A plastic kids’ toboggan has many uses in wilderness and survival situations. And they’re easy to find and cheap.
Here’s why you might consider one as a piece of survival equipment.
by Leon Pantenburg
My daughter’s purple plastic toboggan was relegated to the storage shed as she outgrew that aspect of snow sports. But I still use it every year. Frequently, the small plastic sled is invaluable.
Here are some reasons you may need to include a plastic toboggan in your preparedness plans:
Transporting big game animals: I hunt in wilderness areas, and wheeled vehicles are banned. That can mean a long drag to the nearest vehicle if you score. (The family big game drag record is currently held by my brother, Mike Pantenburg. He killed a whitetail buck over three miles from a road and the drag took well over an hour and wore away much of the hide.)
A quarter of an elk can weigh upward of 150 to 200 pounds. I can’t carry a quarter on my shoulders, but I can drag it on a slider of some sort.
A few years back, my hunting party hauled out a small cow elk in the desert on my purple toboggan. We gutted the animal, took the legs off at the knees and tied the complete elk onto the toboggan. Then, using Bolin knots and paracord, we rigged up a fan-shaped harness similar to those used on dogs sleds. Even though there was no snow, three hunters pulled the elk to the road with little effort.
In other instances, you can quarter the animal, place the meat in plastic or cloth bags to keep it clean, and lash it to the toboggan. There’s no glide on bare dirt, but you will really appreciate any downhills!
Moving gear: Snow camping requires a lot of gear. If you’re on snowshoes or cross-county skis, a heavy backpack can unbalance you. It can also push you downhill a lot faster than you may like.
A standard approach to either sort of touring is to have ropes on each end of the toboggan. On the flats or uphill, the person in front breaks the trail and does the hauling work. On downhills, the back person controls the descent. Obviously, breaking trail and dragging is going to be where the stronger person needs to be, and this allows kids or older people to follow behind and avoid some of the hard work.
Building igloos or snow shelters can be strenuous, especially if you have to haul snow blocks any distance. You can drag several on a toboggan. Also, if you’re removing blocks from inside a snow cave, put them on the toboggan, and have your partner drag them outside. This keeps heavy lifting to a minimum and speeds up the task.
As a bug out tool: Sadly, there are some obese, out-of-shape preppers, who who love to discuss the best storage foods, best survival knife or the best firearms to own during a disaster situation, but ignore a fundamental fact: If you can’t easily carry your bug-out bag, it will be worthless to you. Instead of getting in shape, these folks keep accumulating stuff, and ignore the reality of moving their gear.
Or, what if you’re a seasoned citizen, and have to leave an area? Or a survival mom with small children?
Carrying a 50-pound pack is hard work. But dragging twice that weight on a small toboggan in the snow is easy. A plastic toboggan may be just what you need to help get over this hurdle. In many cases, it will be a lot easier to haul toddlers on a sled than to carry them. And if you need to assist a disabled or elderly person, this may be an option.
There are large, commercial toboggans and many of them are excellent. But they may be too big and unwieldy in some cases.
I’m hanging on to my kids’ purple snow toy. At hunting camp in the fall, it gets regular use. The toboggan fits easily in the trunk of my car, works really well, and shows no signs of wearing out. When it does, I’ll get another. When you find a piece of gear that works, it makes sense to have one on hand.
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