Cone solar power for hiking concept

Idea for adaption of ultra efficient solar power harvester for hikers

Sketch of a V3Solar power generator mounted on a backpack - drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Portable, direction independent Solar power for hikers idea sketch based on the V3Solar cone

Self driving wheel backpacks

Backpack with wheels innovation

Text and drawings by Frits Ahlefeldt,

The backpacks we use today are (almost) identical to the ones yesterday, just slightly better. Suitcases have in the same time gone through a revolution… Nobody carry those any more, the suitcase has evolved wheels, so now everybody push their suitcase instead. Could we see terrain going wheeled backpacks soon? Making the same innovation leap, and could it be that we don’t even have to push them the day after tomorrow? 

Walking with a dog is great, so great that a few tech companies have started to make digital dogs, that you don’t have to come home to, but can still take for a walk. These digital “dogs” might even show you new trails and get you safe home before the rain.

Combining this technology into something that can carry your luggage too won’t be a huge step, and sure someone will think about doing that soon.

Just sketched up a couple of drawing of how I imagine those things might look…

Concept for a self driving backpack
My rough idea sketch for a self driving backpack
illustration of a girl walking with a self-driving backpack
Girl hiking with a GPS guided self-driving backpack

Of course there could be unseen challenges in this, like you being delayed because your backpack got into a fight with a local lawn-mover robot…

Concept for solar powered vertical farming eco house

Sustainable architecture can – and need to be designed much more extreme

Drawing, concept and text by Frits Ahlefeldt,

With more and more people on the planet we need to rethink the ways we build cities and use resources, three things that can be combined in a new generation of architecture are:

concept drawing of an extreme green building with solar power, rain water collection and vertical wall gardens
Extreme green eco building concept
  1. Solar powered roofs
    This is going mainstream with a lot of huge global companies investing money in new kind of energy collecting roofs
  2. Integrated food production
    With new technology, vertical gardens, and better monitored farming, it is possible to grow a lot of food on and around a house. The benefits are many, from saving money, getting better relationships, better health, reduced stress and reconnecting much better to our food and at the same time reduce the load we place on the rest of the planet.
  3. Using roofs to collect rain water
    This has not been much used yet in modern architecture, but it can help buffer the water flow of the cities and stop flooding, by working almost as a kind of sponge, securing water under heavy rain and extreme weather, and then slowly releasing the water, for plant and food growth.

Concept sketch of one of a billion ways a green house could look

Here is just a fast concept sketch where I work with how these three elements, solar roofs, water collection and growing food might be combined

Drawing of a green eco house with solar cells, water reservoir and vertical gardens
Combining solar power, water collection, food growing and social space in architecture

Finding new ways of designing houses and cities is part of the work to take pressure of the landscapes to help thrive, biodiversity and sustainability at the same time

Daydreaming up radical sustainable architecture

Sometimes my concepts for eco-futuristic new building types looks weird

Sketching up sustainable cities, between the hiking trails
Concept, idea and text / drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Not really sure how I came up with this, wanted to integrate an urban farming idea, with a water-reservoir / pool, using the water from the roof, and then feeding a cascade of water running down the side of the building to make it more self sufficient in providing its own food… because if the cities can provide more of their own food, the surrounding landscapes can be used for other things 🙂 

Drawing of a radical green urban eco house by Frits ahlefeldt
Urban farming concept with its own rainwater supplied pool

wheelchair for hiking research sketches

Ideas for getting out in nature and come along hiking for people who need to use a wheelchair

Research sketches by Frits Ahlefeldt, part of the Wheel-hiking research project

Hiking can sprout innovation in many ways, one of them is to find new ways to keep getting out in the landscapes and nature using innovative kinds of wheelchairs.

