Sledding when the snow gets thick and fluffy enough is a fun way to keep the winter blues at bay. However, skis and snowboards can be very expensive, making a Netflix or DVD session more appealing than going outdoors. What if you can make your own sled at home?
To make your own sled or go sledding without a sled, all you need is some DIY capabilities. Many household items can be converted into a snowboard with a bit of creativity. Some popular options include cardboard, a lunch tray, a boogie board, a baking sheet, and an air mattress, to name a few.
The rest of the article will take a closer look at how you can make your own sled at home and the best materials to use.
What Is a Sled?
To know how to make your own sled, you need first to understand the concept behind one. Basically, a sled is a type of mini-vehicle designed to hold a rider’s weight and have the underside make-up to slide across a snowy surface without disintegrating.
With this definition, almost anything you can find that ticks all the right boxes is fair game. People go the DIY route because sleds can cost up to $70 for a basic, no-frills option that’s only big enough for kids. For adults, the cost can climb to nearly $500 dollars for high-end options.
How to Make Sleds With Regular Household Items
To make sleds with regular household items, you need to find materials that fit into our definition above. We’ll come to the type of items to look for in a bit, but your focus should be on using items that are strong enough, but won’t cost you a lot of money if you end up damaging the item while out in the snow.
What Can I Use Instead of a Sled?
You can use the following household items instead of a sled:
Flat or Box-Shaped Storage Containers
Do you have large plastic storage containers that can take you sitting comfortably? You can go sledding in one of them. The storage bin under your bed can also work here. Just take it to the top of the hill, climb in and get a push from your friend!
Heavy-Duty Garbage Bags
Many people have gone sledding with this option, and you should have it at the top of your list as well. All you need is the type of garbage bags used by contractors and lawn companies. The bag is plastic, so it will slide nicely across the snow.
It’s also super easy to use as well. All you need to do is wear adequate protective clothing, wear a few of the bags with your legs inside, and roll up to your midriff. Get on top of a hill, slide away.
Do you have old vinyl curtains somewhere in storage? Cut it two large but connected pieces into it, hop on, and you can go sledding immediately without a sled. You’ll have to hold two “extensions” you’ve cut out while sledding so you can stay in control of the sled and not fall off.
Large Plastic Can Lids
Do you have large plastic cans around? Grab the lid, and you’re set to go sledding. If you don’t have one indoors, you can consider using your garbage can lid, but only after washing dirt off it.
Similar to this Airhead Classic Plastic Sled (link to Amazon)
You should also ensure the lid is large enough to take you comfortably sitting in it like a typical sled. If it all checks out, you’re good to go and can focus on finding a slope.
If you have a few pool toys lying around, you can use some of them as a sled. In fact, some sleds like the GoFloats Winter Snow Tube (link to Amazon) are based on the same principle. Just pump the toys full of air and hop on.
The material combination that makes the toys float in water means that they can support weight and also slide easily across the snow. However, you should only use toys you can easily replace as there’s always the probability of damage.
Old Baby Pool
Do you have a baby pool that won’t be in use anytime soon or forever? That’s your sled right there. The great advantage with this option is that it can take 2-3 people in one go, so more family members can go more rounds in the sled instead of waiting for their turn.
Yoga mats are made of materials that can smoothly slide down a snow-laden hill, so feel free to use yours when you want to go sledding without a sled. They can also take a beating, so you don’t necessarily have to worry about potential damage.
This is another option you should think through properly before going with it. Air mattresses come with a bottom that can make them slide effortlessly down a slope, but they can get damaged.
They are not easy to replace as even the average ones cost up to $100. This is why you should only use one you already wanted to get rid of.
You should also think about the difficulty in dragging the mattress uphill and the possibility of knocking down other sledding enthusiasts sharing the terrain. This is especially true if the mattress is queen-size or bigger.
We used to tie an air mattress to the back of a car and do donuts in snowy parking lots. We used a tarp on the bottom of the air mattress and some rope. Not sure if that’s allowed anymore, but it was a blast.
Can You Sled on Cardboard?
Cardboards are fairly thick, smooth, and can be found in most households and business premises, so it’s natural to consider them as a viable replacement for a sled. You can indeed use cardboard as a sled, but you’ll need to make sure it’s thick enough and that you’ve taken the controls into consideration.
You’ll most likely have to sit on the cardboard or lie stomach down on it, so you need to be sure you can smoothly sail down a slope with minimal risk.
If you’re using the cardboard as a sled for your child, construct it properly with a handle to pull. It’s not a good idea to allow them to roll off the hill on their own.
You should also keep in mind that cardboard will get wet in the snow and start to disintegrate after a while. This is why you should use adhesive tape to cover the underside of your construction to give a bit more shelf life.
What Is the Best Material to Make a Sled Out Of?
As we’ve seen above, the best material to make a sled out of are durable plastics. The material is smooth enough to slide down a snowy slope with ease. However, you should only use an item that can support your weight without breaking up or preventing the slide down.
If you’re an adult, you can use yoga mats, plastic storage can lids, and other such items. For children, however, your old baby pool will provide some degree of control.
Making your own sled is very simple as long as you can find some plastic materials that can hold some weight lying around. You can also use cardboard with a bit of modification.
However, you should remember not to use any items you don’t want to damage and also take all the necessary precautions to stay safe while having fun.
Some of the DIY sled ideas are impractical with young children, while others are difficult to control. Therefore, you should avoid very steep slopes or those around trees and only use options that allow you to stay in control when out in the snow with your kids.