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Thread: Building a sled to pull winter camping gear

  1. #1
    Member sjhbos's Avatar
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    Building a sled to pull winter camping gear

    I am thinking about trying to make a sled this summer that I can use to pull some of my camping/hiking gear for a Baxter trip that I am interested in doing next winter or to pull my 5 year old daughter in the woods by our house. I have no experience with this. Can others who have done this give some tips?

    Should I try to pull the sled with rope or with two poles and if poles, should that be make of aluminum or PVC piping? What is the recommended length of rope or pipe between me and the sled?

    How to connect to me? Do I tie onto my backpack hip-belt or should I get a pulling harness so that my pack is in the sled? Maybe some carabiners on each end?

    Is a plastic children sled sufficient or should I try to reinforce with some grommets or a way to secure the rope/pipe to the sled?

    Thanks in advance for any comments and advice.
    Steve

  2. #2
    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    I have no specific advice, but I've seen this question come up before. If you search for 'Pulk' and 'Baxter' you should find some good info, like this: http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthrea...-stabilization
    | 64.5% W48: 19/48
    Trail Adopter of the Guinea Pond Trail

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    Definitely worth searching the archives

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    Senior Member Stash's Avatar
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    Cheap and functional. No problems with brittle PVC. Used a hip belt.

    http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthrea...52-Budget-Pulk
    Stash

    What matters is what I do. Not what they do.

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  5. #5
    Senior Member 1SlowHiker's Avatar
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    Sled from Benny's; $10.95, stainless steel eyebolts, washers, and nuts; $20.00. Pex tubing from Home Depot; $5.95, Bungie straps from JobLot; $2.50. Rope $3.50, going 11 miles on a 23 mile hike without a 40 lb pack on my back - Priceless !

    Pictures: last four pics of my post at http://1slowhiker.blogspot.com/2014_03_18_archive.html Worked great on my Bonds hike last winter and up Zealand road to Hale this winter. The sled I used on my previous version used on Owls head was too wide for the broken out track. Using PEZ tubing avoids the brittleness of PVC mentioned in the above linked thread. I just used a old duffle bag strap for an over one shoulder and chest harness. Your biggest problem might be finding a sled this time of year. Pm me if you need more details
    Marvin from RI,
    http://1slowhiker.blogspot.com
    48/48NH4K, 67/67NE4K, 100/100NEHH, 44/48 WNH4K

  6. #6
    Senior Member sardog1's Avatar
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    Welcome to the pulk subculture. Your journey should include spending substantial time at Pulks for Winter Travel by the once-active VFTT member spencer.

    If you get twenty pulk enthusiasts in a room, they will have a hundred designs among them. At least some of those will be useful ...
    sardog1

    "Å! kjære Bymann gakk ei stjur og stiv,
    men kom her up og kjenn eit annat Liv!
    kom hit, kom hit, og ver ei daud og lat!
    kom kjenn, hot d'er, som heiter Svevn og Mat,
    og Drykk og Tørste og det heile, som
    er Liv og Helse i ein Hovedsum."

    -- Aasmund O. Vinje, "Til Fjells!"

  7. #7
    Senior Member MadRiver's Avatar
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    I have built several and it is relatively easy to do. There are several designs. Some like the large barge structure, while I prefer the low and sleek structure of a Paris sled. I prefer poles over ropes because I like total control of the sled. I also attack the poles to the sled using casters, which gives me 360 degrees of movement. I used to use chimney sweep poles, but found them too flexible so I bought the Ski Pulk guy’s poles, which are more rigid. Once I saw his design, it wouldn’t be too hard to duplicate with the right tools. I plan to build an extra one this summer to have as a spare for winter trips.
    What do you mean he don't eat no meat? Ok, I'll do lamb.

  8. #8
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    The big suggestion is to start with a heavy duty sled. The cheap kiddy ones sold at Walmart will shred and no matter what you do the hardware will eventually rip out. Ice fisherman and hunters use utility sleds, they can be tough to find in the summer as, most places stock up in the fall and sell out by spring. This link is to a couple of utility sleds that may be a good start for a first attempt. http://pariconsleds.com/index.php/utility-sleds.html. Best chance for off season are hardware stores (not big box), they sometimes carry winter inventory over. You definitely want to look for polypropylene.

