In a Nutshell:
Ergo Flight is an expertly designed, small, light wheelchair, perfect for frequent fliers. It is recommended for anyone weighing up to 250 pounds, especially those who travel often.
- Great Design
- Lightweight and Maneuverable
- Customization Options
- Generous Number of Options
- Limited Weight Limit
- Non-Adjustable Design
- Compatibility Concerns
- Possibility of Dealbreakers
Are you a frequent flier? Does the wheelchair you currently have make air travel difficult or cumbersome? If you answered yes to both of those questions, then you’re going to like what you see in this Karman Ergo Flight review.
Karman Medical is one of the superstars of the wheelchair industry, with a long track record of making exceptional products and standing behind them. They have a particularly good line of lightweight wheelchairs that are ideal for travel, and the ErgoFlight is the lightest chair the company makes.
We’ll be quick to point out that such a lightweight chair has a few drawbacks associated with it, so this model isn’t going to be a good fit for everyone. In the sections that follow, we’ll step you through everything this great little chair has to offer, and we won’t pull any punches when it comes to talking about its limitations. That way, you’ll be able to decide for yourself if this is the right model for you. Let’s take a closer look.
An Overview of the Karman Healthcare Ergo Flight Ultra Lightweight S-2512
The first thing you’ll notice about the ErgoFlight when you see it is that it’s smallish and there’s something a little different about it. We’d say here in our Karman Ergo Flight review that it looks more or less like a conventionally designed wheelchair. There’s something about its aesthetic that’s a little hard to pin down, but definitely pleasing to the eye.
What you’re noticing there is the S-Shaped seat frame. The company uses a patented seat frame design on all of the chairs in their ergonomic lineup, and it does give these chairs a bit of a unique look.
Not only that but there are very few wheelchairs on the market today that pay any attention at all to ergonomic design, which puts this line of Karman’s products in a class pretty much by themselves. These chairs are just more comfortable to sit in, and they’re good for your posture too.
That’s a win-win!
Before we say more about this little chair, though, let’s take a moment to do a quick stats review.
Here are the basics:
- Overall Product Dimensions: 25” (W) x 36” (D) x 38” (H)
- Seat Dimensions: 18” (W) x 17” (D) (this chair is also available with a 16” wide seat if that’s a better fit for you)
- Chair Weight: 19.8 pounds
- Maximum Supported Weight: 220 pounds
As you can see, it’s definitely not a large chair. At just 25” wide, you won’t have any difficulty navigating through a standard-width door frame. If you live in a smaller home or apartment, or if you’re visiting people who do, you’ll find you can maneuver the chair easily, even in tight spaces and confined quarters.
The seat width is good, and we like that there are two different width options available. Just be sure to take a quick measurement, so you get the seat width that’s the best fit for you.
We absolutely love the scant weight of this chair. At under twenty pounds, there are actually some transport chairs on the market that weigh more. The secret to Karman’s success here comes in the tubed construction of the frame, but there’s a catch and a tradeoff.
Note the modest weight limit that this chair supports. Most of the chairs on the market today are capable of supporting 300 pounds or more of user weight. This one falls well short of that average at just 220 pounds. Unfortunately, that’s a hard limit, too. If you weigh more than that, then this chair is simply a non-starter for you.
That’s the big weakness of this design. Yes, it’s super lightweight and convenient, but it’s also a fairly narrowly targeted chair.
Chairs with a 300-pound weight limit are useful to some 95% of the market. This one is only of use to about 70%. If you’re not in that segment, then no matter how much you like this model, it’s just not going to work for you.
Adjustability and Comfort of Karman Ergo Flight Transport Chair
Another limitation the Karman Healthcare Ergo Flight wheelchair has is the fact that it’s not at all adjustable. The seat is fixed at its position 18” from the floor. The armrests are ergonomically sculpted and padded, but they’re also fixed in their positions. The same is true of the leg rests, which cannot be length-adjusted.
In terms of comfort, though, the chair fares significantly better. The seat frame itself is a patented S-shaped design that mirrors the shape of the human spine, providing a more comfortable and ergonomically correct seating position.
In addition to that, unlike the vast majority of chairs on the market today, this one comes with padding.
While we wouldn’t go so far as to describe the padding that comes with the ErgoFlight as luxurious, it’s generous enough to provide a delightfully comfortable experience for shorter periods of seating (say, up to 3-4 hours at once). Suppose you plan on using the chair for longer periods than that. In that case, you may want to look into additional padding, either from a third-party vendor or by contacting Karman directly and talking to them about some of their other padding options (which we’ll talk more about in the next section).
