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What’s the Difference Between a Tri-walker and a Rollator?

Posted by Mike Phipps on June 25, 2020

A Tri-walker and one Rollator that's available on the Ability Superstore website

Do you need some form of walking aid and find the choice overwhelming? Or, are you just not sure exactly what would help you remain independent and be able to get out and about?

Walking aids fall into a key category of mobility equipment and it’s important to understand what’s available. Walking aids start with something as simple and straightforward as a walking stick – a topic which is covered in a different news article.

Here we talk about the differences between a Tri-walker and a Rollator and include a couple of pros and cons for each.

It’s a question we’re frequently asked at Ability Superstore – what exactly is the difference between a Tri-walker and a Rollator?

The fundamental and most straightforward difference between a Tri-walker and a Rollator is the number of wheels. As the name suggests, Tri-walkers tend to have just three wheels and Rollators sport four – the number of wheels impacts on both manoeuvrability and stability, and also allows Rollators to include a seat, but more of that later.

Both Tri-walkers and Rollators are very portable, and most can be folded enabling them to be placed easily into the boot of most cars, or folded up for travelling on the bus or train (in June 2020 – don’t forget your face mask if you’re going on public transport).

Although the simple fact Tri-walkers have one less wheel really benefits the portability of this mobility aid. This is especially useful if you like to travel frequently, as Tri-walkers are generally lighter and easier to lift in and out of car boots, or on and off public transport and they usually fold frame-to-frame allowing them to remain upright standing on their three wheels.

Four-wheel Rollators are generally more popular than their three-wheel Tri-walker counterparts, because the four wheeled walker offers that little bit more stability to the user and the four wheeled model also usually includes a seat which provides the perfect opportunity to take a little rest whenever you feel the need to take a breather.

That being said, three-wheeled walkers offer a smaller turning circle which plays a huge part in making a Tri-walker easy to control and makes them an ideal walking aid for both indoors and out. The frame can be part folded whilst in use, allowing it to fit through the smallest of gaps, or large crowds, although as you soon are back in an open space you should ensure that the frame is put back into its fully locked position.

The triangular design of a three wheeled walking aid tends to be easier to manoeuvre than the four wheeled variety, although, this does give you slightly less stability. If you are worried about your balance in any way, you should plump for the four wheeled Rollator, however if you are more confident with your balance, then the three wheeled walker is a great choice for you.

New models of the Tri walker are being introduced, one make has two wheels at the front (similar to a baby buggy) and now there’s even a Tri walker with a flip up and down seat.

All Tri walkers and Rollators come with brakes, to help slow you down in mid stride as and when required. The majority of three and four wheeled walking aids have cable brakes on the handles so you can either stop completely (pushing down to lock when stopping to chat with a friend or neighbour) or pull up slightly to slow. Some Tri walkers have push down brakes on the wheels which are operated by foot.

Many Tri walkers come with either a clip on bag, or basket, which means you can pop your essentials, such as your purse and mobile phone, or shopping in, taking the strain off of your arms.

The bag and basket are available to purchase as optional extras, too.

Most Rollators come with a bag, or basket under the seat, which allows essentials to be carried with ease.

Tri walkers and Rollators also tend to be adjustable in height, allowing you to adjust the handle height specific for your own requirements. Many of the handles are designed specifically to take the pressure across the palm of the hand, rather than just on the fingers, making them ideal if you suffer from arthritis, or a weakened grip.

All in all, Tri walkers and Rollators are important disability products providing a new lease of life to many.