portable Wheelchair Ramp. Coming with a storage bag, adjustable size, and even a warranty, you get your money’s worth and better mobility on any surface.
3. Titan Ramps Aluminum Portable Ramp
The Titan Ramps Aluminum Portable Ramp has a folding briefcase design for optimum and hassle-free portability. You can just fold it once and bring it around like a briefcase with its solid carrying handle. It weighs only 37 pounds, so you won’t struggle to lug it around or handling it for setup. It measures 4-feet long and 30-inches wide, ideal for many types of (LIGHT) mobility devices. It has the weight capacity of up to 500 pounds, which may not be the highest, but adequate for manual wheelchairs. This portable ramp is also built with portability and support in mind, fitting cars and homes without the bulkiness. It’s also made with a waterproof and slip-resistant traction tape for accident-free ascending no matter the weather.
- Lightweight and folds down in half to easily carry and place.
- Titan Ramps Aluminum Portable Ramp has a non-skid tape for traction.
- Versatile and used for various mobility devices and applications.
- Titan Ramps Aluminum Portable Ramp has a lower weight capacity.
- Center of the tread would flex when on the ramp.
The Titan Ramps Aluminum Portable Ramp is nicely designed for both portability and support. Having the lightweight yet sturdy aluminum, you can easily take it around and fold down to store in small spaces. While not the best weight capacity, it still does the job for wheelchair users moving on their own.
4. Drive Medical Single Fold Portable Ramp
The Drive Medical Single Fold Portable Ramp is simple yet extremely efficient with its excellent construction. It’s made of gun metal for its solid and robust feel, making it last longer compared to other portable ramps. The ramp can handle weights of up to 600 pounds despite weighing less than 20 pounds! There are different dimensions to choose from, ranging from 2-6 feet with a width of up to 30 inches. All ramps would come with the carry bag and carrying handle to bring around like a suitcase. You can easily lay it over on elevated surfaces and keep it stable as you ascend from it. However, there is no non-skid tape, making it a bit slippery. It does have perforated slots to ensure that water doesn’t collect on the surface, though.
- Portable and lightweight, easy to carry with a handle and bag.
- Drive Medical Single Fold Portable Ramp has perforated slots.
- Good weight capacity and support for its weight and size.
- Drive Medical Single Fold Portable Ramp has no non-skid tape.
- There are some complaints of receiving flawed handles.
I appreciate the Drive Medical Single Fold Portable Ramp for its durability and excellent strength. It looks built to last and is one of the lights ramps available of its design. But do be wary when ascending, it’s best you apply non-skid tape on the ramp instead.
5. Mefeir Portable Lightweight Ramp
For wheelchair users who need something very long for various elevated surfaces, I recommend the Mefeir Portable Lightweight Ramp. You can get lengths between 3-10 feet to ensure you can get up from any type of curb, set of steps, and more. Though ten feet long, you can fold it up easily to store and transport without the bulky feeling. It comes with a handle for more convenience, though take note it weighs around 60 pounds, making it a bit heavier than most ramps. For its weight and build, it has the support and can withstand 600 pounds with ease. There isn’t any assembly or special tools required when setting up and using it. The surface also has an anti-slip tape for securer grips as you go up or down the ramp. Plus, it has the rust-resistant construction and hinges to last for the long run.
- Mefeir Portable Lightweight Ramp can be used in all applications.
- Made of rust-resistant stainless steel for durability and support.
- Built with anti-skid tape and with a handle for carrying easily.
- Mefeir Portable Lightweight Ramp weighs 60 pounds, heavier than usual.
- The non-skid covering can wear off quicker, requires replacement.
It does have some very minor flaws, but if you can handle the weight for extra support, the Mefeir Portable Lightweight Ramp is a great option. You have more versatility to use for most applications, and the entire ramp body itself is built to last for years.
Portable vs. Threshold Ramps: What’s the Difference?
