If you love hiking and backpacking but find it uncomfortable or even painful to carry a backpack all day, this hiking trailer may be your solution, as it has been mine.
The Trekker’s Friend is a lightweight hiking trailer that you can use to wheel your pack on easier terrain. When wheeling your pack, your hiking poles form part of the frame.
When the terrain is too rough/slippery/crowded for the wheels to help you, you pick it up and carry it. It takes about a minute to switch between the two modes, and packs into a small daypack when not in use.
If you use it properly, you can walk only 2-4 kg on your body, even if your pack weighs much more. If feels like a daypack when used properly.
Carrying a pack all day always was a pain!
I started going on overnight hikes when I was around 15 years old. Over more than four decades I have bushwalked many places in Australia, backpacked in Europe, hillwalked in Scotland, trekked in Nepal, and tramped in New Zealand. I have always loved the freedom and peace that comes with exploring the outdoors.
But I’ve always found carrying a heavy backpack for long periods uncomfortable. I tried many different packs, and got gear that was as light as possible, but before long, my pack always became uncomfortable. No matter how many different combinations of tightening and loosening the straps and buckles on my backpack I tried, nothing worked.
While I was walking and thinking about a solution I noticed that:
- Most walks I did had long sections on good tracks such as management trails, and other parts on small foot tracks or no tracks at all
- While hiking poles are helpful on steep, slippery and narrow trails, I don’t find they help much on good trails
- Many trips involve a variety of types of transport such as cars, planes, trains and buses as well as walking.
So, around 2005, I began experimenting with various devices I’d made, often taking them on long walks to really test them. I finally came up with the first version that I could make available to others in 2019.
The solution: hiking’s a breeze with the Trekker’s Friend hiking trailer!
- Like a friend, it carries your pack for you when it can, and you carry it when the going is too rough for it
- It’s more comfortable, easier, faster and cooler to wheel your load than carry it
- When the terrain becomes very rough, steep, slippery, narrow or crowded you can detach the hiking poles and put your pack on your back, using your hiking poles to assist walking as usual
- You can convert between carrying and wheeling your pack in about a minute
- When you aren’t using it, it fits into a small daypack which is easy to travel with
- The harness has removable shoulder straps so you can pull the hiking trailer with just the waist belt if you like.
What users say about the Trekker’s Friend hiking trailer
An independent review of the Trekker’s Friend was performed in December 2021. This review said, amongst other things:
“Well, I’ve got to be honest, when first hearing about this hiking trailer I was sceptical but after using it I was almost instantly sold on how easy it was to carry my pack using the trekkers friend compared to on my back as I usually would.”Read the review here
Answers to frequently asked questions
- The standard Trekker’s Friend weighs approx 1.8 kg
- The Trekker’s Friend does not include the backpack or hiking poles
- The Trekker’s Friend works with most backpacks but is best with backpacks with internal frames or no frame. It may not work well with backpacks that have an external frame, depending on the architecture
- The axle on the Trekker’s Friend needs to fit your backpack so that your backpack does not touch the wheels. Many backpacks fit the standard size (ie. up to 35 cm when packed) but you should measure the base of your backpack to choose the right size Trekker’s Friend. See here for information on how to do this
- Hiking poles used with the Trekker’s Friend should be as strong and rigid as possible – aluminium 7075 hiking poles seem to work the best. See here for more information about hiking poles
- The Trekker’s Friend is made to carry loads of up to 25 kg
- Wheeling your backpack helps you most on smoother surfaces. As the ground becomes rougher, more slippery, more crowded, or very steep, you should pick it up and carry it, using your trekking poles to assist walking as usual. Conversion between wheeling and carrying modes takes around one minute and is described here.
See here for more answers to common questions.
Less energy expended, faster walking
Many people have found that using a hiking trailer in the right terrain allows you to walk more easily, with less injuries, and cooler.
