We all dream of being able to ride our sleds out of our shop and straight onto the trails or into the mountains, but unfortunately most of us have to transport our sleds to a riding area.
Mostly we use trailers, but through the years we’ve had our fair share of problems with trailers, blown tires, wheel bearings, etc. Plus, the general hassle of storage and hooking up all the time sent us looking for another option.
Truck bed mounted sled decks have become increasing popular the past few years and after some research we found this would fit our needs.
Several companies make sled decks and the decks come in a range of styles and prices. On the upper end of the market are decks built out of aluminum that are designed to be permanently fixed to the truck beds and featuring slide-out sides.
On the lower end are more economically priced steel decks that sit inside the truck bed and are attached using turn-buckles to the hooks in the truck bed’s corners. We went with a more economical sled deck built by ToyUp Industries, the ToyUp deck featuring a simple steel structure that fits between the bed’s wheel wells.
This deck can be installed and removed quickly by sliding the deck into the bed and simply securing the turn-buckles. We bought a deck from ToyUp for $2,200 and installed it in our Ford F150 long-bed in the winter of 2010 and have used it every winter day since.
Having the ability to be quick and mobile is key for winters in the West. We spend 3-4 days a week on the snow all winter and often pack up and leave for the mountains on short notice when the weather clears. The ToyUp deck allows us to be very mobile.
For the majority of the winter we leave two sleds on the deck at all times so there is no need for loading in the morning. The product is equipped with a ramp that slides under the deck when loaded and the ramp and deck surface feature SuperGlides (see article at right) to prevent the ski carbides from digging in. Once a sled has been ridden up the ramp it can be secured to the deck surface using our SuperClamps.
With two sleds on the deck you can definitely feel the additional weight but the truck still handles well. Our F150 is an industrial version with heavy-duty springs for increased load capacity and a leveling kit. With two sleds on board the truck sags slightly in the rear.
Airbags are preferred on ½-ton trucks but ¾- or 1-ton trucks should handle the load just fine. With so much weight directly over the rear axle traction is rarely an issue and we find ourselves using 4-wheel-drive much less when the deck is loaded. Even with the deck installed there’s still room under it to store gear bags, oil etc., although your gear gets a little cold back there on a long drive. The deck is really handy when it comes to maneuvering in tight spaces such as parking lots and gas stations. Parking on a single lane mountain road isn’t the hassle it would be with a trailer, and this is easier to turn around.
Two years since we installed the ToyUp deck and we’ve driven about 30,000 miles with it, and loaded and unloaded sleds on it hundreds of times. Aside from some small spots of rust where the powder coat has rubbed off, the deck is holding up really well and looks to have many more years of use left in it.
We use our deck daily and love the hassle-free way of transporting sleds. It has become one of our favorite pieces of equipment. More info: www.toyupindustries.com