Most adults are happy to keep sledding as a fond childhood memory, perhaps something occasionally enjoyed on a snowy weekend with children of their own. A small but dedicated group, however, refuses to let go, sledding snow right into adulthood and tinkering together new ways of enjoying sledding during the other three seasons. The new Xraycer all-terrain summer sled was developed by just such a small, passionate group.
We've seen various approaches to bring sledding into the warmer months, with designs ranging from rickety wheeled carts, to specially developed sand runners, to sleds that pack their own glide by way of integrated ice blocks. The Xraycer is designed as a tougher, more versatile option specially built for tackling mountain terrain like dirt and gravel.
Munich-based designer and mountaineer Maximilian Kolb set out to build a lightweight, intuitive, ultra-portable summer sled for adults. In doing so, he looked to blend existing elements of traditional winter sleds and mountain boards in designing what he considers an "ultimate mountain wheeler."
After experimenting with various materials, including wood, paper, fiberglass and carbon fiber, Kolb and his team settled on high density polyethylene (HDPE) for the body construction, reasoning that it offered the best mix of cost, light weight and durability. The HDPE is rotomolded into an ergonomically curved body, and a grippy, diamond-patterned "X-pad" sits on top to provide traction and stability.
A set of trucks connect the polyethylene body to the wheels and knobby tires and the design allows the rider to steer by shifting body weight, much the way a skateboarder does from the standing position. The lever up front not only gives the rider something to hold onto, but it activates the rear braking system when the rider pulls back. A bell on top lets the rider warn hikers and other trail users.
Beyond those basic features, the Xracer is quite simple: Hike or shuttle it up a hill or mountain, turn around and ride back down. In that way, it's similar in function to the Bergmönch and Mountainskyver Trail backpack bikes that are built to be hauled up the mountain by foot and then speed back down. The Xraycer comes with a leash for pulling the 14.3-lb (6.5-kg), 27.6-in-long (70-cm-long) sled up the mountain.
The Xraycer looks best suited to wide trails and dirt roads, but we're sure it could be used for grass hills, pavement and other surfaces, too. It could be an interesting alternative to other summer ski resort activities like lift-served mountain biking and alpine slides. The sled is built to support riders up to 220 lb (100 kg).
The Xraycer team is trying to raise production funding on Kickstarter, offering models at pledge prices starting at €480 (US$550), including the leash. There are also a number of lower pledge points for those that might want to support the project without spending that much on a wheeler. Xraycer shipping will begin in April 2016, assuming everything goes as planned. Retail pricing is estimated at €580 ($655).
The video below provides a nice mix of action footage and component close-ups.