A few years ago I built a small sleigh for hauling behind the Ski-Doo. It works great, and I love it, but it’s a bit heavy, so this year I decided to build a smaller, lighter sleigh for cross-country, off-trail travel.
What you’ll see here is my initial version, which worked well, but had some “issues”, the temporary second version, and, what I hope will be the final version.
The idea this time was to take the best characteristics of a Karyon boggan and the advantages of a tub-sleigh, and make something that would be able to haul the gear necessary for back country travel over unbroken snow.
This is the basic, commercially available Karyon Boggan.
They’re light and haul really well, but they’re also expensive, and I don’t like the lack of sides. So my plan was to start with a teflon sheet, a minimalist metal frame, and plywood sides that would keep my gear secure. I also think that a rigid frame hauls better than a sleigh that’s following the contours of the terrain, but that’s a personal preference.
Travel ‘boggan 2.0
This was the start.
I also wanted a rigid hitch. Relying on the teflon alone would be lighter, but the sleigh would be bending the teflon every time I came to a stop or was going downhill, and I don’t like that idea.
Because the teflon was all one solid piece, it couldn’t be fixed to the hitch, as the hitch needs to pivot. So I used u-bolts that allow the hitch to slide on the teflon as it pivots.
Next, I was worried about attaching the runners to just the teflon, and also worried about the amount of flex that 1/4″ teflon would allow, so I decided to put a plywood bottom on the sleigh as well. This made for a nice solid sleigh, but it was adding significantly to the weight.
Using t-nuts I was able to mount the teflon with a nice flush finish on the inside, important to prevent chafing of anything that’s loaded in the sleigh.
Next up was the sides.
A coat of paint and it was starting to look pretty good.
I then put on the runners. These aid in tracking, and protect the main sheet when doing road crossings and bare ground
Working out the tie down points for securing the gear on Travel ‘boggan 2.0.
The sleigh was working out great. It’s first real test was a big one, a trip to Nain and back, which was going to be some 1200-1500kms. First impressions were really positive.
It was sized right to carry everything I needed, was easy to secure gear too, had enough versatility to allow me to add extra stuff as necessary. Off-trail is floated well, was fairly good at backing up, and felt nice behind the sled. There were a couple of things I wanted to modify, but mostly was really happy.
When we hit the coast I was happier still. The sleigh hauled so well I couldn’t tell it was behind me.
That ended up being a disadvantage, as I never noticed when the hitch broke, and I rode on for over 10 kms without noticing that it was no longer behind me.
What were we going to do with a broken sleigh? Well, we hauled it in to Hopedale and found someone with a welder who could come to the rescue.
Allan was a saviour, and in no time he had us mobile again. Off we went to Nain.
Then, just minutes out of Hopedale, my sleigh just came apart…
Uggg! The bolts had pulled through the sides, and as everything was strapped to the plywood, the works of it just let go. I was left with a flat bottom and nothing to strap to.
We rearranged the load and limped our way back to Allan’s place.
We really just wanted to stash some gear there for the night, and to borrow his welder the next day so we could put some attachment points on it to get us home. Allan told us to go on our way, and that he would have something figured out for us by the time we got back.
Travel ‘boggan 2.1
The next day, Allan was gone getting a load of firewood, but we found the sleigh repaired and ready to go. What a great guy, we were lucky to meet him.
So this is my Travel ‘boggan 2.1.
We loaded it up and we on our way in no time.
He had used some scraps of extruded metal he had to make some new sides. It actually worked really well, and I figured that with a few modifications, it might be a good permanent solution.
We got home with no further mishaps, and a couple of weeks later on go to work on version 2.2.
Travel ‘boggan 2.2
As long as I was going to be modifying the sleigh, I figured I’d fix the couple of things I didn’t like.
From the beginning the approach angle of the front bothered me. The hitch attached right at the bottom of the sleigh, which made for an abrupt angle at the front. It didn’t seem to affect how it hauled, but I didn’t like the look of it, so I stripped all the plastic off, cut and welded the frame so that I’d have a bit of a rise at the attachment point.
It was a similar story at the back. When I had initially made the metal frame, the angle iron across the back was lower than on the sides, making for a slight, but noticeable drop at the back. I think this was creating unnecessary drag in soft snow, so I cut that out and welded in a piece of flat bar slightly higher than the side rails.
Next was the sides. When Allan put on the mesh he put foam over the tops to prevent wear and tear on the gear in the sleigh. That worked, but it wasn’t a very durable solution, so I decided to go with flatbar along the edges.
And, I needed better tie-down points. Something I could run a bungee cord through, not simply something I could put a hook on. So I welded a row of u-bolts on each side.
Frame all painted up and ready for plastic
The main sheet is bolted to the frame, and the runners are bolted to the sheet, again using t-nuts with the bolts grinded off. Not quite as flush as they were with the plywood, but hopefully I won’t get too much abrasion.
Hitch back on and the sleigh is ready for another adventure. I actually put this one on the scales, which it tipped at 98lbs. Not too bad for a sleigh that measures 24″x72″ and that can easily haul gear for a week long trip into the country.
Looking forward to testing it out on an overnight trip somewhere.
Since posting this, I’ve done two trips, totally over 1000kms with the sleigh in tow. Working great now, and gets around really well. A couple of little things I might change, but I don’t want to do anything that would add too much weight, so I’m going to keep it simple.