Cougar Ultra Lightweight is an excellent, full-featured, versatile wheelchair, made by one of the legends in the industry. It is recommended for anyone weighing up to 250 pounds who’s in the market for a lightweight, robust, capable wheelchair, and doesn’t mind spending money for quality.
* Note regarding Brand Reliability: This metric is a measure of the strength and longevity of the brand, which by extension, is a measure of the level of support you can expect.
Are you in the market for a full-featured, robust wheelchair that’s also light enough to take with you on the road? If so, then you’re going to like what you read in this Drive Medical Cougar review. The Cougar has it all, but there’s a catch. The one weak spot in its design is that it doesn’t support a lot of user weight. Even so, it’s one of the best models Drive makes.
Drive is one of the biggest and most respected names in the business, and this chair might be perfect for you. In the sections that follow, we’ll tell you everything it gets right, and other than the modest weight limit, it gets most things right.
Is it the chair you’ve been searching for? It may well be. Read on to learn more!
An Overview of the Drive Medical Cougar Ultra Lightweight Rehab Wheelchair
The first thing you’ll notice about the Cougar is that although it’s designed mostly along conventional lines, it does have a couple of design flourishes that draw the eye and make it stand out. The chrome, spoked wheels with their light blue tread make an eye-pleasing contrast to the black frame and upholstery.
In short, it’s a sharp-looking ride. Before we go into all the features Drive has packed into the design in this section of our Drive Medical Cougar review, let’s start by taking a quick look at the core stats that define the model. Here they are:
- Overall Product Dimensions: 26” (W) x 44” (D) x 37” (H)
- Seat Dimensions: 18” (W) x 16” (D)
- Chair Weight: 30 pounds
- Maximum Supported Weight: 250 pounds
This is a fairly sizeable piece of equipment, a bit taller and longer than average, but still, within the range, you’d expect. It’s narrow enough that you won’t have any trouble maneuvering through a standard-width doorframe, but bear in mind that you won’t have much room to spare. So, watch your knuckles!
The weight of the chair is amazing. At thirty pounds, it’s significantly lighter than many of its peers. Even better, it’s got a collapsed width of just 12.” Put those two elements together, and this model makes a great choice for a travel wheelchair.
The seat dimensions are good. This model doesn’t come with a larger variant, but you can go smaller if a 16” x 16” seat would fit you better. That makes sense, given the modest supported weight limit. Bear in mind that if neither of those two-seat dimensions is a good fit for you, then this isn’t the chair you want.
As we said in the introduction, the only real disappointment in these numbers is the fact that the chair is only capable of supporting 250 pounds of user weight. Most of the chairs on the market today support 300, with some supporting even more. So, the chair’s modest supported user weight is a bit of a disappointment. Also, it makes the chair somewhat more narrowly targeted than many of its peers.
If the weight limit isn’t an issue for you, you’re going to love the adjustability the Cougar has to offer.
Adjustability and Comfort of Cougar Ultralight Wheelchair
The first thing to talk about here is the seat. The Drive Medical Cougar Ultra Lightweight Rehab wheelchair is a Hemi-height chair, so the seat can be adjusted from a low of 17.5” to a high of 19.5.” The lowest setting is low enough that most people can use their feet to move around, and there’s enough play in the seat height settings that you can adjust to provide a perfect fit for you when you’re using it more conventionally.
Next, the swing-away, elevating leg rests are length adjustable. Between that and the seat adjustments, you can fine-tune the chair for a perfect fit.
On top of that, you’ll find a knob located on the back of the seat. Turning the knob allows you to adjust the angle of the seat to taste.
While it’s not a reclining chair per se, you can tweak the angle you’re sitting at, which allows you to optimize it to taste. Combine that with the elevating leg rests, and you can create a very relaxing seating experience for yourself.
The armrests aren’t height-adjustable, but they can be removed if you don’t want or need them.
Comfort-wise, the Cougar is upholstered with sturdy nylon, which is breathable and quite comfortable for shorter periods of sitting.
If you plan on spending the better part of the day in your chair, you’ll almost certainly want to invest in some additional padding, however. This chair also has padded armrests and removable calf pads included on the leg rests, making the chair even more comfortable.
Extras and Options of Cougar Drive Wheelchair
The big thing to talk about here is the fact that the Drive Medical Cougar wheelchair comes standard with anti-tippers. In our view, anti-tippers should come standard on all wheelchairs, so we’re very pleased to see their inclusion here.
Another cool feature that won’t make a difference to the person sitting in the chair, but which is great if you have a caregiver providing a push now and again, is the fact that the push handles on the back can be outfitted with an optional crossbar.
It’s a convenience feature, but it really does make a difference. If you don’t have a caregiver, you can install it and have a handy place to hang an extra bit of storage.
Finally, check out the tread on the wheels that come standard on the chair. While there’s not enough tread to make this an all-terrain wheelchair, it can handle a much wider variety of terrains than chairs outfitted with standard wheels, which are generally only good on flat, open surfaces like sidewalks, parking lots, and shopping centers.
Note, however, that this chair doesn’t come with any type of built-in storage. You’ll probably want to add some, especially if you plan on using this chair for traveling. The good news here is the fact that there are tons of great options available from a wide range of third-party vendors.
In addition to that, Drive makes a variety of optional equipment that fits all of their chairs, giving you the freedom and flexibility to customize your ride to your heart’s content.
Another thing, this chair doesn’t come with is a safety belt. Fortunately, there are plenty of options on that front too, offered by a variety of third-party vendors.
Portability & Ease of Use
This is where the Cougar lightweight wheelchair really shines. Weighing in at just 30 pounds, the chair is easy to move around in and store in your trunk. You won’t have any difficulty fitting it into the trunk space available in most full-sized sedans.
It also presents a small enough profile that it should be no problem getting it onto an airplane with you. Be aware, though, that each airline has a different policy on that front, so be sure to check with the carrier you’re using to guarantee a smooth air travel experience.
The Cougar handles like a dream, and, as we mentioned, the wheels that come standard on this model make it more versatile than your average wheelchair.
Pros & Cons of Drive Medical Cougar Wheelchair
We like almost everything about the Drive Medical Cougar lightweight wheelchair. There are only two issues as we see it. First, we keep going back to the modest amount of supported weight. Two hundred and fifty pounds is enough to make the chair useful to some 80-85% of the market. If you happen to weigh more, then this model is sadly a non-starter for you.
The second thing is, this chair is a bit pricey. It’s certainly not the most expensive manual wheelchair on the market today. If you’re on a budget, it may be out of reach for you.
Drive Medical Cougar Review Conclusion
The Cougar lives up to its name. As mentioned early on here in our Drive Medical Cougar review, it’s an agile, durable, robust chair that’s delightfully lightweight and easy to travel with. We love it, and we think you will too. This model is highly recommended.
References & Resources:
- Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare, Official Brand Website
- Drive Medical Cougar Wheelchair User Manual
- Training of the Manual Wheelchair Skill: An Integrating Literature Review, Scielo
- The Manual Wheelchair: What the Spinal Cord Injury Consumer Needs to Know, MSKTC
- Manual Wheelchair Propulsion Cost Across Different Components and Configurations During Straight and Turning Maneuvers, SAGE Journals