During my first tour through the Narvikfjellene I carried all my gear in my backpack, which put quite a heavy load on my knees. They didn’t like it. So for this year’s traditional Påsketur I decided to use a ski pulk. The crux is though that these generally set you back the equivalent of around €700 and are, with a carrying volume of over 100 L, complete overkill for my tour. So I built my own.
The basis for my pulk was a fantastic red little plastic sled I obtained for €10 and I used (but deviated from) these instructions as inspiration. The remaining shopping list (which I completed using a combination of Biltema, Clas Ohlson, and XXL) is:
- 2x PVC pipe ø16 mm, 2 m long
- 3 mm polyester cord (the boat use type) or paracord
- 12 grommets (8 mm inner diameter, or matching whichever size drill bit you’ll use)
- 3 carabiners
- electrical tape
- duct tape
- 2-3 bungee strap cords with metal hooks
- large dry bag (heavy duty)
- tape measure
- drill with 3.5 mm (slightly larger than your cord’s diameter) 8 mm bit (at least twice your cord’s diameter)
- grommet tool (ideally – or alternatively a hammer, needle pliers, an assistant, and patience)
First, I prepared the poles connecting the pulk to me. If you are short as I am you can cut the PVC pipes slightly shorter (I cut them to 1.80 m), but 2 m should be long enough for most people. Fix a pole in the vice and use the hack saw to trim one end at an angle. Smooth any sharp edges using sandpaper and be generous with covering the surfaces with electrical tape up to about 10 cm from the end of the pole. On the opposite end of the pole, rolling the pole a half turn, drill a 3 mm hole about 3 cm from the end. Repeat with the other PVC pipe.
Using the 8 mm drill bit first drill 2 holes at the front if your pulk doesn’t already have a set of holes. Drill 5 more holes along the sidewalls of the pulk. Of those, I drilled two 5 cm apart at the front to create two pole attachment positions, while the remaining 3 are evenly spaced along the remaining sidewall. These will be used to strap down your load. Install grommets in each, either using a dedicated grommet tool, or, like I did, use needle pliers to bend the eyelet edge in place and hammer it down. Cut a length of cord about 3 times the length of your sled and feed a short loop through the third hole from the front on one side of the sled, and use an overhand loop knot to keep it in place. Continue to run the cord around the sled, to the third hole from the front on the other side, creating loops through each of the holes you pass. These are the attachments for the bungee strap cords. Cut off any excess cord and melt the ends.
Cut two lengths of cord about 50 cm longer than your poles and use a lighter to melt the edges. Run them through each of the poles and, using a slip knot, create a long loop at the bottom (the angled end). You also want to create a loop at the top end to attach your carabiners to. For this one I just used a normal overhand loop knot that also ensures the cord won’t disappear through the drill hole into the pole. To attach the poles to the sled run the bottom loops from the inside of the sled through one of the front sidewall holes, around the outside and through the hole at the front. Clip the ends of the two loops together using a carabiner. Cross the poles to make the connection between you and the pulk more stable and use a short length of cord to keep the poles together at the crossing. Use carabiners to clip the top ends of the poles onto your backpack’s hip belt wherever it’s convenient and voilà! You have your own DIY ski pulk.