The Guide to Proper Winter Sledding

Make the most of that noblest of winter weekend sports

Click to enlarge.     Photo: Kate Francis

GET THE RIGHT SLED
Discs, like Paricon’s plastic Flying Saucer ($6), are great for kids because they’re low to the ground, lack maneuverability, and spin uncontrollably. In other words, they’re wicked fun. Toboggans, on the other hand, are perfect for groups: crammed together, six people can fit on Mountain Boy Sledworks’ classic Mountain Boggon ($299). Tubes hit the sweet spot between speed and comfort; get a secondhand one at your local tire-repair shop. But for pure velocity, the skeleton-like Hammerhead Pro ($169) is unbeatable. Wide rear skids help it ride on top of snow, and front skis allow it to navigate around trees.

FIND THE RIGHT SNOW
Deep powder facilitates injury-free wipeouts and is thus ideal for jumps. A hard crust allows you to achieve maximum speed, provided it’s sturdy enough to hold your weight. But packed powder, which is forgiving but doesn’t act like a sand dune, is the perfect track. For even higher speeds, make a sledding path by freezing the snow with a few dozen (or more) rounds of warm water from a Nerf Super Soaker Lightningstorm water blaster ($25).

CUSTOMIZE
There’s always a way to go faster. For plastic sleds, use cooking spray to help keep snow and ice from sticking to the underside. For wood sleds, run fine sandpaper across the bottom every third or fourth outing. And to really make it slick, melt ski wax onto the sanded bottom, then soak it in with an iron. Your shirts may suffer, but it will definitely help on straightaways.

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