Last updated: September 1, 2021

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Do you need a practical trolley to transport children or shopping, for example, or to make gardening easier? Then a handcart could be just the thing for you. Depending on the area of use, you should pay attention to certain features of the cart. In this article, you will find out what the difference is between a trolley for shopping and a trolley for children.

We have also summarised all the important information on the subject in our handcart test 2021. We explain the different types of trolleys, the expected costs and much more. This should make it easier for you to find the perfect handcart for you.




Summary

  • A handcart is a four-wheeled trolley that you can use for hiking, transporting children or working around the house and garden.
  • The classic models are traditionally made of wood. In the meantime, there are handcarts made of lightweight plastic that can be folded or collapsed. A third variant are the transport trolleys, which are particularly resilient and stable.
  • Foldable and collapsible models are best suited for travelling, hiking or going to the beach, because they are light and can be reduced to a very small pack size.

The best Handcart: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask before buying a handcart

Before you buy a handcart, you should have answers to the most important questions about handcarts. In this section we have summarised the most important information about hand trucks.

What is a handcart?

Many young people use a handcart to move around on Father's Day.

A handcart is often also called a trolley. It is generally equipped with four wheels and has a device at the front that allows you to simply pull the cart behind you. There are different ways to use a handcart. Some use it to carry heavy items more easily, for example when shopping. Others use it as a vehicle for family outings, pulling the children.

What are the advantages of a handcart compared to other trolleys?

A handcart has several advantages as a means of transport, especially in terms of functionality and stability. You can stow a lot of things in a handcart, which is very practical when you are out and about. Because it has four wheels, there is no danger of it tipping over on flat ground.

Hand trucks are very stable and can also be used for a number of purposes. (Image source: pixabay.com / Marlon Sommer)

Furthermore, the handcart is durable and resilient, a timeless companion for gardening, at the beach, in the zoo or on walks.

Another advantage: models made of untreated wood can be painted, making the handcart a unique vehicle.

In summary, there are several advantages of a handcart:

  • Sturdy means of transport
  • Plenty of storage space
  • High load capacity
  • Durable
  • Can be used in many places
  • Creativity can be given free rein

Which material is best for me: wood, aluminium or textiles?

Spoilt for choice: While models made of untreated wood can be painted and thus further individualised, there is also a wide range of models consisting of textiles that are available in combination with aluminium or plastic.

The models made of wood have a timeless, classic look and are available with transparent lacquer or in different designs. One disadvantage here, however, is the inflexible material.

Alternatively, it is possible to think about purchasing a pushcart made of fabric or synthetic materials, as these can be folded and collapsed. However, these materials are less durable and can tear with frequent use.

Did you know that there are foldable handcarts?

The advantage of this type of trolley is that it fits easily into the car and can be taken along on trips. Even if you are planning a train journey followed by a hike, this is no problem with the handcart.

Aluminium is neither visually appealing nor flexible, so it is the most suitable material for a handcart that is to be used as a practical means of transport for the garden and yard.

Does my handcart need a roof?

The additional function of a roof is useful if you want to protect your children or the goods to be transported from different weather conditions such as sun, rain, snow or wind.

This investment is practical at the beach and on all kinds of excursions. If your handcart is only used as a toy by your children from time to time or if you use it to transport your gardening tools and otherwise store them in a shed, you may not need to make this investment.

You will find the additional roof in all three product categories, i.e. in the classic handcart, the folding and collapsible version and the transport cart.


Is a handcart suitable for transporting children?

For children, a handcart is a relaxed way to see as much as possible on an outing. They can simply sit in the handcart, are pushed and can observe their surroundings in peace.

Although handcarts are ideal for children, there are a few things you should consider before letting your children ride in them. On the one hand, the material of the handcart should be free of any harmful substances.

On the other hand, you should also make sure that your child can sit well on its own before you put it in a handcart. Otherwise they could injure themselves.

In order to be absolutely sure that your child is safe in the stroller, it is also advisable to look for the appropriate seal of approval, where the safety of the stroller has been tested before it is awarded.

Are all pushchairs suitable for the beach?

Due to the different ground conditions, no normal handcart should be used in the sand. There are some criteria that should be taken into account if you want to use a handcart on the beach:

    • Wide tyres so that you can pull your handcart in the sand without effort. Pneumatic tyres are the best choice here.

The most suitable type of handcart is one that is water-repellent so that it cannot get broken on the beach.

A foldable handcart is ideal if you want to transport it to the beach in your car. Otherwise, it doesn't matter whether the trolley is foldable or not.