The only real downside where this chair’s comfort is concerned has to do with the leg rests. We would much prefer to see calf pads on the leg rests instead of the calf strap the company opted to go with. Calf pads are just more comfortable, and this is a moderately expensive chair, so it’s not like going with the cheaper calf strap made a huge difference in the price. In our view, it’s a design weakness, though we certainly wouldn’t rate it as a severe one.
Extras and Options of Karman Ergo Flight Wheelchair
One of the things we really love about the Karman Ergo Flight Ultra Lightweight wheelchair is the fact that Karman offers tons of great options and extras to go with it. If you decide you want one of these, you can trick it out in all sorts of ways. The company offers:
- Both foam and memory foam seat cushions
- Foam and memory foam cushions for the seatback
- An optional, foldable headrest
- A safety belt
- Heel loops
- A cup holder
- A backrest extension
- A canopy, treated with UV protectant
- A carrying case to make traveling with the chair even easier and more convenient
- Your choice of a large or small storage pouch to attach to the back of the seat
A couple of comments here. First, we wish that anti-tippers were standard on every wheelchair sold. It seems a shame to leave such an important safety feature off, but the industry as a whole doesn’t seem to agree with our position. If you decide you want anti-tippers on your chair, you’ll have to pay extra to have them added.
The same thing goes for the safety belt, although we understand why that’s more of an optional piece of equipment.
We also love the optional headrest and canopy. Both extend and expand the possibilities for this chair, depending on exactly how you plan on using it. The cup holder option is always nice, and the fact that you can get a carrying case is superb, especially for frequent travelers. At that point, the ErgoFlight just becomes another piece of luggage.
Finally, we were impressed that the company has so many different padding options available. If you plan to spend serious amounts of time each day in your chair, you’ll definitely want to consider upgrading to memory foam cushions for both the seat and the seatback.
All in all, we were super impressed with these options. Not only are there a lot of them, but most of them are really high-value additions that allow you to ‘pimp your ride’ in all sorts of fun ways. Kudos to Karman for that!
Portability & Ease of Use
This is another area where the Karma Ergonomic wheelchair Ergo Flight really shines. Given its extremely modest weight, virtually anyone can fold and store this chair. Even if you have limited trunk or storage space in your vehicle, its modest footprint and 12” folded profile make it easy to stash this chair somewhere and haul it out with ease when you’re ready to use it.
Combine that with the fact that, as we mentioned earlier, it’s easy to use in tight, confined spaces, and this one is a traveler’s dream come true.
Note, however, that the default wheels on this chair have no tread, so this model is at its best when used on flat, level terrain like sidewalks, parking lots, inside homes or office buildings, or in shopping centers. If you want to take this chair into parks or on hiking trails, you’ll definitely want to upgrade the wheels first!
Pros & Cons of Ergo Flight Wheelchair
Overall, the Ergo Flight by Karman Healthcare is a great little chair with two significant drawbacks that limit its appeal:
First and foremost, the weight limit is going to be an issue for a significant segment of the market.
That’s a shame because it really is an awesome design.
Second, it’s not an adjustable chair. From a practical perspective, that means you’ll definitely want to take some careful measurements before you spend money to make sure that your measurements and the chair’s are a good match. If they aren’t, it’s going to be hard to make this chair work well for you.
On the flip side, assuming neither of those drawbacks is a dealbreaker, you’ll find a delightfully lightweight, maneuverable chair that can be customized in a wide range of fun ways. Thanks to the generous number of options and extras on offer here.
Karman Ergo Flight Review Conclusion
The ErgoFlight is unquestionably a good chair, and it’s offered by one of the legends in the wheelchair industry. We’d say here in our Karman Ergo Flight review that it is a fairly narrowly targeted piece of equipment that leaves broad swaths of the market out in the cold.
If the chair’s default measurements are a good fit for you and the modest weight limit isn’t a dealbreaker, and if you travel frequently, we highly recommend this model. For pretty much everyone else, we can’t really recommend it at all. Based on that, we can only give this chair a provisional recommendation. If you are in the target market, you’ll probably love it.
References & Resources:
- Karman, Official Brand Website.
- Karman Healthcare Ergo Flight S-2512 Wheelchair User Manual
- Wheelchair Utilization and Satisfaction Following Cerebral Vascular Accident, VA Research & Development.
- Can Physical Activity Improve the Health of Wheelchair Users? A Systemic Review, AHRQ.
- Determinants of Dietary Behaviour in Wheelchair Users With Spinal Cord Injury or Lower Limb Amputation: Perspectives of Rehabilitation Professionals and Wheelchair Users, PLOS ONE.