Taking a weight off your shoulders

Braving the elements and getting close to Nature can be an enlightening experience, especially for children. But proper planning is crucial.

In a self-built house in Switzerland, near the Italian border, using state-of-the-art technology to minimize energy consumption, live energy engineer Stefan Markert, his wife Mirjam Haag and their four children. They are an eco-conscious family with a story to tell.


This summer, the family enjoyed a magical three-month adventure trek along the “La Grande Traversata delle Alpi” (GTA) mountain trail. The 900-kilometer route from Switzerland to the Mediterranean, passes from one valley to another, on tracks that often date back to Roman times. “We wanted to escape society’s materialism and stress, but also show our children how fragile the Earth is,” says Markert. “Sometimes, it was three days before we reached civilization. I was carrying a daily 40-kilogram load for our family including tent, rolling mats, sleeping bags, clothes, food and medical supplies.”


To manage this load, Markert tried the Monowalker Fatmate, a customized, one-wheel, all-terrain hiking cart. It relies on Nord-Lock wedge-locking washers to secure all bolted joints and to guarantee that no bolt comes loose when in use – maybe in a remote location. The washers make it easy to disassemble the Fatmate whenever you need to stop and rest. You unscrew the bolts and collapse the cart. You can reassemble it in seconds. Better still – the washers can be reused several times without any problems. The brilliance of the Fatmate is its ability to displace weight. The wheel bears 50 percent of the load, with the other 50 percent carried by super-light aluminum handles. The handles are supported by carabiners which clip onto a waist harness.


Markert used an additional rack, fixed above the trailer wheel axle, with side panniers carrying 20 kilograms of gear, reducing weight on the handles and harness by another 20 percent. “We had snow, ice, wind and blazing sun, with temperatures from zero to 42°, and sometimes gruelling terrain,” he says, “but the Fatmate managed everything. It took a load off my mind – and my shoulders too.”


Company: Monowalker design

Location: Germany

Product: Monowalker fatmate, A 9-kg all-terrain hiking cart

The solution: All components screws onto the monowalker fatmate are fitted with Nord-Lock washers

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