The Mule II
Meet my new best friend, The Mule II.
Based on a Kronan Duo chassis with an Alu-box aluminum, waterproof box it incorporates a few changes from the first Mule. Changes that I discovered might be a good idea during the test-walk.
Probably the most obvious change is going from three wheels to four. Strange as it may seem, it is actually possible to have a smaller chassis (length vise) with four wheels. The other benefit is that you have only two wheel tracks as opposed to three, making it easier to straddle road irregularities. That was actually a bit of a problem with the Mule I, when I had to walk along the edge of a paved road the rear wheels were one on the pavement and one off, with the front wheel skidding up and down and making tracking awkward. A possible advantage that I haven’t tried yet, is that if one wheel breaks it should be possible to continue with just the three remaining wheels. A bit of weight redistribution would hopefully result in a reasonably stable platform.
The Alu-box was one of the really great things on the old Mule, watertight and rugged and it is retained on the Mule II, but the box is now slightly larger. Not really sure if I need the extra size,81 liter as opposed to 72, but it allows me to keep some more gear out of the rain. One big change is that the box now sits higher and there is a storage area under it. The Mule I had the box mounted low and extra equipment (tent ect) in a waterproof (supposedly) base-camp bag on top. The result was that every time I wanted to access something in the box,I had to remove the bag first (or try to balance it as I reached in under it). Much more of a hassle than I had anticipated. The original thinking was to keep the center of gravity as low as possible, but I think that with the super stable Kronan chassis, the slightly higher placement will not be a problem.
The alu-box is mounted with quick removal fittings, allowing the chassis to be folded down quickly and easily. In fact, the chassis can be folded even when the box is in place.
Large 16″ pump-up wheels with proper bearings make sure that the Mule II rolls easily and give it reasonable terrain covering ability. I am not about to go mountaineering with it, but some off-roading should be completely ok.
All in all it is a much more rugged design than the original Mule and I don’t have any reservations about it lasting all the way to Sydney.