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Towed Cart vs Backpack for the VF route Canterbury - Besanco

Discussion in 'Equipment Questions' started by BobM, Mar 11, 2011.

  1. BobM

    BobM Member

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    I want to walk from Canterbury for about 2 weeks+ towards Besancon.

    However, some of the via Francigena stages are too long for me (35km+) even with my light 7 or 8 kilo load.

    So, I was thinking of using one of those towed "carts" one sometimes sees pilgrims pulling along. In that way I could carry camping gear and extra food/water and be reasonably independent of shops and gites. Apart from the weight of the cart (which I don't know yet) I would be towing perhaps 15 - 20kg.

    The terrain for my route looks quite reasonable for a cart but the question is how the effort of towing compares with the effort of carrying a lighter load on the back.

    Has anyone got experience that might help my decision?

    Thx

    Bob M

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  2. newfydog

    newfydog Active Member Donating Member

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  3. William Marques

    William Marques Moderator Staff Member Donating Member

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    Bob I do not have cart experience but I do know that section of the VF well so I can help on the terrain which is either flat or rolling countryside. At a recent meeting between a number of VF veterans we were talking about the efforts that the locals are making to way-mark the VF for their own benefit. In other words taking a pilgrimage route which should be relatively direct and making it into a series of pleasant day walks which are nice on their own but which add much time and distance to the route. Much of the original route is along roads and country lanes so would be good for a cart, the revised routes are very much cross country and for this reason I would invest in a guide by Paul Chinn and Babette Gallard or by Alison Raju (when available). This is especially relevant for this section of the route.
  4. sillydoll

    sillydoll Active Member

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    I included a link to the Carrix on my blog post about backpacks.

    "I bought the Carrix as I could no longer carry a backpack. This means that when the going is to steep, or the rocks too big or too loose, I cannot put the sac and Carrix on my back. Accordingly, where the guide book says the Camino stage is unsuitable for cyclists and they should take to the road, so do I, walking on the left towards the approaching traffic." http://carrix.ch.tripod.com/

    Since then I had this comment on the blog:
    Picasa album for hikers who want to know more about the help system to port Carrix.
    Your back also has the right to be on vacation.

    https://picasaweb.google.com/1128523521 ... xEnVoyage#
  5. falcon269

    falcon269 No commercial interests Donating Member

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  6. BobM

    BobM Member

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    Thx so much for the pics. Worth many thousand words. Human inventiveness never ceases to amaze me :D Using the walking poles as part of the towing apparatus is wonderfully elegant.

    Bob M
  7. BobM

    BobM Member

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    Thx, William. I have the Paul Chinn & Babette Gallard guide and it was very helpful in planning my stages. I have had some very useful email exchanges with Paul as well. I also posted some review comments on the guide in the long distance forum.

    I have worked out stages to suit my daily walking style, but they sometimes end in very small villages/hameaux where there is only one place for accommodation or only a campsite. So, unless one books a long time in advance, the risk is that no accommodation will be available and one then must walk a further 15-20 km that day. BTW, I can post a spreadsheet with those stages and a few accommodation weblinks if anyone is interested.

    Also, water points and food stores seem sparse, meaning that I would need to carry more water and food, adding a few kilos to the load.

    Those are the thoughts that turned me to the idea of using a cart and being able to take a heavier load.

    Bob M
  8. BobM

    BobM Member

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    Wow! :D Thx so much. This information is extremely helpful, especially all those wonderful pics of the Carrix in action in all terrains/conditions.

    I must try to contact the maker or some users and find out what the actual effort of using the Carrix is like.

    I am much obliged to you, as usual.

    Bob M
  9. BobM

    BobM Member

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    Thx. Both the Carrix and Dixon have homed in on one-wheel designs, which also intuitively seems the best approach.