There are many types of terrain going wheel chairs, both electrical and non-electrical and here are research drawings of a few of those wheelchair types that could be interesting to look at when heading out on hiking trails:

Drawing of a bike like electrical wheelchair for trail use
The Boma7 electrical off-road vehicle


Non electrical trail use wheelchairs
Examples of trail-use wheelchairs: the Black Carbon and the Hippo-Campo

Links to two non-electrical wheelchair like vehicles:

Black Carbon Wheelchair:

HippoCampo wheelchair:

Drawing of a electrical caterpillar vehicle
Der Ziesel – electrical, caterpillar sitting-vehicle, for off-road use


Drawing of a 4 wheel drive wheelchair
The terrain 4×4 Viking electrical wheelchair


One wheel wheelchair for the trails
The Joëllette one wheel wheelchair for hiking – electrical and non electrical versions

The Joëlette wheelchair link:

Innovation of wheel-hiking vehicles

Hiking is in many ways sparking innovation, the above concepts for trail going wheelchairs is just one example, and there are many back-country trails where these wheelchairs would work fine, also this is a new way of using wheels out on the trails. On some sensitive soils it will not be a good idea, but on many park, forest and low-land trails, and on coastal trails these new wheel-based hiking vehicles can make hiking experiences much more accessible to  people who need some assistance to follow the trails.

Research drawings and text by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Future Hiking Rain gear Research

Rain clothes for extreme weather sketches

Drawing and text by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Drawing of an origami looking hiking rain dress
Idea for an origami / Veasyble inspired rain-coat

The weather of the future might be very different from the weather we are used to, when out on the hiking trails. Climate experts talk about “extreme weather” with huge and sudden changes in weather patterns and amounts of rain. I have looked at and sketched up examples of how we humans traditionally designed rain clothes, and how some designers are finding new ways  to do it, proposing radical and new designs for the future:

See the Project and sketched examples traditional and future rain gear for hiking here

Leaf clothes to keep the rain out

Leaf Garments – sustainable hiking gear research

Rainjacket poncho type, made of leaves
Natural Leaf raincoat Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Drawings and text by Frits Ahlefeldt

Leaf garments are known from cultures all over the world.  Natural straw and fibers can be woven together – an much of the clothes we wear originates from these kind of garments. But in some places and some indigenous people still  know the art of using materials straight from the plants, as garments

Many of these garments are used mainly for celebrations, ritual and special occasions, but others have more practical functions, like to make people become one with the surrounding landscapes. (Soldiers and hunting people use camouflage a lot) Other designs and groups use natural leaves as portable weather shelters, that are both beautiful, simple and 100 % natural.

illustration of person in leaf clothes
Dressed in leaves Watercolor sketch by Frits Ahlefeldt

Traditional straw garment raincoat Asia

Sustainable hemp rain clothing from the old days

Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Traditional hemp clothing illustration
Traditional hemp rain coat from Asia. Hiking Research Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Just a fast research sketch of how people used the materials around them to weave multi-layered clothing to withstand the elements way before Goretex, laminated stitches and nano-technology was a must for any people being outdoors


Kepenek Hiking rain gear inspiration

The Kepenek a Turkish shepherd garment

Text and sketch by Frits Ahlefeldt,

drawing of Turkish Kepenek Shepherd garment wool felt
Kepenek – traditional Turkish Shepherd garment. Sketch by Frits Ahlefeldt, CreativeCommons License By-NC-ND

Researching high-tech innovation ideas for hiking rain gear I stumbled across a strange looking traditional felted wool dress, that works both as a windproof and (to a limit ) waterproof outer garment, without stitches, zippers or other mechanical things. Just plain wool felt, in a shape optimized through countless generations of shepherd use in the landscapes and mountains of Turkey  

The traditional people of cultures long forgotten have in many locations spend centuries perfecting their garments to be in balance and long lasting use in harsh conditions. Exactly the conditions that hiking gear designers hope their equipment will have a chance to survive in. The Turkish Kepenek is one of the examples I have come across on my research

The Kepenek is made of plain felted wool, in a shape that make it useful not only when walking and standing, but also for sitting, taking a nap or surviving a night in cold  and stormy conditions, when it is not possible to make it home. In many ways a great example of design tested by time and made entirely of renewable, local resources… and looking great in a strange, timeless, out of this world, way.

It has a multi-functional, no fuzz, design that solve some of the challenges modern outdoor designers have a hard time to get around, I can’t help to think about how much we can learn from the designs of traditional cultures – even if these designs have to be adjusted for modern use.

