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The Collapsible Smitty Sled

Collapsible Smitty Sled on Eskimo Eskape 2600

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Do you have a flipover ice shelter or a tonneau cover on your truck? Have you wanted to build a smitty sled but didn’t quite know how to do it? I love the smitty sled and it has changed the way I ice fish by making it so easy to haul my gear on foot. In my original smitty sled build, I outlined some history, benefits of the sled as well as how I built mine. For my new smitty sled, I want to tackle the problem of using a smitty with a flipover ice shelter. 

There are two problems with traditional smitty sleds that ice anglers often run into. The first is when used with a flipover ice shelter. A flipover shanty such as the Eskimo Eskape series or Clam Fish Traps are designed to be pulled around and set up with the tub of the shelter directly on the ice. By placing your shelter on top of a smitty, you are creating a gap underneath the skirting that allows wind into your shelter. The added height also raises the seating position and makes it uncomfortable for long stretches of ice fishing. Most who use a smitty sled with a flipover end up taking the shelter on and off the sled several times a day, which wastes precious time and energy that could be spent chasing fish!

Image borrowed from

Handy, DIY anglers looking to solve this problem often turn to heavy duty coffee table lift hinges to make their smitty sled drop down on the ice and to fit under their tonneau cover. These hinges are a convenient solution but have limitations as well. They are typically rated for a modest load, which is not enough for some gear-happy anglers (like myself). Also, the hinges are long and skinny and can often bend or break if a large enough side load is applied, such as when turning the sled in deep snow or sliding sideways down a hill. 

The second problem is when using a smitty sled with a tonneau cover. Again, the added height of the smitty sled often means the setup won’t fit underneath a tonneau cover, and again, you end up disassembling and reassembling your setup just to transport it. What a waste of valuable fishing time!

Collapsible Smitty Sled

Telescopic Smitty Sled in raised position for travel – 4 inches of lift
Telescopic Smitty Sled in lowered position on ground

In my latest smitty sled build I will show you how I made telescopic legs and mounted them directly to the tub of my sled. This design is ideal for anglers wanting their smitty compact, easy to use, to fit underneath their tonneau cover and to use with flipover style shelters that keep the seat height original. This design is also something I was able to build at home with common tools. There is no welding or grinding, and if you can find a metal shop that has a band saw, there is no cutting as well! All you will have to do is measure and drill some holes.

Materials Needed:

  • 4 pcs – 2″ Square Tube x 0.188″ wall with round corners – Cut to 8″ long
  • 4 pcs – 1.5″ Square Tube x 0.065″ wall with round corners – Cut to 9″ long
  • 8pcs – 1.5″ x 1.5″ Angle x 0.125″ thick – Cut 1.5″ wide
  • 8 pcs – 1/4″ UNC Bolts x 2.5″ long
  • 8 pcs – 1/4″ UNC Flat-head screws x 1.5″ long
  • 4 pcs – 2″ Square U-Bolts
  • 20 pcs – 1/4″ Washers
  • 16 pcs – 1/4″ Nylon Locking Nuts
  • 4 pcs – 3/8″ Double Button Snap Spring Clips (can also use 2″ wire-lock pins)

For this build I am starting with my Jet Sled XL. The height of the Jet Sled is 10 inches from the ground to underneath the lip of the sled. From my experience with my previous sled, I knew I wanted to have at least 4 inches of lift, so the 10″ of space is on the tub is the minimum I need to allow 3″ of engagement inside the tube for the spring button clips and to reach my requirement of 4″ of lift. I found that most of the time 4″ of clearance was enough to be well above the snow on the lake, but I may end up plowing some snow near the bank or on trails.

Telescopic assembly fully extended above, collapsed below.

The bolt holes on the tubing are all drilled using a 1/4″ bit. Since the spring button is 3/8″ diameter I used a 3/8″ drill bit on the 1.5″ tubing. For the 2″ tubing however, I opened up the hole to 7/16″ diameter to allow the buttons to locate in the hole a bit easier when I raise the sled up. Due to the wall thickness of the 2″ tubing I also added a chamfer to the hole so my fingers would fit better when depressing the snap buttons.

The snap buttons were the most difficult item to locate for this build. I was able to track down a set through my local Grainger distributor, but if you are in the U.S. you might have to order from McMaster-Carr.

Telescopic leg fully assembled.

