Let’s face it, we all have varying body weights, and even though we don’t like to admit, some have higher weights that force them to consider heavy duty walkers.
Heavy duty walkers, also known medically as bariatric walkers, are mobility aids designed for users with over 300 pounds in weight. They are built for extra strength, are more robust, more expansive, and generally have larger outer dimensions and wheels than standard walkers and rollator walkers.
This post delves deeper into bariatric walkers as we discuss the key features that make a heavy duty walker helpful and suitable for seniors with a few extra pounds on their frame. We also share our thoughts on the best walkers for overweight and obese seniors in the market to help you find a good walker.
What Is A Bariatric Walker/ Heavy Duty walker?
A bariatric or heavy duty walker is a mobility aid designed for users with over 300 pounds. Ideally, large or obese people. They are, therefore, the strongest and largest walking aids.
They are built with reinforced heavy-duty frames that are wider and foldable for ease of transport and easy storage. We will talk more about the features in another section below.
The heavy duty walkers we’ve looked at in this review support up to 600 pounds; however, some bariatric walkers support up to 1000 pounds, like the Drive Bariatric Anterior Safety Roller Walker.
There are possibly three reasons why one would opt for a heavy duty walker and not a traditional walker. One is that they weigh more than 300 pounds, and therefore, no standard walker would support their weight. Two is that they prefer a more stable walker for outdoor use. Thirdly is that they want a more roomy walker for ease of movement.
Ideally, a bariatric walker can be a standard walker, or a rollator walker simply meant for wider or larger users. The design is the same as either a standard walker or a rollator walker, and particularly for rollators, they share similar features like foldability and being seat and height-adjustable. The primary difference is the weight capacities.
Are Bariatric Walkers Only for Overweight People?
Bariatric walkers are not only meant to be used by heavyweight users. Anyone can use heavy duty walkers as long as it suits their body and posture. In fact, a good number of users prefer it to traditional walkers because they are stronger, more stable, and wider.
Review of the Best Heavy Duty Walkers for Seniors
Here goes our selection of the best heavy duty walkers for seniors.
Comodita Prima Rolling Walker
The Comodita Prima Heavy Duty Rollator is a well-crafted mobility aid designed for maximum comfort, extra stability, and safety. With a weight capacity of up to 400 pounds and impressive construction, the walker is designed with a unique frame design that makes it a bit roomier. This allows for easy foot movement as well as provides enough leg room while sitting. This helps a lot to avoid tripping and falling. You also don’t get to feel confined when sitted.
We loved how extremely sturdy the walker is and how comfortable the seat is. You will most certainly feel secure using it. And the cane holder, cup holder, and storage bag underneath the seat are a huge plus. The storage bag is considerably big, with a crossbar at the bottom to support it. You can store plenty of items in it, and with the velcro fastener to secure it, you don’t have to worry about losing your items.
For a bariatric walker, it folds down pretty quickly. You should have no trouble folding it to load into the car trunk unless you have limited upper body strength. The ergonomic hand grips are comfortable to hold, and the locking hand brakes are easy to use. The brakes lock securely so that it’s easy for you to get in and out of the seat.
The large eight-inch wheels allow it to roll over on even the most uneven surfaces. It’s a great walker choice for both indoor and outdoor use. Unlike most models, the rear wheels of this walker are farther apart, so there is enough room for your legs not to be caught into the tires.
There have been a few complaints of the walker sliding on certain surfaces when sitting even when the wheels are locked. The trick is to sit while concentrating your weight straight down rather than sitting down and back as you would on a regular seat. This way, the walker won’t slip behind you. Also, finding the right handle height helps a lot. Once you hack this, you will find that it’s very comfortable to sit on, and the contoured backrest offers so much back support.
Overall, we think Comodita Prima Heavy Duty Rollator is a great walker. It’s comfortable, just as the name suggests (comodita means comfort). We recommend it if you need a stronger walker but not necessarily a wider one. It’s a bit narrower than most heavy duty walkers.
Go-Lite Oversized Rollator
Second on our list is the Go-Lite Bariatric Steel Rollator by Drive Medica. An extremely well-made bariatric walker that physical therapists often recommend because of its outstanding performance and great price point. It’s a valuable mobility aid that will guarantee you an active lifestyle.
Made of a steel frame, this extremely sturdy walker supports seniors weighing up to 500 pounds. It comes with a padded backrest that is strong enough to prevent you from tilting backward when sitted. The great thing is that you can remove the backrest when not needed.
