Kicksled Sliding Snow Runners: Everything you need to know
*Brave The Snow includes snow runners with all kicksleds*
Check out this article to become an expert on kicksled snow runners.
What are Snow Runners?
Plastic snow runners provide a wide surface area that allows the kicksled to glide on packed snow, similar to skis. Without them, a kicksled will sink into the snow. Imagine trying to ice skate on packed snow...it doesn’t work. Doesn't work with a kicksled without snow runners either.
But, on solid ice, you do not need the snow runners, but you can keep them on if you want. We usually leave our kicksled snow runners on all season. It usually doesn’t seem worth the effort to remove them as snow runners work perfectly fine on ice too. But, if there is pure black ice on a frozen lake or a trail that has totally iced over, then it’s worth the effort to take them off. You can glide extremely far in these conditions with a small kick.
How do Snow Runners Attach to the Steel Runners?
Snow runners attach under the steel kicksled runners. They are held on by both pressure and a zip-tie that secures the snow runner to the steel runner. The zip tie goes through the snow runner in a hole found at the front of the steel runner. Then, using pressure from your hand, squeeze the plastic runners on to the steel runner. It does take a considerable amount of hand pressure. Work from the front and keep squeezing all the way down. It is recommended that you do this inside in a warm place. When snow runners are cold, the plastic is not as pliable and you will have a tougher time getting them on the steel runners. If your hands are not feeling powerful, you can use a hair dryer to heat up the plastic runners. This will allow them to press on easier.
Wear and Tear on Snow Runners
Over time, runners will get scratches from tree roots, gravel… and riding over patches of bare concrete when there isn’t really enough snow for kicksledding. We do that every year and pay the price with scratched up snow runners. If needed, you can switch out snow runners every few seasons. It feels great to put on a new pair and get that like-new glide.
If you get a second, backup pair of snow runners for your kicksled, you can keep them in better shape if you avoid putting them on at the beginning of the season. The beginning and end of the season is when a lot of scratches occur because trails don’t have a good snow base. We don’t throw away our old runners when we replace them. We save them for unfavorable conditions and call them “rock runners”. Our scratched up “rock runners” can be swapped in at the beginning of the season when the trails are still pretty rough, or on the first snow of the year when you can't resist kicksledding but you are really just kicking on concrete and leaves half the time.
Buying an Extra Pair of Snow Runners
We think it is worth buying an extra pair of snow runners to go along with your new kicksled. The snow runners alone cost about $20 to ship because of the length. It seems cost effective to get an extra pair along with your kicksled to avoid paying shipping costs later on for a single pair of snow runners.
Snow Runners: Wide and Regular
There are two widths for snow runners: regular (1.4 inches) and wide (2.2 inches). The wide runners allow the sled to better navigate deeper snow. The difference is noticeable to a kicksledding connoisseur but they do not turn your sled into a snowshoe that can navigate really deep snow.
In general, the deeper the snow, the more effort needed to push through it. If you want to reach the high speeds, stick to the trails with packed snow. If you kicksled for the first time and the snow is deep, your going to think, 'Wow, this is more work than I thought'. But on a packed trail its smooth sailing. And on an icy trail, you will be really cruising, even with a few kids on the front.
Regular snow runners come included with our kicksleds. There are some conditions in which the standard regular snow runners out perform the wide runners. Regular runners are faster than wide runners on a smooth packed surfaces, such as plowed roads with packed snow cover. Because the wide runners have more surface area, they drag more on the smooth surface. It's not a lot of drag– you still do go fast– but in our side by side comparison with two kicksleds– one with regular snow runners and one with wide snow runners- the regular runners were noticeably faster.
Kicksledding in Cold Temperatures
When it is really cold -10+ the cold does have some effect on glide. We think it has something to do with the friction of the runners on the snow, causing melt and ice accumulation on the bottom of the snow runners. But really we have no scientific data to back this up. We are still out there when its -15 kicksledding. Some people find success waxing their runners. We have not tested out wax. If you test it out, let us know the results!
Nevertheless, you can still kicksled in cold temperatures.
What length runners to get?
If you have a pre-2022 ESLA kicksled or a vintage kicksled of another brand, you will need to get the extra long (78 inch) kicksled runners. ESLA T4, T6, T7, and T8 older model Traditional Kicksleds used to have longer runners than what they currently have. Therefore, the longer snow runners are needed. The current 2022 models and later have 71 inch runners. The older were 78.
Snow runners are made of plastic. They can be trimmed to fit if they are too long. We use a miter saw.
If you have a vintage kicksled such as a "Kicker" or Colorado Mountain Boy Kicksled, get the 78 inch snow runners.
What are Ice Runners for KickSpark MAX?
Ice runners are very different from snow runners and currently there are only ice runners for KickSparks. Ice Runners have very thin blades (thinner than a US dime). They are used for reaching high speeds on ice and also allow you to turn with precision. They are super fun if you have a KickSpark and a body of ice.
Now you are a snow runner expert! Stay active all winter long and order your Finnish kicksled today!
Or check out our other kicksled articles to learn more!