Last Updated on August 3, 2022
Sledding on sand dunes is one of the most popular recreational activities on sand dunes, next to sandboarding. It consists of either lying on a piece of board face down or sitting on it while gliding down a sand dune. Sleds and toboggans for beach and desert dunes are built with a harder based where wax can be applied to reduce friction with sand.
In the US, sand sledding is very popular in the area near Los Angeles where artifical sand hills are built every winter, as well as in the White Sands National Park in New Mexico where the sand is especially suited for this activity.
As part of the Amazon Associate and eBay partner network programmes, we earn from qualifying purchases.
What to use for sand sledding?
There are two essential pieces of equipment you will need for sand sledding: a sand sled for dunes and some sandboard wax. People often attempt sand sledding with regular sleds, snowboards, or cardboard – these are not going to perform as well as sandsleds, especially on steep desert dunes. There are a few exceptions, such as the artificial sandhills in LA and the White Sands dunes where using a plastic or steel sled is acceptable as the sand there does not generate much friction.
Sand Sledding Board
A sand dune sled (also known as sand toboggan in Australia, or as bumsled in the UAE and Southern Africa) is essentially a shorter, wider sandboard meant for sitting or lying down on your belly. The board is generally made of a hardwood deck with a laminated base meant for waxing
Sandsleds can then be equipped with a seating pad for extra comfort or hand grips for higher stability and maneuverability while gliding. Most commercial sand sleds come in two sizes – for kids and for adults. You can also make your own sandsled at home, out of a ply wood deck or by repurposing another type of board.
CYBER RYDER Foam Sled
Steel Sand Slider
Sand Sled Wax
Sandboard wax needs to be applied to the base of your sled before every ride to ensure smooth sliding on sand. This type of wax is different from those you would use for surfing because they need to withstand higher temperatures without melting.
Sandboarding wax basically provides an additional protection layer between your sled and the terrain, which repels sand particles both making your ride faster and protecting your board from damage. Check out the best wax for sand sledding or how to make your own sand wax.
Commercial Sandboard Wax
Sand sledding tips
Sand sledding is a very safe and family-friendly activity. In most locations that offer sled rental you will also receive local instructions. There are few things that you should keep in mind when going sand sledding:
- Check the terrain and environmental conditions. High humidity and wet sand will make your ride more difficult.
- Hit the dunes at dawn or dusk. Especially in desert locations, the sand can get REALLY hot during the warmest hours of the day.
- Wax small, but often. You only need to apply a little bit of wax before you descend – but you need to re-apply the wax after every ride for best results.
- Wear appropriate clothing. What to wear when sand sledding depends on your location: barefoot is okay at the beach, but closed shoes with socks are best for the desert or when the sand gets very hot.
- Protect your eyes and mouth. Sunglasses, eye goggles and a bandana or scarf around your neck are never a bad idea, especially with very steep dunes. Sand gets everywhere!
- Leave your valuables. Keep your phone and wallet somewhere safe while sledding. You can wear a fanny pack or leave them in your car – just make sure your pockets are empty.
- Don’t forget sunscreen, snacks and water! You will likely spend a few hours in a sunny, warm location while hiking up and down sand dunes. Stay hydrated and protect your skin.
Your n°1 source of information on the world of sandsports and desert adventure travel. Our articles are the result of extensive research, personal experience, and knowledge-sharing within the global sandboarding community.