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Heavy backpacks can spoil the pleasures of being in the outdoors. There are two ways to resolve this:

  1. Carry less
  2. Find an alternative to the backpack

While the first option is usually the best one, it's not always possible to carry less. If you head into a cold environment where you have few if any opportunities to resupply, you just have to take a lot of food, clothing, etc. and it will make your backpack heavier.

I've been looking into other options. I've stumbled upon the walking trailer. To give a specific example: the Radical Design Wheelie III (video demonstration).

A couple of questions:

  • Has anyone here tried one of these?
  • How do they behave on off-road terrain? I'm obviously not going to climb a mountain with one of these, but they should be able to handle mild off-road conditions.
  • Can they handle a bit of (ab)use? I don't want a wheel breaking off in the middle of nowhere.
  • Is there a cheaper alternative? The Wheelie III costs €550 (about $735): that's quite a lot of money for a bag on wheels.
  • 2
    That seems like it would be incredibly awkward to manage, and could pull you backwards / sideways if you tried to navigate basic roots or stone steps on a trail. If option #1 isn't sufficient to let you meet your backpacking goals, could you do more training hikes and cardio to build up to your trip? Or try more comfortable backpacks? – DavidR Jan 24 '13 at 20:16
  • @DavidR I'm in good condition and have a good backpack; I've hiked through the Pyrenees with a backpack of +20kg. (I'm not looking to use this walking trailer in the Pyrenees, by the way, just to be clear). I can do all of that, however, I can't say it's always comfortable and I think there are cases, especially thru-hiking, where a walking trailer may be more efficient and comfortable, which is why I'm looking into it. Not to replace my backpack altogether, just to have an alternative for cases in which the walking trailer may be better suited. – Ben Jan 24 '13 at 20:24
  • 5
    Be aware that wheeled carts, buggies, etc are illegal in Wilderness (with a capital W) areas in the US. outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/3512/86 – Lost Jan 24 '13 at 22:28
  • 1
    You answered your own question: Carry Less. – manoftheson Jan 26 '13 at 19:58
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    Hi Ben! It could be my browser (Firefox) but I'm having trouble opening your link to the Wheelie demonstration. It does lead to the Radical Design site, so maybe they've moved the demonstration. Would you mind having a look at it? Thanks! – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL May 28 '18 at 21:06
13

I haven't tried it, but it looks ridiculous. If you are going to be hiking on flat and mildly rough terrain, why not get a bike with a lot of panniers.

  • This provides for the same carrying capacity (maybe up to 40 kg).
  • Probably will be less expensive than the trailer.
  • There is an obvious advantage when going flat or downhill.
  • Bikes have larger wheels than this trailer, so I suspect this makes them better at ignoring irregularities on the road.
  • Agreed. If you're on terrain where this trailer would actually be usable, then a bike is certainly a better option. Or carry less if you must walk. – manoftheson Jan 26 '13 at 19:56
  • A good touring bike with a full set of decent panniers will easily cost you some 2000-3000€... Price is certainly not why you would chose this over a walking trailer. – fgysin reinstate Monica May 29 '18 at 6:31
  • @fgysin a sturdy bike with 3x9 gears, disk brakes and panniers starts at 500EUR. – Vorac May 29 '18 at 7:44
  • @Vorac, not anywhere near where I am from... You would be hard pressed to get decent panniers for that money (example: Ortlieb panniers start at around 70-80€ a piece, and you might want 5 of them...) But this is not the place for this discussion. – fgysin reinstate Monica May 29 '18 at 8:30
  • @fgysin if you insist on supporting local economy - that is one thing. But the European Union(as hinted by your choice of currency) is a trade paradise, with free shipping of whole bikes for orders over 500EUR total. --- Of course, high quality bikes and panniers are subject to the law of diminishing returns. – Vorac May 29 '18 at 15:15
11

I made my own hiking trailer - first version 2011. I pulled my hiking trailer in various environments. You can read more in my Wiki pages - the text is Finnish but you can use Google translator. In my Wikipages you can find answers to many guestions and problems. It really works very well in all terrain.

Picture of the hiking trailer

  • Quite interesting. Thanks for the reference! – Ben Dec 15 '13 at 18:04
10

Compare the size of those wheels with the size of the wheels of outdoor vehicles, and you'll see that such small wheels can't work well in hard terrain!

