From Fat Biking to Cross-Country Skiing with Baby… how to do it safely!
Did you know that your Thule Chariot has a function for those cold and dreary winter months? Whether you want to pull your little ones while ski touring, or give them the ride of their life on your fat bike, it takes just a few minutes to convert your Thule Chariot into a winter ski trailer.
In our review below, we’ll cover all the features of the Thule Chariot Ski Kit and provide a lot of tips for first-timers. We’ll also educate you on how to make sure that you’re cross-country skiing with your baby SAFELY.
Thule Chariot Ski Kit Overview
BEST FOR: Hard core snow mamas and papas
- Gets you out in the winter
- Multi-uses (skiing and fat biking)
- Very smooth ride
- Fairly easy to pull
- Keeps your littles warm in the cold compared to a back carrier
- Overall is a blast for parents and kids
- You may have to carry all gear to the trailhead instead of setting up in the parking lot next to your car
- Depending on where you use your ski kit you may have to be aware of avalanche danger (Please read about avalanche danger at the bottom).
Thule Chariot Ski Kit Review – Results of our Test Rides
Quick Overview of the Thule Chariot Ski Kit
The Thule Chariot Ski Kit is a separate kit available to purchase for your trailer, but it is well worth the investment. It will come with two lightweight skis, two telescoping aluminum tow bars, and a waist belt.
The ski kit is compatible with these Thule Chariot models: Thule Chariot Sport, Thule Chariot Cross, Thule Chariot Cab, Thule Chariot Lite, Thule Cougar, and Thule Chariot Cheetah XT (the trailer I use).
Tips on Transporting and Set-Up
The set-up is quite simple. With a little practice I complete the set-up in less than 2 minutes at the trailhead.
The skis will click into place, where the rear wheels usually go. The tow bars slide into the front, insert pins for locking protection. The tow bars have adjustable lengths so anyone can pull the ski trailer with ease. Then gear yourself up, buckle the waist belt and you are ready for some skiing or winter adventure!
I found it easiest to detach skis and tow bars from the trailer for transporting. If the skis are left attached to my trailer, it will not fit in the back of my Subaru Outback. You will also discover that moving the trailer around with skis attached is awkward as the skis are not fixed in place.
I carry the trailer, the separated skis and tow bars to the start of the trail. I then quickly attach everything right at the trailhead.
Normally you can pull out your gear/trailer and set up in the parking lot. Then head out from the car. With the ski kit you will have to carry your gear to the trailhead and won’t necessarily be able to start from your car unless the parking lot to the trailhead is all snowpack.
This can be a little more work, considering you have to get your own gear to the trailhead in addition to your Thule ski trailer, but it is certainly doable. I have been doing this all winter long, mainly by myself with a baby in tow.
Multi-Uses of the Thule Chariot Ski Kit
I believe that the Thule Chariot Ski Kit was initially designed for cross country skiing and skate skiing. However, my husband and I have used the ski kit in many different ways! Here is all you need to know about using the ski kit for different winter activities.
Ski Touring with the Thule Chariot Ski Kit
For skiers alike the Thule Chariot Ski Kit is a game changer!! I can remember being a kid and my dad rigging up our old sled to his waist as he skied, towing us along.
The ride was bumpy, cold, uncomfortable and wet. We never lasted long. With Thule’s ski kit, winter has a whole new meaning for families and parents who ski!
Cross Country Skiing and Skate skiing (commonly referred to as Nordic Skiing) are classic forms of ski touring and work great with the Thule Chariot Ski Kit. If you have yet to cross country ski or skate ski they are not hard to pick up. Start with cross country skiing and see how you like it!
My husband and I prefer to tour with a different set of skis while towing our trailer. My husband has backcountry skis and I have a splitboard. Backcountry skis (or splitboards) combine Nordic skiing and Alpine skiing. We can free our heels while traversing terrain and then lock heels in place to descend down steep backcountry terrain.
While we like using our backcountry set ups, we obviously can’t take the trailer down steep downhill terrain! Most often we find winter roads that are not maintained to tour up. We prefer roads that are mostly uphill on the ascent and mostly downhill on the descent allowing us to lock in our heels for a more “alpine ski feel”.
