A sort of alternative to the common backpack, the Armadillo EVS trailer gives you the ability to haul gear over virtually any type of surface on Earth. Not only does this modular trailer strap to your back, but it rolls, skis and floats. Haul it with muscle power and carry everything you need far beyond the borders of civilization.
The Armadillo is an innovative combination of several pieces of gear, some fairly common, some not so much. It's part bike trailer, part cross country ski sled, part AETEM-style waterproof sea backpack and part MONOWALKER-like, man-powered hiking/walking trailer.
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The first seeds for the Armadillo trailer were planted back in 2001. Just a few years before the folks at AETEM started seatrekking, Armadillo inventor Sebastian Schweizer imagined a similar activity he called aquatrekking. He envisioned carrying camping gear on swimming/snorkeling adventures in a floating pack, allowing those adventures to last days on end. Unlike AETEM's floatable dry pack design, Schweizer's Aquatrekker V2 design was more like a small, open boat with an elastic cargo net to secure dry bags and other gear. It doubled as a backpack on land with securable shoulder straps and hip belt.
A full 10 years later, Schweizer applied his idea to land, developing an all-terrain, six-wheeled gear trailer for beach-bound backpacking. The half dozen large wheels spread the weight over a larger surface area and rolled nimbly over the sand to prevent the sinking and slogging involved with carrying a heavy backpack. Schweizer called this new model Armadillo.
Schweizer wasn't done innovating just yet. Two years later, he realized that his two previous designs were destined to be combined into one. On a trip through the Swiss Alps, he thought up the idea of creating a multifunctional wheeled land car, floating water trailer, pulka sled, bike trailer and backpack – a gear hauler for all trips, all terrains, all conditions. He got to work on the design and began beta testing the Armadillo EVS (Ex Voto Suscepto) about a year ago.
Schweizer calls it "Armadilling," a multi-activity discipline that involves getting out and exploring land, sea and snow by foot, bike, ski or swim fin. The Armadillo EVS has modular components to adapt to each method of travel. You can pull it while hiking or skiing, float it over the water, tow it behind your bike or carry it on your back.
The basic 92-liter (24.3-US gal) Armadillo tub comes in both fiberglass and carbon-Kevlar constructions and can be used with or without the trilaminated PVC soft lid. The individual components are sold separately, so you can outfit it exactly how you want to use it. Create a bike cart with the bike tow bar and 20-in bike wheels, a sled with the cart/sled tow bar and polyethylene plate, a "man hauled cart" with the same cart/sled tow bar and small cart wheels, a backpack with the shoulder straps and hip belt, and/or a boat with the boat tow harness and skeg.
When we first came across the Armadillo EVS, prices were listed on the website at €385 for the basic fiberglass tub and €500 for the carbon-Kevlar model, with components quickly driving total cost into the four figures for a fully outfitted land-water-snow model. Those prices have since been replaced with "price to be defined," so it seems like pricing is being restructured.
Hauling a big composite gear tub into the wilderness for days on end seems like something that will only appeal to a very select group of people. Schweizer seems to recognize this and is more concerned with getting people into the activity than with making millions off of gear sales. His website includes information about and links to competitor cart systems, including the aforementioned MONOWALKER, along with a look at past expeditions that have included various types of carts and trailers.
Armadillo's website even goes so far as to suggest that buying an Armadillo is best left to those that don't have enough time, motivation or DIY skills to build one themselves. The company offers free building plans right next to its price sheet. So with a bit of time, material and building skill, you can construct your very own all-terrain man/bike/sled trailer.
Offering free plans is part of the open source "de-engineering" approach that Armadillo hopes will foster a community of passionate Armadillers. It's been careful to select common commercial components that should be easy to repair and replace with standard tools. It imagines the Armadillo evolving as its community builds and improves upon the basic design. Armadillo also plans to develop an open source electronic ecosystem that supports various sensors and components, such as a GPS, electronic compass, weather sensors, interior water detection alert system, and inclination alert that warns the user when a steep slope presents the risk of capsizing.
In addition to being used in a recreational capacity for backpacking, bicycle touring and aquatrekking, the Armadillo can be used as an emergency preparation tool. Its designers imagine it as a more rugged, versatile form of "bug out" bag. It can be stocked with survival supplies directly or used to haul a separate bug out bag over rough, varied terrain.
The idea of a bug out/recreational all-terrain man cart isn't one that we can see taking off, but it is always cool to see an innovative product designed to adapt to all kinds of rugged outdoor environments. We also like the passion and open-source approach behind the Armadillo. Armadilling might not be the next huge thing in outdoor recreation, but the Armadillo is a pretty cool option for those looking for a versatile way of supporting multi-sport, multi-day wilderness adventures.
The video below shows the Armadillo EVS working its way over and through all types of terrain.