A handcart is a great way to carry everything you need for a day at the beach. It also gives your kids a place to sit down and rest after a busy day when you're heading back home.

A handcart is also perfect for a day at the beach. Foldable handcarts can even be stowed in the boot of the car. (Photo source: 123rf.com / Tatiana Kostareva)

What is the difference between a bassinet and a ladder stroller and a handcart? And what alternatives are there?

The bassinet and ladder trolley are often used as synonyms for the handcart, which is why they need further explanation. Depending on whether you want to use the handcart for children, dog sports or as a helper in the garden and around the house, other alternatives come into question, such as a wheelbarrow or a bicycle trailer.

A bassinet is a wicker carriage with wheels that is specially designed as a place for children and babies to sleep. While in the Middle Ages the children of farming families were often transported in wheelbarrows, the idea of the bassinet then developed in the 19th century, initially mainly in urban circles.

The difference between the Stubenwagen and the Bollerwagen is that the Bollerwagen is not only used to transport children and, moreover, is mainly used outdoors.

The ladder wagon, on the other hand, is a subcategory of the handcart and is often used as a synonym. The difference lies in the structure of the side walls, which, as the name suggests, are reminiscent of a ladder.

Larger models played an essential role in agriculture in history, as oxen or horses were harnessed in front of the wagon to bring in the harvest, for example.

The characteristic structure made it possible to pull the hay or straw from the wagon between the rungs with a pitchfork. In addition, it was easy to convert the wagon and transport other goods that were bulkier.

The difference between a ladder cart and a boller cart are the side walls: the ladder cart has rungs, the boller cart has closed side walls.

You can read about a number of alternatives here, depending on the area of use. A wheelbarrow can also be used in the home and garden. These three-wheeled means of transport are often used for gardening.

Disadvantage: The three-wheeled nature of the wheelbarrow means that it is less stable and may cause difficulties if you want to transport very heavy goods.

For dog pulling in winter, the alternative is runners instead of wheels. A sled could be a great alternative for you if you want to drive through snowy landscapes with your dog.

For children and babies, there are many other options, depending on whether you want to "carry" them yourself or switch to another means of transport. For example: sling, backpack, buggy, pram and bicycle trailer.

Which tyres are available for handcarts and which are suitable for transporting children?

There are different types of tyres for handcarts, all of which have their advantages and disadvantages, but which are also suitable for transporting children in different ways.

The types of tyres most commonly used for handcarts are pneumatic tyres and hard plastic tyres.

Type of tyre for hand trucks Suitable for children
Pneumatic tyres Very suitable because pneumatic tyres can be adjusted to the weight and can additionally cushion uneven spots on the floor
Hard plastic tyres Not ideal for children because the tyres are somewhat more unstable than pneumatic tyres

Decision: What types of handcart are there and which is the right one for you?

The type of trolley you choose depends on what you want to do with it. Do you want to pull heavy loads or use the cart on the road and when travelling? Or are you looking for a timelessly beautiful wooden model?

The handcart is a four-wheeled cart with a drawbar and is used to pull loads as well as for children to play with. There are three different types of handcart:

  • Classic handcart
  • Foldable and collapsible handcart
  • Transport cart

What distinguishes the classic handcart and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The classic handcart has no additional features and convinces with its robustness, stability and durability.

Among the classics, there are mostly models made of wood, but also of functional fabric and aluminium or a combination of both.

Advantages
  • Stability
  • Durability
  • Flexible use
Disadvantages
  • Impractical for lack of space in the car or when travelling
  • Weight

The disadvantage of a classic trolley without a folding option is that they take up a lot of space in the car, train or bus and are also heavier.

You don't want to transport your handcart and only want to use it at home or in your immediate surroundings? In that case, only the possibly higher weight compared to other models could play a decisive role for you.

Did you know that the wheel was the cornerstone of the handcart?

Without the wheel, the handcart would not exist today. Because the wheel is the basic building block of all transport vehicles.

What distinguishes the folding and collapsible handcart and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Foldable and collapsible hand trucks convince above all through their flexibility.

They make it easier to store your cart in the storage room or in the car. Models with functional fabrics are easy to clean and also come in many designs and colours.

Advantages
  • Flexibility - easy storage is guaranteed
  • Varied designs
Disadvantages
  • Less robust compared to the static wooden model

There is a small deduction for the fact that foldable models are somewhat less robust than the static wooden models. This means that although they have a lot of advantages due to their flexibility, they can also be damaged more quickly than a static model due to the process of assembly and disassembly.

