DOGSLEDTOURS

WE ARE GOING ON A DOGSLED TOUR

In this article, you will find useful information about dog sledding tours. You will learn how to prepare for a tour and what to expect on-site.

General

Since the connection between humans and dogs exists, especially in the snowier areas of the world, dogs have been moving sleds together with humans. With their teams, sled drivers (mushers) could cover many kilometers and carry large loads daily. Dogs were used for hunting and traveling, and in bad times, they were also considered emergency rations for humans. Later, sled dogs were used for numerous expeditions. Both the South and North Poles were first reached by dog sled.

This tradition gave rise to dog sledding as a hobby at the end of the 19th century, and the first races were held. For example, the Iditarod race is modeled after a historical dog team that helped during the diphtheria epidemic in Nome, Alaska.

Even today, dog sledding remains popular, especially in Scandinavia, Alaska, Canada, and parts of Switzerland/France. While sleds were originally pulled by Alaskan Malamutes, Greenland dogs, Samoyeds, Siberian Huskies, and Canadian Eskimo dogs, many mushers nowadays choose specially bred Alaskan Huskies for sledding. What unites most mushers is the joy of an outing with their own sled dog team through a mostly untouched winter landscape. Being completely with oneself and one’s four-legged team, experiencing sunrises and sunsets over the treeless peaks of the Fjälls, and exploring the seemingly endless forests.

And this is something you can experience too. Through a variety of different providers of sled dog tours, you can fulfill your dream of a ride with sled dogs.

Your Adventure with Sled Dogs

Most providers of sled dog tours are located in northern Scandinavia. Here you can still find the snowiest regions of Europe. The snow combined with unique Fjäll landscapes attracts many tourists to the region every year. The highest snow reliability can be found here from January to the end of March. Often, there is already snow in December, which disappears only in April. The period from early January to mid-February is considered the coldest. Depending on the region, temperatures below -30 degrees can occur from mid-November onwards. The farther north you go, the darker it gets during this time of year. If you are looking for a deep winter experience, January and February are recommended. Even in March/April, it can occasionally get very cold at night, but it is usually much warmer during the day. However, it is impossible to predict the actual weather on-site any longer.

Adjusted to, among other things, different expectations and fitness profiles of the guests, the providers offer different tour models. First, there is the question of whether guests want to drive their own sled or prefer to ride in a guide’s sled. The latter is mainly aimed at people who, for example, do not feel confident or comfortable with their own dog team due to their fitness level or age. However, most people, as we have experienced, prefer to be on the trail with their own sled. Depending on the provider, there are hour/day tours or multi-day tours. Additionally, the providers differ in the overall experience they offer. While larger providers often work with large, comfortable hotels and accommodations, smaller providers offer the full range of accommodations. From cozy, fully equipped lodgings to traditional Scandinavian accommodations that you heat with a wood stove, you will find everything here. If your dog adventure is part of a skiing holiday, hour or day tours are suitable. In these, the guests either sit in the guide’s sled or drive their own. Typically, participants spend between 1 and 5 hours with the dogs in nature, covering distances of mostly 10-50 km. Many providers also offer a small coffee break (called “Fika” in Sweden).

If you opt for a multi-day tour, these can either be several day trips with the aim of relaxing in the main camp in a sauna or heated water barrel in the evenings, or several consecutive days during which you overnight in Fjäll huts, tents, or under the open sky.

How Do I Plan My Sled Dog Tour?

First, you should consider what kind of adventure suits you. Is it an initial entry, or do you want to be on the go for a whole week? Inform yourself about the various providers and choose a tour model that appeals to you.
Our tips on what to look out for:
What is being offered to me?
How am I accommodated?
How large is the entire group I am traveling with?
How do I get there?
In what language are the tours offered?
Is the trip well described?
Do I meet the fitness profile of the trip?
To do this, inform yourself on the websites and social media channels of the companies.

Then you should think about the time period you want to travel and how intensely you want to experience the Scandinavian winter. If you want to experience temperatures below -20, it’s better to book at the beginning of the winter season. If you prefer a more relaxed trip on already well-prepared dog trails, March is preferred.

Before contacting the sled dog tour provider, you should also find out about the options for getting there. Most tours take place away

from major cities and airports, so the journey can be complicated. In principle, you can travel by car or take a flight to Scandinavia and then use public transport or airport transfers to get to the dog camp.

Next, you should think about a packing list. In addition to warm, long underwear and ski clothes, items such as a thermos flask, daypack, headlamp, ski, and sunglasses are often advisable. However, many providers also provide you with a detailed packing list and rental equipment. If you book a tour with overnight stays in the wilderness, find out about the availability of special expedition sleeping bags. These work up to -30 or -40 degrees. Most self-brought sleeping bags that we see from guests are not suitable for the conditions on-site.

