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Snowshoe sizing when pulling a pulk
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Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Snowshoe sizing when pulling a pulk on 10/20/2010 15:03:35 MDT Print View

Should pulling a pulk be factored into snowshoe sizing? It's not putting any additional weight on the snowshoes so I'd think not. But should pulling significant weight (say 50 lbs) behind you be considered? Thanks.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Snowshoe sizing when pulling a pulk on 10/20/2010 16:08:28 MDT Print View

It does put additional weight on the snowshoes. You can approximate how much with a little trigonometry.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Snowshoe sizing when pulling a pulk on 10/20/2010 16:38:37 MDT Print View

It depends.

If the pulk is sliding pretty easily, then you are not putting too much extra force on the snowshoe tails. If the pulk is not sliding well, then there is extra force.

Solution: apply Maxi-Glide or similar spray lubricant to the pulk's sliding surfaces.

I was on a SAR practice one time, and the snowshoers were pulling a litter full of gear, but the sliding surface had iced up, which caused a lot of cursing from the snowshoers. We stopped and I applied Maxi-Glide to it, and it was simple from then on.


Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Pulk on 10/20/2010 17:41:25 MDT Print View

If trigonometry is involved, I'm going to have to get my daughter or a time machine. :)

I could actually see that more if I had a fixed mount point for the connection from the pulk to the harness which mine isn't. It connects to straps sewn onto the hipbelt of my daypack. I ran into Jon Krakauer last year as I was on the way down from a hut and he was on the way up. I didn't know who he was but stopped to say hello and check out his pulk. It had what appeared to be bent conduit running from his pulk and connecting to his waist belt. He thought his offered more control and I liked the way mine offered some up and down movement. Although his probably stayed exactly behind him. And I'm sure his was more battle tested than mine so he may be right. As I started off I saw his last name on the back of the sled and thought "Hey..." but was already on my way. Somebody else in the party talked to him and said it was him. Anyway, I think that type of mount point would put more weight on the snowshoes. Too bad I didn't think to ask him.

Thanks for the pointer on the lube for the skids, Bob.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Snowshoe sizing when pulling a pulk on 10/25/2010 17:01:31 MDT Print View

I've used a pulk quite a bit for winter backpacking and I'd have to say that pulling a pulk doesn't seem to put any of its weight onto the snowshoes. If it dose it's not enough that I've noticed.

For me I when pulling a pulk I size my snowshoes for my skin to out weight and do not include the weight of the sled.

james w glenn
(bark-eater) - F
The pulk must be narrower than the float/track made bye the shoes. on 10/30/2010 16:14:55 MDT Print View

If the pulk is wider you are expending more energy by plowing the snow with the pulk,

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: The pulk must be narrower than the float/track made by the shoes. on 10/30/2010 16:38:08 MDT Print View

A pulk can really help sometimes.

A buddy and I were scheduled to lead a cross country ski group trip to a hut north of Lake Tahoe. Just four days before we departed, we found out that some bum had been living in the hut without permission, and he had burned up all of the firewood before the sheriff's deputy chased him out. But we had a group heading up there, now with no firewood waiting for us. So, I purchased a plastic sled that is about 5 feet long and 15 inches wide. I loaded it up with two boxes of purchased oak firewood, and I topped that with one gallon of white gasoline. I had to put climbing skins on my skis in order to tow that sucker up the hill. Then right before I got to the downhill before the hut, I cut it loose from its tow ropes and it slid down to the hut. We had plenty of oak and fuel to stay warm all weekend.


Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Pulk on 11/01/2010 10:09:11 MDT Print View

I haven't done any winter camping but plan to this season. I'm taking a class on it with the Colorado Mountain Club in January. Really looking forward to it.

I'm a huge pulk fan. We do a yearly hut trip and carry a lot of good food and some micro brews so we usually have 50+ lb packs. It's really not that big of a deal to haul that kind of load for one day up to the hut. But with my bad back, I started thinking about a pulk so I wouldn't have to actually carry that much weight. I made one using the info at

I was impressed as soon as I started using it. On the first hut trip two years ago, my friend's brother was really struggling with about 1.5 miles left. I loaded his pack on the pulk with mine and pulled it while my friend went ahead to the hut and dropped his pack and came back. He carried it the rest of the way. But I ended up pulling well over 100 pound uphill for about a mile. I could never have carried that much weight without the pulk. That sold my friends on them. Last year we had 4 in our group of 6.

So far I've only used it with AT gear which is why I'm curious about snowshoes size when hauling a pulk. Even though the pulk has made it easier, this year I'm thinking of trying showshoes with trail runners and overboots. Especially because we're going to climb a nearby 13'er if the weather is good. AT gear puts a lot of weight on your feet. I'm thinking that I would still be ahead of the game if I carry the AT gear in my pulk while snowshoeing. I'll get the light foot weight for ascending and still be able to ski down. And I can also go skiing near the hut if the weather doesn't co-operate for the climb.

Edited by rlnunix on 11/01/2010 10:10:16 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
30" length on 11/22/2010 23:29:02 MST Print View


Being a BC skier the length of a 30" snowshoe seems tiny by comparison to the skis I'm accustomed to.

Therefore, since the 'shoes won't float me nearly as well as my BC skis I have 2 pair of 30" 'shoes, Atlas and MSR Lightning Ascent. The Ascents are for steep terrain.

Go big and stay on top of the snow as much as possible. (Less work that way.)

To answer your main question:

For a pulk I'd say that the larger the 'shoes the better,
IF they have enough bite. Remember, you'll need traction on uphills, and flotation as well to keep from floundering as you dig in. For traction I love my MSR Lightnings.

But having only used "skis & skins" for pulling my pulk I can't comment on 'shoes with any real authority.

Edited by Danepacker on 11/22/2010 23:38:41 MST.

Gary Rath
(MudisFun) - F

Locale: PNW
Snowshoe sizing when pulling a pulk on 12/27/2012 10:31:51 MST Print View

If your snowshoes will work with the load on your back, they are more than enough and probably overkill for a pulk. The bigger thing I would think would be how much traction your shoes provide if on not flat terrain..

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
many variables on 12/30/2012 08:50:31 MST Print View

The most important variable is snow condition. are you on a packed trail or will you be sinking up to your butt in loose powder? Is there a crust or is the snow like granulated sugar? What is the forecast? how will this affect the current snow base?

are you breaking trail or following a group in the previous sled's groove?

If you are a trail breaker - high float-wide shoes.

If you are a follower - fit in the groove or order new ankles.

If you are on a packed trail - it doesn't much matter.

Match your sled's width to that of the group or you will always be breaking trail.