Wood working15.09.2014

Monowalker revolutionises hiking

Monowalker Trailmate in action

Monowalker Trailmate in action

What do birch plywood from Hirvensalmi, Finland, and hiking have in common? Plywood is an essential part of a new aid for outdoor activities.

A German couple decides to go hiking in the Alps. The only problem is the large amount of gear needed and the weight of the backpacks. Many of us would give up at this point, but the resourceful German man starts to develop an aid for transporting all the gear needed while hiking.

This is how Monowalker Trailmate is born. It is a single-wheeled hiking trailer made out of Koskisen KoskiPly birch plywood that is easy to tow also in demanding terrain.
“I also tested a two-wheeled version, but I found that the single-wheeled version is much more agile on narrow trails and uneven terrain,” explains Kai Fuchs, the developer and founder of Monowalker.

The Monowalker Trailmate comes equipped with a discbrake for slowing down when going downhill, and a hip belt for attaching the trailer to yourself. Thanks to the belt, most of the weight rests on the lower body and your hands can rest on the wooden handles on either side and steer the trailer.

An entire product family to meet the needs of customers

Mr Fuchs spent three years developing the Monowalker hiking trailer. However, many of his customers wanted to combine hiking and biking, which inspired him to continue the development work. The end result is an entire product family of trailers, which can be used for different types of transport.

The Monowalker is built around a plywood platform, which can be converted into any of the Monowalker product family trailers: the Citymate, which can be used for transporting your shopping, the Cyclemate which can be attached behind your bike, the Travelmate for transporting luggage and the Mountainmate, an ergonomic rack for carrying, for example, your backpack on your back.

Mr Fuchs ended up using birch plywood due to its light weight, durability and eco-friendliness.
“We didn’t want the product to include material that could be harmful to the environment or human health anywhere in the world,” Mr Fuchs says.

At first the huge amount of different grades of plywood available caused a problem. During his research Mr Fuchs came across with Koskisen KoskiPly plywood, which is used in sailplanes, among other things.
“We use 15-mm-thick plywood with 30 layers of veneer. It makes for a sturdier platform than the traditional 15-mm-thick plywood with 12 to 15 layers of veneer, without the use of glass fibre or epoxy.”

Boosting sales through Kickstarter

There are Monowalker customers all over the world, some of whom have gone hiking for several months in Norway and Patagonia. The University of Melbourne/Virginia (Australia) uses the Monowalker Trailmate on its excavation sites, and the cameramen of nature documentaries transport their camera gear in the trailer. Families are also among the largest customer groups. The young company is eager to grow.

However, growth requires financing, and the company has decided to arrange it through Kickstarter, a global crowdfunding platform. In practice customers preorder a product that does not exist yet and in this way help the company secure sufficient funding for production.
“Crowdfunding is a great way of bringing your creative projects to life without major capital. For us it’s about starting the series production of Monowalker products instead of making prototypes,” Mr Fuchs says, shedding light on crowdfunding.

Mr Fuchs is confident that new customers will find the company through Kickstarter and appreciate its products. Monowalker is a highly ecological company that relies on European craftsmanship.
“90% of all the products’ parts are acquired from Europe. We’re very happy to have come across Koskisen who is able to supply us with plywood that perfectly meets our requirements. It’s nice to be able to combine a traditional raw material like birch plywood and modern-day top-of-the-line technology,” Mr Fuchs says, with pride in his voice.

Monowalker is planning to continue developing products aimed at hikers, hunters and other outdoor people.

See how Monowalker hiking trail works in action.

Monowalker Trailmate & Monowalker Cyclemate

Monowalker Trailmate (left.)  & Monowalker Cyclemate (right.)