    BTW, Toulouse Lautrec also said "the true measure of greatness is not found on a yardstick" Being short myself, I find Lautrec's observation to be very true. :)

    Bob M
  10. BobM

    BobM Member

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    I did some more research on the Dixon website, and the "Customer comments" webpage was most helpful. See:
    http://dixonrollerpack.com/19904.html

    One user said: "The best feature of the roller pack is the halving of the weight of your pack. The maker says a 40 pound pack will put 18 pounds on the hipbelt."

    That answers my main question. So if I tow 20kg, it will feel like a 9kg backpack - which is roughly what I would normally carry.

    But I suspect it is not quite so simple, especially on climbs. If I remember my high school physics correctly, it takes the same amount of energy to raise a given weight through a given height regardless if the weight is carried or towed. Then there is the extra effort of physically pulling the load over rocks and other obstacles on the track that one would simply step over with a backpack.

    Anyway, I am very optimistic about this solution, but maybe time is too short to get a cart and do some trial walks before end April. Using a cart and taking camping gear requires going back to square one so far as figuring out optimum loads, water proofing etc, and getting the feel of the beast on uphills and rocky terrain.

    Bob M
  11. sillydoll

    sillydoll Active Member

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  12. sillydoll

    sillydoll Active Member

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    Received this email from a backpacker in Tasmania.

    http://www.prohikeaustralia.com.au
  13. BobM

    BobM Member

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    Thx, Sil

    The big problem with carts is the cost. The local Carrix "agent" sells the cart & pack for $A995. It's completely unrealistic to pay that much. The cheapest of the same design is the US-based Dixon, which sells for $US295 (the very top end of what I would pay). A Dutch 2-wheel design (Wheelie) sells for 570Euro.

    There is certainly a problem with the stability of one-wheel designs, and users comment on it, saying that great care is required to pack a balanced load. Maybe the Tasmania person has solved that problem, but his design introduces other problems on steep or rough terrain. Anyway, I will contact him to get more information.

    So, what I thought would be a simple (cheap!) solution is proving anything but. Especially when one really needs to see a unit before buying to judge quality and sturdiness.

    Maybe I should just get that bionic knee implant instead :D

    Regards

    Bob M
  14. sillydoll

    sillydoll Active Member

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    Or employ a Sherpa!! :D
    (One that carries lunch as well)

    Attached Files:

  15. BobM

    BobM Member

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    That brings back memories :D Nepalese porters are absolutely incredible and often don't get sufficient credit for their work. They are often small men, wearing sandals (as in the pic), and carry loads up to 100kg at high altitudes (over 4000 metres). A trekking porter is expected to carry the loads of two clients, up to 50kg with the better trekking companies and much more for unscrupulous operators.

    They typically use a "tump line" to carry the weight, unlike the porter in the pic who is using a conventional harness - probably because he is carrying bulky sleeping gear and a tump line would unbalance the load (it extends far above his head)

    The tump line takes the full weight on the forehead. If the porter falls, the load can be very quickly jettisoned, reducing the risk to the porter.

    At first sight, a tump line seems stupid because of the shear forces exerted on the neck vertebrae. But these people are not stupid. They may be very poor, but they are not stupid.

    If you watch a skilled porter in action, he walks bent over, and there is actually a fairly straight line along the spine from the forehead, through the neck and down the body, with the load borne on the lower back and hips. Experience has taught him how to work with minimum effort and risk of injury.

    Even sandals make sense, because they are flexible and allow the foot to expand and contract greatly under very heavy loads. A rigid hiking boot might actually cause foot injuries. Also, flexible sandals allow the porter to "feel" the ground and give him better footing and balance. Some of the better trekking companies provide porters with boots, but they very often get sold in markets as the porter often prefers sandals.

    Nepalese porters are wonderful people and it is a privilege to have spent some time with them in the Himalayas.

