Sledding 101

One of the most basic, but also one of the most thrilling wintertime activities a person can partake in is sledding. The beauty of sledding is that it requires almost no skill or expertise to do, and is an almost guarantee to be a fun time for all, both young and old. It’s a timeless activity for anybody who grew up in a place that saw snow in the winter and has a few hills nearby. For those that didn’t, here’s what you need to know about sledding to get you started.

The first thing you need to know is that just about anything can be used as a sled. We’ve all seen pictures of the classic rectangular sled that’s generally made of wood, but there are also plastic saucer-shaped sleds. These have far less friction on the snow, which makes them travel faster, and they’re also harder to steer, which can add to the fun if you’re fine not having complete control over where you’re going. It’s also common practice for people to use inter-tubes commonly used in pools as sleds, as they work in a similar fashion to the saucers.

Of course, anything that will have reduced friction on top of snow and that can hold a person’s weight can be used as a sled. Cafeteria trays, garbage lids, and laundry baskets are all viable sled alternatives for people who don’t have a real sled at their disposal. If you want to go even more rogue, a garbage bag, an old tarp, or even a large piece of cardboard could be used. For those feeling adventurous, going down a hill without a sled could be an option. If you’re willing to brave the cold for a few seconds, heading down a hill face first while lying on your chest can be quite exhilarating.

Outside of the sled you use, the next most important thing in sledding is the hill you go down. It’s important to keep in mind that before you can go down a hill, you first must climb up that hill. You don’t want to pick a hill that’s too big, because it’ll be draining to climb up more than once or twice, and it’ll be harder to control your speed on the way down. The same goes for steep hills, which are harder to climb up, and can sometimes lead to traveling at unsafe speeds on the way down. The best hills to choose are ones that are relatively easy to climb and that flatten out at the bottom, allowing you to come to a smooth stop.

Finally, while sledding it’s always important to keep safety in mind. Sledding may seem like a safe activity, but injuries are more common than you think. It’s important to always dress appropriately, limiting the amount of skin that’s exposed, as sledding often involves rolling around in the snow at some point. It’s also a good idea to strap helmets onto younger participants, to ensure safety in case they fall off the sled at some point. If you keep safety in mind, find the right hill, and choose a sled that suits you, you’re bound to have an exciting time sledding, regardless of how much experience you have with one of winter’s greatest past times.

Image Credit Flickr User Skippy