It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that packing your toboggan properly is possibly the most important part of a snowmobile expedition. If you don’t do it properly you can run into some big trouble. Your toboggan takes a serious pounding if you’re going at a good speed over uneven ground for any length of time. Your gear will smash. Things will break. Gas will leek. Things will fly out of your toboggan when you’re not looking. It is an art to learn how to pack your sled and lash it down properly. Here’s what Ted and I learned about what to do and what not to do when it comes to packing toboggans on this expedition.
1. Pack your gear into large bags (hockey bags work great) or plastic boxes, but don’t throw stuff in, pack it so everything fits tightly–right down to putting your coffee in a zip lock, instead of leaving it in the can.
2. When you load your toboggan, try to put an equal weight on either side like you do when balancing a boat. This will make your runners wear evenly and your toboggan will be much less likely to flip.
3. Put your gas at the back of the toboggan, and wrap it in another tarp to keep gas off of all your stuff. Jerry cans are obviously a very important thing on a trip like this. We used very durable ones that packed perfectly into our toboggan so we saved a lot of space and were able to tie them down well.
4. Keep lighter things in the front, the front takes the hardest pounding so breakable things like camera gear do better in the middle or back.
5. Be sure your toboggan has ample things to tie down to. The rails in our toboggans did not go all the way to the front. We drilled holes in the gunwales and ran rope through them, which we used to secure our lash down rope to. It proved to be crucial.
6. Wrap your gear in a tarp. This is very important. Lay the tarp out on the floor of your toboggan. Load your gear on top. Before you start lashing your rope, fold one side of the tarp over and tuck it in down the side. Then fold the other side over and tuck it in the opposite side. The tarp helps hold all your stuff in the toboggan but it also prevents a huge build up of snow getting into every possible nook and cranny of your gear.
7. Use strong rope. When you hit a bump your gear will push up against your lash down rope and it can break, especially after miles of use. If it breaks and you are not looking you can loose and/or break your gear. Don’t let that happen. Use strong nylon rope or 8mm climbing rope.
8. Tie the rope off to its self, not to the toboggan. This will tighten your whole rig. Loop the rope around itself at one of the lashings twice, pinch it and put in and put in a tight quick release knot.