In a Nutshell:

Designed by MIT, the Freedom Chair offers performance that’s unmatched by any other mass-production manual all-terrain wheelchair on the market today. Recommended for anyone with sufficient upper body strength to properly use it.

Customization options
Ease of Use
Comfort
Performance

Overall Rating

4.6/5

Benefits

  • Innovative, versatile, built to last
  • It sports a three-wheel
  • Offers three adjustment
  • Number of extras available

Drawbacks

  • None
GRIT Freedom Chair Off-Road Wheelchair
4.6

Recommended For: Anyone with sufficient upper body strength to properly use it.

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Is your mobility issue keeping you from enjoying the great outdoors like you once did? Are you ready to take your life back? Are you looking for a masterfully-engineered, go-anywhere wheelchair to help you do that?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’ll love this review.

The GRIT Freedom Chair is a breed apart. Designed by the folks at MIT, this chair has it all, and even better, it can take you just about any place you’d care to go. Best of all, it’s surprisingly modestly priced!

Recently, we conducted a roundup of the best all-terrain wheelchairs on the market today, and the Freedom Chair placed a solid second in its class. It didn’t place first because top honors went to a chair functionally similar to the GRIT but hand-built.

Our first-place winner, though, is vastly more expensive. The reality is that not everyone wants or needs a totally custom chair. If you don’t, this is probably the chair you’ve been looking for.

In the following sections, we’ll give you the inside scoop on everything the GRIT offers. We’d also be happy to tell you about its weaknesses, but in our view, it doesn’t have any. If intrigued, keep reading and see what this model can do!

Key Features of the GRIT Freedom Chair

Ready for anything. That phrase will probably come to mind the first time you see one of these chairs.

Even at a glance, you can tell there’s something different about GRIT wheelchairs. For one thing, it sports a three-wheel trike design, with one small wheel in the front and two large wheels on either side of the seat.

The other thing you’ll notice right off the bat is the fact that it’s got levers sticking up on both sides of the seat, a thing you don’t see on conventionally designed wheelchairs, and as you’ll see, those levers are where most of the magic happens.

An Image of Grit Freedom Chair: 3.0 for Grit Freedom Chair Reviews
An Image of Grit Freedom Chair: Forward for Grit Freedom Chair Reviews
An Image of Grit Freedom Chair: Hemi for Grit Freedom Chair Reviews
An Image of Grit Freedom Chair: Spartan for Grit Freedom Chair Reviews
An Image of Grit Freedom Chair: Push for Grit Freedom Chair Reviews

Before we get too far in our GRIT Freedom Chair review, we should mention five variants of the chair: the 3.0 (the one we’re reviewing here), Hemi, Forward, Spartan, and Push.

The other four models are minor variations on the 3.0 theme and built with specific subsets of users in mind, in particular:

  • Hemi – for riders who have paralysis or pronounced weakness on one side of their body;
  • Forward – for people who are sensitive to vibrations and looking for the smoothest, most comfortable ride possible;
  • Spartan – for Para Spartan Race athletes;
  • Push – for users who are not able to self-propel.

Unless those specific things apply, the 3.0 is your desired model. Here are the chair’s basic stats:

  • Seat Width: Available in 16”, 18”, and 20” configurations
  • Seat to Floor Height: 21”
  • Chair Weight: 45 pounds
  • Maximum Supported Weight: 300 pounds
A Side View Image of Grit Freedom Chair

Adjustability & Comfort

The GRIT Freedom Wheelchair offers three means of adjustment, giving you a modest amount of flexibility to maximize your comfort. You can adjust the seat back tension, the height of the headrest, and the height of the footrest.

While other chairs offer more room for tweaking, we think this will be acceptable for most riders.

A Growing Number of Extras Available

The number of extras offered was limited when the Freedom Chair was first introduced. It still doesn’t offer as many extras as other models, but the collection is growing steadily. As of now, the following options are available:

  • “Trail Handles” – These don’t come standard and will nominally increase the price of your machine. We highly recommend this, however, as it gives you a third option for powering the chair, making it possible for an attendant to push you. That’s a big deal, whether you’re using the chair indoors or out, as you may encounter terrains on the hiking trail that you struggle to deal with on your own.
  • Drivetrain Upgrade – Not everyone will need this, but if you plan on tackling a variety of challenging outdoor terrains, it’s well worth the extra couple hundred bucks. If you plan to use it primarily indoors and mostly plan on being on lightly to moderately challenging outdoor terrains, this one’s not absolutely necessary.
  • Color Options – This applies to the levers only, not the chair’s frame itself. You can order your lever wraps in:
  • White
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Pink
  • Camo
  • Extra Wheels – You can order extra wheels, which make the chair even more versatile. The wheels that come standard will easily handle just about any outdoor terrain. If you plan on using the chair in an urban setting at least as often as in the great outdoors, you’ll probably want to pick up a set of street wheels.

    Similarly, if you want to take your Freedom chair to the beach, getting a set of beach/snow tires is well worth it. Armed with all three, there’s not much this chair can’t handle.
  • Extra Axles – This is more of a convenience feature, useful if you plan on regularly switching out from one type of wheel to another. While the base model naturally comes with axles, you’ll have to “axle swap” when you change tires, unless you’ve bought extras. Very handy, and it cuts down the time it takes to switch from one type of wheel to another.
An Image of Grit Freedom Chair: Accessories
  • Anti-Tip Bars – Under normal circumstances, we’d consider anti-tippers to be an essential piece of equipment. They’re not as necessary on the Freedom Chair, because of its superb balancing and design. However, the company makes them available if you’d feel better with them on, and they only increase the final price of the chair by a nominal amount. It is situationally useful, but mostly, this one comes down to personal preference.
  • Wedge Cushion – By design, the seat of the Freedom Chair is slated at fourteen degrees, which helps
    keep the rider firmly in the seat when traveling over uneven terrains. It’s an excellent design decision, but some people prefer to be on a sitting level.

