equipment reviews

eckla beach rolly

Eckla Beach Rolly is a lightweight cart that was primarily developed for transportation of water sports gear, such as canoes, cayaks, surfing boards, scuba diving equipment, etc. Quite recently it became popular among outdoor photographers. Now the Eckla Beach Rolly is available in most photo equipment shops worldwide.

It is a high-quality poduct manufactured in Germany. The cart is made of aircraft grade aluminum alloy — a very durable and lightweight material. The wheels are large. They are made of hard plastic and have pneumatic tires which make them extremely light too. The tire pressure can be adjusted like in bicycle wheels — with an air pump.

Eckla Beach Rolly assembled. In this position it can also be used as a chair.

When it is completeley assembled, the Eckla cart weighs about 4 kg. It may appear quite a lot, but actually it isn't if you consider that this cart can support up to 130 kg of load when used as a chair and at least 80 kg when it is moving. More than that, it wouldn't break when rolling off-road with such a load!

As a nature photographer, I often have to transport about 20 kg of photo equipment, as well as water, food and — when I am travelling far — also cloths, camping gear, etc. In the field I am either constantly moving the whole day long or often change the location. On longer trips, I change my base sometimes every day and have to move with all my luggage at a large distance.

Although I can get help in some countries, when I hire porters or a horse, more often I have to carry all my stuff myself. When the load exceeds my physical capacity, the Eckla Beach Rolly may be just what I need.

Eckla Beach Rolly disassembled for transportation in a car or luggage.

You can take the wheels off and fold it in less than a minute. In that state it can fit in any car. My biggest concern is however if I would be able to take it on airplane in checked luggage. When I received my Beach Rolly and assembled it, I noticed that it was more bulky than I had expected: The cart itself is about 50 cm wide but the axe is about 20 cm longer, so that its ends stand out on both sides. Thus, when the Beach Rolly is folded, it occupies the surface of approximately 70 x 70 cm. So much space will be needed in my luggage to transport it on flights.

The wheels are compact and feel really lightweight. The plastic they are made of is surprisingly stable: After more than six hours of rolling the cart off-road on very uneven and stony paths, I didn't find any signs of abrasion nor any other use signs on them except dirt. So was the rubber of the tires: The cart was loaded with at least 18 kg and the wheels were bumping on stones all the time, but the tires were looking after I washed them as if they were completely new.

An ideal use case of an Eckla Rolly, actually of almost any cart: a paved road. In Germany there are many such roads even in nature reserves. If you go mainly on them, the Eckla Beach Rolly is certainly a helpful companion.
This is me on this picture, and the load that is on Eckla is what I normally carry during my photo excursions. It was even a much less that time than usually because I had left all telephoto equipment at home. Nevertheless that were at least 16 kg that was transporting on me and on Eckla when this photo was taken.

It is very easy to move the Beach Rolly on an even terrain. It runs very smoothly and quietly. However, one needs to apply some phyisical effort to move the cart when the load is heavy. Long before I got my own Eckla cart, I was considering it as something that only older or physically weak people who can't carry heavy backpacks need. After I used the cart for the first time, I completely changed this opinion: It is not so easy to move even on a paved road when it is loaded with heavy stuff.

On a slope it gets even more difficult. This cart has no breaks, hence you have to apply much power not to let it roll down the slope. Downhill, it may even become particularly dangerous, because the cart, if it is heavy, may even tear you off your feed. Therefore, I am going to miss a hand break (like in a bicycle) in my Eckla Beach Rolly every time when I will be going with it up or down the slope of a mountain or a hill. Indeed, after pulling the Eckla up and down the hills in Fichtelgebirge my body and arms were aching the next day as if I had carried the whole stuff on my back.

A hard case, but Eckla can master it: a traktor trail overgrown with grass. It was very difficult to move the cart on that ground, it turned over a couple of times. However, I still think that using Eckla makes sense even on such terrain.

When rolling, the Eckla cart keeps the trail very well and doesn't overturn even on large bumps. The width of the axe is certainly of advantage. Sometimes the terrain may become impassable even for Eckla's large wheels. The only chance to continue the way is then to carry the cart and all its load till the track gets better. If the load is heavy, carrying may be very hard or impossible for one person, and two people may be necessary. Even if the load can be carried by one person, the quite bulky cart is difficult to lift and to hold in hands when carried even over a short distance. Shoulder straps like in backpack or similar kind of carrying aid are another thing that I am terribly missing in such situations.

I am going to update this report as soon as I have used the Eckla Beach Rolly longer.

October, 2011