Updated September 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for best collapsible carts

Whether you’re heading to the beach with armloads of gear or returning from the store with bags upon bags of groceries, it’s annoying to feel weighted down with stuff. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a helping hand with all those items? That’s exactly what a collapsible cart is for.

A collapsible cart is an indispensable item you can use to carry all those loads, cutting down on the number of trips you must make and minimizing the stress on your body. And because the cart is collapsible, you can easily fold it up and store it when you don’t need it.

A collapsible cart is a practical addition to any home, and it makes a fantastic gift, too. 

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A collapsible cart makes a great gift for families with small children, especially those who travel to the beach or picnic frequently.

Key considerations

Capacity

How much do you need to transport? The greater the cart capacity, the more items or weight it can hold. At the same time, keep in mind that a heavier load will be much harder to pull or push around. Collapsible cart weight capacities range from a low of 30 pounds to a high of 200 pounds or more.

Size and weight

The size of a collapsible cart affects what you can carry, too. Collapsible carts range from compact to large. Check out the dimensions of the cart when expanded to see if it would meet your needs.

Weight also varies from one cart to another. If you plan on toting heavy items, keep the initial weight of the cart in mind. A lightweight cart will be easier to pull or push, but may also be less durable.

When empty, collapsible carts weigh as little as 7 pounds and as much as 25 pounds.

Durability

The degree to which a collapsible cart gracefully handles terrain and weather reflects its durability. This matters in your day-to-day use; no one wants to lose a wheel or have a frame bend halfway home from the grocery store! A sturdy metal frame and a basket that resists rips and tears wonderful features.

If you plan to use your cart outside, opt for one that is rustproof and has water-resistant or waterproof fabric to protect against rain and snow. UV and mildew resistance are desirable features as well.

Setup and breakdown

The collapsible nature of these carts is meant to make setup and breakdown easy. The best carts fold flat to take up little space. Avoid collapsible carts that require a lot of tools or more than a minute of assembly or disassembly.

Push vs. pull

Some collapsible carts are designed to be pushed; others are designed to be pulled. With some carts, you can choose between those two actions. If you have a preferred method of moving a cart, note this when shopping.

Are you planning on using your cart in sand, mud, or grass? Opt for one with larger wheels that can better handle these surfaces.

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Features

Frame

Some of the best collapsible carts have supportive frames made of metal. While steel is the sturdiest choice, aluminum is lighter and easier to wheel around. Also, check that any metal will be rustproof.

On-cart storage

A collapsible cart will have some type of system to hold items, whether it is a bag, a basket, or shelving. Some cart storage comes in the form of a metal cage, which can be durable but also limits the size of the items you can carry, since small items could fall through the bars.

Mesh fabric baskets and bags are common. These are usually made from polyester and allow you to carry small items securely. Some feature a canopy or cover to protect contents from the elements.

In addition, some collapsible carts have pockets or other compartments for even more storage. If you are gardening or heading to the beach, consider a cart that includes cup holders.

Handles

Whether the cart is being pushed or pulled, you will need some form of handle. The best handles feature ergonomic grips that are comfortable to hold. This can be a plus for those who use the cart often. Some handles can also be adjusted for ease of use.

Wheels

Two to four wheels are standard on collapsible carts, with four the most common number. Wheels will either be swiveling or affixed straight to the collapsible cart. Swivel wheels can help you turn corners, but notably, they usually work better on flat terrain.

Rubber wheels tend to provide better cushioning and stability than plastic wheels. Similarly, larger wheels tend to provide better traction over rough terrain than smaller wheels. A handful of collapsible carts also have a wheel-locking feature to keep the cart stationary when not moving.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Collapsible carts have been around since 1989, when a man named Gordon Smith was issued a patent for what he called a “collapsible transport cart.”
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Collapsible cart prices

Collapsible carts start under $40 and can reach $140 or more. The majority fall in the $40 to $140 range.

Low-end: Collapsible carts under $40 tend to be simple carts with a less-durable build and a smaller footprint. The capacity is usually lower than that of pricier carts — often under 100 pounds.

Mid-range: In the $40 to $140 range, you will find collapsible carts in a variety of sizes and shapes, from four-wheeled fabric bag carts to all-metal carts. The average capacity for these mid-range carts is 100 to 150 pounds.

High-end: Collapsible carts that cost more than $140 offer the best durability and are designed for heavy-duty work. Some can hold more than 200 pounds. Extras such as canopies, wheel brakes, and cup holders are common.

If you intend to use your cart on bumpy surfaces, consider buying one with set wheels rather than swivel wheels.

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Tips

  • A cart with a removable basket or bag may also be used to carry larger items that you strap to the frame.
  • Cushioned grips are excellent for people with arthritis or other joint pain in their hands.
  • If you are taller or shorter than average, look for a cart with an adjustable handle to maximize your comfort.
  • Some collapsible carts are geared toward specific tasks, such as gardening or going to the beach.
  • Collapsible carts with wide tires and good tread can sometimes be used in the snow.
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Lightweight collapsible carts typically fold into smaller bundles than heavier, larger carts.

FAQ

Q. How difficult is a collapsible cart to assemble?

A. While some carts ship fully assembled, others require a bit of assembly at home. The work should not be extensive; for example, you might have to snap the wheels on. Take the following steps to make assembly go as smoothly as possible.

  • Gather any tools you need to assemble the cart.
  • Check that all necessary hardware, such as bolts and wheels, shipped with your collapsible cart.
  • Read the instructions first to avoid frustration later.

Q. Are collapsible carts safe to use with children?

A. Some manufacturers claim their carts are safe to carry children or pets. Others warn against it. Do not use a cart for this purpose if it is not designed for it.

Q. What is the best way to clean a collapsible cart?

A. Because collapsible carts may be used in everything from sand to mud, it’s understandable that you’d want to know how to keep yours clean. While you should check the manufacturer’s care and use instructions, note that most carts can be cleaned with mild soap, warm water, and a soft cloth. To clean the cart, wipe it down, rinse it off, and let it dry. If the manufacturer suggests another method of cleaning, go with that. Never use harsh chemicals on a collapsible cart, and avoid machine washing any fabric elements.

 

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