Fridtjof Nansen, an Arctic explorer from Norway, designed the Nansen sled in the 1890s based on his observations of traditional Inuit wooden sleds called qamutiks. His sled was lighter weight and had broader ski runners that helped it stay aloft in deep snow. It was made of wood pieces bound together with twine or rawhide, and its wooden ski runners were reinforced with metal. The wooden frame of the sled allowed it to retain some flexibility in cold conditions and the binding of the wood slats permitted the sled to bend over uneven terrain, making travel easier.
The Nansen sled’s versatility on varied snow and ice surfaces and its strength to carry large loads made it the sled of choice for polar explorers in the early 20th century. Given the effective design of the Nansen sled, its design elements have been incorporated into many modern sleds. The Nansen sled is still used today with minor modifications, and snowmobiles now usually pull it rather than dogs. Renowned polar explorer and Geological Survey of Canada glaciologist Roy Koerner used the Nansen sled during ice core studies in the 1990s and early 2000s.