Carrying stuff on a powerchair…

Not the most elegant title, but we all, at times, have to carry stuff on our powerchairs, and even manual chairs. As you can just about see, there’s a rucksack on the seat-back, but there are things that need to be carried in front of me – my laundry bag, a shopping bag, and even refuse bags being taken out to the bin room. The system shown here is the latest incarnation of the one I developed over 20 years ago for use on a manual chair.

As usual, click the pic to view full size, click Back to return.

In the pic, a 30cm climbers’ tape sling is attached to each armrest support (the knots are to regulate the length), at the end of each there’s a karabiner ( aka krab – I have a pair of red ones to match the chair somewhere!), and another tape loop between the crabs.

The multicoloured strap on the seat is looped through the top of a refuse bag (I use the type with “ears” which, when not tied too tightly, form a double loop capable of taking the bag’s weight), clipped on to the crabs and snugged down tight, so the bag is against my legs, resting on my feet, and won’t swing to the side at all. In the bin room it’s a simple matter to unclip it and toss it in the bin – remembering to retrieve the strap first.

For my laundry bag, or a shopping bag, I dispense with the strap, clip each handle to a crab, and the loop you can see in the pic is also clipped in place, so that the krabs stay in position, not spread apart and cause the bag to drop out of reach – you could just as easily use the strap. (NB: It might be necessary to tie a knot in the handles to shorten them to the ideal length.)

And that’s it. Very simple, very robust, and the weight is born by the strongest part of the seat.

I’ve had my slings, as I say, a long time – each will support over 2,000kg, so they aren’t going to wear out any time soon – and identical ones seem to be no longer available, but two of these will get the job done.

The multi-coloured strap is an Arno strap, and they’re widely available (I have lots – they’re immensely versatile for a wheelie), but try these guys.

I have a couple more slings attached, end to end, to the back of my front door and, when I go out, I feed the bottom one through the letterbox – this allows me to pull the door shut behind me. Then, if I’m leaving the building, it’s the work of a moment to spin around, lock up, and I’m on my way. There’s no need for me to faff about pushing the tape back inside, as I’m in a secure building. If you’re not then best push it back, lest some genius thinks it’s hilarious to cut it off.


4 thoughts on “Carrying stuff on a powerchair…

  1. Hiya Ron – so glad to read your post, I’ll be showing that to my Dad, and hopefully he’ll manage to rig out the same system on my chair. I’m new to the wheelchair community, got my powerchair just two weeks ago, and since I’ve been housebound for so long, I’m raring to go at the shops. Two problems, 1. accessibility and 2. carrying the purchased goods. I work in the centre of Edinburgh, Haymarket Terrace to be exact, and had to travel way along to West Maitland Street (past approx. 40 shops) before I found a food shop I could get in to, and even then the aisles were so narrow I had to sit at the counter and get the owner to do my shopping. On my way there I could have bought a kilt, or golf clubs, or even had a spray tan, but hey, I was on my lunch break looking for a sandwich!!! I’m off to Musselburgh shopping today (which has loads of good and accessible shops), but I need to meet up with my Dad so he can bring one particularly light but bulky item home for me I’d have been able to carry it on the bus, but not in my chair – nowhere to hang it 😦 Would be great if someone could invent a wee fold down trailer that might fit to the back seat like a backpack when not in use – would be good too if it could be fitted to the front of the chair rather than the back for when I need to get on the bus in my chair. Anyway – was good to identify with your post – and be able to get all that out – lol – still loving my powerchair though – love the freedom to go places on my own – cheers Donna

    • Hi Donna,

      Traditionally, wheelies** tend to hang bags on the back of the seat. You can buy specially-made ones but I use a rucksack (when I was mobile I spent all my leisure time either rambling or backpacking, so I’m not short of rucksacks in various sizes).

      **A wheelie is a wheelchair user of any sort (alternatively, a powerchair user can be a power wheelie).

      Rucksacks are more versatile too, as they have pockets for things to might need in a hurry, and well as the main compartment for shopping, waterproofs, whatever. On some chairs it’s not a good idea to hand too much weight on the seat back as it can strain the adjustment mechanism. It can also affect the balance.

      I also have a small bag on the right-hand armrest for odds and sods. That, too, is a relic of my backpacking days and has been transferred to every new machine, chair or scooter, that I’ve had for the last 20 years. It’s an add-on backpack pocket – nobody makes them any more, which is a pity, though a small messenger-style bag could probably be adapted.

      I use a pair of cheap cycle panniers on my scooter, attached to the armrests, and I’m looking at transferring them to my new chair. The downside is that I can’t attach them until I get outside, as they make the chair too wide – even wider when full of shopping, though these days I mostly get groceries delivered, the heavy stuff at least. Haven’t worked out the logistics yet, but when I do there’ll be a post about it.

      In the meantime this might be useful and this

      If you search for mobility scooter on the blog, most of what it brings up is applicable to powerchair use too.

      Access, you’ll find, is a constant problem, as the law making access compulsory also exempts buildings where it’s impossible to make the necessary changes – like most small shops. And my local Argos promised they’d install at least one electric door about 6 years ago – still not happened so I just don’t shop there. Their loss.

      In 2001 I made a trailer to carry my archery kit from an anglers’ tackle trailer with the platform removed, an old rucksack frame to give it the necessary width, and a walking stick as a hitch (I removed the plastic covering from the handle and it fitted neatly into the crutch holder on the back of the chair. Didn’t make me very popular on the road (too risky to tow a trailer on the pavement), but as a wheelie you quickly grow a thick skin and stop worrying about delaying people for a minute or two!


  2. My worry about carrying things on the back of the chair, is that thieves might be tempted to steal the bag.

    And where does a lady safely keep her handbag?!

    • A lady doesn’t carry a handbag on a chair – too easily nicked – a shoulder bag, though, is feasible. I have a rucksack on the back of my chair seat (see my reply to Donna), impossible to steal, and a bag attached to the right-hand armrest.


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