In a Nutshell:
A rock solid chair, built for bigger, taller, and heavier folk. Recommended for anyone on a budget who weighs up to 500 pounds. This is a beast of a chair (we mean that in a good way!)
- Impressive Weight Capacity
- Durable and Breathable Material
- Sturdy Footplates
- Built-in Storage
- Reasonably Priced
- Not Suitable for Shorter Users
- Large Dimensions
- Not Travel-Friendly
- Limited Adjustability
- Not Available
Are you a bigger, taller, heavier person with a mobility issue that sees you spending at least part of each day in a wheelchair? Are you in the market for a rugged, cost-effective wheelchair that can stand up to the rigors of everyday use?
If so, you’re going to enjoy this Graham Field Paramount wheelchair review.
Don’t let the name fool you.
Graham-Field is actually Everest & Jennings. Same company, with two different product lines. Although Everest & Jennings aren’t quite in the same league as Drive and some of the other big names in the industry, they are quite popular and have a reputation for making quality equipment, offered at generally great prices.
This chair is a good example of their work. It’s expertly designed, and its features are competently implemented, but there’s a catch.
This chair has one potentially fatal flaw you should be aware of before you buy. It’s heavy. Sure, bariatric wheelchairs are heavier than average, but even among other big, sturdy wheelchairs, this thing is a brute. Its weight might be the thing that causes you to ultimately go with a different model. Other than that, it really is an excellent design.
In the sections that follow, we’ll tell you everything this model brings to the table, and we’ll talk in detail about its shortcomings and their implications. That way, you’ll have all the information at your fingertips so you can decide if this is the model you’ve been looking for. If that sounds good to you, read on, and let’s take a closer look.
An Overview of the Graham-Field Paramount Manual Wheelchair
The design team responsible for this chair didn’t take any chances. The Paramount XD is a purely conventional chair, with the exception of its attractive mag wheels, but by themselves, not enough to give this model a ‘sporty’ look. It looks like what it is; a big, burly wheelchair that’s capable of supporting an impressive amount of user weight.
Before we get into the particulars of what this model brings to the table, though, let’s take a quick look at the core stats in this section of our Graham Field Paramount wheelchair review so we can get a better sense of what we’re dealing with.
Here are the basics:
- Overall Product Dimensions: 35.5” (W) x 49” (D) x 39” (H)
- Seat Dimensions: 24” (W) x 18” (D) (Note: the company also offers this chair with a 26” or a 30” seat at your preference. These variants support up to 650 pounds of user weight and are correspondingly wider).
- Overall Product Chair Weight: 93 pounds
- Maximum Supported Weight: 500 pounds (650 pounds if you order one of the wider seat options)
The first thing to note about these numbers is that the chair is an absolute monster. It’s huge. At 49” long, it’s one of the biggest non-reclining wheelchairs out there.
Also, due to the seat sizes on offer with this model, note that it’s definitely not going to fit through a standard-width door.
That’s not automatically a deal-breaker because it’s not something particular to this chair.
Every wide-seat bariatric chair in existence has the same issue. The world is just smaller than the chair is. That creates certain challenges for people who need this kind of chair, but there’s not much that can be done about it from a design perspective.
We love the impressive amount of weight this model supports, and it gets even more impressive if you order one of the wider seat sizes. A 650-pound weight limit makes this chair useful to just about everyone out there.
But then, there’s the weight problem. Oh boy.
We’ve seen bariatric chairs that weigh as little as sixty pounds, which is still pretty hefty, but this chair takes it to a whole different level.
It weighs almost a hundred pounds! It’s not just big; it’s burly and heavy. You’re going to need a lot of upper body strength to use this chair effectively, and you’re probably going to need help or a technological assist (like a lift) to get this chair stowed away if you want to take it on the road with you. It’s not impossible, but the weight is probably going to be a big issue here. It may be a sufficiently big problem that it steers you away from choosing this model.
We’ll have more to say about that later. For now, just know that if this chair has one big, glaring weakness, it’s centered on the fact that it’s brutally heavy.
Adjustability and Comfort
On the adjustability front, the Graham-Field Paramount manual wheelchair has the two big items covered. The seat height can be adjusted between a range that starts at 18” on the low end and goes up to 20” at your preference.
Note that this range exists entirely inside big and tall territory, which starts at 18” on other types of seating. This is not a chair optimized for shorter folks or people with short legs. If that describes you, this chair is probably a non-starter.
The leg rests come in two options: Swing away or elevating. You can make your selection when you order the wheelchair. Whichever option you select, both types of leg rests can be length-adjusted.
Paired with the seat height adjustment options, this gives you quite a lot of flexibility and enables you to tweak the chair for an optimal seating experience.