To secure the new telescopic legs to the sled I used a single quarter inch bolt at the top and a 2″ square tubing clamp to secure the bottom. The top bolt has two jobs, it secures the leg to the sled with a washer and nylok nut on the other side and it also acts as a stop for the inner tubing so that it doesn’t slide all the way through. Square tubing clamps are used to secure the bottom of the leg so the result is three holes in my jet sled.

Next, I flipped the sled upside down and marked the hole locations on the ski’s. The skis are the same length as my sled so I lined the back of the ski up with the back of the sled and marked my first hole. Once the hole was drilled out I used a screw to locate the hole on the angle bracket and placed the ski on top. I then repeated the process marking out my holes on the ski using the angle brackets as guides.

At first I was a little worried about the bolts pulling through the plastic tub since there were only three on each leg, but once everything was assembled I added all my gear (about 200 lbs worth) then I jumped on top (another 230 lbs) and started rocking everything side to side. In total there was well over 400 lbs in the sled and everything felt really solid. I was surprised that the base of the sled barely deformed with all that weight in it too. Of course, time will tell how everything holds up but right now I have full confidence in this design!

To raise the sled, simply step on a ski and lift until the buttons snap into place
To lower the sled, push in the double snap buttons on each leg and let it down – it’s that simple!

A drop-down smitty sled has long been in demand by the flipover crowd but it is also really useful for those anglers that want everything to fit neatly underneath their tonneau cover. I am very excited to share this idea with you all and hope that some of your take this build on yourself! One of the cornerstones of the smitty sled community is the ability to DIY, and I kept this in mind when creating these smitty sled plans. If you have any feedback or questions, please drop them in the comment section below, let’s keep the conversation going!

Benefits of my design

  • Compact and easy to use
  • Aluminum is really strong, able to handle over 400 lbs of load without the sled deforming or pins breaking
  • No cross braces underneath the sled means its not impeded when the snow gets deep, the tub is still able to travel on top of the snow with assistance from the skis
  • Simple design means anyone with common tools can build one at home


  • Aluminum is expensive and is cold on the hands in the winter
  • Your sled needs to have a minimum of 10 inches of room under the flange lip to mount the legs to. Anything shorter and you will have less height to work with when raised up.
  • I’m not certain the bolts connecting the legs to the plastic on the sled or the snap spring buttons would be robust enough to pull behind an ATV or snowmobile. At a minimum I would recommend using either fender washers or a backing plate on the inside of the tub as well as wire gate pins instead of the buttons for durability.

If you like this design please share it, and if you build one yourself or have ideas on how to improve it, leave a comment and share a picture!

Happy trails and tight lines anglers,


48 thoughts on “The Collapsible Smitty Sled”

  1. Nice design, really like it. I agree about the long “dry” drag from truck to first snow/ice. After my daughters and now grandkids bike riding start ups days. I have several sets of bike training wheels. I made 4 , 2×6 quick disconnect sandwich blocks for each corner. Mounted 2 wheels onto each block. Throw on the skates. Load up the gear. Navigate across gravel, sand and rocks ( no concrete or asphalt here). Get to the ice edge, pop off the skates and start having a great day.

    1. Thanks for checking out my article. Old training wheels are the perfect wheels for a smitty sled and a great way to give new life to old junk! Thanks for sharing your idea!

        1. Hi Cory. I think you are asking about what grade I used, I used 6061 Aluminum, which is one of the most common grades of aluminum used for structural components.

        2. I have researched and researched and I cannot find the aluminum tubing with the rounded corners. Can you please put me in the right direction?

    2. Hello Chris, couple of questions for you. You talked about double button latches ,how did you mount them to the inside leg?? And I noticed in your picture your risers were not on a pull over but a jet sled. I’ve got an Eskimo flip over, was wondering if the canvas will or won’t hang up when folding over to fish. This IS the best idea I’ve seen so far, I was thinking of making a metal smithy to set under the bottom but then( it would set under the flange of the sled) but then you’d have to take the sled off to get the smithy off. But I really like your idea and am going to try it thank you for your time and idea!!!

      1. Hi Mike, thanks for the great comments and questions! I was on the same path you were, thinking I needed to build a sled to put my sled on. When this idea came to me I thought to myself “It couldn’t be this simple, could it?”. To answer your first question, the buttons are not actually mounted inside. The spring tension is enough to keep them in their holes during use.
        Spring Buttons on Collapsible Smitty Sled
        While I originally mounted the legs on a Jet Sled, they were actually designed with the Eskimo Eskape 2600 in mind. Just a few weeks ago the Eskape went on sale in my area so I picked one up and mounted the Collapsible Smitty Sled!
        Collapsible Smitty Sled on Eskimo Eskape 2600
        The canvas doesn’t hang up at all. When I mounted the legs to the tub I left a roughly 3/8″ gap between the legs and the flange of the tub to allow the fabric and rubber strip to mount to the flange.
        Gap between leg and tub flange
        I also shimmed the bottom square U-bolt using a half inch thick flat bar so that the legs remained vertical.
        Smitty Sled leg shimmed with flat bar
        There will be more info to come on a separate blog post about the Eskape 2600, but this is the short version.
        Thanks for checking out the site, Mike!

