Motorized Pack Wheel Testing — Hiking Speeds With High Torque

The DIY Hunter and his boys testing a walking speed high torque motorized Pack Wheel game cart.

In the summer of 2015 I tested a couple variations of a bike hub motor on the Pack Wheel. I found them to be very high speed with low torque or in other words they were geared for going 20 plus mph offering little assistance unless I was already near running up the mountain myself. Yes, they assisted but didn't have enough torque to carry the load on their own. I felt that I could go up the mountain easier without the "assist" of a hub motor and haven't used the hub motor since the two trips I took with it in 2015. 

This year I have been testing different motors and batteries using a chain drive system. By using the chain drive I am able to gear down the speed into walking speed power and power it is. My current prototype will operate from 0 to 6 mph controlled by a thumb throttle. Even just barely moving the motor will carry all the weight of the load right up the mountain. Although going up steep inclines did place some weight on my arms because of the steep angle, the torque of the motor, and I mounted the battery on the back side of the handle, but other than a small portion of this weight being held in your arms the motor will power the entire load right up the mountain, no need for any operator assistance in pushing the load.

When I tested the hub motor back in 2015 it was clearly a motor that offered assistance when you were already moving. This motor system has the power to carry the load right up the mountain entirely on it's own power. Low hiking speeds and tons of torque in this chain drive system.

I found that I operate the Pack Wheel a little differently for crossing obstacles. Typically without a motor when I need to go over a rock or log I would lower my arms to take some weight off the wheel so that I could bump the wheel up and over the obstacle. Doing this technique with the motor can make the wheel spin out by not having enough traction. So, to go over obstacles with the motor I don't lower my arms but instead push the wheel up against the obstacle to give the wheel extra weight to give it the traction needed to climb over the obstacle. Butting my waist up against the back of the handle and leaning into the Pack Wheel provided me the best solution for getting the traction to climb over deadfall and rocks. 

Some other cool features of this motorized system. Without any tools and in less than a minute you can slide the battery off, slide the motor off and remove the chain for a non-motorized system. Say you were deep in the backcountry and the motor seized of for some odd reason you can just disconnect the motor or remove it and still be able to use the Pack Wheel.

I'm still working on how long the battery will last. I need to run the numbers on paper as best as possible for number's sake, however, I trust in the field use over numbers on paper. I have more testing to do. I can say that on the first test with the 28 lb motorized Pack Wheel (see video below) we hiked up the mountain for a few hours using the motor stopping to check cameras along the way. I would guess that the motor received a solid hour of use and after the trip, the battery power level indicator LEDs still show full power.

All-in-all I really love this motorized system I still need to tweak the gear ratio and other components but am getting close to offering this as an option for the Pack Wheel.

Below are a couple videos from testing the motorized Pack Wheel this summer.

 

 

The DIY Hunter testing a motorized Pack Wheel game cart with high torque that operates at hiking speeds.

Browning Defender 850 WiFi Trail Camera Operation

So I've been playing with the new Defender 850 trail cameras lately.  I thought I would share some of the things I have found that might help you get the most out of your Browning trail camera.

The option to connect to these cameras via an app on your phone or tablet is pretty geeky cool. I like this function most for going through the setting and using the live preview to point the camera in the perfect direction. Here's how the app connecting process works.

With the power on turned on the camera, you then open the Browning Defender app on your phone. The trail camera is always using low power Bluetooth so when you turn on the Defender App it will either automatically connect via Bluetooth or you will have to select the Bluetooth camera name and then press the connect button.

Once you have this Bluetooth connection established you then can click the "BLU <> WIFI" button to switch the camera into wifi mode. At this point be a little patient as it may take a few seconds for your phone to see the trail camera in your available wifi's to connect to. Once the wifi shows up select to connect to it and then hit the back button on your Android phone (not sure what the iPhone people do). Now you will have a wifi connection to the phone and can use the Live View, Playback and Settings options. Pretty simple.

In the video below you can see how the live preview works. This is nice to point the camera where you want it, walk past it and see how critters would frame up in the view and adjust the camera position as needed.

Landen's First Elk — Cow Elk Hunting with a Rogue 36 Pack Wheel

With Dallen and myself filling our cow elk tags it was time to help Landen.

Early in the morning on a week day my three boys and myself were up getting ready to help Landen fill his cow elk tag. Getting three boys all equipped and ready for cold temps with snow took an hour longer than I anticipated. It was a week day but as we pulled into the parking lot to access the public land my ears were correct as we found a horse trailer and three other vehicles. Darn it.

