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Calling all Sledders: Why Toboggans are Best for Hours of Winter Delight
Speeding down the icy slope, I could feel the icy air wash over my face, numbing my hands as flecks of ice and snow spattered up into my eyes. Divots in the hillside had been compacted into small, almost invisible snow ramps that launched me several feet into the air, which caused me to be slammed back down amidst a shower of blinding snow. Blinking to clear my vision, I was just in time to see a large snow drift, directly in the path of my flying sledge, whoosh up to meet me. With a sickening crack, I was dumped onto the freezing ground and lay there, stunned. Slowly I got up to assess the damage: one mitten missing and snow up my pant leg. But even worse, my plastic sled, which had continued on down the slope without me, lay in several pieces at the bottom.
What went wrong? Clearly my cheap, plastic sled had not been up to the challenge of a routine sledding run. And judging by the sled graveyard at the bottom of the hill, few of the other sleds had survived the day. So, why did this happen? What kind of sled is the best if you actually want to go for more than one ride? Ask the Innu or Cree people of Northern Canada. Living in a climate where there is likely to be snow on the ground most of the year, they prefer the traditional toboggan.
Still used today by arctic peoples, it is believed that the toboggan was developed so that it could easily be pulled through a snowshoe trail. Its long, narrow design and the curved J-shape allow it to glide smoothly over the snow. As a result, it is ideal either for dragging heavy loads through a winter wonderland or for cruising down a snowy mountain.
What is a Toboggan?
The simple design of a basic wooden toboggan insures its sturdiness and durability. Generally made of two or three long slats of wood that are bound together, toboggans are long and thin. An additional benefit of many toboggans is their length, which allows more passengers and therefore, more fun. The classic j-shape not only provides a place to brace your feet, but helps to maneuver over incoming snow drifts instead of barreling into them like a snow plow.
What kind of material is best?
I ran into problems with my sled, literally, because it was made of cheap plastic, so the ideal sledge will be constructed of something much sturdier. There are many different kinds of toys, but surprisingly, although strong, metal is not the best. Ice and snow are unyielding and so is metal as it grows colder. This rigidity becomes a problem when the metal sled encounters uneven terrain and, if it is carrying enough weight, it could snap. Wood, in contrast, is flexible even when it is cold, so it will bend and flex with the bumps and changes in the ground. Even though it may not be very flashy, wood tends to be the most durable.
It may cost a little more for a traditional toboggan than a supermarket special, but anyone who has had their sled snap will recommend a ride with a little more robustness. So whether you are a serious sledder or just want a reliable sled, a toboggan is a lasting investment that truly will provide you with hours of winter delight!
Note: Information for this article taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toboggan and http://www.ntsled.com/html/history.html
About the Author:
Anna Little is a Client Account Specialist at 10x Marketing. Visit Just Outdoor Toys to find deals on some great toboggans.