Probably even on dry meadow the energy you'll have to use to drag that device, which will constantly catch on blades of grass and other plants, would be much more than that you'll use to carry a backpack.

I think that device is most appropriate for people traveling to agriculture hostels with the public transport, because the country road is the toughest terrain it can deal with.

If you look for carrying solution in really outdoor environment consider taking an animal, for example a horse.

9

See the llamas looking at them weirdly at 2:10? That's because the llamas know how ridiculous it is!

I'm not just referring to how it looks, I'm referring to the fact that in anything other than nice terrain it just doesn't look like it'll work. Fancy pulling that through a marsh? Even assuming the ground is solid (big assumption in the wilderness) the video shows a pretty immense amount of struggle going through a simple gate, with a style or tight kissing gate it's going to be near impossible to manage. The webpage says you can put it on your back, yes, but then it looks awkward and unwieldy - and if you still have to put it on your back, what's the point? It also costs the earth, could well get a puncture on rough terrain, and perhaps most inconveniently takes up both your hands, meaning you couldn't use both it and a map or GPS on the go.

Seems like a gimmick to me. If you felt you needed the extra weight it provides, I'd first ask the question as to why you couldn't fit this into a rucksack, what your aim is, and then work from there. Sometimes, planning to cut down on weight is a fun part of the whole experience!

8

I met a fellow from Holland using a Wheelie to hike across Canada. This was his third or fourth summer hiking across Canada and he recommended the Wheelie for anything close to what he was doing. He walked mostly without using his hands, but he loved the handles for when the road was rough. He was using roads exclusively. He had purchased the optional axle support to improve the stability of the center, and said it was well worth the cost. He didn't recommend the Wheelie for rough trails or off-road situations.

I am 59, and cannot carry enough weight for my wife and me to camp overnight in the woods. She can only carry a few pounds. I want a single axle trailer that will work on trails, but I want the forward-reaching handles like on the Wheelie to allow me to control it better when I need it.

  • My hiking trailer has handlebars which helped in rough terrains – user2760 Jan 27 '14 at 6:33
  • I looked at your site, and was very impressed with your design. Are you marketing the trailer? If not, have you posted any plans to build the trailer? – Scott Nalder Jan 30 '14 at 1:45
4

I made a hiking "wheelbarrow" out of an old external frame backpack by bolting a pair of swoop handle bars to the top, and a Monty BMX wheel to the bottom. It was pretty awesome, I made it for an older gentleman who wanted to come backpacking with us but had a bad back, so couldn't carry a pack. He hardly had to push his bag either, because all the scouts we were taking on the trip wanted to take turns driving it.

I don't like the two-wheel design of that thing linked above, because it'll bounce around too much side to side. My one wheel bag could steer through the roughest terrain and even go over large rocks and logs with ease with that fat Monty tire. Unfortunately though, the AL frame of the backpack wasn't sturdy enough to take a serious beating with a full load, we had to reinforce it on the trail by lashing a couple of steel spikes to support the fort of the wheel where it attached to the frame of the bag, and we discovered that the push bag wasn't ideal for keeping your sleeping bag dry when it came to creek crossings.

It's a good alternative to carrying a bag if your back can't support a bag, but you'll have other challenges along the way, like crossing plank bridges through marshes, or scaling over obstacles like fallen logs, big rocks etc.

1

I've used the Wheelie for several years now. I've walked up in all kind of conditions, like over mountains, on dirt roads etc. It's my way to go.

My last project was called Restless-WalkMore in 2017. It was 9000 kilometers up and down the North Cape, in mostly winter and harsh conditions! This cart is a jewel.

  • Welcome jorgen! Thanks for your contribution. It's great that the Wheelie has been good for you. We're different than some sites you're probably used to, so I invite you to check out the pages of our help center. How to Answer is a good place for you to start. We don't use Facebook, so I took out the reference to your Facebook pictures. If you'd like to post pictures of which model Wheelie you use, feel free. Please don't post any with your face though, because we don't like to make those public. If you have any questions about how to use the site, leave a comment here and we'll help! – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL May 28 '18 at 21:03

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