Not only beautiful, these colorful designs protect your machine
I like to think of myself as having classic taste with just a dab of trendy on the side. In my regular life if I were a color it would be black, not because I do not like the other colors and appreciate them, but nothing beats the classic beauty of black. Black pants, black jackets, expensive black leather boots. The truck that I drive is blackout black and the truck deck is the same color. My last name is even Black to match my taste. In my sledding life however, all of this goes out the window and my alter ego takes over. While I still like classic lines and material that will last, when it comes to color, the brighter the better. Vibrant turquoise and neon orange are my colors of choice at the moment and you can see me coming from a mile away. I like to think that part of the draw to this form of peacocking is safety (you really do have a better chance of being seen in the mountains in bright colors) but in reality it is probably just vanity and my diva side coming out.
What does all of this have to do with a sled wrap? Well, up until just recently, I have been perfectly happy to ride a simple, naked machine. The white panels went nicely with the black and orange seat and tunnel combination. A few decals on the side and I was content. As tends to be the case in Alaska, the trends of the Lower 48 are slow to arrive. The wraps of the past were expensive with less coverage and design options and I didn’t feel like I was missing much by not purchasing one. This all changed recently as more designers and suppliers have come to the market and are marketing their concepts. Sled wraps now cover almost the entire machine, and range in price on average between $375 and $600 depending on coverage and design customization.
I knew I wanted to freshen up the sled this year, and while purchasing a new sled was not in the budget, a custom sled wrap could do the trick. I began working with fellow Divas Snow Gear Ambassador Jessica Carter with Extreme Realities in August. Together we came up with a color palette and ideas for the custom sled wrap. Concept ideas included my love of Alaska, night riding and the sparkle on the snow when the sun hits it just right.
This was all discussed in detail during the design process. Working with a knowledgeable designer and someone who has previous experience designing wraps is a plus, as this is a medium that is specific and unique. Customization of a sled wrap is a back-and-forth process, and you will need to be comfortable giving honest feedback to the designer. Designers want you to love the final product and this will only happen if you can give feedback, positive and negative, on the design pieces. After much discussion, the final design was down to two different color options. I printed the options and laid them on my sled and got feedback from family and friends on what looked best. Many days and much deliberation later I had finally landed on a design and color palette that I was happy with.
The next portion of this process was the printing. In this case, Jessica was outsourcing to Jesse Maguire with Mahem Design Works. Sled wrap material is different from vehicle wrap material and varies in weight. The material, a combination of vinyl and laminate that my wrap was printed on, is 15mm and extremely heavy duty and scratch resistant. One of the many reasons that people will purchase a sled wrap is the protection it provides to your side panels and machine while riding. Besides being beautiful with eye-catching designs, a wrap that is printed on the correct material can extend the exterior life of your sled.
Installation of a wrap can be challenging and rewarding. My first inclination was to hire someone to install my wrap for me. In the end the decision to install myself was a good one, and I recommend it. Not only will it save you money, but it also will give you an appreciation for the process and an end-product of which to be proud. Instructions and YouTube tutorials prior to installing your sled wrap are a must and will give you tips and tricks to make the process go smoothly. Since my sled is slightly older, a 2011, the template that was purchased initially by Jessica did not have the same coverage as the newer sleds. This was determined after the sled wrap arrived and I cut it out and taped it in place on my machine. I highly recommend this step, the process of determining which piece goes where is like a puzzle and will take additional time the day of installation. Jessica and I worked together long distance with pictures and measurements to create a second template that would have better coverage and was printed and mailed to me at no charge. My white side panels, while one of the selling points when I bought my machine, became a thorn in my side during the installation process. My color combination was mostly dark colors of blue and orange and the white side panels that did not have coverage showed through. My next sled will be all black which has more forgiveness when it comes to sled wraps. Our solution was to apply a few thin blue strips along the white lines after the sled wrap was installed. These are camouflaged in the design, and I am happy with the results.
A few heat gun burns, the loss of my fingertips (the wrap material is really sticky) and many broken fingernails later and we have the final product, and it is amazing! No, seriously, this is stop-you-in-the-street, catch-your-breath kind of beautiful. In my house sled wrap mania is here to stay. My next install will be the wrap I just purchased for my husband as a gift. He recently injured his finger and will have to supervise the installation (lucky me). I am excited to see the transformation from design to sled and then onto the snow. Whether you are looking to freshen up or personalize your sled, to protect the side panels or for a wrap that will pop against the backdrop of fresh snow in photographs take the next step, embrace the mania and wrap it before you ride it.