How to Build a DIY Pulk Sled • Snowshoe Magazine


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Oct 15, 2023

How to Build a DIY Pulk Sled • Snowshoe Magazine

Whenever you see images of arctic explorers and adventurers trudging across the

Whenever you see images of arctic explorers and adventurers trudging across the snow, they are rarely carrying a backpack. Instead, they are pulling their gear behind them on a toboggan or sled. These sleds are called pulks.

Not surprisingly, the word pulk originates in winter-loving Scandinavia. The physics behind it is beyond me, but it is certainly easier to pull your gear than to have it on your back. And you don't have to be on a polar expedition to feel the benefit.

A weekend camping trip will be a lot more enjoyable using a pulk instead of a backpack. It's also a great way for families with young kids to get everybody out to enjoy a winter day. Simply bundle the kids up and put them on the sled.

And the best part is that virtually anybody can easily and economically build a DIY pulk sled in a single afternoon. All it takes are a few simple tools, and some material readily found in your local hardware store.

L: The author and his group using his own DIY pulk sled while snowshoeing. For weekend camping trips, pulks can be much more enjoyable than carrying a backpack. Photo: Malcolm Brett R: Once you have finished your DIY pulks sled using the materials above, you will be pleasantly surprised at how little effort it takes to pull your gear. Photo: Doug Scott

The pulk described here is a small toboggan tethered to a heavy belt by poles. Don't be tempted to simply tie the toboggan to your waist. The poles ensure the sled doesn't slide downhill faster than you, which is never a good thing. They also give more rigidity to the system, so the sled doesn't flip over going around corners or riding over high spots.

So without further ado, here are the tools, materials, and steps to build your own DIY pulks sled.

Read More: Tips and Tricks for Cold Weather Backpacking and Winter Camping

CPVC is a good choice for the poles of the DIY pulk sled because it is strong, light, easy to work with, and readily available in the plumbing section of your neighborhood hardware store. It generally comes in 10-foot lengths, so you will need to buy two lengths for this project. CPVC is easy to cut to length with a hacksaw. Care should be taken to make sure the cut is square. After the cut, clean off any burrs with 100 grit sandpaper.

Before gluing any joint, dry fit it first. When joining the short piece of pipe to the elbows, it is a good idea to draw alignment marks on both the pipe and the elbows before applying the glue. Both elbows must be pointing the same way so that they are parallel when the poles are installed.

When you are ready to glue the joint, first spread a primer on the outside of the pipe and the inside of the elbow using the brush supplied with the primer. Then apply the solvent cement to the pipe and inside of the elbow, again with the brush supplied with the cement. Next, slide the pipe into the elbow. Turn the pipe about a quarter turn to make sure the cement is evenly spread. Make sure the elbows are aligned properly, then allow the cement to set according to the instructions on the can.

After drilling the holes in the front of the DIY pulk sled, you’ll want to slide the short CPVC pipe into the eye bolt. Then, glue the 90-degree elbows to either end of the piece of pipe using CPVC solvent cement. Photo: Doug Scott

Attach the belt to the poles by drilling a 5/16" hole about 1" from the end of each pole. Also, drill a 5/16" hole on both sides of the belt where the poles will attach. Photo: Doug Scott

Now the next time you are heading out, consider turning yourself into a dog sled instead of a pack mule. You will be pleasantly surprised at how little effort it takes to pull your gear.

What other recommendations do you have for building a DIY pulk sled? Please share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below.

This article was first published on Jan 10. 2012, and Susan Wowk most recently updated it on July 6, 2021.

Read Next: The Joy of Pulk Running

Doug Scott is a full time Community College instructor in Saint John, New Brunswick on Canada's east coast. When he's not in the class he can usually be found outside on his snowshoes, on his bike or in his kayak.

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