The two major types of wheelchair ramps include the portable and threshold. While they may seem the same, they have their differences and purposes suitable for specific purposes. Here are some comparisons they have:
Threshold Wheelchair Ramps
You can find thresholds in most exterior doorways of residential properties, which wheelchair users have a hard time with. That’s where threshold ramps come along, which allow them to go in and out of the house with ease. These are made exclusively for thresholds, whether at home or in buildings if they have it. Some thresholds have slight elevation if there’s a significant slope, while others are almost flat for doorways and sliders with a small bump. This keeps the wheelchair user comfortable without the uncomfortable bump as they wheel in and out of rooms. They’re usually made of rubber or metal, butting up against curbs or door threshold lips.
Portable Wheelchair Ramps
Portable ramps can be used on thresholds and are known as the most versatile among all wheelchair ramps available. It comes in a variety of design and sizes to choose from according to where you usually need it. And as the name suggests, you can easily bring it around to use in case of elevated areas without built-in ramps. They are more affordable than permanent ramps and are great for those who are usually out of the house. This allows more mobility around different areas or vehicles, and carers can easily bring and set it up anywhere as needed.
Construction and Durability
You want to get your money’s worth by getting a quality ramp to last for years. That’s why there are other materials to look into when selecting a ramp, having different benefits to offer. Here are the different major materials to select one based on where you can use it:
Wooden wheelchair ramps are one of the cheapest material types out there. They also have a classic look to it, being more aesthetically pleasing compared to metal. However, depending on how it’s made and maintained, you have to be wary of its durability. Wooden ramps are slicker during wet weather and will require extra treads. Furthermore, they are more prone to warping, fading, splintering, or even rotting, especially when used outdoors under intense weather conditions. This can ramp up the overall cost of wooden ramps, making it suitable for temporary or short-term use for those on a tight budget.
Aluminum ramps may look a bit too industrial, but beyond aesthetics, they are a great choice. In fact, these are popular choices for different ramp types, including portable ones. They have characteristics that make ramps more durable and easier to use. This type of material requires little maintenance and can last for years of daily use, whether outdoors or indoors, depending on its quality. They are also lighter metal, which makes it easier to bring around and install, lessening any issues during setup. Also, they are an inexpensive choice compared to different metal materials, making it a good choice for many.
Modular ramps are usually made of steel, and some portable ramps can be made from it. While steel and aluminum may seem similar, they have their differences and the latter is seen as the better choice. Steel is heavier, which makes it stable, but not ideal for portable ramps. This material can be difficult to set up and disassemble. Furthermore, they’re more prone to rust and require more maintenance than aluminum, especially when exposed to wet weather.
Concrete isn’t actually material for portable ramps, but mostly for commercial and public wheelchair ramps. These are permanent and the most durable of all different material types. Don’t expect to find it as portable ramps, though some use it in residential homes. It can even hold weights of up to 2,000 pounds, suitable for more than just wheelchairs. While it’s extremely durable, it also comes at a higher price. But because of its cost, you get something extremely stable and lasting for years to come.
Fiberglass is now growing in popularity as a ramp material, and while it might be counterintuitive, it works well. These thin fibers of glass aren’t only lightweight, but they still do the job in keeping you supported as you ascend the ramp. They are actually better for portable ramps because of its lightweight properties. However, they are best used in smaller ramps than for larger weight capacities because of its material. They aren’t as strong or durable compared to other materials, but they are convenient and have received great reviews as a smaller, portable wheelchair ramp.
The Different Types of Ramps
Besides portable and threshold ramps, there are other different types to choose from as well! Here are the different ramp kinds made for manual wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs, scooters, and other mobility devices:
Wheelchair Van Ramps
If you want to use a wheelchair ramp strictly for vehicle use, then these are the ramps you need. These are for loading mobility devices to different-sized vehicles, whether minivan, SUV, or full-sized vans. You can mount these ramps inside the back of your vehicles to easily set up. There are also portable folding ramps made for vehicles, installed on the rear and/or side doors.
Folding ramps are either bi-fold (two panels) or tri-fold (with four panels), having hinges between panels. Bi-folds are folded over once, while tri-folds are folded into three. Take note that these have no handrails and aren’t complaint to ADA, so it’s made best only for personal use. It’s best for vans or small sets of stairs in residential properties.
Suitcase ramps are a type of folding and/or portable ramp, made for easier transport. They range between 2-6 feet long and have a weight capacity of up to 800 pounds. They’re very easy to set up, as you just need to lay it over a small set of steps. You can use it for residential properties but not commercial applications, as they aren’t ADA compliant.