You will be pleased by the large hideaway wire storage basket that is useful in storing personal items when out and about. It also frees your hands so that both hands can concentrate on the handles for added safety.
It fits through doorways and other tight spaces with no problems, so getting around the house will be a breeze. It’s also easy to go in and out of elevators as well as down gangways.
The folding walker comes pre-assembled except for the adjustable handles which you’d need to set to your ideal height. This shouldn’t be difficult though, it takes minutes to figure it out and put it together.
You can easily adjust the walker’s height to suit different positions by increasing or reducing the height of the handles. The minimum handle height is 35.2 inches and you can adjust all the way to 39 inches, which is ideal for tall users.
The attention to safety on this lightweight walker is very impressive. We were blown off by the secure loop locking braking system that locks all four wheels when engaged. Even more impressive is that you get a lifetime limited warranty on the brake cables.
Perhaps the only drawback of this folding walker is the weight which makes it difficult to load in and out of the car trunk. The walker weighs 26 pounds. But given its size and construction, that is to be expected. Considering the quality, this is a minor trade-off.
Overall, it is by far one of the most cost-effective heavy duty walkers. With just a few tweaks, it could easily become the best heavy duty walker for seniors. If you are looking for an extremely sturdy and durable bariatric walker with a wide padded built-in seat, we’d highly recommend this steel frame walker.
Soprano All-Terrain Rollator
The Soprano Rollator is pretty solid, safe, and secure. You will be pleased with how excellent the construction and design of this walker is, especially the cable-less brake design which is a great safety addition- there are no cables getting in your way as you walk.
The large 10-inch front and rear wheels are ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. They roll over smoothly on any outdoor surface, from gravel sidewalks, thick grassy lawns to muddy walkways. The rear wheels are slightly farther apart to give you more walking space.
The handle’s height can be adjusted with minimal effort. Even seniors with frail hands or who suffer from arthritis can do it by themselves.
The soprano is packed with excellent added features that make mobility so much fun and tireless, like the flip-up seat to rest on when tired of walking and the storage wire basket for storing personal items. The basket is big enough to fit a load of up to 9kg.
The walkers come pre-assembled, so you are left with very minimal assembly work, which literally takes minutes, especially since the instructions in the manual are clear and easy to follow.
Perhaps the biggest challenge with this walker is that it takes a couple of trials to figure out how to properly collapse the walker. Also, it’s a bit heavy, which is expected given its construction. It may take you a bit of energy to load it in and out of the car trunk.
Otherwise, it’s still portable, considering that you can fold it to the sides. This is great because then you don’t have to worry about it folding under you or you tipping over it. Simply lean it against any surface or furniture or slide it to your car.
How to Choose the Best Heavy Duty Walker for Seniors
When shopping for a heavy duty, there are a few key features that you want to be looking out for to ensure that you get the right walker that suits your needs.
First and foremost, you must know what type of heavy duty walker you will need. Is it a two front wheeled walker, a four-wheel walker, or a basic walker with no wheels? Heavy duty four wheel walkers are the best for outdoors, while heavy duty standard walkers are the best for indoor use. Walkers with two wheels can be used indoors or outdoors depending on the wheels and general construction.
Here are a few other key things to help you find a suitable bariatric walker for yourself or your loved.
When comparing heavy duty walkers, you want to make sure that it’s foldable. Most importantly, it should be easy to fold. You also want to choose a heavy duty wallet that folds down to a compact size. Because these walkers come with larger dimensions, it can be impossible to walk around with an unfolded walker.
Another great reason to choose a foldable bariatric walker is that you may be forced to fold it to fit through doorways or hallways.
Lastly, you want it to be foldable so that it can fit into the trunk of your car or storage area.
Even though nearly all heavy duty rolling walkers come with an adjustable height, it’s still wise to check that indeed the height can be adjusted. Check the adjustability range to see whether it’s a good range for you. Also, it should be easy to adjust.
Every heavy duty walker has a braking system. What varies is the type of brakes installed and how easy or hard it is to engage the brakes. Loop-style breaks seem to be the most common, although you can find models with push brakes or locking brakes. Find a walker with easy-to-use brakes and that locks instantly and securely.
We always advocate for ergonomic handgrips regardless of whether you have a disability or hand weakness. Simply because they are extra comfortable. They also ease off the pressure exerted on your wrist and are not likely to cause blisters even when used daily for long hours.
