Winter travel poses its own challenges, but also comes with its own rewards. Chief among them is the ability to carry more cargo more comfortably than you normally would. The sled (or pulk) is one of those cargo force multipliers just like a bicycle trailer or a canoe. There are some really nice pulks for sale out there, as well as good resources for how to put together a very nice do it yourself pulk. This resource covers how to put together a "Plenty Good" pulk for around $65 and about a half an hour of time. What will the more expensive ones do that this one won't? We don't know, as the setup described here has always been plenty good for us.
- Sled - This is the biggie of course. As of 2023, it's easier to find these than it has been in the past as ice fishing sleds at places like Sportsman's Warehouse.
- PVC pipe - I buy a single length of 1/2" 600psi pipe
- Stainless bolts - Depends on sled construction. The older sleds we were able to get only needed (2) 1/4" x 2" bolts, (2) stainless lock nuts. Newer sleds that maybe don't have the molded in slots for cross bolts need stainless eye bolts with big fender washes on each side or maybe even a piece of aluminum flat bar as a backer on the interior so the eye bolts don't rip out.
- Utility Rope - 20' should be plenty
- Carabiners or snap hooks - (4) carabiners or stainless snap hooks
- bolt the bolts into the provided cutouts in the pelican sled. see pictures above for detail
- cut the PVC pipe in half
- thread a length of utility rope through the PVC pipe with a carabiner on each end. make it as snug as you can to eliminate play.
- use the leftover rope to make an in camp tow cord through the holes provided in the sled
That's it. Nothing more to it than that. We like crossed traces because of how they track. Clip the front of the traces in somewhere on your pack or hipbelt. We like to clip them into grimlocs on the PALS on our day pack hipbelts. Aim the grimloc opening down so they'll release in a crash (like if you are skiing downhill, threading a little closely through trees, and end up on the opposite side of the tree as your pulk). For cargo carrying, we just use ratchet straps to secure dry bags and whatever else. Occasionally dress up the bottom with glide wax.
There are lots of ways to upgrade this basic setup. Use spray adhesive to affix a close cell pad to the bottom for kid comfort and cargo quietness. Make fancier traces. Make a cover. Put in perimeter lacing for lashing ease. Put runners on the bottom. put a brake on the back. All of these modifications are covered elsewhere in good detail so we won't repeat them here. However, the basic setup works very well for general freight duty. So well that we haven't felt the need to upgrade in any significant way over the course of winters worth of use.
Have fun out there!