"Towable backpack" gets an aluminum frame and a big, fat tire
Nine years ago, we heard about a towable backpack setup known as the Monowalker Hikingtrailer. Well, a new version is now being crowdfunded, and it's claimed to be sturdier, more adjustable, and capable of carrying even more gear.
Just to recap, the original German-made Hikingtrailer looked kind of like a wheelbarrow that was pulled along behind the user. That person loaded their backpack onto the device's bent ash-wood frame, grabbed its two handles at either side of their waist, then set about walking.
This system reportedly resulted in their body only taking half as much weight as it would with a regular backpack. The remainder of the weight was distributed through an included hip belt and padded shoulder belt. As a result, the user's arms weren't overburdened, plus they could let go of the handles without dropping everything.
The new version is called the Fatmate, and it features several key improvements.
First of all, the frame is now made of telescoping 7020 aircraft aluminum alloy tubing. This allows its length and handle width to be adjusted for differently sized users, with the tubes being locked in place using bicycle seatpost clamps. The aluminum is reportedly also stronger than the wood, letting the trailer carry even more weight – up to 50 kg (110 lb).
Additionally, buyers can opt for a cargo rack that sits over the wheel, which bicycle panniers can be attached to. This means that users can either tow up to 30 kg (66 lb) more gear, or lessen the weight on their body by transferring gear from the backpack and into the panniers.
What's more, the part of the frame that encompasses the wheel can quickly be detached from the rest of the frame, making the whole thing easier to store and transport between hikes. This function also allows the whole thing to be worn like a traditional backpack, when towing just isn't feasible.
Finally, as its name implies, the Fatmate has a 20 x 4-inch fat tire that's better for going over soft surfaces such as snow or sand. That tire is protected against punctures by a Kevlar liner, and is mounted on a wheel that features an Alex Blizzerk 90 rim, a unique sealed hub that uses a porous polymer to dispense lubricant onto the bearings, and a mechanical disc brake that's operated by a lever on the trailer's left handle.
As mentioned, the Monowalker Fatmate is currently the subject of an Indiegogo campaign. Assuming it reaches production, a pledge of €999 (about US$1,121) will get you a basic setup (planned retail €1,055/$1,183), with €1,280 ($1,436) required for a package that includes a rear rack (retail €1,350/$1,514). A pack is available as an optional extra, or backers can just supply their own.
Fatmate inventor Kai Fuchs demonstrates his device in the following video.