I have measured the effects on walking of carrying loads vs. wheeling them on the Trekker’s Friend hiking trailer and reported my findings in detail here. In overview, I found the following:
With my backpack on the Trekker’s Friend, my energy consumption was always less than when carrying my pack, and did not change much as the pack weight increased from 8 kg to 23 kg. When I was carrying it, however, my energy consumption per km steadily increased as the pack weight increased.
With my backpack on the Trekker’s Friend, my walking speed was always faster than when carrying my pack, and did not change much as the pack weight increased from 8 kg to 23 kg. When I was carrying it, however, my walking speed steadily decreased as the pack weight increased.
This is my own research, with me, the inventor of the Trekker’s Friend being both the subject of the tests and the analyser of the results. They are not commercial claims, but do represent my best efforts, and they accord with other people’s experience.
What you get
More detail on how each piece and how it is used can be found here.
Top piece (value: AU$60)
The top piece is made of a single piece of aluminium tube with attachments including 3-D printed nylon (plastic) ends. It is connected to the bottom piece with a central webbing strap which goes around the centre of your backpack. Two side straps also attach it to your backpack. Two attached shock cords are used to tie your hiking poles into the plastic ends when wheeling your backpack.
Bottom piece (value: AU$120)
Wheels (value: AU$30)
Harness (value: AU$60)
The harness has two shoulder straps and a wide waist belt. It connects to your trekking poles using two small ‘snap hook’ carabiners and a simple suspension system to pull your backpack along on wheels. You can distribute the weight between your shoulders and waist as you walk, and can remove the shoulder straps entirely to walk for longer periods just using the waist belt.
Daypack (value: AU$60)
The daypack is made of 210D Cordura Nylon and is custom-made to attach to the bottom piece and your backpack and carry weight, thereby balancing your load better and taking more weight off your body. The daypack has an internal pocket and is useful to have on your journey to use as a normal daypack. The daypack can be packed into its own internal pocket when not in use.
Small parts (value: AU$20)
- 3 R-clips. One is used to attach each wheel, and there is a spare
- 6 pairs of washers. One pair is used to attach each wheel, and there is a spare pair
- A custom-made strap for attaching the Trekker’s Friend daypack to your backpack, which goes from the hand grip of the daypack to the handgrip of your backpack.
Support (value: AU$50)
I am so sure that you will love the Trekker’s Friend, that, if you change your mind, please let me know via the get in contact page, explaining the situation. Then post it back to me within 30 days of delivery and I will refund the purchase price and all shipping costs.
If any component breaks within 90 days of delivery, during normal use as described on the Trekker’s Friend website (i.e. with a backpack weighing up to 25 kg on reasonably smooth surfaces), please let me know via the get in contact page, explaining the issue. I will then send you a replacement part, at no cost to you.
If any part is lost or damaged during shipping, or if it is not as pictured and described on this website, please let me know via the get in contact page, explaining the issue. I will then send you a replacement part, at no cost to you.
See here for further details on terms and conditions.
Total value: AU$400. Our standard price: AU$280.
As shown above, the total value of the Trekker’s Friend is AU$400. This represents many years work developing and testing prototypes to find the best combination of weight and utility. However, the standard price we sell it for is AU$280 (approx 70% of the value), with a money-back guarantee.
The Trekker’s Friend is the cheapest and lightest hiking trailer that I can find on the internet at the time of writing, which is May 2022. It has a normal price of AU$280 and a weight of 1.8 kg for the standard version. The next lightest and cheapest hiking trailer I could find on the internet at the time of writing was the Dixon Rollerpack “50 lb unit”, which weighs 3.4 kg (7.5 lbs) and costs AU$560 (US$395) – almost double the weight and twice the normal price of the Trekker’s Friend.
Buy it now!
- Trekker's Friend hiking trailer (backpack-width: Standard - up to 35cm) — $280.00
- Trekker's Friend hiking trailer (backpack-width: Large - up to 40cm) — $280.00
- Trekker's Friend hiking trailer (backpack-width: XL - up to 45cm) — $280.00