3 Kicksleds that are Awesome for Mushing with Dogs
Brave The Snow carries 3 different types of ESLA kicksleds that are awesome for dog mushing: the Traditional ESLA kicksled, the KickSpark MAX and the ESLA Adventure kicksled. These kicksleds work well with 1-2 dogs. And some people have started running 4 dogs with the ESLA Adventure sled with great success. Here is a side by side comparison of these 3 models.
ESLA Traditional Kicksleds
Price: $340–$380 – Price of kicksled with snow runners. Mushing accessories extra.
For rider height up to 6’ 4’’
Materials: steel, birch wood
Weight: 18.7lbs (T6 Model). 21lbs (T8 Model)
The traditional Finnish kicksled design has the classic dog sled look, except it has a seat that can hold a sitting passenger. Typically this means a child passenger with the child bracket installed, when using the kicksled for dog mushing. With 1 dog pulling this kicksled, the human rider will still have to put in some kicking effort to assist the dog in pulling. Without a passenger, the seat is a great place to stash gear or to use the chair for a break on the trail.
The Traditional kicksleds come in 6 sizes, 3 of which are adult sizes. It folds down with the turn of two knobs and takes up little space in a vehicle. The 2022 T6 and T7 models can fit in an overhead ski box. ESLA shortened the runner length of the T6 from 78’’ beginning in 2021 to 71’’. The T7 size will also be shortened in 2022-23 and it’s likely the T8 will too. These few inches make transport a lot easier. But even with the longer runner length on the pre-2022 models, it is still easy to get to fit the kicksled in a car. And there will be enough space left in the vehicle to fit in your dogs too.
ESLA is still working on a double brake for the traditional kicksled. When it is released, it will be similar to the ESLA Brake for Kicksparks/Adventure Sled. Fingers crossed for 2022 release. In the meantime, folks make a DIY drag brake or buy one. For one dog mushing, wearing a traction device like crampons over your boots can also work for stopping power, depending on the strength of your dog.
The Traditional Kicksleds are an all around great, quality, affordable sled for mushing. But, if you do not need a seat, are not totally in love with the classic look, or want something lighter, you might consider the KickSpark MAX.
Price: $440 – Price of kicksled with snow runners. Mushing accessories extra.
For rider height up to 6’ 4’’
Materials: aluminum body, steel runners
Weight: 12.1 lbs without accessories
The Kickspark MAX is the improved design of the original Kickspark. The design improvements made for the KickSpark MAX makes it a winner over the original Kickspark, so much so that we have decided to only carry the KickSpark MAX for the 2022-23 season. The light aluminum frame is an improvement over the former steel frame. The MAX is super light and fast, a plus for speedy dog mushing. The adjustable, slide up and down, handlebar stem allows for a perfect, comfortable fit for heights up to 6’4’’.
To fold down and transport the KickSpark Max, one hex nut needs to be loosened up a little bit with a wrench. We just keep a socket wrench in the car with the kickspark. This is an improvement over the original Kickspark design. In the older model, a bolt and nut have to be loosened all the way and removed, not a fun thing to do in 0 degrees with gloves, snow and excited dogs.
Also, awesome mushing accessories are available for the KickSpark MAX that give you a perfect, easy mushing set-up. The Kainpo Combi Mushing Adapter holds the running line out of the way, keeping you and your dog safe. The adapter can also be used in other seasons on your bike. It keeps the leash away from the wheel for safe bikejoring with your dog.
The ESLA Double Brake is another must have accessory for mushing on the KickSpark. The brake is a spring loaded design, with metal teeth on two sides. It gives you stopping power, even on icy trails with just a push of your foot. The split design means it is out of the way of the kicking area of the kicksled. Easy to use. Strong. We can’t say enough good things about the brake design.
Overall, a Kickpark MAX is a speedy option. The only downside is not having a place for gear/storage, although there is a basket accessory available that fits smaller items.
ESLA Adventure Kicksled
Price: $875 – Price of kicksled with snow runners. Mushing accessories extra.
For rider height up to 6’ 5.5’’
Materials: aluminum, steel runners, birch wood
Weight: 22 lbs without accessories
This sled is the next generation design of Finnish kicksled, a truly multi-use sports kicksled. The ESLA Adventure kicksled has a flat bed with pretty birch wood, a nod to the decades old ESLA Traditional Kicksled design that is famous in Finland. The wood bed resembled the look of a traditional dog sleds. There is plenty of room for loading on gear. Great for ice fishing trips, Boundary Waters (BWCA) and overnight backcountry type trips, and of course mushing with your dog. While you can pack the seat of a Traditional Kicksled with quite a bit of gear too, the flatbed on the adventure sled is better equipped. Having the weight of the gear closer to the ground gives better balance to the sled. It is more difficult to turn and less stable with an over packed Traditional Kicksled, but we do it all the time.
The Adventure Kicksled has shock absorption built into the frame which yields a smoother ride on uneven terrain. This is a first time feature on an ESLA Kicksled. The shock absorption can be locked up without tools when you don’t need it on smoother trails. The Kicksled also has an adjustable handlebar stem to get the perfect fit for riders up to 6’ 5.5’’.
Transportation is easy. The Adventure Kicksled easily folds up and down by hand loosening/tightening two knobs. It can also be locked in the closed position, making lifting and handling easy when the sled is folded; this is a nice feature that the KickSpark MAX does not have. It folds down even with mushing accessories still attached including the double brake. Also, it fits in an overhead ski box.
The ESLA Adventure Kicksled was designed to fit several mushing accessories. This includes the Front Dog Safety Hoop which goes around the front of the sled. This sled is also compatible with all the other mushing accessories that work with the KickSpark MAX including the The Kainpo Combi Mushing Adapter, Pull Rope Fasteners and ESLA Double Brake.
Hopefully this overview helps you decide on a kicksled that matches both you and your dogs mushing dreams.
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