    That’s particularly true for people planning to use this chair mostly on flat, level terrains and urban settings. If that describes you, then you’ll probably want an inexpensive wedge cushion.
An Image of Grit Freedom Chair: Foot Pegs
An Image of Grit Freedom Chair: Brakes
An Image of Grit Freedom Chair: Wide Seat
  • Foot Strap – This is another example of the GRIT’s excellent design. The footplate comes with six
    slots, three cuts on each side. These allow you to feed a Velcro strap through any of them (or all if you feel it’s necessary) to strap your feet firmly into position. 

    The company sells a 36” Velcro foot strap, and you can certainly buy one from the company if you need it, but honestly, just about any Velcro strap, from any source will do.
  • Steering Foot Pegs – An incredibly handy optional enhancement, these pegs affix to the sides of the front wheel, enabling you to steer with your feet, giving you a significant performance boost. We highly recommend getting this modestly priced upgrade.
  • Small Stature Kit – An upgrade recommended for people of small stature, including children. This has the effect of moving the hand levers closer together, allowing for easier access.
  • Wide Footplate – The standard footplate that comes with the GRIT is 11.5” wide. This variant is 19.5” wide. It’s a situationally useful upgrade, designed for people who have big feet, and for those who struggle to bend their knees enough so that their feet fit properly on the standard footplate.
An Image of Grit Freedom Chair: Seat Belt
An Image of Grit Freedom Chair: Grips
An Image of Grit Freedom Chair: Back Braces
  • Grip Aids – In our view, this is a must-have addition for anyone who plans to use the hand levers as their primary means of moving about in the chair.
  • Side Guards – Situationally useful. If you plan on taking your chair out on the trail and expect to encounter mud or water, you’ll be glad you added these. If that’s not your thing, take a pass on this upgrade.

Extremely Portable

The GRIT is highly collapsible, which makes it easy to transport. You’ll have no difficulty fitting it into the trunk of most full-sized sedans. If you own a hatchback, truck, SUV, or van, it’ll be even easier.

Our GRIT Wheelchair review only raises one point: the chair weighs 45 pounds. That’s not excessive and shouldn’t prove to be too daunting a challenge for most people. Still, it is heavier than every transport chair on the market today and marginally heavier than many conventional wheelchairs.

An Image of Grit Freedom Chair: Transportation in a Car

That said, the Freedom Chair can navigate just about any terrain, making it far more versatile than “regular” wheelchairs or transport chairs, which are minimally useful even on flat terrain outdoors. In our view, a bit of extra weight in exchange for the vast increase in functionality is a good trade. 

Very Easy to Use

The Freedom Chair offers three different modes of operation:

  • First, you can order your chair with “trail handles, ” enabling an attendant to push you from behind, as with any conventionally designed wheelchair.
  • Second, you can grip the wheels and propel yourself just like you would when using a conventional wheelchair.
  • Third, the chair offers hand levers used for propulsion. This is the real innovation of the design, and once you master their use, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without them.

Where you grip the levers has a lot to do with how quickly you accelerate. Grasping them near the top allows you to accelerate rapidly and maximizes torque.

This is great in two situations: In the blink of an eye, you’ll fly positively over flat, level terrain, moving at speeds you never imagined possible in a “regular” wheelchair. The added torque is also great for navigating obstacles (rocks, fallen limbs, and the like).

Gripping the levers lower decreases torque and provides smoother, more gradual acceleration, making it great for cruising across flat terrains (pavement, even dry ground, indoors).

Best of all, the levers can be detached in seconds and tucked into the seat beside you. That enables you to use the levers outdoors to get to wherever you’re going quickly, take them out and power the wheelchair like a conventional model when you get inside, and then pop the levers back into place when you go back outside again.

Pros & Cons of GRIT Freedom Wheelchair

The Freedom Chair is the brainchild of some of the best and brightest engineers on the planet. The chair they produced is innovative, versatile, and built to last.

In our view, it has no weaknesses. In fact, it’s not even an overly expensive chair, making it a great fit for anyone interested in a chair that can be used in just about any setting.

GRIT Freedom Chair Review Conclusion

We love the GRIT Freedom Chair. The only thing separating it from the mighty ORC is that the ORC is a custom machine, while the GRIT is mass-produced. That difference allows you to fine-tune the ORC in ways the GRIT can’t match. Ultimately, this is why we feel the ORC deserved top honors, narrowly beating this model out in our recent roundup review.

That said, not everybody will want or need a custom all-terrain wheelchair. If you don’t, there’s no need to spend the extra money on the ORC. Regarding functionality, the Freedom Chair is equal to the more expensive ORC, and we highly recommend it.

Recommended Reading

ORC Off-Road Wheelchair Review

We looked closely at the ORC Off Road Wheelchair, a fully customizable option for avid outdoor adventurers.

Top-End Crossfire All-Terrain Wheelchair Reviews

Our evaluation of the Crossfire reveals a superb manual, all-terrain wheelchair, perfect for outdoor and indoor use.


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