Saturday, November 03, 2012

Happy Winter Adventures - Just Add Sled

We love sleds!  Absolutely LOVE sleds.  And we have found that every winter adventure is more fun if you bring a sled.  We have a Chariot that we can convert into a ski sled, a pulk we also use for skiing or snowshoeing in deeper snow, and a toboggan we use for everything else.  Very few winter trips will be done this year without some sort of sled we can use to pull a tired preschooler.  Our son has his own snowshoes,  skates and cross country skis but his endurance just isn't there quite yet to handle a 6km hike through deep snow on snowshoes.  He won't be able to traverse the full length of a mountain lake when we go skating this month.  And he certainly won't get further than a kilometre (if that) on skis!  Using a sled saved our butts last winter and will continue to do so this coming winter too.

Below are the top 5 ways we love to use a sled:

One - Tobogganing

Pretty self explanatory - this is the most popular and obvious use for a sled.  You can find hills everywhere and it's pretty cheap if you go down to your nearest Canadian Tire to pick up a sled.  Personally, we are a big fan of Pelican Sleds.  We find them to be quite durable and they can handle being dragged over pavement for short stretches or rocks during early season hikes.  

Always a fun game to see how many kids you can fit on a sled.

Toboggans make a great place to take a nap too.

Two - Winter Walking and Hiking

We started bringing our sled with us on our walks and hikes as soon as snow hit Calgary last month.  I feared at first that our friends would oppose this method of travel, preferring their kids to walk, but as it turns out, kids riding on sleds are happy kids - and who doesn't want happy kids on a hike?!  Winter is hard and kids easily get cold hands and feet (even in good boots and mittens).  And a cold kid is a grumpy kid.  Throw them on a sled though and you can get Mr or Miss Grumpy back to the car to warm up a whole lot faster! 

Even when the kids are happy and warm, the sled is just such a fun place to be.  My son likes to pull his sled (and I often make him pull it up the hills rather than kill myself pulling him up) but his favourite place to be is on the sled rather than in front of it.  I can't say I blame him.  There is a reason after all that sleigh rides are so popular. 

Exercise break - everybody off!

The best way to go hiking in winter

Winnie the Pooh and the Little Green Dragon go for a winter hike

Three - Snowshoeing

Last winter we went on a family wilderness adventure and stayed at a backcountry hut.  The trip was awesome but there's no way the kids would have gotten to the cabin without the aid of sleds.  It was a 12km hike and we were all carrying backpacks with our gear as it was.  Nobody had a free back for a child needing a lift.  We chose to use Chariots and Ski Pulks on this trip and they worked really well.  Toboggans and sleds generally require you to pull them which after 12km, is going to leave you with very sore arms.  Chariots and Pulks however have waist bands and bars that allow you to pull them hands free.  They also work better on down hill sections because the bars prevent them from hitting you in the butt - or worse yet - passing you!

Snowshoeing with a Double Chariot

Our single ski pulk

Four - Skating

While many people like pulling kids around the ice in sleds, I find that they have a lot of drag on the ice.  I much prefer to push a Chariot with wheels and use that for our sled.  Either way, pushing or pulling, small kids can only skate on their own for so long before they call it quits.  You can either call it a day too or you can give them a ride around the ice and enjoy a faster pace.  (Something we always enjoy.)

Skating on Johnston Lake, Banff last November

Skating on Lake Windermere last December, Invermere BC

Five - Cross Country Skiing

Finally, the sport where we most have to use a sled - cross country skiing.  We just can't justify driving an hour to the mountains for a 20 min. ski.  Our son has his own skis but I'm pretty sure he'll spend more time in his pulk this year than he will skiing on his own.  I'd love for him to prove me wrong, but even if he is able to join us on his skis, he'll tire quickly.  I see lots of parents pulling sleds for the moment when this happens.  Junior jumps in and you can continue off down the trail rather than having to turn around. 

Many places around here don't like foot prints on the ski trails so having the child walk when he gets tired isn't an option.  There are also very few flat ski trails in the Rockies.  No matter where you go, you are going to come across that big hill requiring your child jump in the sled. 

Chariots are awesome because they convert from a stroller to a sled with a simple ski attachment

A pulk is another great option for towing your child while skiing
Chariots and pulks also make a great place to nap while Mom and Dad get some quiet time to ski!

Snug as a bug in the pulk

Sledding with a baby or younger child?

Check out the story I wrote last winter, Walking in a Winter Wonderland - Have Sled Will Travel
In this story I talk about baby pelican sleds and wooden sleds perfect for taking babes for walks in the snow.

Baby Pelican Sleds are awesome because you can put the cover on to keep the wind off your child
Molded sleds are comfortable for the little ones
Our antique wooden sled

Looking for other budget-friendly ways to get out in the snow this winter?

Last December I wrote the story, Exploring the Rockies on a Budget.
You'll find more information about day trips to the Rockies complete with locations to go skating and tobogganing. 

Day trip at Kananaskis Village

What's your favourite kind of sled?

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