We love it and our baby loves it. He usually screams and laughs during the entire descent. We also tour on cross country or skate skiing trails with our backcountry set ups and keep our heels unlocked since the ups and downs are less dramatic.
For me I would rather tour with my backcountry set up any day, even on cross country and skate skiing trails! The truth is……. touring on backcountry skis is easier than Nordic Skiing!!
But all in all, no matter what skis you use to tour – cross country, skate, backcountry even a splitboard -you will be addicted to taking your littles out with you for a family ski day! It might even make winter your favorite time of year, with a way to enjoy it with the whole family.
Tips for Using the Trailer with Skis
The ski trailer does not turn quickly. You will want to get use to the feel of the trailer for yourself, especially on descents, turning and slowing down.
Between skis and a splitboard, skis are easier to use on the downhill with the trailer. I still do it on my splitboard if my husband is not with me. It has taken some practice and getting used to. I rarely throw turns in on the way down. Sometimes I help shift the trailer for a slight turn or in preparation for slowing down. I would recommend getting some practice in before heading out on a really long touring day!
Then There is Fat Biking! What you Need and Where to Go
The other use we have for the ski kit is fat biking. Through and through we are a bike family. We love our bikes, even more than our skis. Figuring out that we could use our ski kit for fat biking was an awesome break through. Such a fun winter adventure!
Obviously, you ditch the tow bars, keep the skis and add your bike attachment.
It might be important to know that the Thule Chariot comes with a quick release attachment piece for the bike hauling the trailer. Your fat bike may have a thru axle and not a quick release. In that case you will need to buy a thru axle adapter.
Thule sells several different sizes of thru axles specifically to adapt bike trailers. We have 3 different thru axle adapters for all our different bikes, because every bike has to be able to tow the trailer!
We have found that most groomed fat biking trails in our area are wide enough for our double chariot. We also use unmaintained winter roads or groomed cross country skiing and skate skiing trails in our area that allow fat bikes. Round Valley in Park City, American Fork Canyon and the Unitas are some of our favorite fat biking destinations with our ski trailer. There is a lot of great fat biking in Utah!
Skis and a Jogger?
The last way I have seen the ski kit used is with the front jogging wheel attached and the two skis in the back. I see people using this as a way to stroll and hike on snow terrain. I have seen this on local groomed trails and at ski resorts to hang out with your baby at the bottom of the ski hill. I myself don’t have the jogging wheel attachment for the front, otherwise I would picture what this might look like here.
Reasons I love using the Thule Chariot Ski Kit with my Thule Chariot Cheetah XT
The main reason is that the Cheetah XT is SO lightweight!
I also love that I can remove the handlebars completely! There is no reason for them. They would just get in the way and add weight. When I have an older child, I will leave the handlebars on the trailer, so the child can hang on if they get tired and need a tow. For now, they are gone!
Common Questions About Cross Country Skiing with a Baby
(1) How hard is it to pull my Thule Chariot with the ski kit?
In my opinion pulling the ski trailer is relatively easy, even when I pack my trailer full of gear, water and snacks. I sometimes forget I am even pulling a load; it glides so easily on the snow. On steeper climbs I definitely go slower and sometimes the weight on my hips can make me a little sore afterwards.
Pro Tip: If you are taking your ski trailer on steeper terrain it can be more comfortable to wear the waist belt backwards. It looks kind of funky but tends to feel a little better around the hips.
(2) Why I would choose the trailer with the ski kit versus putting your baby or toddler in a front or back carrier when skiing.
The answer is simple – COMFORT, WARMTH AND STABILITY.
First and for most your babe or kiddo is blocked from the elements when nestled in the trailer versus a carrier. My babe’s cheeks even stay warm in the trailer. I can also stuff the trailer full of blankets to keep him warm. I love using my Rumpl Nanoloft Blanket. Then on really cold days I also use the Thule Footmuff Sport (see below). I rarely have issues keeping my little one warm.
