November 2, 2012

Sledding Season - Tips and Tricks.

Sledding season is finally here!  That means lots of rosy cheeks from frosty rides down hills and fit parents from pulling those kiddos back to the top.  I often get asked about the "best sled" and I thought a post dedicated to sledding is in order. 

Types of Sleds:

Most department stores such as Target or Fred Meyer have a large selection of sleds.  I am skipping over the runner sleds, saucers and trick sleds for the older set (maybe I can do a post about them in a few years when my boys age into them).  

 For the young crew, there are a few options.  On the left is a more expensive wooden sled (over $100) that has a back and padding to keep a child upright.  I also found out that a car seat fit perfectly on the edges.  The sled on the right is quite popular for young children and only costs about $20.  There is a back and a sort of raised section in between the legs (like the Bumbo seat) to keep the child from slipping out. 

Check out Craigslist, garage sales and used stores for sleds, especially baby sleds.  They get grown out of quickly!

 Older children have more options.  I liked the sled on left as it is inflatable (making a more cushy ride) and has a back for support.  This sled can get going pretty fast though.  The sled on the right has a molded seat and dedicated leg area.  This is also more built for going down hills than pulling along a trail. 
 There also is the typical orange toboggan sled that works well if you child can reliably sit up alone (but, see a hack down below to solve this issue).  You can find different priced sleds with different levels of durability.  The one on the left was purchased at REI and made for pulling big loads (over $40), but the other long sleds are great for families.  The sled on the right is newer to me and is made for pulling loads as well.  These are pricey for a sled (about $40+), but can haul kids and gear (and then just gear after the kids are done!).  They don't go down hills as well, but are great for transportation. 

Sled Related Tips and Hacks

1.  Always put a blanket on the bottom of a sled to keep the buns a bit warmer.  A thin fleece or light wool blanket is great.  This is especially important if you are pulling a kiddo on a hike or longer trek.  Parents remember to put a blanket on top, but sliding across snow gets cold!

2.  If you have a dog, let them help out a bit!  I have a mushing harness for my dog and clip the rope to her.  I keep a rope to help pull and keep the sled out of traffic and rivers.

3.  Here is an instructable on making any sled into a baby sled.  He uses a sled, baby bath tub and luggage strap.   It got me thinking about a laundry basket or even car booster seat...

 4.  An ingenious mother even used a Crazy Creek or sling chair.  She fed the side straps through the handles of a sled so her kiddo could sit up and have back support. 

5.  You can easily pull kids gear by hooking the sleds together.  I use the small keychain carabiners on the rope and two back handles.

6.  If you are going to be pulling the kids for any length of time, I suggest making the standard issue rope longer.  If I am hiking with the sled, I put a double length climbing runner over one shoulder (like a prom queen sash) and then clip the sled's rope to that.  I gives me more leg room and I can even ski and not kick them in the face this way.

7.  On the trip back up the hill, face the child backwards so his feet stop him at the end of the sled.  This prevents the child from sliding to the back of the sled and laying down with his head sliding on the snow (or is this only a problem for my children?).

I am sure that you have some tips and tricks - please post them in the comments so I can learn something new!

Here is a link to a post about some good sledding areas around Anchorage!

**Remember that sledding can be dangerous and many parents are putting helmets on their kiddos!**

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