The evolution of the Mule
The Mule and I have now walked more than 5000km together and I thought I would post about what has worked and the things that have changed for the better.
I put a fair bit of thought into how I wanted the Mule to work, and I was glad to have had the test-walk behind me. After all, 1800km does equal a lot of experience.
Key qualities of any cart used for such a long and varied walk include being narrow enough to fit through a standard door frame, small enough to fit the kind of tiny elevator often found in older buildings and being able too be folded together to enable transport in cars, buses, trains and planes.
Large wheels that roll easily and have proper bearings and a generally rugged construction are also important. All without being too heavy.
The first Mule was a very special, hand-built, one off and the more I considered this, the more I realized that it was stupid. What if it was stolen, or wrecked? What if I suddenly needed spare parts?
Much better to use a standard cart that could easily be replaced (not that I ever want to do that) and had parts available on demand.
I did a lot of research, even bought a few different carts secondhand to try and finally settled on a Kronan Sulky chassis as being close to perfect. Especially with the accessory 16″ wheels.
In the interest of total disclosure, I was given the chassis, but only after I already had decided that is what I wanted and approached Kronan asking if they would considered sponsoring me.
As a sidenote, I managed to sell the other secondhand carts for a very slight profit!
The chassis has worked beautifully and been without fault, despite some severe overloading at times. The only thing to wear out, has been the rubber handgrips, now replaced with handlebar tape.
The Mule might be thought to be unnecessarily large, especially considering the general minimalistic theme of the-walk. But there is a good reason.
It is made to be able to carry lots, and I mean lots, of water. We will be passing through some very dry (desert) areas and as I have always planned the-walk to be unsupported, I need to be able to carry plenty of water. Note that the water is carried low, under the alu-box, for a low center of gravity.
At the moment the tent, tarp and cell-foam sleeping pad are under the alu-box but can be moved either into or on top of the box leaving room for up to 30 liters of water.
I have had a lot of questions about choice of using an alu-box instead of a waterproof bag or backpack. The reason is that it is guaranteed to be waterproof and is lockable. Not only that, it is actually almost as light as a comparable waterproof bag and I suspect that it is infinitely more durable.
I also have a feed bag. 🙂
It is a waterproof bicycle pannier that hangs from one of my walking-sticks, is easily accessible and will work as a bear-bag when I reach America. I’ll write more about the walking-sticks and multiple uses of equipment in a future post (possibly a video).
I’ve written about the jolly motion accessory arms before and I use them all the time. I have modified them a bit, largely because I constantly overload them. Thomas made me some custom aluminum clamps to replace the standard plastic ones and that made all the difference.
If you have read this far, it is now time for the most welcome change, one that I very much wish I had done right at the start. Fitting solid tyres!
The very kind people at www.smartadack.se have given me a set and I am looking forward to never having to fix another puncture. This is something I highly recommend for any cart being used for a long walk.
No doubt there will be other changes before the-walk is finished, but this setup is working very well as it is.
I hope to make a video where I go through the equipment I am using and how I pack it when I’m in Stockholm at the end of February so stay tuned for that, I just have to convince Robert to help me.