The sleds are the foundation of the traverse capability. Custom-made and heavy-duty, the sleds carry the infrastructure of an entire mobile station.

The traverse sleds are specially designed for the harsh Antarctic environment. They require very little maintenance in the field, and can carry bigger loads over longer distances.

While each tractor can tow 80 tonnes across six sleds, the team need to be able to run different configurations depending on the snow conditions, terrain and weight.

Like other vehicles in the traverse, the sleds are made to cope with icy terrain and temperatures dropping below –50 degrees.

The Australian Antarctic Program traverse uses two types of sleds:

  • A flat-deck trailer sled provides a universal platform. This sled carries a range of cargo such as 10 or 20-foot containers, fuel tanks, or general cargo such as food supplies. They can be reconfigured out in the field to balance weight requirements.
  • A skeleton frame sled makes up the second design. The sled has a fixed supporting frame with skis and chassis. It carries fixed infrastructure that will stay in place throughout the traverse, such as accommodation vans or science labs.

These sleds are 12.5 metres or 7.5 metres in length, to accommodate for the wide range of vans and equipment.