The Kepenek can do things most modern hiking gear fails to do: its felted wool is both weather-proof and at least as important, it is still warm when wet, don’t have to be washed or impregnated ( it is self-cleaning and natural water repellent ) And more it has a natural isolation, even when compressed, so you can sit or lay on it and still keep warm,  and it can be used and adjusted in many ways – and even shared for survival in extreme weather.

Sketch for a lagoon shaped off-shore wind turbine maximizing biodiversity

Sustainable wind power for remote shelters idea

Wind powered charging, biodiversity and shelters for hikers

By Frits Ahlefeldt,

Hiking in remote areas off grid can be a challenge for hikers depending on GPS powered maps, smartphones and other digital devices that both make hiking more secure and make it easier for rescue teams to find people in trouble – But one of the huge challenges is how to design and develop solutions that can power the off-grid shelters and huts where the hikers sleep,  with electricity – Not only in sustainable ways but also in ways that helps nature and biodiversity. I set myself the challenge to sketch up ideas for a biodiversity friendly wind turbine today

design for a biodiversity wind turbine
Sketch of coastal shelter with a off-shore wind island

I was wondering about charging hiking-gear today, when planning a coastal hike I came to think about if it was possible to design a off-grid power-solution for hikers, the hikers didn’t have to carry themselves.  On coastal trails hikers follows remote small trails and often windy beaches between the sleeping areas – I decided to brainstorm on a few designs where I would try to combine the traditional off-shore wind turbine with an upgrade making it boost, not only hikers, but also biodiversity

When out hiking I have seen many off-shore wind-turbines, huge industrial structures, not very nature-friendly, but they are creating sustainable electricity, and electricity is something more and more hikers are depending on out on the trails.

In the future this will be even more necessary as maps and networks all will be digitized. But there are also other things that is good about creating solutions for hikers to charge their devices along the trails.

If there is free charging of gear in the designated camp-areas people will be more likely to use them, and it will create a synergy where social life, thrive, hikers relating and being aware of other hikers will make both the trail-life better, and the problem of litter, accidents, forest fires etc. less a risk.

The other thing is that if something works for hikers out on the trails it might also work for a lot of other people too: both for the cities, the poor countries and the people living in nature far away from the grid in sustainable ways.

So I took out my pencil and began sketching up ideas for sustainable off-shore, biodiversity friendly wind-turbines. Structures that could produce electricity and also work as nurseries for fish, birds and sea mammals like seals and sea otters. Design ideas to boost biodiversity, safety and hiking at the same time.

First I worked with using an already existing, classic wind-turbine structure – upgrading it for better biodiversity:

off shore wind turbine with biodiversity boosting add on
Upgrading existing design with biodiversity structure

Then I thought maybe it would be possible to design a structure that would always turn to the wind, and at the same time give wind shelter for birds and mammals away from the wind:

Concept for a floating wind turbine with biodiversity
Floating wind turbine designed to maximize biodiversity on the structure

Then I thought maybe it would be possible to design the structure to work as a light-weight bow, turning with the wind and with places for plants and birds, fish and mammals too:

Drawing of a biodiversity wind turbine shaped as a bow
Bow shaped floating off-shore wind turbine with biodiversity habitat on the whole structure

Then I came to think of the coral atolls and lagoons, with their special protected habitat areas in a zone between the inner and outer structure. A place where fragile lifeforms and young individuals can find protection from predators and storms.  Sketched this wind turbine up as a floating build island and colored it up in red and white to make it a landmark for hikers too, so they can see where the shelter is from afar.

Sketch for a lagoon shaped off-shore wind turbine maximizing biodiversity
Lagoon version of floating biodiversity wind turbine design

I know there are a lot of designs for sustainable solutions, individual solar chargers, spare batteries for hikers out on the marked. But just wondered if we could design something that would make it possible to hike ultra light and just meet up with the other hikers in the evening. sharing stories and also being able to charge the digital devices that we all are getting more and more depending on.

The drawings / ideas are free to use under CreativeCommons license.

Text, ideas, thoughts and drawings by Frits Ahlefeldt,