Going Where No Power Chairs Have Gone Before

The Action Trackchair in action

By now most people aren’t surprised to see disabled people participating in sports. From wheelchair basketball and modified power chairs that can be used to play soccer disabled persons have been finding new and creative ways to push the boundaries when it comes to athletics. However, one frontier remained off limits: the great outdoors. Due to the limits of batteries people who wanted to go hunting, fishing and hiking while using a power chair found themselves out of luck. That is until John Rackley, an outdoor enthusiast who was paralyzed in 1998, decided to design an all terrain power chair that featured a chain to drive the wheels, much like a mountain bike.

Known as the Renegade, the power chair Rackley designed has become quite popular with disabled people who want to enjoy the great outdoors. The athletic market for the disabled has mostly focused on indoor or court sports such as tennis and volleyball while people who enjoy roughing it in the mountains were left out in the cold. The Renegade is changing all that. The 30” wide power chair is essentially two mountain bikes welded together with gears that can be shifted to accommodate steep and rough terrain and 25” tires built for traction. To operate a Renegade, the driver pushes forward on two levers that act like pedals on a bike and when the driver pulls back on the levers it activates the disc brakes to slow the chair down.

Incidentally, while attending the Abilities Expo in New Jersey, we had the good fortune to meet Doug Liszka, the Director of Development for another all terrain power chair called the Action Trackchair that was developed in 2008. Using a joystick to control the chair, this model features tank-like treads that allow the device to navigate rough terrain. Used by fishermen, hunters and hikers, the all terrain Trackchairs are also in demand for farmers and ranchers who need a durable mobility device to get around their grounds. After speaking with Doug and admiring the device, we got a chance to ride in one and had a blast climbing over curbs and rolling over rugged terrain.

The Trackchair has heavy duty bags that are very masculine and informal talk turned to ideas for making similar bags for women and girls that would have a more feminine style and feel. Boys and men aren’t the only ones who enjoy the great outdoors. HDS MEDALLION® supports the premise that girls and women deserve a handy, yet attractive accessory when hiking, fishing and hunting in the Action Trackchair.

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