    Bob M
  16. BobM

    BobM Member

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    I have done some more thinking about the extra weight involved in towing a cart and camping. Here are some numbers (kg):

    "Carrix" towing cart & pack 5.40
    Extra water (clean, reserve) 2.00
    Tent & groundsheet 1.90
    Food reserve (2 days) 1.00
    Liquid fuel for stove 0.80
    Outdoor sleeping bag 0.80
    Cookset, stove ("Trangia") 0.72
    "Thermarest" under sleeping bag 0.70
    Lamp 0.50
    Trowel or spike to bury waste 0.20
    Detergent 0.20
    Pillow 0.20
    Army Knife, fork, spoon 0.10
    Cup 0.04

    All up, it would be 14.56kg, quite substantial. Of course, one could skimp on the reserve of food and water if supplies were plentiful on the route. You may not need a groundsheet, nor a pillow, nor a "thermarest" to sleep on. But to be reasonably self-contained and comfortable the extra weight is definitely significant.

    Even towing on the flat requires effort. Think of pulling an automobile along :D

    And the more I think about it, I suspect the effort of pulling a load uphill over onbstacles is just as great (probably greater) than carrying the load and stepping over obstacles. The advantage of a cart is that the stress on the knees is not so great because of the different gait and body motions involved in pulling.

    Hope this is useful.

    Bob M
  17. BobM

    BobM Member

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    I have toyed with the idea of making my own cart and here are a few general thoughts I had re design that might interest others thinking of making their own cart.

    One-wheel designs have a stability problem on uneven terrain (if the load in the pack is not balanced) according to some users. Two-wheel designs are more stable, but the harness needs to be flexible to cater for twisting and turning of the cart about its long axis (if that makes sense!) on rough terrain. For a two-wheel design you would not want the poles fixed rigidly to the waist-band. There has to be some give.

    Having a flexible harness seems important (Ie the poles are not fixed to the waist), so that the cart and the body can move reasonably independently. If the link is too rigid, your gait might have to alter. If you look at the Carrix design especially, its harness is very flexible and the user only touches the poles to restore stability.

    I have seen a couple of videos where a cart has a sort of stop-go motion on flat ground in rhythm with the walker's gait. That could take a bit of getting used to if it is out of synch with the body (ie stopping you when you want to take a step forward).

    You need a decent size wheel, say 20cm in diameter and as wide as possible, to cater for obstacles on the path. In fact, I thought of using a ball instead of a wheel because it might be easier on rough terrain and might also be more stable as the cart tilts.

    If a wheel tilts, it will fall over, but a ball will just roll on its side and still support the load. Of course, a solid ball would be quite heavy, but one could get a hollow ball and fill it with that expandable polyurethane foam builders use to fill gaps around window frames etc.

    Anyway, just a few thoughts that I hope might be useful to any inventive spirits among us.

    Bob M
  18. sillydoll

    sillydoll Active Member

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    The first Camino video I bought was made by an American guy who made a cart to walk the Camino. He lost wheels a couple of time and had to repair the axle but he seemed to have managed with it.
    You can order it here:
    http://www.caminovideo.com/

    The man and his cart in the mud.

    Attached Files:

  19. BobM

    BobM Member

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    I have had a look at another cart, the Trackmate, which is another variant on the single-wheel style. See: http://www.prohikeaustralia.com.au/index.html
    It costs $A565, which is above my $300 limit.

    However the design has a few novel features that can be seen in the videos on the website.

    The vertical placement of the pack and the horizontal handles aim to eliminate any weight on the user on flat terrain to reduce fatigue.

    The cart can be converted into a comfortable chair (see videos) for use in camp. There is also a small table attachment.

    The weight of the cart is about the same as other carts I have looked at (3 - 4 kg excluding the actual pack)

    Stability of the single-wheel design is enhanced by having towing poles instead of a flexible harness, but this is also a significant disadvantage because the cart has to be always pulled along by the arms. That could be quite fatiguing on rough terrain and on long pilgrimages. It looks easy in the videos, but I have my doubts. I think a harness is essential for a cart.

