People with disabilities are looking for ways to enjoy the nature, trails, etc. Off-road mobility scooters offer many an opportunity to get places that they would not otherwise be able to with conventional scooters geared more toward pavement and hard flooring.
Sure, sidewalks and storefronts can still be crossed with a traditional wheelchair or scooter, but there are options out there so that more challenging grounds can be traversed. The key is to look for a quality 4-wheel off-road mobility scooter.
But what are the qualities to look for in such a product? And what are the best options available on the market?
Can Mobility Scooters Go Off Road?
What’s the point of an off-road mobility scooter if it can’t really go off-road? While there are designated off-road scooters out there, one still needs to take account of the world around them. Bushwhacking through the midst of a dense wooded mountain may not be on the table anymore with an off-road scooter, but many nature trails will be made accessible with one.
It simply depends on the difficulty rating of the terrain. The rougher the terrain is – the steeper the environment – the less likely it is that a mobility scooter is going to get one from Point A to Point B. An “off-road” version can grant the user with greater access, however.
Off-road scooters aren’t ATVs, however. But they do have more power to them to handle some of the more common “wild” terrains that one may come across or seek out.
Think about attending a granddaughter’s soccer game out in the middle of a mown field, sitting right beside the home team bench at your grandson’s football tournament, or traversing a nearby nature trail in town.
Those are going to be the environments most off-road mobility scooters out there are designed for.
Can They Go Up Hills?
Yes, an off-road mobility scooter can go up hills, but there are a few caveats that need to be taken into consideration. For starters, what is the grade of the hill. While just about any scooter out there will be able to handle a 2% grade, if one is talking about the 20+% grades that are common on San Francisco streets, then one’s looking at a completely different situation.
Can They Go on Sand?
Mobility scooters of any type are not really designed to travel on sand. For instance, consider that just within 2021 there were two highly publicized accounts of elderly women in mobility scooters getting stuck in the sand at the beach.
Will some scooters perform better on sandy terrain than others? Sure.
Consider five different variables: what is the power of the scooter? What kind of wheels does the scooter have? What kind of sand are we talking about? Is the scooter rated for sand? And are there going to be sand hills which must be traversed?
For starters, the less power that a scooter has, the less oomph it is going to have to push the chair through the stiff resistance of sandy ground. More power will mean the off-road mobility scooter will have more juice to push through stubborn turf.
While all off-road mobility scooters are going to claim to have “off road tires,” keep in mind that the quality and type of these varies widely. In many cases, the manufacturer may be saying 2” wide tires with a half inch of tread qualifies it as off-road. While this may be perfectly fine for riding on a flat gravel road, it’s going to be less than ideal for driving across sand.
The best way to ensure that an off-road mobility scooter isn’t going to get stuck in the sand at a beach is to skip it altogether. Transfer instead to a beach wheelchair, which has wide, smooth tires.
Also, packed sand that doesn’t cause the scooter to sink into it as much is also going to be a much better bet than that looser sand which is often found closer to the sand dunes of a beach. If the sand is of the type that a perfectly mobile person has a hard time traversing it on foot, it’ll be near impossible for a scooter.
Power and Tires are Key
For an off-road mobility scooter to have any chance of being able to tackle a larger hill it’s going to depend on the power of the scooter, clearance, and tires. Power is the driver, however.
Sure, the weight of the occupant, grade of the hill, roughness of the ground – all those various other factors could be taken into consideration – but with enough power, the off-road mobility scooter is going to stand a much better chance of tackling the ground before it.
But perhaps we should take a moment to briefly touch on the tires as well.
An off-road mobility scooter can easily have the necessary power to make it up a hill, but not have the traction it needs to do anything other than dig two little ruts in the dirt. Anybody who has spent enough time behind the wheel of a vehicle or on a lawnmower in wet grass can attest to this. Without the proper tires, going uphill in off-road conditions is very difficult.
The three factors that are going to greatly affect a scooter’s ability to be able to handle such conditions are the tire width, the weight of the occupant, and the depth/type of tread.
Wider tires give the scooter more contact with the ground, increasing traction. This is a good thing when it comes to going uphill off-road. It means the scooter has more to “hang on” to.
Scooter Accessories are Available at Mobility-Aids
And just like an empty pickup truck may have a hard time going up an icy hill, so an off-road could potentially have issues with a lighter occupant. However, most scooters are heavy as it is, so in practice, this isn’t liable to be a sizable issue.
The last factor though – type of tread – most certainly is. If you’re attempting to make your way up a hill with four bald tires, you’ll have one heck of a time reaching the top. There’s less contact with the ground resulting in more slippage.
It’s because of this that the type of tires which are on an off-road mobility scooter truly matters.
So, as the reader can see, there is a bit of discretion that needs to be exercised here. Otherwise, one could very easily end up being the next highly publicized mobility scooter “rescue.”
5 Hardcore Off-Road Mobility Scooters
So what are the best of the best? We believe that if one of the below is purchased, the customer is bound to be happy with their purchase…
1) The Terrain Hopper Overlander 4ZS
The Terrain Hopper Overlander is what you get when you mix an ATV with a mobility scooter. It’s easily the coolest, most extreme, and perhaps most expensive off-road mobility scooter out there.
