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Do It Yourself Ski Touring Sled

Enjoy venturing far into the backcountry, but don't want to carry all of your supplies on your back? Well, here's the solution. This ski touring sled can be made easily at home. With most parts available at your local hardware store, this low cost sled can be had on even a college student's budget. While it might not suffice for an artic expedition, this sled will certainly get you to basecamp at Katahdyn.

Sled Design and Article By Bob Makowiecki

Following are instructions for building a harness and sled for winter ski touring. I put one of these together last winter and used it for several days in Baxter Park. I loaded all my stuff into two medium sized duffle bags. When packing, I put all my gear ito a large duffle bag, placed a 6' X 8' tarp into the sled, loaded in the duffle, wrapped up the tarp and criss-crossed the sled with bungie cords. Rather than attach the sled to a waist belt, I clipped it onto the shoulder straps of a small day bag I was wearing. This seemed to provide some cushioning from the "push" of the sled when going downhill and over bumps. Overall this design seemed to work pretty well. There were no equipment failures, the sled was not prone to tipping and it seemed to track well. The one problem I did have was with it's length. I made the harness long enough so that my skis would not interfere with the sled, but the length made it a little tricky to handle on switchbacks and sharp corne! rs. My solution was to leave enough rope so I could fold the harness back on the sled and pull the sled with the rope through these difficult parts. I hope you have as much fun with it as I did.

Disclaimer: Warning - This is not an engineered design - build and use at your own risk. If you somehow maim or kill yourself while skiing with this sled don't blame me.

Description Quantity Notes Cost
Sled1I obtained mine from a local sporting
goods store; you can mail order one
from Northern (1-800-533-5545; item# 35888-C092) $23.00 + $5.00 shipping
3/4" CPVC sched 4015 feetYou may only be able to buy 10 foot lengths$ 5.25
3/4 CPVC sched 40 elbows2 $ 1.20
3/4 CPVC sched 40 tee4 $ 2.10
PVC cement1/2 pintsmallest size available$ 3.00
PVC cleaner1/2 pintsmallest size available$ 1.50
6 mm (1/4) diameter nylon cord25 feetany synthetic will do$ 2.00
Oval carabiner2 $13.00
$48.05 Total

Tools required

Tubing cutter or a hack saw with a moderate to coarse blade (18-24 teeth per inch)
Knife - either a sharp pocket knife or an Exacto type
Tape measure
Pen or pencil
Coarse file


1. Using the tubing cutter or hacksaw, cut two pieces of PVC tubing 16 11/16" long and four pieces 32 11/16" long. Also, modify two of the tees by cutting of the ends of the sockets and cutting the relief angles as shown (note: the 15 degree angle alows the carabiner to fit into the tee and is just an approximation; make sure that the carabiner you are using will fit. I found that mine had to be slightly forced into the opening). Carefully remove any burrs using a sharp knife.

2. Using the primer, wipe the insides of the sockets of the fittings and about 1" of the ends of the tubes.

3. Glue one of the 16 11/16" tubes into an elbow (note: apply glue to both the inside of the socket and the outside of the tube). Next glue another elbow onto the other end. Before glue has a chance to set, lay assembly on a flat surface and adjust the two elbows so that they are parallel.

4. Glue the other 16 11/16" tube into the center portion of the two remaining unmodified tees. Before glue has a chance to set, lay assembly on a flat surface and adjust the two tees so that they are parallel.

5. Glue two of the 32 11/16" tubes into the two elbows found on the assembly from step 3.

6. Glue the two remaining 32 11/16" tubes into one end of the two tees found on the assembly from step 4, then glue the two modified tees onto the other ends of the tubes. (note: the modified tees should be positioned so that the carabiners will be perpendicular to the rest of the harness)

7. Glue the ends of the tubes from step 5 into the open tee sockets from step 6, thereby completing the harness assembly.

8. Thread the 6mm cord through all the sled grommets except the two located in the front center. You should have two equal lengths of cord about 72" long when finished.

9. Attach the harness to the sled by laying the harness on top of the front of the sled then tightly wrapping the cord around the PVC tubing. When you reach the two remaining grommets in the front of the sled pass the cord through the grommets and knot it on the far side. The key here is to keep the spiral wrap around the sled harness as tight as possible, so repeat this step if you end up with a loose wrap. Finally, tie the two loose ends of the cord together.

Bob Makowiecki, 39, lives in Georgetown, MA nad has been hiking for nearly 20 years. Both he and his wife Viki enjoy skiing and winter hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and in Maine's Baxter State Park.

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