    3. Do you have the materials that you used on the 2600 I’ve been struggling with pulling it around and I was going to use your idea for sure

      1. Hi! Yes, about a third of the way down the post is a complete list of all the materials I used. If you do end up building one please share a picture and your experience! Thanks for the comment.

    4. Only one question, how did you mount the ski’s to the (2) L brackets. Looks like bolts also, so did you counter sink heads in bottom of ski’s?

        1. I was interested in how you did it on your collapsible sled using bar stock and the two L brackets. You came up through the bottom but what type of head is on those botls?

      1. Hi! Unfortunately I haven’t developed a kit to sell yet. However, I have left all the instructions in the above article so I hope they are enough to help you build your own. I would be happy to answer any questions you have regarding the build process and welcome any feedback! The smitty sled skis make a world of difference when pulling a shelter around! I can’t believe I hadn’t built one sooner!

      1. Hi Joe! I bought the metal from a local Edmonton company called Metal Supermarkets. If you can find a small quantities metal supplier or hardware store near your location you could always try calling a few metal fab shops and see if they can sell you the lengths you need. They will buy the material in bulk and may sell you some small quantities. Send over a pic when you have your sled built! I love to see what people create!

    5. Plan on building one for my son. If you leave 3/8 inch gap at top then both sizes of tubing would need to be 3/8 inch shorter?? Also on the 3/8 inch buttons, did you use the ones that fit 7/8 to 1 7/8 dia with 3 3/16 legs and 3/8 inch button H. or 1 to 1 7/8 dia. with 2 13/16 leg or 3 1/8 inch legs wirh button height of 7/16 inch. I’m looking on McMaster-Carr web site. Getting prices on alum tubing. Want to get everthing located and purchased before building. Thanks

      1. If you are mounting the legs on an Eskimo 2600 like I have, the dimensions given should be correct. I have roughly a ½ inch gap at the top to accommodate the skirt rubber moulding. If you are mounting to something else, you are right, I would shorten it 3/8ths of an inch.

        For the buttons, I would go with the taller 7/16″ button height. Because the tubing is so thick, I had to use a large diameter 1″ drill to countersink the hole so that I could depress the buttons deep enough with gloves on. I am not sure the leg length would make much of a difference to the buttons, I would go with whatever was cheaper or available.

        Thanks for the comment!

      1. I haven’t tried tubing with sharp corners. I went with rounded because I thought they would slide better during extension and retraction without binding up on the edges. I don’t know for sure that it would bind but experience tells me it was a high possibility. Let me know if you do try it and how it works! Thanks for the comment.

    6. Chris,
      I ordered the aluminum in the dimensions you specified, however by mistake the I ordered the 1.5 inch square tube with square rather than rounded corners. The square corner aluminum tube still works smoothly. My Eskimo 1 man flip over sled is 1” shallower than yours. In order to pickup 1/2” more of leg height I cut my aluminum angles to attach the skis to from 1.5”x1.5” angles to 1”x1.5”. While I didn’t order enough tubing to do this, one can also slot the top of the 1.5” square tube at their tops to slide around the top 1/4” bolt to provide even longer legs for greater snow clearance. Cutting the aluminum with a power miter saw with a blade designed to cut aluminum makes all the cuts easy and precise. Yours is the best Smitty sled design I have seen and I can’t wait to try it as many of my ice fishing spots are along walk.

      1. Hi Bob, thanks for the great comment! Cutting down the angle on the ski is an easy way to gain a bit more travel – good one! I also like the saw blade designed to cut aluminum. While I don’t have an aluminum blade at home I use them often at work, you can even put one in your circular saw and cut just like wood. Glad to hear you like the design, I hope you get a ton of use from your flip now!