Just about anywhere that one can go on foot they can go to in the Terrain Hopper. Each wheel comes with its own 750W motor, there’s a roll bar, 10” of ground clearance, a battery range of 8-24 miles, and speeds of up to 12mph, make this one of the meanest off-road mobility scooters in town.
The only catch is the price, as these come in at a whopping $19,000. While Terrain Hopper does offer financing, accepts donations from outsiders to gift Terrain Hoppers to others, and has done quite a bit of charity with injured soldier charities, the price tag on this may be somewhat cost-prohibitive for most people.
2) Drive Medical Cobra GT4 Heavy Duty Power Scooter
If a scooter is going to be used off-road, it needs to have four wheels. A three-wheel option is going to be at too great of a risk of tipping over to be safe for our purposes here. The only catch with the GT4 is that it isn’t four-wheel drive.
That said, this is still a very good quality off-road scooter. It comes with both front and rear suspension, anti-tip wheels, can go up to 10mph, and has up to a 35-mile range. That’s fantastic!
- New, innovative design for a distinctive, stylish appearance; "Blade" style alloy wheel rims; Efficient, extra-bright LED lighting
- One-touch, infinite tiller angle adjustment allows the user to easily position the tiller into the ideal driving position; Padded armrests feature easy turn cylinders for angle adjustment
Other cool features of the GT4 are the turn signals, hazard lights, a super-bright LED headlight, and it even comes with a one-year home service warranty should anything happen. All in all, this is a great product.
3) Ziesel Off-Road Tracked Wheelchair
While this scooter is insanely expensive, it easily is one of the best off-road scooters out there. It can literally handle just about any terrain on earth, as it’s practically a skid-steer without a front scoop. Yep, this is a tracked design, much like a tank, and it’s an incredible piece of equipment.
There are even street-legal versions of these!
The catch is two-fold: the price and the size.
For starters, the Ziesel is going to run you somewhere in the ballpark of $30,000. Albeit, the Ziesel is individualized to the exact specs of each customer, but that’s still a rather hefty price tag to pay, and good luck getting your health insurance to even think about covering one.
The second catch here is the size. The Ziesel is so big that unless a truck and a trailer are involved, it’s going to be staying right where it’s been delivered for the duration of its lifetime.
4) Pride Mobility Wrangler Heavy Duty Scooter
This one comes in at around five grand and is a solidly built piece of equipment. The tires are fantastic, coming in at 14.5”, and you get both front and rear suspension for uneven terrain.
Top speed is 11.4mph, you get a 350-pound weight capacity, and you can go upwards of 29.4 miles off a single battery charge.
It’s a decent piece of equipment. Check it out for yourself…
5) Pride Revo 2.0
This scooter comes in around two grand, but it still is a great piece of equipment. Pride has made a name for themselves within the mobility scooter world for crafting top-notch gear, and the Revo 2.0 is no exception.
- Comfort-Trac front and rear suspension
- Large U1 batteries for longer range
Albeit a slower model, only having a max speed of 5.2mph, the Revo 2.0 has a range of 17.8 miles, can hold up to 400 pounds, and can break down into five separate pieces so that it can quickly and easily be placed in the trunk of a minivan for transport to and from the house.
Are Mobility Scooters Covered by Medicare?
Medicare Part B will cover power-operated vehicles, including mobility scooters – when you qualify (source). The catch is whether Medicare will be willing to pay for an off-road scooter.
Medicare will cover a mobility scooter if you cannot use a cane or walker, can’t operate a manual wheelchair, but can get in and out of a mobility scooter safely. Should those three criteria be met though there is still no guarantee that Medicare will cover a mobility scooter – much less an off-road version.
The best bet is to not purchase an off-road mobility scooter until you’ve received the go-ahead from Medicare to do so. Otherwise, you can easily end up footing the entire bill. This permission from Medicare is known as a “prior authorization,” and can be tricky to obtain. You’ll need to consult with your physician.
If approval is given from Medicare for a mobility scooter purchase, then the individual is responsible for 20% of the Medicare Approved Amount, and the Part B deductible still applies.
What is the Most Powerful Mobility Scooter?
The Zeisel or the Terrain Hopper are likely the most powerful mobility scooters available. Either of these options are going to have all the power one could ever want in an off-road mobility scooter – albeit at a very steep price.
If you’re looking at more “realistic” options for the average person, it would likely be the Pride Revo 2.0. The ability to move 400 pounds in addition to the weight of the scooter itself around uneven terrain is an impressive accomplishment for a scooter and can only be accomplished by a scooter with significant power levels in store.
If that’s what you’re looking for – you need as much power as possible in your mobility scooter – the Revo 2.0 is a good place to start your search.
Finding the right off-road mobility scooter can be a bit of a tricky process, but if you follow the above listed shopping tips and check out the listed products above, you are bound to leave with a good inkling of what is a high-quality off-road mobility scooter and what is not.