Telescoping ramps have two separate and narrow channels, which are about 12 inches or less. These can extend and/or retract to fit your desired height. These channels are placed side-by-side, lining up with your wheelchair’s wheels. They are usually made for vans and not the best for mobile scooters since its wheels aren’t in line with one another.
Modular ramps are larger and more permanent, though also considered as “portable” since you can disassemble and reassemble it to another area. They’re constructed off-site then transported to assemble on-site. These can either be for permanent or long-term use in the house or commercial areas. While with bigger dimensions and complete package with handrails and such, they’re difficult to assemble and disassemble.
Permanent ramps are usually made of wood or concrete, unable to move or adjust once constructed. Building permits are required for it, as they’re there for the long-term and will require on-site construction. These permanent ramps are best for residential areas where aesthetics are more focused on rather than its durability and code compliance.
Different Portable Ramp Sizes and How to Choose One
Did you know that there are different portable ramp sizes and dimensions? This is one of the most important factors to consider with ramps for wheelchairs! I’ll be getting into the different lengths, vertical rises, and other dimensions you need to look into:
The Vertical Rise
While building codes usually don’t apply to portable ramps, there are guidelines for the ramp length and slope. Most manufacturers would recommend that there is one foot of ramp for every two inches of rising for portable ramps. Portable ramps usually have lengths ranging from 24-72 inches. I say that the longer it is, the easier and safer it is to ascend and descend from. However, this also depends on the wheelchair user’s preference. Some may find it difficult to ascend from one foot of ramp for every inch (or two) of rise.
The Flat Landing Measurements
The flat landing on the ramp’s top should be at least 60 inches long and 36 inches wide, depending on how the doors open and how long it extends. That way, you can open the door when positioned on flat surfaces. It will also give you room to move around and adjust when entering or exiting rooms.
The Weight Capacity and Dimensions
Besides the rise and other sizes, there are also weight capacities and dimensions to choose from, too. Check out how to select the right weight capacity and other dimensions for a better experience with your chosen ramp:
The Weight Capacity
It’s important to consider the right weight capacity for wheelchair ramps, as this affects user safety. If you exceed the maximum weight capacity, it can cause accidents or damage to the ramp. When deciding the right weight capacity, consider the wheelchair user’s weight, the wheelchair, as well as other things that add weight to the user (such as bags and clothes).
If you have a manual wheelchair, they don’t usually weigh over 50 pounds. For power wheelchairs, they can weigh up to 700 pounds, adding to special seating, reclining features, batteries, and other add-ons. User weight is also an important factor, make sure that you weigh yourself and any other outer wear and medical devices you usually use. So you may need a ramp that can take up to 1,000 pounds, more or less. There are maximum capacities for different types of ramps, usually ranging between 800-850 pounds. The manufacturer, material, and construction can change such numbers, so read the fine print!
Other Dimensions to Consider
Also, select the width of your wheelchair ramp, which should depend on your wheelchair size and additional room required to maneuver it up or down. Generally, 36 inches is enough, though you can also choose widths of up to 42 inches for more comfort, provided it fits the surface you’re installing it on.
Ramp Support and Stability to Last
Besides its durability to last even longer, you also have to make sure that the ramp is supportive enough to keep you safe. It should have the strength and stability to carry you as you roll your way up to the elevated surface. That’s why you need to look into the following factors for stability and support:
Make sure you consider both the construction of your ramp, ensuring everything is bolted and built well. This ensures better support to keep you safe as you ascend and descend from the wheelchair. After looking at its build, consider the traction you need. You’ll need to look into where you plan on using the wheelchair ramp most! If you plan on using it outdoors, it will require more traction to ensure stability as you ascend from the ramp. You should also still focus on better grip and traction when indoors too, which prevents any slipping.
Many wheelchair users get worried during inclement weather, which can affect the support and stability of their ramps. If you live in areas where it usually snows and rains, you may want to consider getting ramps with better traction to prevent it from slipping. It should also have better construction to withstand such conditions, keeping it lasting longer.
