Outdoor Life Guide to Winter Camping – Using a Sled
Most hikers use backpacks to carry their load on a hiking trip, but in the winter months a sled is an interesting – and fun – option. On my most recent winter camping adventure in Algonquin Park, one of my friends, Charley, decided to give the sled a try.
Charley rigged up an impressive-looking contraption with a sled and lots of bungee cords and loaded it up. Unfortunately, the trails we were snowshoeing ended up being quite hilly with lots of turns. Since there has been less snow this year, there were a great deal of rocks and roots to maneuver around. It was tough going and I don't think he would recommend anyone else use a sled on those trails. Luckily, he had a pair of Nordic ski poles, which gave him traction for going up the hills. Without his poles he'd have had a rough time on the hilly sections (his shoes didn't have crampons).
By our trip's end, Charley was more than ready to be finished with the sled. However, we all agree it was a good learning experience. We also got a good laugh when we returned home and looked at the front of the Algonquin Park map more closely. It read: The trails around Mew Lake (that's where we were) are not at all suitable for sled travel. Oops - reading the map more closely before we departed might have been a good idea!
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you're planning a sled trip:
• Ideal sled conditions are on trails with few hills or on a frozen lake.
• When using a sled, ski poles help you gain traction.
• The way you pack your sled is also important. Make sure it's not top heavy and that it's packed evenly, otherwise it will continuously fall over on its side, especially going around corners.
• Make sure that the sled is attached far enough behind you so that your snowshoes or skis don't hit it with each stride.
Nomadik Personal Fitness Expert