    7. Chris,
      Yesterday, I wrapped up construction and installation on my 1 man Eskimo flip over. While 1.5” square tube does telescope into the 2” rounded tubing and move smoothly as individual units, it does tend to bind once the skis are mounted. With some sanding to round the corners of the 1.5” tube, the action was much improved. I am sure you are aware it is also extremely important to make make sure the tubes are square to each other, even more so with 1.5” square tube. Rounded 1.5” tube is definitely the way to go.

      Cross county skis are definitely lighter and thinner. My initial plan was to use cross country skis as I had older wooden skis that worked great on a previous Smitty sled. This time, due to the telescopic aluminum tubes, I decided not to. The design of cross country skis make them difficult to mount while keeping the tubes square to each other. Downhill skis are flatter with less variation in thickness allowing to keep the tube easier to keep square to each other. Downhill skis, while a bit heavier with more surface area, they much more durable.

      Since every sled has different dimensions marketing conversion kits would be impractical. What would be nice if there was a source for the the overall lengths of aluminum in a “sled conversion pack” that was more affordable.

      I enjoyed the project. Going fishing tomorrow.

    8. You should sell kits!
      I don’t have a lot of time on my hands. I’m a roadside diesel mechanic. In the Winter months it can get crazy busy for me. Summer months can get relatively busy due to fixing winters damages. So for guys like myself would appreciate being able to order and install. The best smitty design I’ve seen to date.

      1. I would love to! The toughest part is trying to make kits for all the diverse flip over tubs on the market without getting your hands on them. Thanks for the comment, Shawn.

    9. Hi, thank you for sharing this wonderful build, the local Metal Supermarket actually has the supplies you mentioned!

      Can you please share some thoughts and experience regarding “flexibility” and Smitty sleds?

      I’m currently using the OG wooden build with the 2 cross bars, and due to either uneven terrain or pulling the sled in tight turns, the skis often camber to an angle making it hard to pull.


      1. Glad you found the supplies! I haven’t built the traditional smitty sled that collapses down, my wood sled is all screws and glue. I wouldn’t want too much flex like you said, if the skis aren’t parallel it will be really hard to pull!

    10. thanks for the great video!! I am 76yrs old and have a hard time pulling my frabille cidell 2-man shack by myself. I think your collapsible sled would be a god sent for people like me who usually fish alone. please let me know if you would consider making a kit to sell as I will be first in line to purchase it. If one becomes availible please let me know.

      1. Glad you enjoyed it! I am for sure considering making kits but I haven’t been able to dedicate the time to it lately. Keep an eye on the site and one day there may be a storefront. Thanks for the comment, Richard.

    11. Chris, I measured the tube on my cidecal two man shack and its 7.5-8.0inches at mount areas along the sides. would that offer enough room under the tube and the ground? what length dose the tubing have to be, both 2.0 & 1.5 tubes?I have a sled coming tha I plan on making the same as your vidio, butt really hoping to do the two-man also.

    12. Chris, I am collecting all the items listed for the collapsible sled/ice shack and going thru metal supermarkets and the 1.5 sq. tubing available is 1.5×1.5x.125 or 0.188 or.0250 not 0.065 wall thickness that you used, witch wall thickness would you use ? I can get the 2 inch sq. tubing with a 0.188 wall as you used.

      1. Hi Richard. You can use whatever wall thicknesses are available to you to an extent, its not critical that they match my design perfectly. For the 1.5 square tube I would use the thinnest available, so 0.188 in. If you go too thick on the 1.5 then the double button snap springs won’t extend as far as needed to engage in the 2″ tube. To make pushing in the buttons on the double button snap springs easier I chamfered the outside of the holes on the 2″ tube with a 1″ drill bit. That made it easier to push the button in with my wider thumb instead of a finger. Ideally I would be able to find thinner 2″ tube and the buttons would work flawlessly but that isn’t as readily available – as you point out. Good luck on the build and thanks for the comment! I hope you will post a picture when you are finished!

    13. I would love to by the hardware for this assembly. Please put some kits together and tell me the cost and I will pay you asap. Great invention. Mike Urban

    14. Very cool! I’ll be doing this for my flip over. Are you using anything as a backer or support on the inside of the sled? Mind sharing a photo?

      1. I’m glad you like it! I didn’t make any extra backing plate for the bolts on the inside, just the plate that came with the square U-bolt and the an oversized fender washer for the bolt at the top. Its been a year of heavy use and they are not any worse for wear. Thanks for the comment!

    15. The demand is definately there… please consider making kits! I understand most sleds are different, but maybe make two different lengths, fitting 80% of the sleds. For the remaining 20%, they can either modify the kits or get a compatible sled.

      I will be your first customer for two of them!

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