What distinguishes the transport trolley and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The trolley is specially designed for moving objects that are heavy or bulky.

You want to transport your garden tools or bring your surfboard from the holiday flat to the beach? Then take a closer look at this model. The trolley impresses with its robustness and multifunctionality.

Advantages
  • Transport of heavy and bulky items
  • Robustness
  • Multifunctionality
Disadvantages
  • Pragmatic model, but less appealing designs

Transport trolleys are unbeatable in terms of practicality, but some models are not visually comparable to classic or foldable models. Therefore, there is a deduction for the design at this point.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate hand trucks

We want to make it as easy as possible for you to make your purchase decision, so we have created criteria to help you decide whether a product is right for you.

In the following, we present a summary of the criteria:

  • Dimensions / Weight
  • Material
  • Folding and collapsible
  • Canopy
  • Safety
  • Additional pockets
  • Choice of tyres
  • Handling

The criteria mentioned are now commented on in detail so that you can get an overview.

Dimensions / Weight

When choosing the right dimensions and weight of the handcart, it is important that you know what you want to use the handcart for. In addition, you should consider whether the robustness or flexibility of the model is most important to you.

If you only want to do a few shopping trips with the trolley, the XXL version is rather unnecessary. However, if you want to transport five children from a day care centre together, take a look at the larger models.

If you want to transport a barbecue, beer crate and loudspeaker boxes for Father's Day, consider a larger version of the trolley. But be careful: the bigger the cart, the heavier it is and the more difficult it is to pull.

The weight plays a role in the fact that a handcart is ultimately pulled and it will be much easier for the person pulling it to do his work if the handcart is not unnecessarily heavy. This is because in addition to the trolley's own weight, there is also the weight of the children or provisions.

The heavier models are usually made of wood and are more robust. The foldable models are lighter and more flexible. The latter variant is particularly suitable for holiday trips, stays at the beach and all excursions where a high tare weight of the pushcart is a disadvantage. Robust wooden models are great when transporting groups of children, for example.

The handcart models on this page have a tare weight of 11-21 kg. 10 kg can make a crucial difference in whether being on the road is a pleasure or a pain. Therefore, think carefully about which features of the handcart are a priority for you.

Material

In addition to the classic wooden handcart, there are many other materials available today, such as aluminium or polyester.

The advantage of functional materials is their robustness and the fact that they come in different colours - so there is something for every taste. Wood is stable and durable. Foldable aluminium frames promise flexibility. Basically, the choice of material is a matter of taste. However, if you value quality, you should plan on spending more money.

Do you want to paint the handcart? Then a handcart made of untreated wood is a good choice for you. For example, you can paint it with acrylic varnish or watercolours and then cover it with clear varnish.

Folding and collapsible

The folding and collapsibility of the handcart is interesting for you if you travel a lot with the handcart and have little storage space.

In addition, this function is important if you are not using the handcart at the moment and want to store it in your storage room to save space. You should note that the construction of the handcart allows for quick assembly and disassembly so that you don't waste time unnecessarily on the road.

Foldable and collapsible models are usually particularly light because the material used is textile. This makes them easier to transport.

Canopy

An additional canopy is an advantage to protect children or transported goods from the weather.

A protective roof can be used both as a sunshade and to protect the children from draughts. In rainy weather, the roof can be used directly as an umbrella for the little ones.

The protective roof is also a good investment for all transport goods that should not get wet or heat up in the sun. You don't want to drink a heated beer or have soggy provisions on an excursion, right?

For adults, the canopy is practical, for the children it can be a nice toy, as it can be converted into a den with a roof and an additional blanket.

Safety

The topic of safety is particularly important for a handcart, because on the one hand small children should be able to get from A to B safely, and on the other hand accidents with heavy loads should be avoided.

When travelling with a handcart, the necessary safety measures for children should be taken into account. (Image source: 123rf.com / David Benes)

Firstly, a parking brake reduces the risk of the handcart rolling away on uneven terrain. The parking brake is not mandatory, but is definitely a sensible investment. Products with and without a parking brake are presented on this page.

A second feature of the handcart should be a low floor - this reduces the risk of tipping over.

If you are only travelling short distances with the handcart and do not move away from the handcart, a brake is not absolutely necessary. If you use the cart for gardening and only transport small amounts of weight, the brake is not essential. On the other hand, this ensures that, for example, a child who manages to climb over the side wall does not fall too far, thus reducing the risk of injury.

