Exploring with GRIT Freedom Chair | Accessibility in the Outdoors

February 20, 2024

Recently, Randy Howell, a Kampgrounds of America, Inc. employee, tested the functionality of the GRIT Freedom Chair at two campground locations. Designed by MIT engineers, the GRIT Freedom Chair is a mix between a manual wheelchair and a mountain bike. This unique all-terrain wheelchair helps individuals live more active lives as they explore, connecting a great number of people to the great outdoors. Read on to learn more about Randy’s experience.

Experiencing the Great Outdoors with the GRIT Freedom Chair

As an outdoor enthusiast and 30-year employee of KOA, I had the unique opportunity to test the GRIT Freedom Chair. The Freedom Chair is an innovative all-terrain wheelchair designed to enhance outdoor accessibility for individuals with mobility challenges. My experience with the chair at two locations in Maine, Bar Harbor / Oceanside KOA Holiday and Terramor Outdoor Resorts // Bar Harbor, tested the chair’s capabilities and opened my eyes to its vast potential for transforming outdoor experiences.

How to Set Up a GRIT Freedom Chair

Unboxing and assembly of the GRIT Freedom Chair was the first part of my experience. Although it took me and a colleague about an hour to set the chair up—a bit longer than anticipated—the process was straightforward with easy-to-follow instructions. Despite a minor hiccup with the tubing on one of the handles, which we quickly resolved, the assembly was completed relatively easily.

Trying Out the GRIT Freedom Chair

Learning to use the chair was its own adventure. The initial operation had a bit of a learning curve, with the chair demanding a good deal of upper body strength. However, the intuitive design and helpful online videos made the adjustment period smooth. Navigating various terrains, from paved roads to grassy sections and gravel areas, the Freedom Chair proved its capability to handle diverse landscapes, making it a valuable tool for accessibility and independence in outdoor settings.

A man in a special wheel chair build for all-terrain outdoor experiences.

Throughout my experience with the GRIT Freedom Chair, I encountered challenges and triumphs. Testing the chair’s limits and capabilities across varied terrain displayed its remarkable potential and areas for refinement. One challenge—a moment when I flipped the chair backward on an incline—underscored the importance of additional available features. However, the responsiveness and support from GRIT were immediate. Upon communicating my needs, a stability bar was quickly shipped to us, enhancing the chair’s safety and usability.

The GRIT Freedom Chair in the KOA Community

Reflecting on my trial with the GRIT Freedom Chair, I’m proud of KOA’s dedication to outdoor accessibility and inclusivity. The Freedom Chair will be piloted at our Terramor property in Bar Harbor for 2024. This initiative reflects our commitment to innovation, customer value, and fostering a family-oriented atmosphere. Seeing my feedback and testing translate into an actual organizational program is fulfilling.

KOA is also introducing the Freedom Chair as an available gear rental for corporate employees. This is personally impactful, increasing my and others’ well-being. As our company embarks on the beta test at Terramor and beyond, I am excited about the adventures and connections that will unfold. This demonstrates that KOA is living its mission – connecting people to the outdoors and each other.

About the Author: Kampgrounds of America

Kampgrounds of America is the largest system of open-to-the-public campgrounds in the world, with over 500 locations across the United States and Canada. Founded in Billings, MT in 1962, KOA’s family of campground brands – KOA Journey, KOA Holiday and KOA Resort – today serve more than a million camping families each year. KOA is dedicated to “connecting people to the outdoors and each other” by providing people with a variety of camping experiences and the information they need to make the most of their camping trip. Read more of their camping and travel resources by visiting

Enjoy a Greater Slice of the Great Outdoors

Discover even more room to enjoy outdoor living with a KOA Patio Site®. These spacious sites offer your very own patio equipped with outdoor furniture and the perfect place for a fire. Wake up and enjoy a cup of coffee with the sunrise and spend an evening relaxing with family and friends.

Learn More