A sledge - practical for winter treks
Equipment used during winter treks takes up space. Tents, sleeping bags, clothing and stoves – all of them must be large and sturdy to withstand the cold and tough weather conditions. To decrease the burden on their backs, particularly during longer winter treks, many people opt to pull part of their pack on a sledge. The sledge can be either short or long, and pulled by rope or harness. It may be worth remembering that if the sledge will be used to transport an injured person, it should be at least two metres long. There are some disadvantages to pulling a sledge, for example if you are in thick forests or rocky or difficult terrain.
In a snowy winter landscape, the sledge can provide much needed relief. It can carry equipment for camping and digging bivouacs, which means that you only carry in your backpack the things you want to have close at hand during the day: warm clothing, a thermos, snacks. You can also carry the wind sack in your backpack, or you can pack it high up on the sledge.
On a hard, flat surface, the sledge glides on its own, but it becomes heavier as the terrain becomes more difficult and the surface softer. It is a good idea, then, to be two persons per sledge. The one that is not pulling is responsible for walking ahead and creating the trail. Look far ahead and plan your route in such a manner as to use the terrain to your advantage. The trail should also be wider than if you are only skiing to prevent the sledge from gliding at an angle, which increases the resistance of the snow. Remember to switch pullers frequently.
Double harness up the hills
It can be difficult to pull a sledge up a hill. It might be necessary for the person pulling the sledge to herringbone or walk sideways, and it is often a good idea if the sledge is equipped for two people to pull at the same time. Another variation is that one person walks behind and pushes the sledge with a pole (making sure that the pole does not put a hole in the cover). Sometimes it can be practical to connect the sledges in a line to help pull in the front. Avoid sweating by taking a lot of short breaks.
Take it easy downhill
It is easy to hurt yourself when pulling a sledge downhill. Choose a route that is appropriate given your skiing ability, the quality of the snow and the length/degree of the slope. It is often helpful to disconnect the harness from your hip belt and steer with your arms, which provides extra resilience. If the trail is steep, it can be practical for one person to ski behind the sled and help slow it down using a rope. If the trail is extremely steep, you should consider taking your skis off and walking down, and the sledge can also be turned around so it is backed down the slope.