How do you use a pulk with children?

We are often asked if our pulks work well for pulling kids or which sled we recommend using with children.  We’ve compiled some options for pulling your child while you ski or snowshoe.

Pulling your kids behind you in a sled isn’t a new invention.  But, new gear and creative people have made pulling your kids so much easier!  Now you don’t have to just pull your child with a rope while they bang into the backs of your legs on any inclines – you can pull them in a pulk!  You’ll find several commercial pulk companies that manufacture systems specifically for kids – and they are slick!  The Chariot Carrier looks amazing and we’ve heard great things about it.  There’s also the Thule system and probably others we’re not yet aware of.  But, if those sleds seem a little out of your price range, you can also make your own pulk to pull your child.  Here are a few ideas:

1. Purchase any child’s sled (or maybe you already have one) and connect our poles and harness to it so you can ski or snowshoe while having control over the little ones being towed behind. While we know many people who have pulled kids in a Paris based pulk with a Crazy Creek type chair, we do not recommend pulling children without a secure harness system and a backrest that can function as a roll bar.  It is difficult to do this in the Paris sled.

2. Another option is to use our Snowclipper pulk system. There are two slots in the Snowclipper which makes adding backrests or dividers very easy.  While we do not provide the backrests or dividers, you can easily use cardboard to create a template and cut them out of 1/2″ plywood.

Once you have the backrest, you can secure it to the sled and add harness configurations depending on the age of the child. With such precious cargo, be sure to ski well within your limits of controlling the sled.

Check out this video describing the Snowclipper backrests for pulling kids:

We’ve tried out a couple of other sleds that have worked well for our young daughter (15 months at the time of this article) that come with built in harness systems.

3. The first sled we tried was the Paris Snowflake (from the same company who makes the popular Paris Expedition sled). We liked it because it had a shield to keep her warm and cozy and it had straps to keep her upright (since at 8 months she wasn’t the most stable sitter while riding in a sled).  But, there were also some drawbacks.  The shield wasn’t very easy to install and even though the sled fit her well at 8 months, our 2 year old niece was almost too big for it – so it wasn’t going to last us long.

4. Then we found the Pelican and tried their sled. You can find the Pelican Baby Sled Deluxe online at Amazon by following this link. This sled is bigger than the Paris Snowflake and we prefer it since it will last us longer and was more convenient to assemble.  It has a shield to keep her warm and toasty (even in -18F wind chills!  Oh Minnesota winter ;) and has a strap to secure her (although that is one drawback – the Snowflake was better at keeping her secure since it had over-the-shoulder straps instead of just a waist strap) but it does the trick. One other thing we read might be a drawback is that the shield zips in the back so you have to put them in and take them out over the seat.  But, we found that you can just push the shield forward and get them in and out just fine.

On both of these sleds we were able to attach our pole and harness combo to provide good control while pulling our daughter.

What is the difference between a sled and a skipulk?

Pulks are made up of a sled, poles (traces) and a harness. (A sled is one of the components.) A ski pulk is a pulk specifically designed for skiers who need excellent control on downhill sections. Our ski pulks are also designed to prevent injury or equipment failure due to falls (which are common with skiing down hills). They can also be called sledges, gear sleds, and nordic sleds.

How does the Snowclipper cover work?

The Snowclipper cover is made up of two covers. The first is a large Shurelast polyester cover with a full length zipper and mitten pulls, and the second a reversible compression cover that works similar to a compression stuff bag. (It compacts the load and reduces the risk of rollover.) The compression cover sits over the first allowing bulky items like snowshoes, skis, snowboards, and more, to be carried between the two or both covers can be removed in seconds for the option of hauling firewood.

Should I purchase the Paris or Snowclipper?

The best sled for your adventures depends on your activities. Both systems are about the same size in terms of cargo space and use the same harnesses and poles. Both also perform very well in a variety of conditions, and you can’t go wrong with either choice! Differences include:

  • The Paris Sled is a general purpose sled that is about 4 lbs or so lighter and less expensive than the Snowclipper. It is durable enough to last for a couple years of hard use.
  • We designed the Snowclipper specifically as a pulk sled. Like a kayak, it is created from rotational molding. It is much more durable with over twice as much plastic on the bottom (this is at the expense of the extra 4 lbs). It also does not have the wide rims of the Paris which can hang up on brush if you do a lot of bushwacking.
  • The Snowclipper has slots that make it easy to add dividers or backrests for kids.
  • The Snowclipper has the option to add covers. Instead of a cover, most Paris sled fans use packs, duffels or a burrito wrap with a tarp.
  • The most popular difference is the retractable fins on the Snowclipper. These allow you to deploy or retract the fins without removing your gear from the sled. (The fin option on the Paris systems are removable but you have to take out your gear first.)

Do the fins cause too much friction when not in use?

When fins aren’t needed (if you’re not on sidehills or icy, hard packed downhills), it’s best to stow them away so they don’t cause too much friction.  In snowy conditions the friction won’t be very noticeable but on hard pack it would be best to stow them away.  To provide the option, we have created a system for the Paris that allows the fins to be removed and either mounted inside the sled or stored in your pack. In the Snowclipper we took it one step further and designed fins that are retractable.

How can I get my pulk to tip less?

Keep your heavy gear on the bottom towards the rear of the sled.  Also, if you are crossing your poles for better turning control, be sure you have them velcroed at the spot they cross to avoid tipping if the poles pull away from each other.

How much weight can I pull?

It depends how much you can fit in the sled without making it top heavy.  Typical winter camping gear can be bulky.  The pulk systems can handle 100s of pounds of weight but you’ll want to pack your gear efficiently and keep your heavier items towards the bottom of the sled and lighter, bulkier items on top. Also, note which harness you are using. For heavier loads (80lbs+) you’ll want to use our heavy duty Expedition harness.

Are the covers/duffel waterproof?

The material used for the Snowclipper and Expedition covers, as well as the Paris duffel, is water resistant.  The seams and zippers are not seam sealed but for winter use it keeps your gear protected and dry.

What pulk setup would be best for a race?

In most circumstances the Paris pulk system works well for a race.  We typically recommend Full Length Poles and a Full Harness for long distance races.  The Full Harness provides comfort for the long haul.  Races like the Arrowhead Ultra and many others don’t require fins because you’re typically on some type of groomed trail and fins would add resistance.