    On flat terrain all these designs will probably work well, but the real test is how they perform on climbs and on rough, stony terrain - of which there is plenty on pilgrimage routes (one must suffer, after all - that's part of the whole idea).

    I had a quick look for "hiking carts" on ebay, hoping for a cheap used cart, but no luck. Only golf carts, shopping carts etc.

    So that is pretty much the end of my investigations. The only cart that is less than $300 is the US Dixon one-wheel design. It would be my choice if I had to pick one out of a catalogue.

    I have had no chance to actually try out any of the designs (nor any experience with carts), so I am going on theory and user remarks on the various websites.

    I still think that the single-wheel designs are better for all terrains and stiff climbs, but in view of comments about their poor stability in rough going I no longer rule out two-wheel designs, such as the Dutch "Wheelie" (https://www.radicaldesign.nl/en/product ... g-trailers). Unfortunately it costs 529Euros.

    I hope this is useful.

    Bob M
  20. Corwen

    Corwen New Member

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    I seem a little late replying to this but only just spotted the topic.

    My partner Kate and I walked to Santiago a few years ago with a two wheeled handcart we made ourselves. Actually we didn't handcart all the way, we walked as far as Estella (from home in england via Weymouth and st Malo) and sent the cart home at that point as we didn't need it once we'd joined the main route and were using the Pilgrim infrastructure.

    I can recommend handcarting but I'm not sure I'd use a two wheeled cart if I were doing it again. A one wheeled cart would let you walk on the footpaths which would be greatly preferable to walking on the roads, though that said a lot of French minor roads are very peaceful and we rarely felt hard done by being forced onto them. One reason for walking on the footpaths rather than the roads is that the road routes may be longer on occassion, though navigating intelligently and choosing your route to trim unnecessary distance is always sensible however you travel especially as the GR routes are often oddly and pointlessly circuitous.

    Making a one wheeled cart from the front forks of a bicycle seems possible for little cost if you are reasonably handy, aluminium tubing is available from B&Q and something primitive but effective could be knocked together with bolts and jubilee clips fairly quickly I reckon... Our handcart took just a few hours to make, though I'd have made it much lighter were I doing the trip again. Still it was an adventure! It was possible to both push and pull ours which allowed for changing muscles and of course walking with a second person meant 50% of the time we were walking unladen.

    The handcart has one massive advantage, there is no weight on your body and pulling or pushing a load is much more comfortable than carrying it and enormously better on the feet.

    We found the biggest benefit was being able to carry enough food and water for a whole day or even two, which allowed us to avoid going through places if that saved us time and also meant we could free camp. We free camped all the way through France and rarely found an open campsite or official Pilgrim accommodation until we got to Dax and joined an official route.

    Perhaps you should think about free camping as an alternative to either long days or carrying a handcart? Or maybe handcart and free camp? Once you decide to camp in woods or whatever you are free to determine the distance you walk each day to suit yourself. It can be a little nerve wracking if you are in a very open landscape and night is coming on, but we did always find somewhere in the end and actually had some great experiences and hospitality!
  21. BobM

    BobM Member

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    Corwen's post is very helpful and detailed. Much obliged.
    I have a few questions:
    What size wheels did you use?
    Roughly how much weight did you have on the cart?
    How easy did you find the cart when going uphill?

    BTW, I am thinking of buying the Dixon one-wheel design. The maker can tailor the harness to my build. The cart comes apart so it can be packed compactly as aircraft checkin baggage. Also shipping costs to Australia are "only" about $A40.

    Unfortunately I don't have the tools to make my own, so I am stuck with commercial designs.

    Regards

    Bob M
  22. Corwen

    Corwen New Member

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    Glad to help!

    I believe Perdrix has 16" wheels, its the back half of an adult sized tricycle. These wheels are big enough for kerbs but not too big to get in the way or weigh more than they need. I think the wheels on the carrix and the dixon both look a little small, though perhaps in a one wheel cart that helps with centre of gravity and wobble. Because of this I'd go with the Dixon over all, the Carrix wheel is so small it looks like it would bang into every rock and kerb.

