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Sleds and Multi-day trips

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hey all, I'm looking to do multi-day (or multi-week) trips in the backcountry on an AT setup and I was thinking about buying a sled as well. What are yall's thoughts on sleds? Any tips or websites out there? My searches haven't really yielded much...

post #2 of 13
I used a Paris expedition sled on Denali, it was amazing. I wasn't skiing at the time, but plenty were. They allow you to carry a lot more gear but can be incredibly frustrating the first few times out.

The setup is easy, rip out the plastic kiddy handles, and use some p-cord to tie down a lightweight duffel inside. Then you have two popular options, either attach the sled to your harness or to your pack. I preferred attaching it to my pack. There are two holes in the front of the sled, tie some webbing, in a V-shape, so it is about 6 feet or so from the sled to the end of the V. Put a knot at the end and a biner or two, and just clip it onto your ice axe loops, or similar. When you're going uphill, if it isn't very steep you will hardly notice the sled (in the right snow conditions!). As it gets steeper you'll want to move more weight into your pack. On Denali, WB route they say roughly 60/40, and then swapped when you get steeper. The trickiest part is downhill... and unfortunatley it would be quite easy to ruin a good powder day having to ski down with a sled. Here I would ski with it in front of you, with the basic mindset as if you were "walking a dog" I would make sure it is attached to you either in the form of a harness, or just having it attached the the back of your pack and swinging it in front of you. I've never skied down with one, but it is NOT easy coming down walking. esp. with over 60 lbs in your sled.

To make a sled work you need the right snow conditions. Any winter'y snow should be fine. Its when it starts getting slushy June/July/August, you may regret it, even if neccessary.
post #3 of 13
I was talking with some folks recently who use sleds for some of their trips. They opined that inexpensive kids plastic toboggans are almost as good as the expensive specialty sleds, and way, way cheaper.
post #4 of 13
Im my mind the decision comes down to 40 lbs. on your back, or 60+ lbs. on your sled, with nothing but a Camelback on your back. Sleds are nice on the flat and in the right snow conditions (like Antarctica), but if you are going on a long trip you will undoubtly be covering every kind of up and down in every kind of snow condition, and a sled is a real monkey on your back when the going gets tough. I would definitely not recommend buying a sled or setting out on a long trip without a serious test drive first. It is much better pulling a sled than having weight on your back, but tight or rough terrain, or up/down steeps can be a real "adventure." I also agree that the cheap plastic kids' sleds work almost as well, provided you can make your own harness system.
post #5 of 13
I've used the kids sleds from wally world and they are not quite strong enough. The Paris Expedition sled is strong enough and thick enough that the bottom can wear some before it wears through. The kids sleds fail in the tow/attachment areas though.
A friend of mine has a manual on his web page where he describes all his trials and tribulations of coming up with a good sled design. He has a manual on how to build your own but he also sells the complete kit. skipulk.com
post #6 of 13
We used your basic kiddie toboggan on Denali and they worked fine, although I was ready to burn the damned thing by the time we were back in base camp.

We used some 6mm cord threaded around the sides to make attachment points, put our gear into a duffel, and then wove more cord in x's across the top through the attachment points to hold the duffel in place. We dropped the sleds when it got more than about 30-degrees steep and double-carried from there.

I liked attaching the sled to my harness better than I did the pack - seemed to pull better for me. YMMV.

When you're going downhill don't think in terms of skiing, because you won't be. You'll be managing the sled, which will work much better if you have somebody behind you acting as a tail gunner. Grab a copy of Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills for illustrations of how to hook the whole thing up.


BTW, some folks will suggest trying a drag bag. We did that on a trip to the Tushars last winter and it sucked. Be warned.
post #7 of 13
I built a couple of sleds a few years ago. I have not skied with them, but did use them behind a snowmobile. I designed them to be skied with and intended to hook them to a pack or hip belt as mentioned above. I used some light plastic pipe over the cord to keep the sled behind me. Like the horns of a patrol sled. This was pretty effective with the snowmobiles. I have friend in UT who built one from Fiberglass that I was pretty impressed with. I love epoxy and might try it myself. I was considering the use of a skeg, also like a patrol sled to help with the tracking. One of the problems I see is with side hilling. This problem can be worked around with a ridgid horn system where the operator puts some tweakage in to engage the uphill skeg. This requires a more substantial horn system (and weight) than I have on my "prototypes". It also requires the use of both hands. Just some thoughts from someone who is too busy to do everything I think of.
post #8 of 13
A purple plastic kid's sled can be turned into top notch mountaineering gear with some pvc pipe and a fair bit of tweaking. Fiddle with attachment points, 2 crossed bars for descending etc. They are fun and they work. My last dog and I shared the duty. This one is not into it all.
post #9 of 13
Go with the kid's sled. The Paris sleds are great but not that much better. The attachment takes some work to get right. Personally, unless it's a long trip I carry everything on my back. Sleds are a pain in the rear (sometimes literally) when on steep terrain. If you are doing long flats sleds are great.
post #10 of 13
Originally Posted by skierhj View Post
Go with the kid's sled. The Paris sleds are great but not that much better. The attachment takes some work to get right. Personally, unless it's a long trip I carry everything on my back. Sleds are a pain in the rear (sometimes literally) when on steep terrain. If you are doing long flats sleds are great.
You can get the Paris for $25-$30....how much are you really going to save by buying a Toys-R-Us model?

The Paris is designed for hauling loads over snow. It is stronger, longer, and narrower than a typical plastic sled designed for kids sliding down hills at the local golf course.

You're already investing some time and $$$ in building a pulk and using it in the backcountry. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me to seriously compromise the quality of your pulk just to save $10-$15.
post #11 of 13
that's why I prefer to carry on my back. and about $10 into the kid's sled
post #12 of 13

Sled link

I was just shown http://www.skipulk.com which is a site about the modification of the Paris Expedition sled into a pulk. The site has free plans and offers parts at a minimal cost.
post #13 of 13

I just completed my ski pulk per the plans at www.skipulk.com.  So far, testing in my front yard, it appears to haul over 50 pounds quite nicely.

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