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Composite sled tested in arctic mission Icefox

News International-French

3 Apr 2013

Mike Fuchs and Eric Folz plan to skiing on Norwegian Spitsbergen while pulling 65 kilos pulka sled over a distance of 560 km against air temperatures down to -45 degrees celsius.

Icefox Mission


Mike Fuchs’ and Eric Folz’s skiing tour on Norwegian Spitsbergen leads them from the island’s largest city Longyearbyen to its northernmost point Verlegenhuken and back. They miss the north pole by approx. 1000 km, but have nevertheless the opportunity to test themselves and the equipment under arctic conditions. As the trip is scheduled to start on March 27th, Fuchs and Folz still meet harsh winter conditions. They have prepared to bear up against air temperatures down to -45 degrees Celsius – the windchill factor might make it even colder. Midnight sun appears not before April 14th, so they may even witness polar lights during the short nights.

The trip is expected to take 23 days, depending on weather conditions – blizzards are frequent at this time of the year – and other circumstances that could force them to make a detour. Their day’s stages cover between 7 – when skiing uphill while pulling the heavy pulka sled – and 45 kilometers.


With a total load of 130 kilos, each of the team members has to pull 65 kilos over a distance of 560 kilometers. And of course also the two pulka sleds have their burden to bear and get a chance to undergo a real life endurance test.

But, believe it or not, almost every item is absolutely essential. Food, tent, sleeping bags and clothing account for the lion’s share of the equipment. The team also takes technical devices along like a sat phone, Mike’s professional camera equipment and – for the first time – a solar-powered battery recharger.

Other packing pieces may hopefully never come into operation: a gun and a bear fence, pepper spray and a signal pistol belong to the equipment as a precaution.



The Pulka sled

The Pulka sleds are a manufactured in cooperation between SAC and ACAPULKA.

Stükerjürgen is a polymer composites fabricator in various applications e.g. aeronautics and ACAPULKA AS is a supplier for expedition pulkas mainly to the Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland.

Their taylor-made pulka sleds are especially designed for their expedition. To protect the equipment, the sleds are fitted with zip bag, cover, tightening belts.

With 5.2 kilograms pulka sleds can be called featherweights. Besides the weight reduction major focus was put on material strength and gliding properties. Mike Fuchs and Eric Folz expect to get a technically elaborated product, that not only survives the Spitsbergen expedition unharmed, but thoroughly supports their owners. In this regard it is of prime importance that the pulka sled has an improved scratch resistance, tolerates low temperatures, is stiff enough to avoid deformation by pulling and is able to handle different snow conditions – with one word: that it guarantees failure safety.


The Pulka Sled has been designed and manufactured by Acapulka and Stükerjürgen. It consist of a combination of Ticona polymers: GUR has been used for the vats at the bottom side of the tub, which itself is made of Celstran continuous fiber-reinforced (CFR) tapes, also known as unidirectional tapes (UD).

CELSTRAN CFT unidirectional tapes


Celstran CFT is ideally suited for highly stressed components – like in an arctic expedition pulka sled. During the manufacturing process, each filament, t.ex. glass fiber, is sheathed with a thermoplastic matrix. The homogeneous distributed fibers form an internal glass fiber “skeleton”, that gives Celstran a high impact resistance, strength and stiffness. It also makes it resistant to environmental effects.


Property Profile Celstran:
    - markedly higher mechanical properties
    - high notched impact strength
    - reduced creep
    - excellent stability over a broad range of temperatures and climatic conditions


GUR polyethylene

GUR (UHMW-PE) is a linear polyethylene with a much higher molecular weight than standard polyethylene. It offers abrasion resistance as well as non-sticking and self-lubricating properties, which made it the ideal material for the sled vats.

Property Profile GUR:
    - exceptionally high notched impact strength
    - high energy absorption capacity at high stress rate
    - excellent wear-resistant properties
    - low coefficient of friction
    - very high chemical resistance to acids, alkalis and corrosive gases
    - highly resistant to environmental stress cracking
    - wide service temperature range from -200°C to 90°C


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