    Far far too much. It was an experiment in nomadic living, at least initially, so we took musical instruments and lots of stuff we didn't really need. It was also April when we left and we didn't know anything about gear or lightweight camping at this point! We sent loads of stuff home, by the end of the handcart phase I reckon just the wooden frame of perdrix weighed more than what we were hauling on it! We also often carried 10 litres of water. However the fact that we were so heavily laden and still managed all the way to Estella shows what a mechanical advantage a cart gives you, it would have taken 5 people to carry that load on their backs...

    Surprisingly easy on all but the steepest hill. Being able to stop and rest without bearing any load is an advantage too on a steep hill. Hills are tough with a pack or with a handcart, but a lightweight handcart would be easier than a pack. The advantage is lost when the terrain becomes rough and rocky though, manhandling our big cart over rocks was a pain, and we broke odd bits of the frame a couple of times on particularly bad stretches where the camino was diverted up mountainous footpaths because of motorway construction near Pamplona. A one wheeler would be a big advantage on this sort of terrain, though it better be tough!

    The Dixon looks like the best of the commercial ones. I have a cheap one wheeled bike trailer from Edinburgh bike co-op I think I'd use to make one, just take off the hinged bit that goes on the bike, jubilee clip a couple of hazel poles to it for handles and off we go!

    Great epic journeys are possible with handcarts, just check out this guy:
    http://www.odysseyxxi.com/

    or Rosie Swale who walked around the world, at times pulling a handcart big enough to sleep in:

    http://www.rosiearoundtheworld.co.uk/

    Makes our little trip seem completely insignificant!

    http://www.caminodesantiago.me/camino-w ... p/Handcart

    I am a great fan of the cart!
  23. BobM

    BobM Member

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    Thx again, Corwen. Some people do truly incredible walks. The websites above are great, especially the last one where you give very practical experience. I found it the most credible of all. There are great videos etc on the websites of makers like Carrix, Dixon, but they are all designed to sell their products. That's not a crime, but it makes it hard for novice "carters" to sort out hype from fact. Your comments on rough/steep paths confirm my own thoughts.

    I ruled out the Carrix design because of its very high cost.

    BTW here is a very novel design:
    http://www.prohikeaustralia.com.au/
    I have exchanged quite a few emails with the builder (Patric Roberts) who is extremely helpful, but the design seems unsuitable for rocky, steep terrain where you really need your hands free. But human progress comes from innovation and risk-taking, so good luck to all inventors and experimenters!

    I have pondered the risk of theft of a cart, since it has to be left outside overnight, like a bike. I would take a lockable cable to secure the cart overnight, same as a bike.

    There is always a temptation to load up on "luxuries" with a cart. I did a packing list (camping out) for a cart without any optimising. It came to 25kg, including the 5kg weight of a cart, 2kg water and 1kg food - but no luxuries. The optimised load came to 15kg, which apparently would feel like a pack of about 8kg.

    Bob M
  24. Corwen

    Corwen New Member

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    I'm not convinced of the need for a hands free design, after all we are going walking not climbing and I don't remember anywhere on the Camino or even Olav's Way needing my hands to get up a slope. I think I'd prefer to use my hands to pull, the upper body, shoulders and arms are designed to pull loads and act as shock absorbers too, isolating loads from the vulnerable lower back. I'm not sure I'd like a design where the load was tethered directly to my lower back.

    If you look at those websites you see everyone settles on the same sort of design, a wide low design with a low centre of gravity. Single wheeled bicycle trailers are also designed to be as low as possible, otherwise most of the work is done keeping the thing upright, so I really don't like that Trackmate which looks like it might work in an airport but not on a mountain. Dixon's design looks good because it has a decent sized wheel and the load is kept as low as possible.