We started glassing from the parking lot spotting a cow out on a ridge near the area the cow elk that Dallen and I first spotted our cows the week before. We were just about ready to start the hike up after this elk when we watched three horses come in below the elk. I snapped a couple photo of these hunters just before they dropped the cow and another cow that was out of sight from us.

As it turned out the hunters with the horses were two friends of mine that work with me at Browning. They were excited to see the photo I snapped of them.

We glassed another group of cows three miles in and on the move to private ground. We could see some hunters in a basin I like to hunt working on a cow they had down. Hmm...

With all of the activity in the area ahead of us we decided to hike up a ridge line and then swing around below the other hunters looking for some cows that we had seen from the road while driving in that morning.

After a mile or so, with a few hours of hiking we dropped over into a small draw and below us were two cows. We worked our way down a ridge line out of sight of the elk and then popped up on a small cliff. I set a day pack on the cliff and Landen setup with my little A-Bolt Stainless Hunter Laminate in 243 WSSM, shooting 80 gr Tipped Triple Shock bullets.

As the two elk moved out in to the open 130 yards across from us Landen hammered the larger of the two with a perfect shot through the shoulders. Nice shooting Landen! The 80 Gr TTSX is a lightning bolt on deer and elk offering amazing penetration and trama is shoulder shot deer and elk out to 400 yards with my 243 WSSM handload going 3,550 fps in this little A-Bolt rifle.

When we got over to the elk we found that it was a calf. I thought it was a younger cow at first but once on the ground we found it was just a large calf with plenty of nice tender meat. Yum!

Dallen and I had already taken a couple nice sized cows the week before so we were set on meat for another year. Yes, our family goes through two elk a year on average. We love elk meat. Landen's elk may not have been the largest on the mountain but it has been a tasty one and given him some great experience to be better prepared on future hunts.

After a few pics with Landen's first elk we went to work boning it out and placing the meat into canvas breathable Pack Wheel Meat Panniers. After we had the meat all boned out and strapped on the Pack Wheel we only had a couple hundred yards to go to drop down to a road and then we could follow the road about a mile back to the parking lot for a very easy pack out with Rogue 36 Pack Wheel.

We even had a little daylight left for some pics on the way off the mountain. 

Another awesome time spent with my boys. Good shooting Landen!

Cow Elk Pack Out with Rogue 36 Pack Wheel

Rogue 36 Pack Wheel — Cow Elk Hunting

 

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For several months I have been working on building a Pack Wheel with the largest wheel possible, that being a wheel that is 36 inches in diameter. Thirty six inch wheels on specialty bikes are showing up more and more, especially for really tall people. Being a tall guy myself I have been really intrigued with the larger wheel. The larger the wheel the smoother the ride, as the angle with which the tire contacts an obstacle is lowered making going over obstacles easier.

There are a few challenges to designing a thirty six inch wheel to work with the Pack Wheel. Challenges in designing and building things my brain just loves to tackle, so bring it on. The two most significant challenges to designing this giant wheel to work with the Pack Wheel were first, redesigning the handle so that it would offer strength and stability in a lower-to-frame design. Something I refer to as leverage. The greater the distance between the handle and the center of gravity the better. The second major obsticle was designing the frame to handle the added braking force of the extra leverage from the huge diameter wheel. A few tweaks to the design of the handle and the frame accomplished both of these major obsticles with flying colors!

After working on the design for a few months I had parts cut and welded up just in time for our families late season cow elk hunts. Dallen, Landen and myself all had cow elk tags for an area that has some public land we like to hunt. The last couple of years I have hunted this area I have had to hike in over three miles to find what few elk have been in the area. This year we had a little more snow than the past few years so I was hopeful that we wouldn't have to hike three plus miles in for cow elk especially with my eleven and thirteen year old boys.

Not wanting to have three elk on the ground all at once I decided to have Dallen and I make an initial trip up and see if we could locate some and if possible bring a couple cow elk back with us.

We picked a good day of the week as there were no other vehicles in the parking lot as we showed up a little after daylight. We set out up the canyon with me pushing an empty Rogue 36 and Dallen pushing a 27.5+ Pack Wheel. The 27.5+ is a three inch fat tire that has an outside diameter of 29 inches, just a little smaller than the 29er tires that are on the Pack Wheel.

