Cardboard Sleds

During Tufts MAKE's first general interest meeting we had students think of project ideas they'd like to work on. One student noticed that many Tufts students used plastic bins or lids as makeshift sleds during the winter, and that they often left behind sharp bits of plastic when those sleds inevitably broke. We decided to try to create a less wasteful and safer alternative to those sleds using cardboard boxes that were readily-available around campus.


All of the boxes we collected were from Tufts' dining halls. Most of these boxes were roughly 4' in length when fully flattened out, which were about the right length for a sled and actually longer than commercially-available plastic sheet sleds available at CVS. We also used a whole lot of duct tape and soft plastic trash bags to cover the cardboard sleds and make them a bit more waterproof.


Figuring out how to best fold and cover the sleds was the trickiest part. We created 4 different design concepts and tested them out (without snow) around the room we were building in. We considered the following factors when creating our sleds:

  • Time to create
  • Number of boxes required
  • Handles
  • Weight distribution

Ultimately we decided that the simplest toboggan-esque design had the highest likelihood of succeeding.


We tested each prototype on the first snowy day of the season on the hill near the intersection of College and Boston Ave. The kneeling and sitting designs weren't able to make it to the bottom of the hill, but the longer toboggan-style sled that distributed the user's weight more evenly was able to make it to the bottom at least 3 times before sticks and rocks damaged it.