    If I were making one now I'd make a lightweight wheelbarrow with a small bike wheel and paniers slung either side of the wheel as well as slung between the pulling poles to keep the weight as low as possible and as centred on the wheel as possible. I'd make the handles long enough so it could be pushed or pulled without getting in the way of the legs. A harness could be made for this sort of design, but being able to put the thing down is actually a major advantage over a pack and you'd lose that if you had a harness! It would really be very easy to make this sort of design and you might even be able to persuade your local bike shop to make one for you if they are competent mechanics. How much time do you have left before you plan to leave?

    A 15 kilo load on level ground or downhill will actually feel completely effortless, like it isn't there, only uphill will you notice the drag.
  25. BobM

    BobM Member

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    Excuse messy edits - I have not figured out how to make my comments stand out in quoted text! Too busy thinking about carts :)

    Last year I came across a very steep, muddy descent on the Le Puy route. Rails had been erected to assist walkers. I definitely needed a free hand there for safety. Of course, with a cart, one would be more conscious in advance in choosing routes, and might tend to prefer bikeable routes, rather than routes that are marginally cartable. I generally like at least one free hand for a walking pole to assist my balance and reduce effort on steep, rough terrain. Of course, experience is the best guide and I defer to yours, not having used a cart yet! Some sort of quick-release harness might be helpful to jettison the cart in a fall. That's one reason Nepali porters use "tump lines" across the forehead to carry their loads. It looks completely crazy the first time you see it, but these people are not stupid, and when you look carefully at how the work, it is biomechanically very efficient. The load is not actually taken on the cervical part of the spine, it is actually borne on the hips and the legs

    Your comments on the biomechanics of the body are spot on. A pulling motion on steep terrain is biomechanically more efficient than an upright gait with a load. Look how easily(?) strong men tow buses in exhibitions of strength, and the technique they use.

    A common point made by one-wheel cart users is the need to have the load well-centred. The design of the Dickson cart facilitates that, I think.

    I waa hoping to get away this year, but time has run out to get a cart and test it myself. So it looks like May next year for the VF.

    Regards

    Bob M
  26. michaeljo

    michaeljo New Member

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    ihave research agolf trolleys but none give a guide as to strength akak robustness to tackle a 1000k walk but some fold up to just of lap top size i trawling site if a pilgrims have uses the golf option, any viw before i start the seville route will be appreciated march 2012 :!: :shock: :oops:
  27. BobM

    BobM Member

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    Reliability is an important thing to look for. If your cart and its heavy load fails in some remote area, then its a case of "Houston, we have a problem!"

    You really need to see the actual cart to judge reliability, or see good quality closeup pics of key parts of the cart. Here are a few things to look for:
    (1) Welding of the frame can fail. Welding of thin metal components causes metallurgical changes and introduces stresses that become weak points. Proper post-weld heat treatment can correct these problems, but I would be amazed if the manufacturer/welder bothered to go to the extra trouble for a consumer product. Ideally, you want the fewest welds possible on tubing and other light components, because they will be potential failure points.
    (2) Look especially at how the wheel axle is attached to the frame, because that is where most of the stress will be concentrated.
    (3) Also look how robust all other joints are where components fold etc. You want plenty of metal around all joints.

    I guess the bottom line is that the lighter and more foldable the cart is, the less robust it will be because there are more joints to fail. The cart should look simple and rugged, not complicated and flimsy. It will flex many thousand times going over all sorts of terrain on a very long walk.

    Hope that is useful. It would be great if other users could post actual failure experiences. Some folk have made carts that failed, and their experiennce would be especially useful.

    Bob M
  28. BobM

    BobM Member

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    It looks fantastic but is too complicated.

    It has an inflatable wheel, which means carrying tools, repair kit and pump.

    It has brakes, which are a good idea for heavy loads on descents, but it is too much extra complexity and stuff to go wrong, not to mention added weight of the components. Better to take a load light enough to be safely controlled without brakes.

