Sometimes I feel I’m asking a lot from my everyday manual chair. I want my wheelchair to slip between narrow store aisles and public bathroom stalls as well as push over grassy fields and dirt trails. I want it to be fast enough to take my dog for a run and not be marooned on the sidewalk — feeling the shame of the unprepared owner — when she decides to pop a squat.

There are occasions when having a dedicated off-road chair would be nice, but for everyday use I want to be able to roll off the pavement without having to think about it. Thankfully, with a few modifications, an everyday chair can be versatile enough for the city and the trail.


Front casters are an important component of rolling over soft ground. Small, narrow casters that come standard on many models of manual wheelchairs are prone to get caught up on small rocks, roots and other protuberances and send you sprawling to the dirt. Changing your front casters is an easy fix to make your everyday chair better equipped for off-road wheeling, but there are a few things you need to consider.