In a perfect world, this chair would come with leg rests that were both swing away and elevating, but that’s somewhat uncommon on less expensive chairs, which is the category this model falls into.
Elevating leg rests are the optimal choice for a person who plans on spending lots of time in the chair because they maximize comfort. They’re also useful if you have an assistant who will be pushing you from place to place, rather than you providing your locomotion.
Swing-away leg rests are best when paired with desk-length arms. The combination allows you to wheel up to a desk and work right from your chair without transferring into an office chair. They’re also useful if you want to have dinner with family and friends because, again, you can just roll up to the dinner table and not have to worry about transferring to a dining chair.
Which one you select ultimately comes down to how you see yourself using the chair. If you decide you want both types, so you can swap them out as your needs change, you can do that too.
On the comfort front, the chair features padded desk-length armrests that are not height adjustable but removable, making transferring into and out of the chair a simpler proposition. Whichever leg rest option you choose, both come with calf pads, which provide good, comfortable support for your legs while you’re in the chair.
Note too that the footplates on the leg rests of this chair are solid metal, so they’re much sturdier than the plastic footrests used on many wheelchair models (especially at the lower end of the price range). Sure, that adds to the chair’s weight, but it also provides more stability and durability. That’s a good thing.
Also, the chair is upholstered in durable, breathable nylon, which is fairly comfortable if you’re not planning to spend several hours of each day in the chair. If you plan to spend 4+ hours at a time in the chair regularly, though, you’ll probably want to invest in some additional padding for the seat and possibly the seatback, too, for added comfort over longer periods.
The good news is that there are tons of great options available from third-party vendors, so you can get exactly the level of comfort you’re looking for. And since this chair is relatively inexpensive, finding the funds for some extra padding should be within the realm of possibility.
Extras and Options
This will be a fairly short section because the Paramount XD only has one “extra” on offer. It’s one of the few wheelchairs on the market today that comes with a bit of built-in storage! You’ll find a smallish storage pouch behind the seat.
Granted, it’s not enormous, but we were thrilled to see storage in any form being offered standard.
It’s rare in general in the wheelchair world and even more unusual on a relatively low-cost model like this one.
You’ll probably still want to spring for some additional storage from a third-party vendor, but kudos to the Everest & Jennings team for including it!
In terms of anything else, you’ll pretty much have to vendor into the third-party market to accessorize and customize your chair. Fortunately, there are tons of great options available, so the sky’s the limit, really.
We recommend buying and using the chair as is for at least a little while to get a feel for it, and then, once you have a better sense of what you want, dipping your toe into the customization waters.
Portability & Ease of Use
Okay, we have to be honest here. This is the biggest problem with the Graham Field wheelchair and the weakest point in the design. It’s not portable. There’s just no way you can describe an almost hundred-pound chair as portable.
When collapsed, it presents a profile that’s 14.5” wide, which is certainly reasonable. You should have little difficulty in terms of finding a place to put it if you have a truck, van, or full-sized SUV. You can probably even find room for it in a hatchback. Full-sized sedans are a bit more problematic, so you’ll need to carefully measure your available trunk space.
Unfortunately, airlines charge by the pound, so taking this with you on a plane would be ruinously expensive if the company even allowed it. Every airline’s policies are different in that regard, so you’ll want to call the company you’re planning on flying with so you know what to expect.
Just understand that with this chair, traveling is going to be an uphill battle.
Pros & Cons of Graham-Field Paramount XD
Overall, this is a good chair, and we do like it. It’s relatively inexpensive, it has the basics covered in terms of adjustability, and it’s a reasonably comfortable chair to boot.
Again though, we come back to the enormous weight. It’s a problem. In fact, it’s THE big problem with this design, and unfortunately, for some people, that’s going to be a deal-breaker.
Graham Field Paramount Wheelchair Review Conclusion
We wanted to love this chair, but we just couldn’t. As mentioned in the previous section here in our Graham Field Paramount wheelchair review, there’s not a thing in the world wrong with the implementation of any of the features or with the feature set itself. It’s just too heavy! If you’re super strong and willing to get a good workout while using your wheelchair, this is the one you want.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to feel like you’re in a wrestling match every time you try to use it, and you want to travel with relatively few hassles, this one is going to give you trouble. Given that, although we acknowledge that the Paramount’s features are all pretty strongly implemented, we can only give it a provisional general recommendation, and we cannot recommend this one as a travel chair.
References & Resources:
- How Do Wheelchair Users Get on the Airplane?, WheelchairTravel.org
- 10 Absolute Truths of Life in a Wheelchair, The Mobility Resource
- From the Slopes to Life in a Wheelchair, WorldBank.org
- How Do We Assess a Wheelchair Friendly Walk Accessible Walk?, The Outdoor Guide
- Lesser-Known Things About Being a Wheelchair User, BBC