    Also no pulling harness, only handles.

    Bob M
  29. David

    David Active Member Donating Member

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    What a brilliant and fascinating thread!

    "But I suspect it is not quite so simple, especially on climbs. If I remember my high school physics correctly, it takes the same amount of energy to raise a given weight through a given height regardless if the weight is carried or towed. Then there is the extra effort of physically pulling the load over rocks and other obstacles on the track that one would simply step over with a backpack."

    Unfortunately so, you cannot cheat physics .. however you do it, if your load is 20 kgs and you rise 100 metres you have the same energy expenditure whether you are carrying, towing, or cycling ... and with cycling you have to include the extra weight of the bike ..... though ... you can cheat the effort of course, cycles have gears so that the effort is reduced to a comfortable level by reducing the distance moved for that effort amount ... feels easier but it is the same energy expenditure overall. We do the same when walking uphill by reducing our step length. Shorten the step by half and slow down by half and any hill can be walked with a load without seeming too difficult, the steeper the hill the shorter the steps .... etc

    I do like the idea of a cart but am surprised that the military don't ever use such an option, what is the drawback that they see?

    Never having used one I do have some concern about walking near the edges of paths with drops into the void and also travelling down steep hills. I wouldn't like to be strapped to a cart in those situations - imagine stumbling and being pushed forward by the cart :shock: ... though, I suppose that one can reverse it and have the cart in front of one, hand held, on a descent?

    I met an old couple in their 70's some years ago with a large long cart, big alloy wheels, cycle wheels I think. It was packed with all sorts of things, including a tent and full camping kit, radio, pots and pans, small stove, etc. They were an Anglo-German couple (English occupation soldier meets young German girl after the war, love blossoms) and had been walking for years, since they had retired. They lived in Germany and had walked from there (I met them in Spain on the Frances somewhere before Burgos) and were really just walkers walking. They set up camp when they wanted to stop, always clearing camp and taking their rubbish away. If not an apparent place on the Camino they would ask a farmer for permission.
    The man did the pulling and he wore a harness that went down from his shoulders - similar to the stretcher harness worn in Lourdes - the handles sort of freely dropped into loops and he used his hands to pull and control, saying that it originally came with a waist belt fitting but he preferred to not be strapped in. He let me have a go with it and although this was level terrain (a Roman track) I was astounded at how balanced it was and how effortless to move it.

    The thing about that couple, that old couple, is that they were so happy, so content, so relaxed and friendly ..... I think the cart had a lot to do with that, bodies free and light and able to carry a mini-home with them - marvellous!

    I suppose one could have an extending one? ... pull out the back and there would be a sleeping platform ... moving into covered wagons here but without the mules - oh, I would be the mule! :|
  30. bromeliad

    bromeliad New Member

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    mmm... I saw a few people pulling carts along the way:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nosdamonta ... 4162889226

    but I also saw them all ABANDONED at some albergue later, harnesses and all!

    one guy I spoke to told me it was too cumbersome and that carrying a pack was much easier after all.
  31. David

    David Active Member Donating Member

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    Interesting .. suggests that they are worth it for large loads and for people with back problems but not for those carrying an ordinary weight backpack?
  32. BobM

    BobM Member

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    Excuse my extensive edits in the quote.

    The military are very conservative & also like to keep things simple! A fit soldier can carry 25kg on operations, so a cart is not "needed" - just like the British Navy abjured preventatives for scurvy for many decades after the cause was clearly established. No pampering the people, if you please!

    However a more telling reason is tactical. A platoon towing carts will be more obvious to the enemy and will be limited to towable (and ambushable) routes, rather than being able to patrol in the desired formation away from risky routes. In a contact, one can dive to cover more easily with a pack than a cart.

