View Full Version : To pulk or not to pulk...

12-12-2011, 20:16
I am considering putting together another pulk for snowshoeing/ winter camping this year. Can't decide if I want to put everything on my back or just haul it behind me. What do you think?

12-12-2011, 20:35
I think the answer depends on the terrain. I normally snowshoe in fairly steep areas that a pulk would be a pain, especially on traverses. But if I were snoeshoe easier errain I would be very tempted.

12-12-2011, 20:36
If you can pulk, pulk.

12-12-2011, 21:53
considering southern Vermont on LT/AT or maybe catamount trail.

12-13-2011, 08:30
Pulks are great for hauling in gear and setting up a basecamp along old roads and railroads but they can be a PITA if there are stream crossings or steep sections (especially going downhill). I have used a short sled in the past and rigged it with the backstraps on top so worse case I can disconnect the rods from the harness and carry the pulk and its contents like a backpack over the touhg sections.

12-13-2011, 08:45
I used a modified kindershuttle ski pulk on a winter ascent of Mnt Washington a few years ago. It was great until I got to the Lion head trail winter route. I think they work best on groomed ski trail and not so much on un even, deep snow. Just my experience. I love them if I know the trail is relatively flat and no steep hillside traverses, otherwise they are more work than their worth. YMMV.

Tom Murphy
12-13-2011, 10:01
As other said, fantastic for trails that follow old rail beds. It would be very good on the Catamount XC Trail. It will be tough to use getting out of any of the notches.

My set-up

I made a harness from a stripped down Kelty Carrier but also bring my winter pack. I load up the backpack with my winter day hike gear and secure it in the pulk. The pack takes up ~ 2/3 of the pulk. The rest of the pulk is the extra overnight gear and food.

When the trail gets too steep, I put the pack on and place the harness in the pulk. The pulk still has some weight but mostly of the gear is on my back.

Works well for me but does have a weight penalty of bringing both the harness and the pack.

12-14-2011, 19:47
Pulk on the Catamount would work well in a lot of places. Pulk on much of the VT AT/LT would be a huge hassle. There are some sections where it would work, but they're outnumbered by the ones where it wouldn't.

12-14-2011, 20:17
the reason I am considering a pulk, is my girlfriend agreed to try a winter camping trip, it would be her first. To make it more enjoyable for her, I thought if I could do more of the load (I plan on taking plenty of warm clothing and such), she would be more apt to want to do it again. I was thinking on going to spruce peak shelter(the sled could come in handy for hauling wood), but I always take my tent as not to dependant on a shelter, I always go prepared to be self sufficient. I am not oppossed to doing catamount trail as I know it is more winter friendly, but I believe I would be tenting it for sure. My biggest concern would be for her to be warm enough when we are sleeping to not think I am a crazy tortureous bastard. The coldest I've tented was -30 in Alaska, I was ok but I think my dog wasn't to happy about it. Any suggestions would be considered.

12-14-2011, 21:18
Winter camping trips tend to be more unpredictable because rate of travel is harder to predict, and can change from the time you head in to the time you want to head out. If its a just a weekend things tend to be more predictable. Any winter trip of 5 days or more, assuming you are in a climate of snow and potential for 0F and colder, you pretty much have to go heavy, unless you have very regular exit points that you can risk going lighter. When I say very regular, like 2 or 3 alternate exit points per day, because a 6 hour exit can become 2 days with changing conditions.

So a pulk or toboggan is a great idea in winter, even for a weekend. You don't have to go as far to have fun, and if you plan on heading into deep snow from the outset, things tend to be more predictable. Still, I think the best way to do multiple day winter treks, whether on skis or snowshoes or on foot, with a pulk or toboggan or without, is to confine yourself to an area that you can explore, and do some stuff with the snow like building snow shelters, or slogging for a few miles in really deep snow. That way you are never too far from a trailhead, and still have fun. The other option is frozen rivers, like we have here, where you can go for miles and miles, but if you have to you can bail out anytime onto the road which parallels it, on one side or the other. Make sure any roads you are counting on are still open in winter.

12-15-2011, 01:55
I have pulked and backpacked with both snowshoes and skis. When you pulk and fall you will not get the pleasure of doing a massive faceplant with 40 pounds on your back adding momentum to your fall - you know where snow ends up behind the lenses of your sunglasses and down your jacket. After skiing with a backpack (way beyond my skill level to a yurt in Colorado) I made a pulk and used it subsequently. Just threw it away several months ago.

Smooth & Wasabi
12-15-2011, 13:23
If you decide to use the Catamount for its more pulk friendly terrain make sure you check out the camping regulations. Alot of it is day use only, though there is some good stuff where you can camp. I have tended to only use a pulk for base camping/yurt trips for the many terrain issues elaborated on earlier. This is the only kind of winter camping my wife will do with me. We have to have at least our Kifaru tipi and woodstove or a wood heated cabin or yurt as well as a sled full of goodies and extra clothes.

12-17-2011, 14:09
Google "rulk" and check a fellow in Sweden who used a cut down sled + backpack that could either be carried or pulled. With warmer temperatures, I find snow cover less reliable, so the need to carry your stuff becomes more important.