There aren’t many things as fun as sledding on an inflatable snow tube. Sweet memories of the wind in our hair, sun and snow-spray in our face, as we whip down the hill at what must be Mach I, still play out in our dreams. With so many options for inflatable snow sleds, it is easy to choose one that will make those memories of a lifetime. From traditional donut shaped tubes to inflatable toboggans, the perfect snow device is available for your winter entertainment.
Finding the right sled is only half the battle. The perfect snow day doesn't happen without a little planning and the right snow accessories. Tubing or sledding is often done close to home, which makes backwoods preparations unnecessary, but don't get caught unprepared. Proper nutrition and hydration are the first part of any successful day out. If you start that way, it's much easier to stay that way. It is the same for keeping warm and dry. That old ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Your inflatable snow tube is conveniently condensed to a manageable size during the off season. Blown up to full size, it may not prove so convenient. If the family doesn't fit in the car with the tubes, they aren't going to enjoy the day sledding. Consider filling the inflatables on site.
-Air pumps are essential to inflatable snow sleds or tubes, and there are several options to keep you from hyperventilating before you hit the hillside. Save your breath and find a pump that best suits your needs. When filling large or multiple inflatables, a power pump is the way to go. They are available in a variety of air capacities and may be rechargeable, plugged in to 120v AC outlets, the cigarette lighter in your car, or hooked up directly to a 12v battery. Small tubes or sleds may be inflated with a hand or foot pump. These are also great for topping off larger inflatables after being power filled. Compressor adapters are available for use with home or gas station air compressors.
-Don't forget the patch kit. Your day is only as good as your air containment. A good day can be a little rough on inflatable snow tubes. Be sure to bring a patch kit to fix small punctures or tears. It only takes a few minutes to make a repair, so you can be back on the snow before you have time to chill.
-A snow tray is an ingenious, inexpensive, multiple use item. It is, literally a plastic tray that can be used for sledding, fort building, dry seating, dining, and, at the end of the day, a boot tray to keep your wet mukluks off the floor. In a pinch, it can be a portable desk, fan, changing table, wind block, or sun shade. It weighs very little and is dishwasher safe.
-Slip on traction cleats that fit over your boots are super gadgets for a day on the slope. A huge part of sledding is getting to the top. A set of traction cleats will get you up any terrain without the backslide. Unlike trekking poles, when you are ready to zoom, they tuck safely into a pocket, and away you go without danger to the inflatable or rider.
-Gaiters are an inexpensive insurance policy for dry feet; your first line of defense against hypothermia. If you don't have snow pants, a set of gaiters is the next best thing.
-Layers of clothes, sunscreen, and sunglasses or goggles should be standard snow gear.
-Wearing a helmet is a personal decision with valid arguments on both sides. Taking a moment to consider safety can make for a day of thrills without devastating spills.
-Waterproof gear bags are not a necessity, but you might be more comfortable if there are warm dry clothes for the ride home. Certainly having dry wallet, keys, and phone safely in one place is not a bad thing. There are many styles and sizes of bag to accommodate the entire crew and their spare stuff. You can deflate the tubes and stuff them in the empty bags for the return trip.
The day may end with everyone safe at home, but the snow day lasts forever.