How To Make A Sled Go Faster

fast sledding

A classic recreational activity, sledding is a great way to remain active even throughout the cold winter season. 

However, if your sled is inching along as slowly as a snail or continually getting stuck, it might not seem like too much fun.

To enjoy sledding more, you may want to try some of the tips in this article to make your sled to go faster.  With these tips, we’ll have your sled gliding over the snow in no time at all.

There are three main things to keep in mind when trying to improve the speed of a sled:

  1. Type of sled
  2. Reducing the friction of the sled (by waxing or oiling)
  3. Preparation of the sledding slope.

All three of these main considerations and a few additional tips will be discussed in further detail in the article below.

Sledding Safety

This article explains special techniques to make a sled go faster, but before we get started a quick reminder about sled safely. 

Dress up warmly and appropriately for the weather.  If you start to get cold, go indoors. 

Make sure that you stay away from roads, rivers, railway tracks, and parking lots- even if that’s where the best sledding hills are located.

Be aware of and stay off ice-covered rivers, streams, or ponds.

And just as you would when playing sports, remember to wear the proper gear such as a safety helmet.  

Choosing The Right Sled For Speed

The process to make a sled go faster begins at the time you purchase it.  Certain types of sleds are simply designed to go faster than others. 

The main types of sleds in use today are:

  • Runner sleds
  • Toboggans
  • Disks and Tubes

Let’s look at each type so you know which is best for your fast sledding needs.

Runner Sleds

This is the type of sled people usually picture when they think of sleds.  A famous example is the Red Racer from the movie “The Christmas Story”. 

Newer versions of this sled have better-engineered rails attached to their undercarriage.

If you are considering this type of sled, you want to make sure the runners on the bottom have a good surface area. 

If the runners are too thin they will cut into the snow, making your trip downhill slower.

Toboggans

Traditionally, toboggans were made from wood and had a J-shaped hook on the front to improve their slide. 

A rope was usually tied around the J-hook as a way to steer the sled.

Modern toboggans are usually made of a simple piece of plastic with handholds cut into the front end. 

Because these plastic toboggans are made from a slippery material, they are a good, inexpensive option for a fast trip down the hill.

Disks and Tubes

Disk and tube sleds are both very fast. When I was growing up I had a bright orange disk sled and man, that thing sailed down the sledding hill like a rocket.

One thing to keep in mind is that because these types of sleds have no steering mechanisms, they are often difficult to control and stay on top of.

Trust me, I fell off the side of my orange disk sled all winter long.

Reducing Sled Friction

Pro skiers use wax on the bottom of their skis to increase their speed down the mountain. 

There are also special wax products on the market that are made just for sleds.

Wax removes any friction between the snow and the sled allowing your sled to fly down the slope.  

The process to apply the wax is similar to waxing a car.  It is easiest to take care of this job before heading to the hill.

The steps to wax your sled to remove friction are as follows:

  1. Apply the wax to the bottom of a dry sled with an applicator or rag;
  2. Wait a few minutes for the wax to dry.  The wax should appear a bit hazy or cloudy; and
  3. Buff the wax-covered surface with a soft cloth.

That’s it, the sled is ready to ride! 

It isn’t necessary to buy special ski wax for sleds. You can use common household items to get a similar effect. 

These are a few of the common household items you can try, along with instructions.

  • Candle wax (paraffin wax) –  this should be applied in a similar way to sled specialty wax, except that you would rub the candlestick directly onto the sled’s surface.
  • Car wax – just like waxing your car, only on the bottom of your sled.
  • Cooking oil spray – spray a light coating of cooking oil over the bottom of your sled.
  • WD-40 (a commonly used household lubricant). To use, spray a small amount on the bottom of your sled.  Note, WD-40 can degrade rubber over time, so this may not be a good option to use on a tube-type sled.  While you have the WD-40 out, spray a little on your snow shovel. It will make snow less likely to stick to your shovel making it easier to clear your walkways and driveway.

Wax, oil, and lubricants react differently depending on the material.  You may want to experiment with these on your sled to find out which works best.  

Finding or Making the Perfect Slope For Sledding

Sledding faster isn’t always just about the sled.  Obviously, if you choose a higher or steeper hill to sled down, your sled will go faster.

Snow conditions can also affect how quickly the sled moves down the hill. If the snow that is too wet or too dry it doesn’t provide a good surface for sledding. 

If you don’t have the perfect sledding hill available, here are some easy ways to improve your slope to make your ride faster:

  • Lightly spray the slope with water from a spray bottle.  A thin coat of water can decrease friction which will help the sledding slope to become slicker.  Be careful though, a slope that is too wet can have the opposite effect, slowing the sled down.
  • Packing the snow on the slope down can also make for a faster ride.  A slope that has been well used is almost always faster than one that has fresh fluffy new snow.

Sledding Techniques to Improve Speed

As with all sports, your technique can help to improve your speed.  Sitting on the sled and inching towards the top of the hill won’t get you the quickest ride down the mountain.

Of course, a childhood favorite is just running full-force up to a sled and doing a belly flop jump onto it, which can create additional momentum and improve ride speed.

This technique can be referred to as “Flopping.”  

Having someone give you a push at the top of the hill can also serve to increase your speed. And then you don’t have to do a belly flop onto the hard sled.

A great sled ride down the mountain can be compared to the feeling of flying while never leaving the ground.  Hopefully, these tips have helped to make your sledding experience better.

Have fun and stay safe!

Credit: Deposit Photos

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