What Do I Wear for a Sled Dog Tour?

We always recommend a layered outfit. Due to changing activities and weather conditions, you will repeatedly feel warm and cold. If you wear several layers, you can react spontaneously and adapt. The lower layers should be long sports underwear that wicks moisture away from the body. Synthetic fabrics or animal wool should be preferred here. You can also wear cotton, but only as a third or fourth layer. The last layer consists of warm ski clothing or a snowsuit. Choose rather robust fabrics, especially if you want to interact with the four-legged ones. When it comes to gloves, finger gloves offer more flexibility, but mittens are usually much warmer. Both variants can be upgraded with inner gloves made of, for example, cashmere wool. If you still need gloves or long underwear, it’s best to look for Scandinavian manufacturers. They often offer warmer models than German, Austrian, or British ones.
When choosing the right shoes, we always recommend winter boots with removable inner boots. These are often much better insulated than conventional winter boots and can be dried better for the next day after a long day with the sled dogs.

For day or hour tours and warm weather, other winter shoes also work, of course. In principle, your shoe should still have enough space for your toes to move comfortably, despite wearing 1-3 pairs of socks. Because only through movement can you keep your feet consistently warm. Warm socks are essential for this. We recommend socks made of Norwegian lamb’s wool. You should feel comfortable and be able to move well in your outfit.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I stay warm at -30 degrees?
In addition to appropriate clothing (see above), your own movement is also essential. It is best not to let it come to the point where you are freezing by constantly moving your limbs. For example, we constantly move our toes in our shoes, even when sitting or standing for longer periods. It’s the same with our hands. The more we keep them actively moving, the warmer they are. If you feel cold all over your body, a short sprint through the deep snow helps. This is very exhausting and greatly stimulates your own heat production. There are also exercises at the sled that can prevent extreme cold. It’s best to ask your guide how you can move best at the sled.

How do I get there?
Most guests travel to Scandinavia by car or fly via the major airports in Stockholm and Oslo. From there, there are often coach trips to the snow areas.

What kind of sleds are used on tours?
While sleds in Greenland are often very wide and heavy (up to 5 people can sit on them), so-called “Nordic sleds” are used in North America and Northern Europe. They are mostly made of wood or aluminum. The sled driver stands at the back of the sled and has a cargo area at the front for luggage or possibly one person.

How fit should I be?
This depends on the extent of the tour that interests you. Those who want to be driven in a sled by a guide do not need to place special emphasis on fitness. However, you should be agile enough to lean into curves and quickly get back on your feet in case of a fall with the sled. Especially on multi-day tours, participants should be reasonably fit. Inquire in advance with tour providers about the level of fitness they recommend. Sometimes it’s better to start a bit more cautiously and book longer/more intensive vacations if needed after you have gained some experience.

How are the animals doing? / Animal welfare
The animals are either bred for this purpose or, like our Greenland dogs, have been living with the pulling work for hundreds of years. Pulling sleds is the only way we can meet the high exercise needs of the animals. However, dogs also have other needs. They like to explore new things and often have a pronounced social life they want to live out. Of course, more attention can be paid to individual dogs, the smaller the kennel is. Most sled dogs are also very well adapted to the cold and snowy areas where they live. However, while, for example, Greenland dogs or Alaskan Malamutes feel really comfortable at temperatures below -25 degrees, modern bred Alaskan Huskies need aids such as jackets, fully insulated kennels, and jackets at these temperatures.

What do the dogs do in summer?
While some mushers leave their dogs in the enclosures for a few months in summer, others train their dogs all year round. Teams of 10-20 dogs are hitched to quads

or beach buggies and trained. Since the dogs quickly overheat at too high temperatures, such training usually takes place in summer at night, after the midnight sun has set.

Can I work with sled dogs?
The work is strongly seasonal. While most workers are needed and sought after in winter, the dogs also need to be cared for in summer. If this is something for you, simply write to a few tour providers from May onwards and ask if you can work there towards winter. You start as a kennel assistant (often in exchange for board and lodging). You feed the dogs, take care of the tour guests, and help out in the main camp. The longer you do the job, the more responsibility you can take on, and you also have prospects for a salary. Make sure you are officially registered as an employee and inquire in advance about the living situation. Tip: Many job offers are advertised in corresponding Facebook groups.

If you are now interested in a sled dog tour, you will find further information on our website. You can also contact us with your ideas and needs, and we will create a customized offer for you.

Request a dogsledtour

Please enter all necessary information and especially your desired date in the contact form. Once we can confirm the appointment, you will receive an email with further information.

12 + 10 =

FOTOS & VIDEOS