Earlier this week I gave you tips on how to prepare for your first long distance walk and how to sustain the hike. I hope I was able to inspire you to at last give it a try. In case you are still worried about lugging all that baggage with you here is a quick fix. I invented it after I realised I needed a tent which, along with more food, took the weight of my backpack up to almost 13 kg.
The basic idea is to get weight off your shoulders. Here’s where as a woman you might actually have an advantage: we move some of the weight to your hips. And not only that: we leave some weight on the ground.
First you need a shopping trolley, the kind old ladies usually use. It doesn’t have to be super expensive. But I recommend a chrome frame over pure plastic. This lovely one, which I named Polly (you know, Polly, the trolley) cost me 25 Euro.
You also need a belt. The good news is that your backpack should have a hip belt that is both well padded and sturdy.
Finally you need a strong cord and a carabiner. My padlock came with a metal wire which I didn’t really know what to do with before. Luckily I’ve kept it. This one also has loops on either end which is useful to attach the wire in the front.
I always carry a few small carabiners with me. In the picture you see the carabiner that came with my trolley. It did not last very long. So it’s better to pay for a bit of quality. If you search on amazon you can get a reasonable quality for less than 5 Euros per carabiner.
Now attach the cord (or wire) to the belt. When doing so remember that you want to get the weight off your back and onto your hips. So the further to the right and left of the belt the better. Keep one end just long enough to pull it around to your front.
Wrap the remaining end around the handle of the trolley. It needs to be long enough to go around to your front so you can join it via the carabiner with the other end. But it also needs to be short enough that when you tilt the trolley it doesn’t drop too deeply and keeps kicking you in the back of the knee.
Below you see the quick fix I created leaving Metz. Within the following weeks I improved on my invention by swapping the trolley bag for a proper backpack trolley, changing the position of the wire in the backpack (I put holes into the little pockets that sit in the front of the hip belt and threaded the wire through those to have less strain on the back) and distributing my belongings between the pack on my back and the one on wheels.
Two wheels are fairly easy to manoeuvre but mean that even going downhill you never get the weight completely off your hips (and back). So if you have a bit more time and money look into vehicles with three wheels like a golf trolley.
Or build your own.
This handy little invention should only be added support, never lead you to going crazy in your packing. Not only do you still have to move the lot with your body force. You also might find yourself in a position where you have to lift the trolley and carry it after all. That is one of the reasons why I replaced the cheap trolley bag with a proper backpack.
Unfortunately Polly arrived in Biarritz in a very bad condition. The handle had broken. She stayed at the Auberge de Jeunesse in Anglet. She was a good companion, who helped me quite a bit through the rainy, rocky summer in France. RIP, Polly!