Friday, December 3, 2010

My DIY Pulk Project: Part 1

I spent the better part of November trying to think of a good gear project to keep me busy this winter and have settled on...(drum roll please)...a pulk!  For those that don't know what a pulk is, it's basically just a sled that you pull all of your gear in rather than carrying it in a backpack.  Since winter gear tends to be heavier and bulkier, many people prefer a pulk because it's easier to pull more weight than it is to carry it on your back.


It's not that my pack is too heavy or that I plan on being a sled dog and pulling my wife up the mountains--it just seems like a fun project and I've always wanted to try it.  I've researched a lot of designs and have found most of them are overbuilt with a lot of complicated metal hardware.  So, I've given myself a challenge:  Come up with a simple design that doesn't involve a lot of hardware and can be easily repaired in the field.


Here's what I've got so far:

Emsco Orange Beast sled.  I originally wanted a Paris Expedition sled but they're hard to come by.  I'm involved in a group purchase for one now but will use the Emsco as a guinea pig until I get the Paris sled.

Two 6' X 1/2" pieces of PVC piping.  These will be used as traces (rigid connections between me and the sled to keep it from running into me on downward slopes). 

Kelty Flight hip belt.  I traded someone some gear to get this used hip belt which will be my harness for pulling the pulk.

My only 2 challenges now are deciding how I want to attach the traces to the sled and the hip belt.  I've got some ideas but for attaching them to the sled, I think I am going do something similar to the method outline by Dr. Pulk in this video:




I'll be posting updates of my progress.  I actually think this will be a relatively easy project but, of course, you never know until you're in the throes of it!  Any other pulkers out there?
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18 comments:

stick13 said...

Dude, that looks awesome. I honestly have never watched anything like this...
I must say that I envy you... If I used one of those around here I would be dragging it over mud and rocks and roots...
Cool project. Looking forward to seeing the end results...

Doug said...

Jason,

You might check some of the websites around that describe various construction techniques. Believe me, life is miserable if you're in the backcountry, and your pulk is breaking down or flipping (a common problem in soft snow). A major factor is learning to pack the pulk with the weight low + towards the back.

Maz said...

Not something that would see much use in the UK, which is a shame because it looks very interesting indeed. That said, have a look at Peter MacFarlane testing something a little different in Scotland earlier this year...

http://www.petesy.co.uk/pulling-power-the-radical-design-wheelie/

and

http://www.petesy.co.uk/gear-diary-9/

Mr. B said...

Here is a link to a very simplified DIY sled: http://boyslife.org/hobbies-projects/projects/247/backpack-without-the-backache/

I like the addition of the aluminum runners and the hip belt. The central-back attachment makes a lot of sense.

Jason Klass said...

Doug,
I'm pretty sure I've already seen just about every web page out there about making pulks. The focus of my design it to make it easily repairable if anything fails and I think I've got it. Of course, only testing will tell.

Maz,
Well you could probably use a pulk now with the weather you're having! I've seen something similar to the wheelie before. Pretty cool design.

Mr. B,
That design is simple; however, just using paracord as a harness will be VERY uncomfortable if you have any significant weight in the sled. That's why I went with a full backpack hip belt. At first I thought I'd try just a webbing belt but that too was uncomfortable.

Maz said...

Good point Jason. At least the snow is starting to melt which means we've only got another 2 weeks before the trains are working properly again...

Kathy said...

This looks like a fun project. A pulk would definitely get me into winter camping! The video makes it look, well, simple - it looks like something even I could attempt.

Matt Lacuesta said...

Are you planning on customizing the hipbelt to add the trace attachment point to the center of the back or just use the loops on the belt?

Jason Klass said...

Hey Matt,
I'm going to cross the traces and attach them to each side (not the center) of the hip belt. I have a few ideas for how to attach them but haven't experimented with it yet. I'm not sure if I'll use the tool loops or not yet.

Brady said...

Maybe you should just get some sled dogs, that sounds like a whole lot of fun, though I know almost nothing about it. Good luck staying busy and sane... Winter is nice, it's just too long.

Brady
Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

Jason Klass said...

ooooh, good idea Brady! A couple of Huskys or Malamutes and I'm all set!

Lorenzo said...

PVC pipe bends easily if heated to about 350ºF
I used a heat gun and worked carefully.

I used a cheap sled of undetermined provenance and pop riveted (the big 3/16 rivets with big heads) a bent piece of PVC that I heated and bent around the nose of the sled to attatch the poles, with rope and holes drilled in the PVC. It provided a better attachment point than the thinner plastic and grommets. That was about 10 years ago. the sled still is holding together, I use an old Trailwise hip belt. that has clevis pin attatchment and an industrial zip tie where they traces cross.

Ordin Aryguy said...

Enter the realm of the pulk carefully. If you thought alcohol stoves were addicting, you're in for a surprise!

A few years ago I built my first pulk as a means to get enough winter camping beer, I mean gear, into the back country without putting it on my back. It's been one change after another since then. All fun, and all of course needing a field trial. ;)
This is where I'm at right now in the pole (tracer) evolutionary process. http://s231.photobucket.com/albums/ee269/Ordin_Aryguy/New%20Pulk%20Poles/

Build 'em rugged, because winter trips are mighty tough on gear. When the leading edge of the pulk finds an unseen large rock or deadfall the pulk stops dead, while you don't. That's a lot of force on links and fasteners. Trust me on that one. Field repairs, many miles from the trail head, are no fun.

Enjoy the ride!

Linden said...

Jason,

I think that REI has Paris sleds in stock again... I plan to order one this week.

check it out.

PL.

Plankshield said...

Nice job. I just finished my Pulk.
Looking forward to giving it a go.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"penultimate" means "next to last"

Unknown said...

That Dr. Pulk video makes a compelling case for KISS. I was going to go the route of ball joints, channels, threading fiberglass rods with the jig and all - but this seems like the way to go.