Folding Cart Does Yeomans Duty


Folding Carts

In our previous review of dock carts, folding file carts were a standout. Marina carts are a hike to retrieve and return, where as the folding carts can be packed into a space no larger than a brief case in 5-10 seconds, fitting handily in the truck or in a locker. The downside is limited capacity (15 x 13.5 x 14 inches deep and light construction, bordering on flimsy. Prices start at about from $22. Are the trade-offs worth it?

They withstand use better than abuse. However, with reasonable care, weve ferried batteries and 5-gallon cans across grass, gravel, old docks, and miles of streets. What fails are the plastic hinges. Sometimes a pin simply falls out-easily fixed with a nail.

The hinges fail if you cram too much stuff in the box; they were built for hanging files, not jumbled stuff. A few drilled holes and cable ties will fix this.

The storage latches get knocked off if you bang the side in your travels or forget to snap them before tossing it in the trunk. Fortunately, they arent really needed. The collapsible handle jams, but a squirt of McLube Sailkote works wonders. Weve had the wind blow empty carts into the water; we hose them off and corrosion has not been a problem.

The dock carts are available from multiple sources including Walmart, Staples, West Marine, and various suppliers on Amazon (search Olympia Tools Pack-n-Roll). West Marine lists payload capacity at 100 pounds, most others specify 70 to 80 pounds.

Is there any actual difference in load capacity? Were not sure. The fatal failures are always in the hinges, not the floor, wheels, or axles. Our West Marine cart lasted six years, our Staples cart matched that, we now have a second Staples cart going on its fifth year.

The volume is limited, but for a couple cruising the Chesapeake Bay or coastal waters, how much do you need for a mid-cruise grocery run? They easily carry a bag of ice on the bottom and a pair of reusable bags on top, which seem quite enough. Going to the boat for a day trip, a jerry can and boat bag go in the cart, and a small cooler in the hand.

Bottom line: Weve really enjoyed the compactness and ease. Dont wedge in heavy stuff that forces the sides apart. Dont expect them to last more than 2-4 years in regular use, and be prepared to replace a few pins and maybe even patch a hinge with cable ties. Not durable, but for $25, what did you really expect? Were happy with the compromise.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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