Dog sledding can be relatively inexpensive to get started and you should expect to pay around $350 for an entry-level sled, however with an improved quality of workmanship and additional features expedition sleds can often be found to cost well over $1,400.
On top of the cost of the sled itself you’ll also need to budget for other essential bolt ons such as the brakes, tow lines, guide lines, harnesses, and a host of other accessories for your dogs.
Let’s have a look at the fascinating world of dog sledding and specifically some of the costs you should consider before handing over your hard earned cash for a brand new dog sled.
If instead you want to learn about whether a lone dog has enough power to pull a sled, you can check out our short guide here.
How to choose the right dog sled
Dog sledding is a great way to explore the winter landscape whilst providing your furry friend (or friends) with some fun and exercise at the same time.
It’s an addictive outdoor activity that’s a great way to get around in the winter months but they can also be used in a practical sense for touring or as a means to participate in racing.
The most important piece of kit you’ll want to consider (apart from your beloved dogs, of course!) is the type of sled you want to buy.
This will also depend on how many dogs you have, what you intend to use the sled for (i.e: day trips, expeditions, racing), and finally, your budget for your new sled.
We’re going to help you choose the right sled for your pack in no time by covering these crucial points:
- Considering how you will use your sled
- The different designs of sleds (and how much each costs)
- Additional essential equipment costs
Key points to consider before purchasing a dog sled
- How many dogs do you intend on owning (both now and in a few years’ time)?
- How are you planning to use your dog sled (touring, day trips, expeditions, racing)?
- What kind of terrain are you likely to encounter while sledding (trail, cross-country)?
- How large a cargo area do you need on your sled?
- What materials do you want your dog sled to be made from?
Answering these questions will go a long way to indicating what type of dog sled is going to be best for you, and from there, you can start to consider the different models and options available plus work out how much you should be budgeting.
There are numerous different styles of dog sled available, and they are made with core materials ranging from sturdy plastic, carbon fiber, aluminum, and carefully crafted wooden sleds.
Ultimately, you’ll want to choose a dog sled that is durable and is going to last multiple seasons without needing to upgrade, with most preferring to opt for time served traditional wooden sleds.
Let’s look at your options in more detail, and how much each will set you back.
Different types of dog sleds
There’s a wide range of dog sled styles available and each will often specifically cater to a particular style of dog sledding.
The costs of each also vary, with kit sleds often being the cheapest, and more sophisticated expedition sleds being on the more expensive side of the market.
Here are the most common styles you’re likely to find, their average cost, and how they are used.
Kicksled/Starter slider dog sleds : Typical range $350 – $500
Lightweight and easy to use kicksleds are perfect entry-level dog sleds that are ideal for those on a budget and are suitable for 1-2 dogs. Usually, they will have a small bed or cargo area and are intended for use on short day trips.
They’re typically made with an inexpensive and lightweight material such as white ash wood, or aluminum.
Kicksleds are also fairly bare-boned when it comes to features and often do not include a brake or footpads, although these can easily be added later as required.
You can expect to pay around $350 for a basic kicksled which may require some assembly, with fully assembled kicksleds costing around $500.
Toboggan sleds : Typical range $750 – $1,100
Toboggan sleds are one of the most common sleds available on the market due to their versatility. They’re available in a wide range of sizes and are perfect for soft conditions or hard-packed trails.
Toboggan sleds are very robust and ideal for carrying medium-size loads for freighting and are also ideal for training, carrying passengers, and even distance racing.
They will have a considerable bed size in order to carry a good amount of cargo or passengers, and will also feature quality footboards for a more comfortable ride. They’ll often demand a high-quality of craftsmanship and will be typically made from wood, with other features including a double claw brake system and u-shaped handlebars available as standard.
Toboggan sleds are slightly more expensive compared to an entry-level dog sled such as a kicksled. Prices will vary depending on the size of the sled with a 4.5-foot cargo bed toboggan sled starting at around $755. A large 7-foot cargo bed toboggan sled will cost around $1055.
Kit sleds : Typical range $550 – $600
Kits sleds are commonly available across the internet and are a great affordable way to get into dog sledding. They’re often cheaper than fully assembled models and are available as kick sleds, toboggan sleds, or basket sleds and will come with all components that you then assemble yourself.
As most dog sledding stores are located in countries near the arctic circle, they’re a great option if you’re buying online as shipping costs are lower. They are often partially assembled or will require some assembly but will come with instructions. Additionally, kit sleds are a great option for those with limited storage space as they can be easily disassembled and stored in the off-season.
Depending on the style of sled you choose, features will often include good quality food pads, a double claw braking system, and a generous bed size ranging from 3 feet to 5 feet. Expect to pay around $575 for a basket sled with a 3-foot cargo bed, and a little less for a toboggan sled ($550) also with a 3-foot cargo bed.
Expedition/touring sleds : Typical range $1,200 – $1,400
Expedition or touring sleds are more expensive than other sled styles mainly due to their range of features, high-quality materials and craftsmanship, and overall size.
They’re designed to be the most versatile and suitable for a range of uses, made with lightweight materials that are incredibly robust and able to carry large and heavy loads in a variety of snow conditions. These are the sleds used to explore some of the most treacherous corners of the arctic and antarctic circles.
Touring sleds often have large extended beds and can carry huge amounts of cargo requiring 8-10 dogs to help pull all the expedition equipment or passengers. They will come with added features such as a claw brake system and will often be wider than a normal sled.
Expect to pay anywhere from $1200 and upwards for a good quality touring sled with a 5-foot cargo bed, and the larger the bed size, the more you can expect to pay.
Sprint sleds (Mid-distance racing sleds) : Typical range $900 – $2,000
For those looking to get into dog sled racing, there’s a huge range of racing dog sleds with different models and features available. Sprint sleds will always be super lightweight and made with durable materials that are designed for excellent handling in diverse snow conditions.
Sprint sleds will be sleeker in design and often have a much smaller cargo basket made from lightweight fabric rather than wood. Sprint sleds will often be made with carbon fiber or lightweight aluminum. They’ll typically have 7-inch runners, a double claw braking system, and “airbob” footboards for a more comfortable ride.
A full-sized entry-level sprint sled starts at around $935 and competition sleds can reach thousands of dollars reflecting their use of lightweight and sophisticated materials such as carbon fiber for the frame and other components.
Other equipment costs
Of course, the dog sled is the most significant item of equipment when getting into dog sledding, but you’ll also want to budget for other crucial pieces of equipment that you’ll need to start dog sledding.
Budget for dog harnesses, tow lines, and guide ropes, as well as good quality dog accessories such as dog booties and dog jackets to ensure your dogs enjoy dog sledding as much as you do!
It’s also worth considering a good quality first aid kit for you and your dogs, as well as some safety equipment such as thermal jackets, emergency food/water containers, and headlights, just in case the weather turns sour or you run into trouble.
It’s always best to be prepared when facing the winter elements.
Dog sledding is an exciting way to explore your local terrain during the snow season and offers a huge variety of modes and equipment to invest in.
Getting started can be inexpensive and there are options that cater to a wide range of budgets, from entry-level sleds ideal of 1-2 dogs to feature-packed expedition sleds for when you’re serious about exploring a more diverse terrain and larger distances.
Whilst the dog sled is the most expensive piece of kit you’ll need to purchase, remember to consider the other equipment costs that you’ll also need to get started, such as lines, harnesses, and dog accessories to ensure your dogs are comfortable too.
We hope we’ve given you an informative insight into some of the costs involved to start your dog sledding adventure, and also given you a detailed amount of information on what to consider before you buy your first dog sled.