In years past we have hunted up the mountain for cow elk with Pack Wheels collapsed on our backs. Something that has worked really well for us. My personal Pack Wheels I have setup tubeless making them about nine ounces lighter. This makes my 29er right at twelve pounds of carry weight. Add the two pound meat panniers and I have everything I need to haul a completely boned out elk off the mountain by myself with just the fourteen pounds of extra carry weight with me.

This year we chose to just push the Pack Wheels empty up the mountain. This first prototype Rogue 36 Pack Wheel weighs in just over seventeen and a half pounds and the meat panniers are the same two pounds. In fact Dallen and I were taking the first set I ever sewed up and another very early set. Both sets have carried many elk and a few deer off the mountain and are still holding up strong. These two sets of meat panniers were most recently used to carry out Dallen and Landen's mule deer from the 2016 Utah rifle deer season.

Pushing the Pack Wheel along empty worked great. I wondered if it would annoy me but it didn't at all even going up some really steep inclines. I actually enjoyed having it to lean on and help keep my balance similar to a walking stick.

After hiking for a half mile or so we climbed up the North side of the canyon hoping to glass and find some elk in the area. Nope, nope and nope. After an hour or so we finally found three cows an a calf about a mile further up the canyon and on the thick brushy north facing side. We made a note of them and continued up the south facing slope that we were on. After another half hour we noticed that the three cows and calf had moved one ridge line closer. With not seeing anything on the side we were on we decided to drop back down, cross the canyon, and hope that we might be able to get within range be able to see the elk on the oak brushy side that they were on.

Some time later we were hiking on the other side along the edge of some oak bush when we spotted them at three hundred and fifteen yards. Well within range of my X-Bolt in 270 WSM shooting a 150 Gr SST and Dallen's new 300 WSM shooting 200 Gr ELD-X bullets. However, there was a one major problem, that being we were behind a line of oak brush and getting two of the cows to be in a window to shoot through at the same time highly difficult. Given they were feeding their way towards a ridge line and could disappear from our view, when the largest cow came into an opening I told Dallen to take her. Dallen made a very well placed heart shot and she quickly did a death run mixed with death slide into the brush. The remaining cow and calf ran and paused not far from cresting the ridge line. I had to quickly maneuver into a shooting position that wasn't the most steady but I had a narrow window to the elk through the brush directly in front of me. As I touched off the shot I was right on her back and that was exactly where I hit her. There went a good five pounds of back strap. :( Oops.

By the time we hiked up to them, had them both boned out, and loaded on the Pack Wheels it was after 10pm. As I get older I'm noticing that I can't bone an elk out as fast as I used to. 

Once we had them loaded, off the mountain we cruised. The giant 36" wheel was amazing in the snow. If I could change one thing I would like a really knobby tread like the Hans Dampf or Knobby Nic tires that are on our 26, 27.5+ and 29er Pack Wheels. There just aren't many tire options to choose from that are 36 inches in size. The tires that are on the 36" Pack Wheel are knobby just not super knobby. The reason I would prefer the super knobby tires is for holding your position going around a steep loose side hill. 

There was a hundred yards or so of going around a side hill and the 36 inch tire worked well it just didn't grab and hold it's line quite as well as the knobbier tires I am used to using. I dont' see the tire being a problem I just noticed they slipped a little where the Hans Dampf tires would have held their ground better.

One of the things we knew was going to happen from other snow experiences is the extra resistance of a fatter tire that was on the 27.5+ Pack Wheel Dallen was using. Wider tired have more resistance in un-groomed, wet and deeper snow. I prefer the 2.35" wide Hans Dampf tire over the wider Fat tires in the snow. The reason being is unless you have perfect hard pack snow conditions the fatter tires still sink into the snow. It's a lot easier to have a narrower tire cut through the snow than a fat tire. There just is more resistance along the front edge of the tire. I knew this but still wanted more experience with a fat tire so the Pack Wheel Dallen was primarily using was the fat tire Pack Wheel and I was using the Rogue 36. 

Both Pack Wheels worked great however there was a two hundred yard stretch of sage brush flat that had a layer of a foot of powder on top of a crusted layer of around another eight inches of snow. The 36 inch wheel went through all eighteen inches of snow with ease. The fat tire took some energy to move in this section and a few small rest stops to make it through this two hundred yard stretch. The fat wheel would sink just as far into the snow but it had considerable more resistance to push through the snow just like we have found in other experiences we had last fall while hunting mule deer in heavy wet snow. I knew this but wanted to get a little more experience with the fat tire in the snow. It still worked in the snow but I definitely prefer the standard 2.35" wide tires in the snow. 

