|Schwinn Little Ranger Bicycle Trailer/Stroller|
I bought one of these yesterday at Target for $94.99. It was marked down from $189.99. Today, I tossed my backpacking gear in it in a haphazard manner and went for a walk. Wow! It was awesome! (Ok, so awesome is overused by writers today, but it really was AWESOME!)
I took a quick five mile hike on the four lane. Pushing it was like pushing nothing at all. Yes I did notice it a little going up hills, but it was easier than carrying a pack. After a mile or two, I forgot it was there. But wait! That's not all! There was something even MORE amazing, if that is possible.
My Fitbit pedometer measures my stride rate. Usually, it is from 115 to 120 when I'm not using a click track on an audio book. Pushing the cart increased my stride rate from a low of 120 to a blistering high of 128 steps per minute. When I looked back, there was even smoke rising from the pavement! Minor exaggeration. The extra speed is only about 1/4 mph, which isn't significant. What is significant is that from past experimentation, I learned that when the stride rate is higher the effort is less if I'm letting the increased stride rate occur naturally.
The walk on the left was a five and a half mile walk this morning without pushing the cart. The lows were sometimes caused by stopping to take pictures, so they averaged about 560 to 605 steps every five minutes. The walk on the right is approximately the same route. It was a little shorter at five miles. The pace ranged from 605 steps each five minutes to 643 steps each five minutes. Keep in mind, I'd already walked eight miles before the second walk, so theoretically it would be a bit higher if it was the first walk of the day.
The paradox is it seems to take LESS energy to walk pushing the cart than to walk without pushing it. I'll have to test this more thoroughly, but there is a logical explanation. A study showed that Kenyan women walked more efficiently carrying a jug of water or a bundle of sticks on their head. The reason was the shift in the center of gravity allowed their legs to work at 85% efficiency instead of the 65% efficiency they had without the load. 65% is normal efficiency for most people. My theory is that pushing cart causes the center of gravity to move so the legs are more efficient.
So, is the cart practical? I've only had it one day, so I can't predict how it will last. I think I'll have to change the front wheel to one that is more durable, but I'll wait and see on that. I'll also replace the tubes with hard tubes so the tires won't go flat. The cart is rated for 80 pounds, but I think that is stretching the limit due to the material on the bottom. 50 pounds is probably more like it. There is plenty of space, so a person doesn't have to worry too much about bulk. That allows for more options in buying inexpensive gear. I don't see where I would carry more than 20 pounds plus food and water. 25 pounds would be a more normal load depending on the distance between resupply points.
With the cart, I can seriously start planning some overnight trips. I probably won't stealth camp. There is a town about 21 miles from here that allows camping in their city park. They even have rest rooms and I think showers.
For some reason, I've nicknamed the cart "The Cadillac." It seems luxurious compared to carrying a pack. I don't even like Cadillacs, but I think the name will stick. I'll have to add some personal touches like a water bottle holder. Maybe one day, I'll add GPS and a solar panel.