Sledding in Switzerland 101

If you don’t come from place that has winter, you might need a little help getting started with sledding. Below I outline the different kinds of sleds you’ll see in Switzerland, how to outfit sleds for toddlers, what to wear when sledding and German terms for sledding.

>>> For where to go sledding, see my other post: Sledding with Kids near Zurich

Types of sleds

Sleds are widely available at all sporting goods stores, like Migros SportXX, Athleticum, and Ochsner Sport (product photos below come from the sport stores mentioned above, with links to their online stores). Department stores like Manor and Coop sometimes sell them as well. If you are lucky, you might find a secondhand Davos sled in a Brockenhaus or online forum. All resorts with sled runs rent sleds or single runs or the day. There are dozens of different sled styles, but here are our favorites.

The first sled you should get is the shovel-style sled, aka “Schneerutcher.” We love these because they are light and easy to carry, even fit in a backpack. They give a surprisingly good ride once you pack the snow down. Little kids can use themselves without getting hurt. They also work as a snow shovel for building sledding ramps and snowmen. They only cost about CHF 5 so it’s worth buying one for each kid. You will only use this on small sledding hills, not sled runs.

While in Switzerland, you must have Davos-style wood sled. This type provides the best ride and control for the long sled runs and even work in deep snow. These sleds are steered using body weight. Braking is done by digging your heels in the snow. These are great for an adult riding with a child, especially with the child seat accessory shown below. However small children may find this sled hard to control with their little legs and do better on the plastic ones with brakes. Wood sleds are expensive but last a long time, so it’s worth searching for one second hand. The Davos brand runs about CHF 250 or more. A Davos-style sled, aka “Davoser-Art,” are much less expensive, a single rider version for about CHF 55, a double for CHF 90.

The wood sleds with a canvas-like seat are more comfortable and luxurious, but also very expensive, running upwards of CHF 300. Many resorts rent this style.

Many children prefer the plastic sleds with a steering wheel and brakes. I find that they flip over easily when the kids jerk the steering wheel. But they also ride better over jumps. My kids were able to ride together when they were little, the older brother steering.

If you have very small children, make sure the sled is big enough for an adult and child because toddlers can’t steer these things. Those low profile plastic sleds are a tight squeeze, while the raised sleds are much more roomy, sometimes fitting even three people.

Whatever you buy, make sure it has a good rope because no kid likes walking back up the sledding hill and your kid will definitely want you to pull them.

Baby sled seats

For toddlers, I highly recommend the sled chair attachment to a wood sled and the warm sled sack shown below. This is not just for sledding, but also an alternative to a stroller when walking around in the snow. Kids love being pulled around on a sled. I recommend getting a very sturdy version because you put a lot of pressure on the chair as you throw your body weight from side to sign to turn the sled. The wood on my secondhand chair split into pieces after a three seasons. If you can afford it, I would get the wood one with the back below sells for about CHF 80. The plastic version sells for about CHF 36. The less sturdy wood chair sells for about CHF 40, which is what I had, functional but didn’t last forever.

Sled sacks

This is just one example of a sled sack for small children, great for winter walks as well as sledding. This one sells at Migros SportXX for about CHF 50. Without a sled sack, make sure to bundle up.

What to wear sledding

In addition to regular winter clothing including gloves, here are other things to bring.

Helmets are always a good idea, especially for the long sled runs that can be quite dangerous. Resort rentals sometimes provide helmets.

If you are using a raised sled, like the wood Davos sleds, wear very sturdy boots with ankle support. You are using your heels to brake and there will be a lot of pressure on your ankles. Ankle sprains and breaks are the most common injury for sledding.

Goggles or at least sunglasses are also very helpful on the long sled runs, especially for a child passenger, because so much snow flies up from your heels digging in the snow. A scarf is good for this as well, to keep the cold snow from covering your child’s face.

German Sledding Terms

sledding = schlitten or schlitten fahren
sled = der Schlitten or “Bob”
child seat for sled = Schlittensitz
Where can I rent a sled? =  Wo kann ich einen Schlitten mieten?
We are going sledding today. Do you want to come along? = Wir gehen heute schlitten. Möchtest du mitkommen?
I’m sorry my child crashed into your child. = Entschuldigen! Es tut mir sehr Leid, dass mein Kind mit ihrem Kind zusammengestossen hat.
Move out of the way, coming through! = Hallo! Geh aus dem weg bitte. Wir gehen sofort durch.
Watch out! = Achtung! Pass auf!!!
I hurt my ankle. I need help. = Ich habe meinen Fussknöchel verletzt. Ich brauch Nothilfe.

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