Innovation project – Wheelhiking – Using Burley Travoy bike trailer for hiking

Hiking with a Burley Travoy to design a way to put a backpack on wheels

Text, sketches and other images by Frits Ahlefeldt, Hiking.org

For years I have been researching different systems and ways of putting wheels on backpacks. Something many ultra long distance hikers do to lighten the load on month or years of hiking. Many ultra long trail hikers create their own charts with wheels, other use elements from all-ready existing systems, baby-joggers or bike trailers. For the last around 3-4 years I have more and more been using a combination of a Burley Travoy Bike trailer and a backpack here is what I have learned:

here is first a short 2 min. video of how I use the Burley Travoy with a pack, both rolling it and carrying it as a backpack:

How the Travoy wheel backpack works

The Burley Travoy is a standard and very light, bike trailer that can be packed to a small size, it is made by the American company Burley it costs around 250 USD

I managed to attach a standard backpack to the Travoy without any adjustments. I am using an Osprey Aether 60 at the moment and the compression straps of the backpack fits right onto the Travoy so I don’t need any additional adjustments

Burley Travoy with backpack ( Osprey ) Sideview
The backpack attached with the compression straps, to the Burley Travoy
The backpack on the Burley Travoy is easy to take on and off

Backpack both to carry and wheel

What I really like about the Travoy is that the backpack can not only be wheeled, but also carried, and I can change between carrying the backpack and rolling it in less than 10 seconds. It makes it possible for me to move through varied terrain, up stairs, over boulders and cross streams without much trouble

Light compact wheel system ( 4kg / 10 Lb )
Another cool thing about the Travoy is that it can be folded and dismantled so it can even ( they say ) fit into the small space above passenger seats on a flight, though I am not sure the crew would be so happy to see it being rolled on to the plane

Both backpack and wheels can be used separately

Another thing I liked is that I can quick remove the backpack from the Travoy, so I can use it alone, for situations, distances where I want to only use the pack for a few days

Challenges with the Travoy

I’ve had a few damages, mostly because I am kind of rough to my equipment, but it still works. On some trails it will not make any sense, especially on very narrow or rough trails, with little else.

System for attaching the Travoy to a belt for keeping arms free

Some of the other systems for rolling backpacks use a belt, so the hiker can keep the arms free. Among the most promising systems that might be usable for the Travoy are the ones used by long distance skiers, to pull their gear after them on sledges. Such a system might work well with the Travoy, making it even better to use

My conclusion so far about using the Burley Travoy with a backpack for hiking

I think the system has a lot of potential, and that with a few adjustments ( like protecting the backpack from the wheels ) the system can help open up a new way to use backpacks for a lot of people from pro photographers with heavy equipment, elderly, ultra long hikers and parents that not only have to carry their own gear but also gear for their kids. It is a different way to combine using both a backpack and rolling it the places where there is no need to carry it.

Who knows maybe, like twenty years ago no suitcases had wheels, maybe in the future we will see more systems like this:

Drawing showing a biketrailer and backpack working together as a backpack on wheels, sketch by Frits Ahlefeldt
Burley Travoy and backpack wheelhiking system sketch by Frits Ahlefeldt

I think with a few adjustments this Burley Travoy / backpack combination could become a very unique and innovative backpack hiker system to use on a lot of cultural trails, like the Camino de Santiago or other easy to hike very long lowland and coastal trails.

Frits Ahlefeldt with Travoy and backpack
Me, Frits Ahlefeldt, with the Travoy, two backpacks and my two kids walking along… The Travoy wheelhiking system can be carried with an additional backpack, if you really want to test the capacity you can carry,  like I do here. Recommend taking along less gear than this 🙂