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A sled, sledge, or sleigh is a land vehicle with a smooth underside or possessing a separate body supported by two or more smooth, relatively narrow, longitudinal runners that travels by sliding across a surface Most commonly sleds are used on snow or ice, however in certain cases they may be used on any surfaces, especially on ones with relatively low friction, such as sand or wet grass They may be used to transport passengers, cargo, or both Shades of meaning differentiating the three terms often reflect regional variations depending on historical uses and prevailing climate

In Britain sledge is the general term, and more common than sled1 Toboggan is sometimes used synonymously with sledge but more often to refer to a particular type of sledge without runners2 Sleigh refers to a moderate to large-sized, usually open-topped vehicle to carry passengers or goods, and typically drawn by horses or dogs3 In Scandinavia particularly a sleigh may also be drawn by reindeer, as for Father Christmas

In American usage sled remains the general term but often implies a smaller device, often for recreational use Sledge implies a heavier sled used for moving freight or massive objects syn "stone boat" Sleigh refers more specifically than in Britain to a vehicle which is essentially a cold-season alternative to a carriage or wagon and has seating for passengers; what can be called a dog-sleigh in Britain is known only as a dog-sled in North America

In Australia, where there is limited snow, sleigh and sledge are given equal preference in local parlance4


  • 1 History
    • 11 Etymology
  • 2 Modern sleds
    • 21 Sleds for recreational sledding
    • 22 Sleds for competitive sledding
    • 23 Other sleds
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links


Decorative Sled Sled on Brunnsviken, Stockholm Original av Martin Rudolf Heland 1765–1814

The people of Ancient Egypt are thought to have used sledges extensively in the construction of their public works, in particular for the transportation of heavy obelisks

Sleds and sledges were found in the Oseberg "Viking" ship excavation Sledges were useful not only in winter but can be drawn over wet fields, muddy roads, and even hard ground, if one helps them along by greasing the blades with oil or alternatively wetting them with water; in cold weather the water will freeze to ice and they glide along more smoothly with less effort to pull them The sledge was also highly prized, because – unlike wheeled vehicles – it was exempt from tolls

Until the late 19th century, a closed winter sled, or vozok, provided a high-speed means of transport through the snow-covered plains of European Russia and Siberia It was a means of transport preferred by royals, bishops, and boyars of Muscovy Several royal vozoks of historical importance have been preserved in the Kremlin Armoury

Man-hauled sledges were the traditional means of transport on British exploring expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic regions in the 19th and early 20th centuries Dog sleds were used by most others, such as Roald Amundsen Today some people use kites to tow exploration sleds in such climes

An enormous cargo sled being maneuvered by a 10K-AT "All Terrain" forklift at McMurdo Station in Antarctica


Horse-drawn sleigh ride, Pakenham, Ontario, Canada

The word sled comes from Middle English sledde, which itself has the origins in Old Dutch word slee, meaning "sliding" or "slider" The same word shares common ancestry with both sleigh and sledge5 The word sleigh, on the other hand, is an anglicized form of the modern Dutch word "slee" and was introduced to the English language by Dutch immigrants to North America 6

Modern sledsedit

Sleds for recreational sleddingedit

A child's sledge 19th century Radomysl Castle7 Old horse-drawn sled at a museum

There are several types of widely used recreational sleds designed for sliding down snowy hills sledding:8

  • Toboggan, an elongated sled without runners, usually made from wood or plastic9
  • Saucer, a round sled curved like a contact lens, also without runners and usually made out of plastic or metal
  • Steel runner sled or flexible flyer, a steerable wooden sled with thin metal runners10
  • Kicksled or spark, a human-powered sled
  • Inflatable sled or tube, a plastic membrane filled with air to make a very lightweight sled
  • Foam slider, a flat piece of durable foam with handles and a smooth underside
  • Backcountry sled, a deep, steerable plastic sled to kneel on with pads and a seatbelt, such as the Mad River Rocket

Sleds for competitive sleddingedit

A few types of sleds are used only for a specific sport:

  • Bobsled British bobsleigh, an aerodynamic composite bodied vehicle on lightweight runners
  • Luge and the skeleton, tiny one or two-person sleds with runners1112

Various types of sleds are pulled by animals such as reindeer, horses, mules, oxen, or dogs

Other sledsedit

A horse-drawn "stone boat", a sled used in horse pulling competition, Spring Fair, Woolbrook, NSW Boy on snow sled, 1945
  • Airboard, an inflatable single-person sled, similar to a hovercraft1314
  • A cutter is a North American type of small horse-drawn sled15
  • Troika, a vehicle drawn by three horses, usually a sled, but it may also be a wheeled carriage
  • In some regions, "sled" 16 is colloquial slang for a snowmobile
  • In arctic regions, the Inuit qamutiq is uniquely adapted for travel on the sea ice17
  • Ahkio or pulka, a traditional sled of the Lapland region, originally pulled by reindeer; now more common as a human or snowmobile-towed sled often used for cold weather expeditions by mountain rescue teams and military cold weather units to haul equipment, supplies, and passengers
  • In truck and tractor pulling, an implement pulled behind the machine which uses friction to stop the machine18

See alsoedit


  1. ^ "Collins 2012 digital edition" 
  2. ^ "Collins 2012 digital edition" 
  3. ^ "Collins 2012 digital edition" 
  4. ^ The Macquarie Dictionary, 2nd ed, North Ryde: Macquarie Library 1991 
  5. ^ "thefreedictionary entrance on "sled"" Farlex 
  6. ^ "thefreedictionary entrance on "sleigh"" 
  7. ^ Bogomolets O Radomysl castle-Museum on the Royal Road Via Regia — Kyiv, 2013
  8. ^ Parigon Sleds
  9. ^ "Hörnerschlitten" in German wwwschlitten-bobde Retrieved 19 May 2013 
  10. ^ "Snow Racer von Stiga finden Sie in der Rubrik Stiga Schlitten!" in German wwwschlitten-bobde Retrieved 19 May 2013 
  11. ^ "Herzlich Willkommen !" in German wwwschlittendiscountde Retrieved 19 May 2013 
  12. ^ "Hörnerschlitten" in German wwwhoernerrodelde Retrieved 19 May 2013 
  13. ^ "Klappschlitten" in German wwwhoernerrodelde Retrieved 19 May 2013 
  14. ^ "Lenkbob" in German wwwschlittendiscountde Retrieved 19 May 2013 
  15. ^ "Outram's Cutter MFG" Retrieved 5 November 2012 
  16. ^ sledspacecom 2008 "Sledspacecom – Snowmobile Community" Retrieved 18 Apr 2011 
  17. ^ "Snowracer" in German wwwschlitten-bobde Retrieved 19 May 2013 
  18. ^ "The Sled" Lake Country Antique Tractor Association Retrieved 27 July 2011 

External linksedit

  • North America's Horse Drawn Sleigh Rides

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