A sled designed for the long, long way down


April 12, 2011

Swedish adventurer Johan Ernst Nilson (right) and his Audi-designed expedition sled (All photos courtesy Audi)

Swedish adventurer Johan Ernst Nilson (right) and his Audi-designed expedition sled (All photos courtesy Audi)

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Swedish adventurer Johan Ernst Nilson definitely has his work cut out for him. On April 6th he began his one-year Pole2Pole trek, in the course of which he intends to travel from the North to South Pole using only carbon-neutral transportation. He has already begun to ski down from the North Pole, with other legs of his journey intended to include travel by dog sled, sailboat, bicycle and kite-assisted sled. Given that his life may depend on everything performing properly, he won't just be using a garden-variety toboggan to haul his gear across the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps – instead, expedition sponsor Audi has made him a one-of-a-kind sled.

The sled, which was designed in collaboration with Norwegian expedition sled-maker Acapulka, is not surprisingly made from carbon fiber. This allows for a combination of low weight, low friction, and durability – the hard and often rough ice surface will definitely present some challenges.

To determine how well the rest of his gear will be able to withstand the subzero temperatures, Nilson tested it in the Audi Cold Chamber and wind tunnel, both of which are designed to test the company's cars in simulated Arctic conditions.

While getting an automaker to design and build a sled may seem an unlikely choice, Audi does have prior experience in a related area – it recently developed a line of high-end carbon fiber downhill skis.

Nilson has previously completed over 100 expeditions in 28 countries.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

How is this CO2 neutral? First, the human body is a CO2 emitter, and secondly the sled obviously wasnt pooped by a unicorn. So how is this CO2 neutral? What a dolt.


I give Johan Ernst Nilson giant kudos for attempting such an amazing trek... we do adventure/expedition sailing races in a small trimaran, but this makes us look like couch potatoes!

However, labeling this as a carbon-neutral endeavor is disingenuous at best. I\'ll discount the carbon humans naturally produce, but calling a carbon-fiber sled \'carbon neutral\' is kinda ridiculous. Besides, how did his gear get to the starting line, anyway?

Skip the Al Gore hype, call it a human powered expedition, and go for it!!!!

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This sled looks really sleek. Could it be used as a temporary kayak? What does it weigh when empty? Can others buy one like it? Are those metal runners on the bottom? Could it be ridden on like a high speed downhill sled? Is it a temporary wind shelter in a storm? Is it equipped with a kitchen sink? (Just kidding on that one)

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