It’s also important that the handles are of the correct height and adjustable. There are times you will need the handles lower like when sitting and there are times you will want them higher.
Either way, you want to be able to custom fit the height of the handle. Otherwise, you’d end up with a back strain and possible shoulder strain. We bet you know how that will play out after a couple of days of straining.
First up, you want to make sure the walker you’re keen on can accommodate your weight. All heavy duty walkers come with weight limits. For instance, in this review, we’ve looked at walkers that can handle 355 pounds, 400 pounds, and 500 pounds. However, there are some that can accommodate up to 700 pounds, like the Sizewise Bari Walker and the drive Medical Bariatric Anterior Safety Roller Walker that can support up to 1000 pounds. We are yet to see one that goes beyond 1000 lbs; not sure if there is even.
When checking out the weight capacity, factor in the additional weight from loads like an oxygen tank if you carry one around or others. These extra weights can easily cause breaking or bending if the weight limit is exceeded.
For instance, if your body weight is 350 pounds but you have an oxygen tank that weighs 50 pounds. Then the total load weight is 400 pounds. Therefore, you should be looking for a heavy duty walker that can support at the very least 450 pounds. The extra 50 pounds is for a few other additional items you may sometimes carry.
Extra Wide Seat
An extra-wide seat may seem rather obvious in a heavy duty walker, but extra wide is relative and can vary significantly across different models. This is why it’s important to check the seat dimensions provided. You mainly want to be looking at the seat height, seat width, and seat depth.
As far as seat types, you get to choose between a padded seat and an unpadded seat. A padded seat is extra comfortable and is a great choice for a frail senior or one with conditions like hip arthritis. A padded seat is, however, not the most stable.
An unpadded seat is much more stable, but the trade-off is the extra cushioning. However, it is easy to clean and care for and is an excellent option for seniors with balance issues.
Another rather obvious thing to be looking out for but once again essential to check in wheeled walkers is the size of the wheels. Large wheels vary and while an 8” wheel can be considered large, so is a 12” wheel and a 10” wheel.
Large wheels and casters are crucial in heavy-duty wheeled walkers, particularly one that is intended to be used outdoors like the four wheel walkers. They are able to handle the outdoor terrain better.
As you can tell from our review section, we have heavy duty walkers with different wheel sizes, all considered large wheels and can be used for indoor or outdoor use.
For instance, the Comodita Prima Heavy Duty Rollator has 8” wheels while the Soprano Rollator has 10” wheels. Both are heavy duty walkers with large wheels, but the 10” walker obviously does significantly better outdoors. For an indoor use walker , 8” wheels would be the perfect wheel size for a heavy duty walker. Most regular rolling walkers have five-inch wheels and six-inch wheels.
A crucial thing that most people don’t think about when buying heavy duty walkers is whether or not the parts are easily available. Why do we insist on this? Well, most manufacturers only offer a lifetime warranty on the frame but not on parts, and we all know these parts only start breaking down after the warranty period.
You, therefore, want to be sure that you can easily access the replacement parts without having to ship them. Shipping parts can be both expensive and time-consuming. Also, it will be cheaper to be able to replace than buy a new walker altogether.
Fortunately, most manufacturers will provide a link to where you can buy replacement parts either on their website or the product page.
Bariatric Walker Accessories
It’s nice to have a bariatric walker with plenty of functional accessories like a storage tray or basket where you can store your personal belongings. Or a cup holder to place your drinks or even a cane holder. Some even come with a rollator light and organizer pouch.
Some models allow you to make modifications to fit in additional accessories. Few others give you the freedom to upgrade different parts like the handles. For instance, you can do away with the cheap plastic handle grip that often comes with most walkers and put in a foam grip or even a gel grip if budget allows. You can also custom make a cushioned backrest or change up your seat to a memory foam seat.
There you have it, our honest review of the best heavy duty walkers for seniors in 2022. We picked the Comodita Prima as our top choice because of how extremely study and comfortable it is as well as it’s overall stability, high weight capacity of 400 pounds, and the extra-wide seat. However, it’s a bit narrower, so you can consider our second choice, Go-Lite Oversized Rollator which is extra wide and supports up to 500 pounds.
Still, searching? Go through our detailed buying guide to know what to be on the lookout for then browse for more adult walkers here.