The eSherpa is an open sourced, lightweight, 3D printed motorized cart developed to ease the transport of paragliding equipment to its launch locations. What’s that? You don’t have a lot of need for a paraglider transporting cart? Well, I don’t either, but it’s essentially just a very lightweight cart that can be adapted for multiple uses beyond the one it was originally intended.
Created by a Swiss paragliding instructor Ralf Naumann, the eSherpa was his attempt to preserve his back and joints from damage caused by lugging 55 pounds of paragliding equipment up steep hills multiple times a day. Because everything that goes up the hill needs to come back down, Naumann’s design needed to be extremely compact, lightweight, easy to break down and reassemble and most of all capable of managing the weight of his equipment.
About two years ago Naumann decided to build a prototype for his eSherpa, so he purchased a motorized golf caddy and tore it apart to see how it worked and what could be repurposed for his build. Using bits and pieces from the caddy, fiberglass parts and epoxy he managed to put together a working prototype that he was relatively happy with.
“[T]his prototype worked somewhat well and I discovered the problems and limitations of it. Packing up must be faster, more compact, lighter, stronger, easier and cheaper to build and maintain, easier to control,” Naumann explained to YouMagine, who featured his project on their blog. “I decided to buy a 3D printer and it took me one more year to find the right parts and to design, 3D print and test it. Finally I built 4 different versions and now I’m really satisfied with the result.”
Here is an overly long video of the eSherpa in action. There is literally more walking than the entirely of the Lord of the Rings movie franchise in the video, but once Naumann demonstrates how the cart breaks down and how easy it is to reassemble it’s worth taking a look at:
The main body of the eSherpa is comprised of various 3D printable parts and is combined with an easy to source motor controller, some inexpensive tires and the handle is just a basic telescoping monopod. This makes the entire cart extremely lightweight, coming in at only a few pounds and small enough to easily stow away in the paraglider pilots backpack. And the fact that it is motorized makes it helpful not only for lugging heavy loads uphill, but the brakes make it easier to carry loads downhill by preventing gravity from pulling it out of your control.
The eSherpa is completely open sourced and all of the 3D printable parts, build instructions and a detailed parts list can be found on the eSherpa website, as well as its YouMagine page. Naturally, the eSherpa can be repurposed and customized for a wide variety of uses like hiking trips, lugging camping equipment around, shopping or even moving things around in a garage or storage space.
However, if you want to climb Mt Everest and try to replace an actual Sherpa with the eSherpa you may be in trouble. The Sherpa people aren’t just glorified luggage carts, but an ethnic group native to the mountainous regions of Nepal who are highly regarded for their skills as mountaineers and guides. I’m not quite sure that we can 3D print replacements for them yet.