01 June 2012

GEAR: the kayak sled by Hybrid

I busted my back lifting a kayak to my shoulders and carrying it to the beach.
X-rays revealed some spinal degeneration that apparently is caused by an accumulation of accidents.

The quack asked me:   "Have you had any falls on your back in your past, even as a child?"
Me:   "About one a year, if not more..."

The back injury is probably a manifestation of a life full of crashes on skis, motorcycles, mountain bikes and who knows what other back blows that I used to just shrug off when occurring. They are now catching up with me :-(
I am also sure that my current sedentary lifestyle (desk jockey) and lack of regular exercise during the week contribute to my now bad back. What bugs me is that I can't carry my kayak solo on my shoulders and look macho, even though I feel some of my kayaks are not exactly ultra light.
So, my back got bad again schlepping my boat across a bank of sand onto shore and into a back yard. Not a  long distance but long enough to compress my spine out of whack; I need a trolley even for that short of a stretch.
The kayak carts I have are bulkier than I would like; they also have wheels.
Wheels and the shallow small lagoon I have to cross don't mix: the axle would clog up and the bearing would suffer.
I then remembered attending a presentation at a kayak fest (NSWSKC Rock&Roll in 2009) where a kayak designer showcased a "sled" that required no wheels.

Hybrid kayak sled presented at Rock&Roll 2009
I needed something like that.
I contacted Andre Janecki, the brilliant designer behind the Hybrid 550 sea kayak and founder of the Hybrid Foundation. Andre has been tinkering and inventing all his life; his expertise spans from architecture to industrial design, including his passion for sea kayaking.
Andre is also a philanthropist seeking funds for producing a sea kayak that will enable wheel-chair bound paddlers to access the water unassisted, in a kayak. (More info here)

I asked Andre for details on the "sled" and he immediately offered to help sending me a new sample that he showcased a few years back.
Here is the "Kayak Sled"

sled mounted_c
Mounted on the stern, the bungee cords are not essential to the operation of the sled
Simple in design the sled is a good alternative to wheels, providing it doesn't get dragged over pavement too much. I would like to quote A. Einstein: "Anything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler"
It weights slightly more than a water bottle and takes almost no space inside the hatch, when folded.
It doesn't rust and costs so little to fabricate that even the kayaker on the tightest budget can afford.

Adventuretess testing the Hybrid Kayak Sled
While they are easy to replicate, Andre Janecki holds the copyright to the design. He is happy to share his invention with all paddlers who donate $25 into the Hybrid Foundation account.
Chasing up individuals that want to forego his request is not his intention but I am sure he would have a legal team onto a commercial operation trying to swipe his idea.
For exact dimensions and details, please email Andre Janecki and support his project.

Included are a few shots of the   "Kayak Sled" showing general proportion as well as some details of the design.
Hybrid kayak sled_2
The double (or single) rope (shown with the white plastic hook) should be securely clipped to the deck fitting/s
The 316 Stainless Steel screw is 60mm long x 5mm thick and the nut is the nylon-lock type.
The PVC tubes are standard stock size 25mm  O/D diameter, sourced from an electrical/plumbing supplier.
Kayak sled_1
The Hybrid kayak sled folded
The 25mm tubes are further stiffened with the 20mm inner tubes. Please note: the inner tubes run top and across to approx. 2/3rd length only. This configuration assists with bending and distributing the load as much as possible.
IMPORTANT: the cord exit point from the PVC tube should be against the hull

P.S. Of course, the cheap PVC tubes have only a very limited carry load capacity.
Andre informs me that the commercial version will use very different materials, including a custom made cross section, etc.



  1. The old ideas are the best eh?




  2. Not sure about a concept pre-dating the wheel being copyrightable.

    The reason for wheels is the lower friction and ability not to grind away after a couple of km on a hard surface.
    What is a recent development is the ability to use low friction abrasion resistant materials like Kevlar on the skids.

    Would be great to see a commercial product using carbon struts and Kevlar skids in a high tech adaptation.

    1. JM, I am not sure if Andre is trying to copyright the sled as we all know it or the application and design of this particular sled that is unique.
      I am sure there are tons of patents out there that involve the use of the wheel for example, but they don't concentrate on the concept of the wheel but its application and implementation in a design.
      Of course such discourse is probably fit for somebody that has legal knowledge of patents.
      I would also like to see a commercial version of this idea with high-tech materials but for now I find it so simple and replicable by most potential users making it accessible to just about anybody.
      I applaud Andre for sharing his idea with others.

  3. Hope your back will get better soon Damiano, because it may be a long time before my Kayak Sled will have a chance to be listed under the OUTSDANDING GEAR column on your blog…LOL

    P.S. Thank you for including the Hybrid Foundation link. Hope that as a kayaking group we have a better chance to find a corporate sponsor for the UNLIMITED project.

  4. I was going to post that in this part of the world (North American prairies), that's known as a "travois". Tom beat me to it. :) Here's a version pulled by a dog: http://www.womenofthefurtrade.com/wst_page16.html

    1. Copyright or not the concept is beautiful in its simplicity. It may seem ironic to say then that you may try 'improve' on it by testing a light long bend to bring the tips closer to parallel with the direction of pull and increase the surface area on the ground. The idea being that it will be easier to pull of course. Its hard to picture the resulting change in storage room in the hull but first thought is that it would be fine. You can make a really neat long bend using a cheap bending spring from bunnings or borrow a friendly electricians/plumbers. Isn't it terrible that we can't leave simplicity alone ;)


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