BREYDON’s wheelchair trials for ease of trekking

Saturday 27 March 2021.
Updated 12 October 2022.

You might prefer manoeuverability and tight spaces.

1. Situation

Compared with the pokey indoors, there is a contrasting set of considerations for unpaved terrain, longer distances and hilly places.

Even in smooth, flat neighbourhoods, safe trekking is important, whether popping out for a stroll, commuting, or simply getting around a large site (for instance doing field‐work, exploring a museum, or penetrating an immense shopping complex). Sure, think anywhere that heavy mobility scooters or fussy powerchairs might whizz without incident — but don’t neglect a world beyond, in which those would be only more hindrance.

At a minimum, my ordinary routine is rounded out with gardening well off‐piste, travelling through fields and forests, playing with my dog at the park or beach, going bushwalking, and dreaming of taking outdoorsy gigs. I don’t want a mobility device to restore precious tastes of passions past. I am here to become more involved than before.

2. Qualities

Here, these qualities are the most important:

  • stability and traction on uneven, slippery and soft ground
  • minimal strain on shoulders
  • high torque, low gear
  • easy slowing and stopping
  • cruisey jogging pace on the flat
  • capacity to lug stuff
  • opportunities to change seating position

3. Features

These are the ideal features:

  • lever‐drive system
  • long wheelbase or wide wheel track
  • three strong wheels, in appropriate big sizes and materials
  • readily appliable braking system
  • substantial ground‐clearance
  • possibly a little little bit of controlled suspension — flexy metal, balloon tyres, or actual systems — I’m not sure exactly yet; lacking diverse enough first-hand experience of this to be certain even for me
  • excellent ventilation for strenuous use
  • adequate space to bundle up in warm layers of clothing or blankets
  • seat back, bucket, etc that support/enforce good posture
  • suitable places to attach harnesses or supports — trunk and head being especially important in remote or risky environments
  • multiple foot positions for switching stance
  • thick pressure cushion(s)
  • solid seat that will not sag over time
  • robust or easily replaced sideguards
  • wherever there is a choice, parts should not be adorned, wrapped, drenched, or coated in anything that will be sloughing off much (or harmfully) into the environment, even from a chair under extreme and persistent force…

While the last point is an important consideration with all products, this category involves drive chains, electrical systems, vast impact areas and exposure to the elements at an intensity completely alien to the typical day chair. Ensure that it will be possible to avoid lubricants containing petrochemicals or P.T.F.E., to keep batteries from leaking, to stop hand grips from perishing, to prevent glittery paint from ripping into cellular structures (by circumventing its production in the first place), and so on.

4. Candidates for ease of trekking

Chairs incorporating levers:

  1. Mountain Trike eTrike
  2. Leveraged Freedom Chair
  3. Mountain Trike MT Evo
  4. Mountain Trike Mountain Trike
  5. GRIT Freedom Chair Pro
  6. GRIT Freedom Chair Spartan

Chairs lacking levers of their own:

  1. Ram Overlander
  2. Motivation Rough Terrain
  3. Motivation Pioneer
  4. Lasher Sport BT-X
  5. Trekinetic GTE
  6. RMA SK8R or similar plus a third wheel‐ or handcycle‐attachment such as the Stricker Lomo 360
  7. Freedomtrax FT2
  8. Trekinetc K2
  9. Box Beach Bomber / Trail Bomber

…And the occasional other.