    The key with any pulk is that the first one you build is most likely not the last as there is a learning curve. I expect many pulks end up in the attic as skiing with one is an acquired skill.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 04-29-2015 at 07:22 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member MadRiver's Avatar
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    I find the Paris Expedition Sled 60X20X6 is the perfect size for my needs. It is not too bulky or top heavy and fits into a standard broken out trail without riding up on the sides. I keep my loads as low as possible with the use of a duffle bag that is secured to the sled. All I need to do it twist my hip to the right or left to have it track well. If I am going down something extremely steep, I unhook and use the poles to guide the sled down.

    To answer some of your other questions, I attach a 6 inch loop of heavy cord (used for climbing) and secure it to the metal supports in my backpack. I then use carabineers to attach the poles to the heavy cord. I put my sleeping bag and clothing in my backpack, while the heavier stuff goes into the sled. Depending on the terrain and distance, 100 lbs. is about the maximum I want to pull.
    Last edited by MadRiver; 04-29-2015 at 10:03 AM.
    What do you mean he don't eat no meat? Ok, I'll do lamb.

  10. #10
    Senior Member wardsgirl's Avatar
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    I use a 48" plastic kiddie sled, modified with PVC reinforcements and 6' PVC handles, so I stay out in front and save my calves. Carabiners, attached to a thin climbing rope that is fed through the PVC apparatus, hold it to a beefy fanny-style pack. Also, it may help you, sjhbos, to know that I pack my winter backpack full of gear and then wrap the backpack in a 8'x8' tarp which then is secured to the sled by bungee cords. When pulking it in the Whites, you have many occasions when you need to carry the backpack (as the manufacturer intended, and drag the empty sled behind you- like on narrow puncheon-style bridges, steep gullies, and vicious sidehills, especially. It is convenient to be able to switch from pulling to carrying, and back, as quickly as possible.
    AMC Adopt-A-Trail Program Region Leader Emeritus: Pemigewasset 1993-2005 Southern Presidentials 2005-2017
    Trail Adopter: Webster Cliff Trail

  11. #11
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Maybe a little off topic and likely a stupid question: does anyone use a pulk on day hikes? I'm curious from a stamina point of view if pulling a polk on longer distance hikes like a Winter traverse of say the Bonds/Zealand or a walk out to Owls Head is easier versus the heavy weight of a Winter pack. Would certainly allow for bringing a little extra gear along you might otherwise not take (like say a stove and more interesting food, a heavy sleeping bag for emergencies, tent vs bivy or whatever). Is the pulk strictly a multi-day thing? Can't say I've ever seen someone walking around with a pulk but I haven't done the longer distance 4k's yet in Winter nor do I camp in Winter.

    Also, someone partially addressed this but how difficult/dangerous is it dragging a pulk on really steep trails? Is there anything in the construction of a polk that allows it to slide forward but not backward (like skins on skis or an angled brace that would slide in a forward direction but dig in going backwards)? Any tricks to uphill/downhill travel to make it safer/easier? Is the pulk mainly a packed trail device or does it drag well in deep powder/snowdrifts?
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 48/48; ME 4k: 2/14; VT 4k: 1/5; ADK 46: 6/46; Cat 3.5k 10/35

  12. #12
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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  13. #13
    Senior Member hikerbrian's Avatar
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    For steep downhills and sidehills, attach some cord to the two rear corners of the sled and have someone hold onto these from the back. Makes the whole operation almost effortless, as apposed to constantly watching the sled scoot out beside you and overturn (which will happen, no matter how good your pole design is, on steeper downhills without some way to control it from behind). It's also important for the person holding the rear ropes to occasionally yell, "HEEEYAHHH!!!"
    Sure. Why not.

  14. #14
    Member sjhbos's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the comments to my question. Just reading thought them now and there is some great advice to get me started in the right direction which is very much appreciated.

  15. #15
    Member sjhbos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1SlowHiker View Post
    Sled from Benny's; $10.95, stainless steel eyebolts, washers, and nuts; $20.00. Pex tubing from Home Depot; $5.95, Bungie straps from JobLot; $2.50. Rope $3.50, going 11 miles on a 23 mile hike without a 40 lb pack on my back - Priceless !
    I already have a sled......I thought that putting in the eyebolts would cause damage to the sled and cause it to crack.

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