While kicksled is a pretty low-risk activity, there are several things to keep in mind while kicksledding or planning your next kicksled adventure.
Be aware of your surroundings
In and around traffic: Much like any other activity that is on or near roads, please be aware of your surroundings and respect traffic laws. With our short days and dark nights, we recommend wearing a reflective vest and headlamp while out. We also think getting an additional light so traffic can see you is a good idea. Always extend the reflector that is included with your sled as a simple safety precaution.
On trails: Keep your eyes peeled for any wildlife and be sure to give them the space they need.
On ice: From ESLA: "While doing any exercise on ice, look out for any streaming water, rocks or shoals, near bridges and riverbeds-the ice can be significantly thinner there. Also, in the springtime, the sunshine can make the ice go brittle rapidly. On this occasion, there should be at least 20cm [8"] of ice to ensure your safety. It is always advisable to carry a pair of ice studs with you."
Children must have adult supervision while kicksledding. Do not allow children to ride their kicksled in unsafe conditions. The sleds can pick up very high speed on downhills. The same goes for adults carrying precious cargo (babies/children) as passengers. We recommend stepping off the runners and walking the sled down steep, fast or icy downhills.
Traveling across frozen bodies of water is no laughing matter. Please always consider the integrity of the ice and the air temperature. A good rule of thumb is that ice should be at least four inches thick before stepping out to kicksled.
More ice tips from ESLA:
Of course, you should always be sure about the thickness of ice before you go. There must be a thickness of at least 5 cm of glossy, black, sturdy ice everywhere that you might go.
Should the ice break, from the ESLA website:
- Shout loudly for help.
- Break some weak ice in the direction you were coming from.
- Pull your upper body onto the ice with the help of your ice studs
- Roll yourself onto the ice and crawl on all fours in the direction you were coming from.
- Seek to get warm and dry as soon as possible.
- Remember, never risk your life by going on any weak ice!
We found this great graphic on the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources website that spells out recommended ice thickness for recreating.
In Alaska, the kicksled will give you access to all sorts of incredible places. When it comes to glaciers, please be sure to give them space and exercise common sense.
Please consider wearing a helmet (and your passenger, too) if you plan on reaching high speeds on your sled. Kicksleds can go fast - especially on downhills!
Ice cleats can help you maintain your speed and stop your kicksled. We also recommend having a pair with you.
This is a winter sport - so be sure to dress for the elements! We recommend layering so you can shed thicker layers while you are kicking and warm up again when you take a break.
Always pack winter survival gear for your self and your passenger.
If you are going ice fishing, don't forget your fishing license! We know, that one isn't really a safety point, but it's still a good reminder.