The RAIN COVER is AMAZING for winter days. Until now you may have thought your rain cover was more obnoxious than useful. I use the rain cover more than half of the time when I go out. It blocks the wind and snow and keeps my little guy so nice and toasty. I have taken my little guy out in some really harsh conditions (a true blizzard in Jackson, Wyoming) and he stayed warm and comfortable. Myself on the other hand was feeling a little miserable and beaten by the freezing wind and sideways snow.
I have skied with my babe in a carrier and my trailer. Overall the trailer is much more comfortable for my little guy and myself. I can tour for much longer on days when I take the trailer. Naps are easier in the trailer than in the carrier. In addition, my little guy does not get as anxious to be out of the trailer as he does with the carrier. He has more space and does not feel as confined.
Carrying a baby on your back or chest is heavy and can be challenging, especially as they put on the pounds. When they are an infant, the chest carrier is the way to go. But think of your 20+ pound baby or toddler in a back carrier and now add skis to the equation. How stable would you feel? I feel more stable and safer using the ski trailer. I have fallen while attached to the ski trailer and my baby is fine, he usually finds it quite comical.
The only time I would use a front or back carrier over the ski trailer is if we do steeper and more technical terrain. Even then my husband is usually the one who carries our baby in the back carrier, because it makes me nervous.
In the end we are okay not doing as much steep and technical terrain, we are just trying to enjoy these moments with our little guy. We have the rest of our lives to hit steep and technical, but only a short time with our baby!
(3) Can you use the ski kit with snowshoes?
The answer is YES! My only complaint with using snowshoes is the ride for the child is a bit more jarring, rather than a smooth glide if you had skis on or you are pulling it behind a fat bike. The child would need to be older to handle the jarring movements. But if you love snowshoeing you can definitely use the Thule Chariot Ski Kit, to haul kiddos.
The Thule Chariot Ski Kit is an amazing product with great versatility. The Thule Ski Kit has truly proven the chariot to be an essential piece of kid gear that can be used all year long and in any condition! Even if you are not a winter person, this would be a great motivator to find a way to enjoy winter with your family outdoors!
Avalanche Danger while Cross Country Skiing with Baby
There is one important factor parents need to be aware of before heading out skiing, fat biking or snowshoeing with their new Thule Chariot Ski Kit. With snow and slopes comes the risk of avalanches. Be informed and know before you go.
Find out what avalanche danger exists in your areas or on trails you would like to take your littles on. You can use the National Avalanche Center to find out who your local avalanche forecaster is. They also provide avalanche forecasts, reports and training.
There are some trails we hit that have no avalanche danger. We can hit those trails anytime! However, there are other areas we have to watch avalanche conditions and on certain days due to avalanche risk we will not ski, ride or hike there. Even then sometimes we have turned around when seeing something questionable in the snowpack or sometimes I take a trial run myself to decide if an area is safe.
If you don’t know how to get started reach out and ask someone who might know in your area. Visit your local ski or bike shop, see if they can direct you to safe areas. Talk with others who frequently access winter trails in your area.
Connect with your local and state Avalanche Centers. Most local avalanche centers provide some type of free training as well. Check out what the Utah Avalache Center offers for anyone wanting to learn more about avalanches and how to travel safely through winter terrain.
If you EVER travel in avalanche terrain, review avalanche forecasts before going out. In the winter I review my Utah Avalanche Forecast every morning, even if I am not going out that day. I stay extremely informed on what is going on with the Utah snowpack. If you do intend to regularly travel in avalanche terrain ON SAFE DAYS you should find and take avalanche courses to travel those areas the safest way possible.
There is a lot to understanding avalanche safety and safe snow. REI provides avalanche courses, and most ski resorts offer courses or other local ski shops or outdoor groups may provide courses. My number one rule is always taking my baby in safe areas! So be informed about your areas, so you can do the same.
Not all Local Avalanche Centers provide many resources, but the free resources and tutorials available from the National Avalanche Center are incredible, FREE safety information!
Burley Ski Kit Review: Find out how it compares to the Thule Chariot Ski Kit
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