Other Additional Features
There are also other extra features you can get out of a portable ramp, such as:
- Integrated traction lines,
- Punch plate traction,
- Grit coat for more grip,
- Mounting holes and pins for long-term installation,
- Lip extensions for better transition of descending,
- Handrails, though this isn’t common on portable ramps.
Other manufacturers also offer the chance to customize your wheelchair ramp according to individual needs and wants.
Outdoor vs. Indoor Ramps: What’s the Difference?
Another thing many people consider is if they need an outdoor or indoor ramp. Does it really matter and can’t you use them interchangeably? There are significant features unique to each ramp, making them suitable depending on what you need it for. Here are the differences to take note of:
An indoor ramp is always made for indoor use, whether it’s in the office, a public area, or at home. These are made of materials made for room temperatures compared to outdoor ramps, which can withstand other weather conditions such as rain and snow. With that said, they are NOT suitable to use outdoors and may wear out quicker. Because of this, indoor ramps are usually more affordable than outdoor ramps. However, that depends on the manufacturer and quality of materials, since they still provide stability and a strong surface when ascending and descending on your wheelchair.
Outdoor ramps are made with much sturdier material to withstand wear and tear from intense weather conditions such as rain, snow, or hot days. They also offer better traction as they are more prone to wetness compared to indoor ramps. You can also use this inside, though they’re better off outdoors as they tend to be bigger than its counterpart. As for its price, they do have different construction and materials, making them pricier. Expect them to be made of strong metal or aluminum with non-skid surfaces. With such materials, they are a bit heavier than indoor ramps.
Type of Surfaces You’re Installing the Ramp On
The surface you plan on placing the ramp on is also another factor you should consider. This makes it safe to install the ramp on without worry of slippage or skidding while using it. There are surfaces such as roads, concrete, wood, among others, and this can affect your choice of ramps.
The Weight of Your Ramp
When installing ramps on some surfaces, the ramp’s material or overall weight can put a toll on it. This goes for softer surfaces such as grass or dirt, which is why you need to consider the ramp’s overall weight before you place it on a less-than-sturdy ground. After all, you also need to care for the ground you’re placing the ramp on, especially if it’s public property!
Surface Traction and Condition
Now, consider the surface itself. Usually, you’ll only need to consider elevated surfaces such as concrete and gravel. Sometimes, these surfaces aren’t leveled out and this can make it difficult to assemble or descend from the ramp upon use. Before setting the ramp up, select a surface with even ground for ease of setting up and use. Also, prevent installing your ramp near any tripping hazards and obstacles!
The Property’s Rules
It isn’t just the property’s surface that you should look into, but the rules of any public property as well. Some properties you visit daily (such as offices), may require permission or permits for you to set up a ramp. Before you do set up the ramp, ask officials beforehand to prevent any difficulties with moving around.
Portable Ramp Safety Features and Tips
Obviously, your chosen ramp needs to have the proper safety features. But the way you use it is also a detrimental part of keeping you safe, whether you’re a carer or using the wheelchair yourself. Here are the safety features a ramp needs, as well as other tips you should follow:
Safety Features Requires
- All ramps require safety edges, also known as curbs. These line the ramp’s sides to ensure that the wheelchair doesn’t run off the incline.
- Wheelchair ramps require non-skid surfaces to prevent the wheelchair from slipping, adding traction in case of slippery wheels or the like.
- Some ramps may come with handrails, though these are usually for heavier-duty threshold ramps, not for portable ones.
- The transition plates of your ramp should be smooth and, as much as possible, adjusts to the ramp angle and uneven ground for smoother landing.
- For ramps used outside, it’s best to have drainage holes which prevent snow and water from collecting, preventing falls and slips.
Proper Safety Tips to Follow
- When going up the wheelchair ramp, make sure you removed anything which can cause you or the wheelchair to tip over. Get your backpack or walker out of the way, if possible.
- Wear safety gear like your seatbelt and make sure the anti-tip wheels are working.
- When going up the ramp, do so slowly and at the lowest speed, focusing on moving forward gradually.
- When descending the ramp, stabilize your body and ease your wheelchair speed, then stopping once you’ve approached the landing.
- Practice ascending and descending ramps with various inclines to find what’s comfortable for you.
- As much as possible, have someone help you on ramps until you’re able to go on your own. Wheelchair users can take training or therapy from professionals to learn how to ascend and descend from ramps on their own.
