If you're peeking out the window or checking the weather, wondering when you can go sledding, you might be asking yourself,"How many inches of snow is needed to partake in this magical winter activity?"Rather than counting the snowflakes and crossing your fingers that there's enough icy white power for a fun and safe sleigh ride, read this article to be sure that there is!
What Makes For Good Sledding Conditions?
Generally, two to four inches is the amount of snow needed to go sledding. There are, however, many factors such as snow consistency, type of terrain, steepness of the sledding hill, and style of the sled, that come into play as well.
Anyone who has ever been lucky enough to experience the joys of sledding knows that the obvious requirement for a good outing is that there is snow on the ground— and a lot of it! This is sledding 101, but so much more comes into play when deciding if the conditions are safe and conducive to grabbing your trusty toboggan sled to head out for some winter fun.
In all honesty, there's really no set rule or golden depth of snow by which a sledder can determine if a hill is "sleddable." In fact, there are many factors that one must take into consideration, as no hill or slope isexactlythe same. With that in mind, the basic rule of thumb when it comes to this exciting winter activity is this: If you can see the ground or any vegetation sprouting through the snow, it is probablynot a good hill to go sledding down. However, as with most things in life, there are exceptions to this rule, which we will go over in just a moment!
Safe sledding is heavily dependent on the weather. If it's warm enough outside to melt your snow fort and snowmen, it's probably too warm to produce enough snow to zip down the hill safely. Additionally, suppose the temperature is too cold. In that case, it can also affect the sledding conditions by making an existing sledding hill rock hard, and trust us— nothing is worse than wiping out on an icy slope that is as hard as concrete -ouch!
Keep in mind that the best temperature for sledding is 29-30 degrees Fahrenheit. The snow hasn't melted or isn't too slushy at this range, and it isn't frozen solid— it'sjuuust right.
The type and consistency of snow play an essential role in knowing whether a sledding hill is ready to be conquered or not. Temperature and weather conditions determine what kind of snow you're going to get.
Heavy, Sticky, and Wet Snow
If it's warmer out when it starts to snow, the snow tends to become wetter and stickier than usual. This type of snow is perfect for packing snowballs and building snowmen. Additionally, this type of snow is also the best type for sledding. Why? Because you don't need as much of it to have a good time due to its consistency. Heavier and wetter snow reduces friction by releasing more water when put under the pressure of a heavy sled. This means that this type of snow is best for a speedy ride down the slopes.
You only need one to two inches of this type of snow in order to sled safely down the hill.
Lighter, Drier, and Fluffy Snow
This type of snow begins to fall when the weather is colder outside. The snowflakes become so light and fluffy that they are almost powdery. This is the type of snow that makes a squeaky crunch sound when you walk in it. Sadly, this fluffy, crunchy white stuff is not the best type of snow to sled on, especially if it's under four inches.
If you attempt to sled down these white powdery flakes, we suggest packing it down and creating your very own sledding run on the hill of your choice. Packing down the snow will minimize friction, and your sledding hill will be much more slippery. In fact, you'll notice that the sledding path you create at the beginning of your sledding outing gets much better each time you sled down it.
Lighter, drier, and fluffy snow requires a little more depth than heavy and sticky snow to sled on it safely. The best amount for this snow type is around four inches.
How Does The Terrain Affect Sledding?
The amount of snow needed for this fun winter activity also heavily depends on the nature of the hill that you're choosing to sled on. As we mentioned earlier, if you can see the ground or vegetation sprouting up through the snow, it's probably not a safe hill to sled down.
Sledding hills that have thick and tall vegetation require a lot more snowflakes to pile up than hills made up of well-manicured grass. If the hill that you want to sled on has a lot of tall vegetation, we suggest waiting until the vegetation is fully covered. On the other hand, if you're going to sled on a mowed grassy hill, you should wait until there is at least one to four inches of snow on it— depending on the type of snow.
It's always important to know what you're sledding on. This is not only an important determining factor in deciding whether there is enough snow on the ground to go sledding, but it's also something that can protect you while enjoying this winter activity. If you're sledding on top of rocks, boulders, or pokey vegetation, this can be quite hazardous— even when these things are covered up by snow. Rocks can rip through your sled and even injure you. Be cautious, especially if you're sledding on top of light/fluffy snow.
Different Types of Sleds for Different Depths of Snow
The type of sled that you choose also affects the amount of snow that's needed in order to safely slide down the hill.
Inflatable tubes require barely any snow for you to go sledding. In fact, these tubes can easily fly down grassy hills that only have a light dusting of snow. They are, however, not good to use on rugged terrain. These sleds tend to tear easily, so watch out for any rocks that could put a hole in your tube. If you decide to use an inflatable tube as your sled-of-choice this winter season, be sure to purchase from a reputable company like FUNBOY that makes top-quality inflatable sleds using an ultra-thick vinyl material to minimize the risk of it popping. In fact, if you don’t have a snow tube on hand, you can even use one of FUNBOY’s inflatable pool tubes as a perfect substitute!
Plastic or Saucer Shaped Sleds
These popular sleds hold true to the one to two-inch rule. They require enough snow to use pressure and friction to their advantage and work best on grassy hills without a lot of obstacles. If you're taking a plastic sled or saucer to a hill that has taller vegetation, we suggest that you wait until the vegetation is fully immersed in the snow before sledding on it.
Toboggans and Runner Sleds
Toboggansand runner sleds require much more snow than the other types of sleds listed above. On a grassy hill, you can expect these sleds to work well in a base of two to four inches of snow. Once again, for a higher vegetative hill, wait until the snow has completely covered the plants, rocks, etc. before sliding down it.
Tips For A Fun and Safe Sledding Adventure
After you have received a sufficient amount of snow to go sledding, you'll want to follow these other suggestions to have the best sledding experience possible!
Check The Weather
The weather you go sledding in can greatly affect the quality and overall condition of the snow. As we mentioned a little earlier, weather that is too warm can leave the snow uncomfortably slushy, and weather that is too cold can make the snow way too hard. Be sure to check the weather prior to heading outdoors with your sled.
Choose a Hill Without Ice
Sledding on ice is extremely hazardous. We highly suggest steering clear of hills that get too icy. Ice can easily tear through your sled, which will put an end to your sledding adventure. Additionally, it can be close to impossible to bring your sled to a halt, which can put you in a dangerous situation if you need to stop immediately in order to avoid something that has crossed your path.
Make Your Own Sledding Trails
The best way to have the fastest run down the hill is to create your very own sledding trail by packing down the snow. When you make your own trail, you'll have to make several trips down to get a good path. Sledding over the same path multiple times will help to make your trail extra slippery to quench your need for speed!
Sledding is about the most fun that anyone can have in the snow. Before grabbing your favorite toboggan or inflatable snowmobile sled to slip and slide down the slopes, take into consideration the above for a safe and exciting sledding adventure!