At this point, it should be added that high side walls are another protective measure to protect children from injuries during the ride. Padding in the side walls and floor cushions impact movements if you want to take the family off paved roads, and is also a useful additional option. However, it is advisable to add extra blankets or cushions to the car to increase comfort on the journey.

Additional bags

Some products have additional features, such as an integrated cooler, a matching carry bag or side pockets on the trolley.

An integrated cooler is interesting for all those who want to take drinks and snacks with them on a hike or excursion. Additional side pockets on the trolley are useful if you need to carry a lot of small items.

For example, this extra feature is advantageous if your child wants to take toys in the trolley or you want to transport many small items. This saves time and nerves when camping, as you can find your things more quickly.

Additional carrying bags protect the material from wear and tear, dirt and the weather during transport, so that the handcart can be used even longer. This makes it easier to carry your trolley in the car, on the train or on the train.

With some models you will also find additional storage areas or benches, which also help to keep the cart tidy or create a seat for the children.

Choice of tyres

Most models have air-filled tyres or hard plastic tyres, which differ mainly in price and comfort. The former are better suited to absorbing shock or jerky movements in the terrain. When transporting children, air-filled tyres are therefore the better option, as they are more likely to protect against injury than a hard plastic tyre.

If you want to buy a cheap model, look for one with hard plastic tyres. If a comfortable seat and safe transport are essential criteria for you, it is best to choose a model with pneumatic tyres. It is also useful to look for models with front tyres that rotate 360 degrees. This extra option will make it easier for you to handle the dolly when negotiating bends.

Handling

You should also look at how the tow bar and handle are built on the different models, as they contribute significantly to the comfort of use for the person pulling the cart.

On the one hand, a length-adjustable drawbar is advantageous. This allows it to be adjusted to the height of an adult for longer hikes and shortened for children to play with.

Some manufacturers also use the term "telescopic" drawbar. If this term appears in the description, it also refers to the length adjustability. In addition, some models have a padded handle. This makes it possible to pull and push the dolly comfortably, even on longer journeys or with heavier luggage.

Facts worth knowing on the subject of hand trucks

The handcart as a buggy replacement for hikes

Hiking with child and children (or rather with a handcart) can be exciting for explorers of all ages. The handcart not only has room for the children, but also for toys, snacks or beach toys.

On top of that, the foldable or collapsible version of the stroller is practical in the car or on public transport. An additional sun canopy protects your child's sensitive skin from dangerous UV radiation.

However, the "box" is not the best option for a comfortable and ergonomic seat for the child and you should therefore limit yourself to short (Sunday) trips to the zoo, playground, beach or grandparents.

Pneumatic tyres can help to soften jerky and crushing movements. Fun fact for bored kids: take a blanket with you and convert the trolley into a cave. If all else fails, you can also consider using a sling, pram, bike trailer or buggy to make the next family outing a success.

Is my dog suitable for pulling loads?

Your dog is perfectly suitable if it weighs more than 25 kg and has a calm, patient disposition. Other dog breeds that do not meet these criteria should not be used.

You would like to experience excursions with the new handcart together with your dog and are thinking of using it as a pulling dog? Then consider the following: Small breeds such as Dachshunds and Jack Russel Terriers are not likely to be suitable for hauling your luggage due to their size.

However, for large breeds such as German Shepherds or Bernese Mountain Dogs, it can be a joy and a nice challenge. The dog should be a calmer breed and weigh at least 25 kg. The advantages are obvious: the trust between man and animal is strengthened and the animal's dexterity is promoted.

Did you know that large dog breeds were originally bred to pull heavy loads? However, there are differences between male and female dogs. While the bitch is more sensitive and less willing to pull heavy loads, the male dog has more energy and is therefore willing to pull heavier loads.

Do it yourself: Tips for DIY

Neither buying (used) nor renting is an option for you and you have very precise ideas about how your handcart should look? Would you like to become a hobby craftsman?

Building your own trailer can be a lot of fun and is not that difficult.

What you need for your do-it-yourself cart:

  • Wooden boards for floor and walls and sides
  • Wooden or plastic wheels
  • Folding hinge
  • Aluminium rods (as axles)
  • Wood screws, dowels and glue
  • Drilling machine
  • Washers and cap nuts
  • Round rod as handle
  • Other wooden parts for axle bearings and drawbars

Once you've built your DIY cart, you can glue it on, paint it or add comfortable cushions or boxes for storing odds and ends, depending on your taste.

Another option for your own DIY handcart is the installation of a motor, so that your electric handcart can do the work of pulling it for you.

Picture source: pixabay.com / Couleur

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