Folding Cart Does Yeoman’s Duty
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, we’ve 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 aren’t really needed. The collapsible handle jams, but a squirt of McLube Sailkote works wonders. We’ve 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? We’re 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: We’ve really enjoyed the compactness and ease. Don’t wedge in heavy stuff that forces the sides apart. Don’t 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? We’re happy with the compromise.