    But having said that, there is a sort of precedent. In WW2 Japanese soldiers were able to advance very quickly down the Malayan peninsula partly by using bicycles to move themselves and their gear. The advantages of mobility and surprise outfoxed the ossified Generals of the day.

    The concern about being strapped into a harness on dangerous terrain is worth considering. I am starting to have second thoughts myself. The idea of a "drop-in" harness is excellent if it allows quick jettisoning of the cart.

    I have trekked with Nepali porters who use "tump lines" across their heads to carry their loads (often 50kg, sometimes closer to 100kg) over steep terrain at all altitudes. Tump lines are biomechanically efficient, although they look crazy and neck-damaging on first sight! Porters may be poor, but they are not stupid.

    In a fall, the porter has some chance of jettisoning the load and avoiding serious injury - something that would be impossible strapped into a conventional pack harness.

    Unfortunately a tump line would not be a good idea for a towed cart.

    Have a look at the webpage below (or Google) for more on tump lines.
    http://nwwoodsman.com/Articles/Tumpline.html

    Bob M
  33. hampshire!tim

    hampshire!tim Member Donating Member

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    If cost is an issue , golf bag cart ??
  34. BobM

    BobM Member

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    I bought a Dixon cart but decided after a couple of trials not to use it on the VF from Canterbury and sold it on eBay.

    A cart would be great on paved or very good paths but not on hills or rocky terrain or in the mud-all of which occur on the VF. They involve a lot of effort when the going is difficult.

    I think they are also more suited to very short trips of maybe a week.

    Of course if one's back is not great a cart might mean being able to do walks that might otherwise not be possible.

    Bob M
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  35. David

    David Active Member Donating Member

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    That chap who just ran across Canada, coast to coast, pushed a kart in front of him - though he was on paved roads all the way.
    The plains Indians had the best idea, the travois - but pulled by a pony, not by themselves! Thing is, you can't fool the laws of physics. If your load weighs 10 kilos and you walk up a 1000 feet hill you have lifted that 10 kilos vertically 1000 feet - just because it is done on a slope doesn't change that. So, if a kart weighs 10 kilos and the load weighs 10 kilos it will seem fine on the level but rising that 1000 feet will mean one has carried 20 kilos vertically that 1000 feet .... the same if one is 10 kilos overweight ... same with using a bicycle, you have to add in the weight of the bicycle .. it is only the gearing that allows the feat to seem easy - mass is mass, gravity is gravity - the overall effort is the same.
  36. Klintonian

    Klintonian New Member

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    Really great thread I had to jump in on! Sad to hear Dixon failed your test... Looked intriguing.
    My thoughts are on the www.packwheel.com, thought I wanted it strapped in but totally agree it could get dangerous fast so this option looks appealing.

    What intrigues me with the packwheel?
    -brakes
    -front load layout can easily leverage gear like bike panniers
    -historically design based (see Chinese wheelbarrow) which most intrigues me that they realize the weight can not be high on the wheel because that would make it too tippy... Best is low center if gravity BeSide the wheel
    -150lb capacity

    Concerns are air in tire = chance for flat and Narrow wheel could mean nasty mud sinkage

    Most surprising part is there are plenty of YouTube videos where they show this bring pushed up pretty intense hills.

    The only question is could the incline be sustained...
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  37. BobM

    BobM Member

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    The big problem on long walks over rough ground, including ascents, would be the pushing action. Ergonomically a towing action is more efficient. Imagine how your arms would feel after a day pushing the cart uphill over rough ground even if the load is balanced over the wheel.

    Bob M
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  38. BobM

    BobM Member

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    One advantage of a pushed cart vs a towed cart is that you can see exactly where you have to move the wheel to choose the easiest way over rough ground.

    It's not so easy with a towed cart where you can't see the wheel. In my few trials with the Dixon cart it took some time to get used to making wide turns on sharp bends, plus getting to know where the wheel was and making adjustments to where I should walk to avoid the wheel hitting obstacles.

    Bob M
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