When I first saw the ESLA Kicksleds, my first thought was “I want one” but then it was quickly followed with “but what would I do with it?” Clearly the desire to try something new and exciting beat out any doubts I had about whether or not I could actually use it. I just had to have it.
Once it arrived, I was literally speechless at how this package engulfed our large front porch. It was clear this was no toy, this was a mode of transportation. I planned a mountain retreat as a slightly veiled excuse to try it out, thinking that I had to travel far to find somewhere to try it. So, we borrowed an SUV, just barely squeezing the extra large sled into the full size Tahoe and headed 45 minutes away to sled ourselves silly.
As we packed up the SUV to take it home I thought “well that was fun, but quite an excursion.” And then a week later we were blasted with 6 inches of almost-Spring snow and realized that sometimes the most fun is right outside your door.
But, before I can get into where to ride it, I have to answer the question I know most of you are asking. Kicksled, eh? How would you describe a Kicksled? Well, allow me…. it’s like a scooter-ish, ski-ish, sled-ish seat that you can ride with reckless abandon over snow and ice. In a more technical sense it’s like a chair and cross country skis mated with a kick scooter and the result was pure fun.
In an even more technical sense it’s like two sled rails that are connected to a wooden seat that you stand behind and hold onto in order to kick the ground between the rails like a scooter. You see, the rails have plastic grip pads that you put your feet on to ride the Kicksled rails between kicks and the whole frame torques to allow for sideways steering. Make sense? No? Well I give up, here’s a picture, for those who like actual facts.
The Esla kicksled is hand made in Finland since 1933 and is made with spring steel (zinc coated against corrosion) and first grade Finnish birch. The seat is super sturdy and can support up to 300 pounds.
In the mountainous trial run we snuck onto a cross country ski path and a dozen friends and family members took turns scaring the skiers by going the wrong way down the one-way path. As you can probably imagine, we were kicked off the path pretty quickly.
Disappointed, but still not daunted, we headed towards another run. On the way there we passed a vacant field and we just couldn’t resist. The price was right (free) and the possibility of getting kicked out was very low (nil), so we unloaded the Kicksled and had a go. The conditions were not the best; the snow was deep and slightly crunchy as it had been sitting for months virtually untouched.
The areas with pavement underneath compacted well under the Kicksled rails and were fairly easy to navigate through, but, the farther into the field we went the more the ground underneath the snow gave and would cause us to sink in the snow when we stepped off the sled. The sled still performed well under these conditions, but it was quite a workout to move fast across the field and carrying a passenger in the seat made for an even harder run especially when your kicking leg only had non-compacted snow to push off.
Exhausted but exhilarated, we wore ourselves out within an hour. We packed up the Tahoe with our winter gear and got the sled ready for transport, which consisted of unscrewing 2 wing nuts and folding down the Kicksled seat and handle so that the entire sled was as flat as possible for the ride back home.
One the way home we talked about how sad we were going to be to pack the Kicksled up for the year when we got home and talked about trips we wanted to take next winter in order to maximize the use of the sled. We decided we wanted to try and find some compacted snow, a slight hill maybe and if we survived that, we wanted to try a big hill. What fun next winter was going to be (*sigh*).
Unbeknownst to us, our fun was just beginning for the season. Even though it was 11 days before the first day of Spring, the weather man shocked us all by announcing the possibility of snow. We were even further shocked when he turned out to be correct. All day long I watched the snow fall and wished I was anywhere but in my office, but specifically I was dying to take one last winter ride on the Kicksled.
We raced home after work and text messaged our favorite late-night loving neighbors and asked if they wanted to try out our new winter toy with us. Bundled and excited, we quickly re-assembled the Kicksled and a minute later we were off. No planning, no SUV and no mountain. But, it was oh, so much fun.
The most amazing aspect was how little snow was actually required to keep you moving. We found ourselves cruising over six inch drifts, through patches of barely an inch and onto bare ice you could hardly see. We weaved back and forth from the streets to sidewalks, up and over the driveway cutouts catching air the average eleven year old would scoff at, but was fun nonetheless and much more exciting than our average weeknight. From back alleys to main drags, flat surfaces to hills, we conquered them all, while getting curious looks from every passing car.
And we were correct that hills were going to be a blast, but extremely surprised by how much fun even a level surface could be on the Kicksled. It’s the kind of fun that makes you (almost) wish you lived in the arctic and had snow year-round so you could ride it everyday. Images of yourself grocery shopping, taking long winding rides through your town and taking the kids to school on the front of your Kicksled pop into your head and really make you wish you didn’t have to wait so long between snow seasons.
http://www.goslide.ca/ is the Canadian distributor of the ESLA Kicksled, and happily ships to the U.S. They have a great site where you can see videos of the Kicksled in action.
Price: $209 – $289 (CAD) for the various size sleds. Sizes are small to extra-large, a sizing chart for which is below… for anyone who actually knows the metric system. We ordered the extra large because hubby is tall (6'3"), and I'm glad we did because I'd rather have it too large than too small
Height of user
Small Kicksled (T2)
100 – 130
Medium Kicksled (T4)
130 – 160
Large Kicksled (T6)
160 – 185
Extra-Large Kicksled (T7)
Looks: Very Scandinavian and minimalist but very intriguing; be prepared to let everyone you know try it.
Overall: Simple and fun to use, yet completely functional as a form of transportation… and you can race it.
**Photos courtesy of TLC Photography, ESLA, and our late night neighbor