We did take turns using each size of the Pack Wheel so that we could better get a side by side comparison.

One thing was for sure and that is the giant 36" tire is now my hands down favorite in the snow and I'm betting it is going to be my all around favorite for all of my outdoor adventures. I'll bet I'm using it on all of my trips this year. :)

Other than a slight slow down for the fat tire on the 200 yard flat, we cruised off the mountain in the dark. 

Did I mention how much I loved the giant wheel? Dang it rolled really nice!

Next up getting Landen's cow elk tag filled.

 

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2016 Utah Muzzleloader Elk Season — Pack Wheeling Into The Backcountry

 

Just crawling into my sleeping bag. Dallen and I put some miles and vertical feet in tonight. We are in a great spot right now to hopefully find some elk the last two days of the Utah #muzzleloader elk hunt. I'm taking a stroll back through memory lane. I am hunting the area I first used the Pack Wheel back in 2008. I did #solohunt archery elk hunts in this canyon in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2007 I stuck a little 5 point around 6 miles in. Thankfully my good friend @ferryboater saved me with spending a whole day coming in with his horses to haul the meat off the mountain. Prior to this I had already been sketching ideas for a wheel to be ultra-light, collapsible, and have a good braking system to haul boned out meat off the mountain. This was the final straw for me to start working on building just a system. By the next year in 2008 I had my first prototype @packwheel with me in the canyon I'm in right now. Will be dreaming of big bulls tonight. #memorylane #packwheel #diyhunting #elkhunting #utahhunting #outdoorlife #outdoors #hunting #getoutdoors #getoutside #kneesaver #hikinggear #hiking #mountainlife #huntutah

A photo posted by Brady Smith (@diyhntr) on

Like last year I have been just too busy in August and September to hunt elk with my bow. Things settle down a little for me in November so like last year I was chasing elk with a smoke pole. 

This year was full of lots of unexpected work that caused me to use up most of my vacation. That being the case I only had a couple days that I could spare to take off to hunt. Given the distance and elevation of where I wanted to pack into I like to spend at least a couple days in there. It's over five miles in to where I like to make camp and 2,300 vertical feet up.

With very mild temperatures and weather I felt it best to wait to hunt the very last days of the hunt hoping that I would have a greater chance of elk moving out of the private ground above and into this public ground I would be hunting. 

With three days left in the hunt Dallen and I set off up the mountain with our Pack Wheel's loaded. We each carried in fourteen quarts of Powerade Zero and water, mostly Powerade Zero. I like having a drink that replenishes lost minerals from sweating them out. I am really prone to bad hamstring cramps after a long day of hiking, especially once I crawl into my sleeping bag.  To prevent cramps I either drink Powerade Zero or I take an Endurolyte pill for every couple hours of hiking. Even though we carried in a ton of fluid I still carried my MSR water filter just in case we needed to hike down to a spring to pump water.

It was nice to have Dallen come to help me on this hunt. I was full of stories about archery elk hunting this area back in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2007 I shot a little five point bull way at the back of this public ground. This was the last straw to push me into doing something about my ideas for a ultra-light system to haul elk off the mountain. When I packed in to hunt the same area in 2008 I had my first prototype Pack Wheel cart with me. Needless to say I had a lot of stories to share with Dallen about the area and during the course of our hunt I was able to show him a lot of my favorite spots to hunt for elk.

As we hiked in we watched a lot of mule deer but couldn't find any elk. Until the snow flys the elk are usually way at the top and down in the upper canyons so I didn't think we would find any on the hike in but we enjoyed glassing the mule deer.

It was after dark as we crested the ridge I wanted to get past to setup camp. As we got to this ridge we saw a camp fire a little further down the ridge. We weren't going to have the area to ourselves. Darn it. Oh well. We went another half mile around the canyon then setup the Alps Chaos tent and hit the sack dreaming of big bulls in the morning.

Early the next morning we took off with day packs headed out a ridge to glass. It didn't take us long before we glassed up a six point bull around 700 yards away. We needed to head down one draw then pop up on a ridge and hopefully the bull was still there for a 200 or so yard shot. And then there was the horses, yeap, horses, ten of them to be exact. Apparently the camp on the ridge was a camp of a bunch of horse hunters. As we moved down into the canyon going after the elk we could hear steel horse shoes clanking off rocks all over the place around the ridges of the canyon. No, no, no...