- Do NOT go over the weight limit, with only one or two persons (the carer) on the ramp while using it. This prevents ramp damage and accidents if it gets too heavy.
- If it just rained or snowed, then it’s best to dry or clean the ramp from anything that may cause slippage and accidents. This tip also applies to ramps with non-skid tape, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Ease of Portability and Storage
The reason why you’re getting a portable ramp is its ease of storage and carrying! To ensure that it has the best portability, consider the following features:
A Handle and/or Carrying Case
How else would you carry the portable ramp if It doesn’t come with a handle? Instead of just lugging it with two hands, it’s best to have a sturdy handle to bring around with one hand. Also, it’s a good extra if it came with a carrying case, protecting the ramp from bumps and scratches.
Lightweight Yet With High Weight Capacity
Having a lightweight portable ramp can help make it even easier to carry. After all, not a lot of people can carry huge and bulky ramps, which can also be difficult to maneuver for assembly. However, avoid getting the lightest ones without testing out its sturdiness and stability.
Easy to Fold and Setup
A portable ramp for wheelchairs should be easy to set up and fold down after use. You wouldn’t want to hold up public areas setting up the ramp to use and take over ten minutes to get it out of the area! Its ease of installation also adds to its portability efficiency.
Not Too Bulky For Storage
The portable ramp should be made with sturdy material but be lightweight and at a good size when folded. That way, you won’t have trouble storing it when not in use, whether it’s at home or in the vehicle. This is important to keep it away from high-traffic areas, which clutters rooms and may cause falls.
How to Choose the Best Wheelchair Ramp For Stairs
Do you plan on using a wheelchair ramp for stairs as well? There are different sets of considerations to watch out for! Check these aspects of a wheelchair ramp to help you figure out what you need for the stairs:
The Slope Of Your Stairs and Ramp
As some stairs are steeper, the slope must be adequate for the incline limits of your wheelchair. It’s recommended that you follow these ramp slope guidelines:
- When seated while riding up or down on the ramp, there should be one foot of ramp for every inch the stairs rise.
- For those walking behind or beside the wheelchair, it should have one foot of ramp for every three-inch rise.
So if there are five steps that equal to 30-inch rise, then you need a 30-foot wheelchair ramp.
A Sturdy Base and Ramp
You’ll install a wheelchair ramp on stairs, which has more of a slope that can cause accidents if not sturdy enough. Because of that, you have to evaluate your stairs before installing the ramp, making sure that it’s sturdy enough to hold its size and weight. Besides the stairs’ sturdiness, look into the ramp you’re choosing as well. It should be light and easy to install, but still, be made of the high-quality material to carry your weight and the wheelchair without it wearing out too quickly. You also wouldn’t want something that can easily break WHILE you’re using it!
Ease of Installing and Do You Need Something Permanent?
Are you anticipating to use the stairs in your office daily that requires a temporary and portable ramp? Or do you plan on placing a permanent ramp at home without the need to renovate your stairs? You’ll need to consider if you require something portable or permanent before you look into portable ramps, as the latter may be easier to lessen the hassle of having to install it every day. Whether you’re getting a temporary or permanent ramp though, you also have to ensure installation isn’t difficult. It should usually only take a few minutes to set up temporary ramps, and less than an hour for permanent ones. There should be clear constructions one can understand, as well as no confusing bolts and nuts or special tools required.
Ramps for wheelchairs are extremely helpful and are designed for various applications and situations. It widens your mobility and gives you access to wherever you go. Easy to store and install on elevated surfaces temporarily, there’s little worry of any elevated surfaces without built-in ramps. Of all the different portable ramps tried and tested, the Prairie View Industries SFW330 is the editor’s choice. It’s built with excellent quality materials, having welded fabrication instead of riveting ones to prevent any accidents or easy wearing out. The ramp is also very easy to bring around, having a handle that you can carry like a suitcase and install within minutes.
With its variety of sizes to choose from, as well as its superior traction, it’s worth the long-term investment for wheelchair users. Hopefully, this detailed Surf’n’Buy guide helped you find the suitable one for your needs! Now that you’re familiar with what to choose, start the search and choose from any of these portable ramps now.