When we made it to where we hoped to get a shot the bull was gone. In the process of going down into this canyon we also spotted another six point bull in a different sub draw off this canyon. In both cases the bulls were headed for safety of the private ground fence line. We took off trying to get in front of them but we found that horses had already made it around to that side of the canyon. Oh well. I wished there wasn't all the noise from all the horses surrounding the canyon but this is how public land hunting goes sometimes. I may not agree with the style of hunting but everyone else has a right to be there just like I do. Now if I did have a horse to get me into this area to hunt I would leave my horse at camp and sneak down into the canyon on foot. They just are soooo noisy. You can hear them coming a mile away and I don't have as good of hearing as a elk has. Oh well. This is one of the reasons I like archery hunting. Bow hunters may ride horses to get into the backcountry but they generally don't ride them around hunting from the saddle.

So the rest of that day we hiked back to camp then moved camp over to another location. That evening we hunted right along the private land border but never saw any elk. I did snap a pretty nice pic of a Dusky Grouse that evening but that was about all we saw.

We were up early the next morning debating on whether to go back to the same area or hike a mile to the north and hunt that canyon. As it was just getting light we could see and hear the train of horses head up the mountain and to the north. Well that answered that question. No need for us to go to the other canyon with a bunch of horses headed that way. We slipped down into the same canyon we were in the day before and glassed from a few different locations. Nothing. We had the place to ourselves this morning but there were also no elk in the area. At one point that morning a yound bull moose came in thirty yards from us and I snapped a few pics of him.

Again that evening we hiked around to some good vantage points and glassed but not an elk could be found. Oh well. Maybe next year. 

We hiked back up to camp and loaded up our Pack Wheels in the dark then off the mountain we flew. And flew we did, with just a little weight in our day packs and everything else on the Pack Wheels for the near six miles and 2,300 vertical feet down we were off to the races. Well, Dallen was, my knees can't take the pounding of runnning so we cruised at a pace of three miles per hour. Dallen with good knees could have ran off the mountain if he didn't have to wait for me. 

I guess there is always next year. I haven't been doing too well at filling my tags the last few years. I'm a little picky wanting a 150ish or better mule deer so I have passed on a few but when it comes to elk I shoot whatever I can find if I can find one as I love the meat. I'm hoping I can find more time to hunt next year and get a bull in the freezer.

Even though I ate tag soup I had so much fun being on the mountain. I generally like to hunt solo but find it really enjoying to hunt with my kids. Dallen was a great help and I really enjoyed the time we were able to spend together on the mountain. Thank you for the help Dallen!

 

 

Dallen took this pic of me headed up 2,300 vertical feet and five miles in on my muzzleloader elk hunt in November. We each carried in 14 quarts of Powerade and water on our @packwheel carts. We found a few bulls and a lot more horse hunters riding the canyons. Even though I didn't get a bull I had a great time with Dallen. It was fun showing him the area and telling him the stories of archery elk hunting the area -- the area I tested my first prototype Pack Wheel back in 2008. #diyhunting #elkhunting #utahhunting #getoutside #getoutdoors #hunting #gearjunkielife #outdoors #outdoorlife #hikinggear #hikeutah #hikingadventures #backpacker #hiking #mountainlife #huntutah #whatgetsyououtdoors #kneesaver #backsaver #huntinglife

A photo posted by Brady Smith (@diyhntr) on

 

Muzzleloader elk hunting last month with my CVA Accura V2 sporting a Vortex Viper HS-LR 4-16x50 scope. Love these scopes for big game hunting rifles. Might scale it back some for next year and get a smaller scope more in the 3-9x40 range. We'll see, I like to tinker and test new combos. My max effective range I feel comfortable with the 300 Gr Powerbelt AeroLite bullets was just over 300 yards. These bullets shoot sub MOA with this rifle but only have a 0.197 BC and I'm only getting them moving around 1,800 fps.... would like both of those numbers to be higher. I may also try and find some bullets with better BCs. Hmm... #whattotrynext #hunting #vortexoptics #cvamuzzleloader #biggamehunting #elkhunting #utahhunting #getoutside #getoutdoors #whatgetsyououtdoors #vortexviper

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