Life Video·Video

Surviving in the wild: How to make a travois to pull your goods — or friend — to safety

This building technique could make moving large, heavy items easier when you need it most.

This building technique could make moving large, heavy items easier when you need it most.

Wilderness survival experts Zach and Cody will demonstrate how to properly construct a travois (or pull-sled). This wilderness wheelbarrow of sorts can be used for the transportation of items or as a first-aid/rescue device to transport an injured person. This handmade, historical pull sled configuration was originally made and used by First Nations people.

Note: The Travois is constructed out of two 12 foot hardwood poles and lashed together with 4 3 foot cross poles. Creating a framework that best resembles an isosceles triangle (two equal sides).

Surviving in the wild: How to make a travois to pull your goods — or friend — to safety

5 years ago
Duration 3:36
This building technique could make moving large, heavy items easier when you need it most.

Here's what you'll need:

  • A cutting tool
  • 2 12-15 ft live hardwood trees/poles (but dead trees will work)
  • 4 3-5 ft hardwood trees/poles (but dead trees will work)
  • Cordage (rope)

Here's how to do it:

  1. Safely using your cutting tool, take down/gather two 12-15 ft hardwood trees/poles
  2. Cut down/gather four 3-5ft cross poles (hardwood trees), tapering in size (biggest at the base to smallest near your handles)
  3. Lay your two 12-15 ft trees down with a 2ft overlap on the narrower end of both trees, creating an (X) shape – This should leave the trunks of the 12-15 ft trees/poles spaced apart on the opposite end of the overlap
  4. Your frame should be in the shape of a Tipi at this point (X)
  5. Lash the front overlap (X) with cordage (Overhand slip knot, surgeon's knot, frapping, cross wrap), binding the two 12-15 ft trees
  6. Taking your longest cross pole (5ft), lash the cross pole to your spaced apart 12-15 ft trees/poles, creating a full Isosceles Triangle 
  7. With your triangular frame intact, start spacing out your remaining three cross poles along the frame with at least 6" distance between each cross pole – More poles can be added if desired
  8. Once you have the cross pole spaced out to proper, equal lengths, tapering in size from biggest at the base (5ft) to smallest (3ft) at the top near your overlap (X), lash (overhand slip knot, cross wrap, frapping, surgeons knot) your cross poles to the Travois frame
  9. With your entire Travois frame now lashed together, flip/prop up the drag ends (widest part of your frame and where the Travois will drag on the ground) and using your cutting tool, safely carve a smooth surface for the Travois to pull with ease, almost in the fashion of a ski

With your Travois now fully lashed together you are now able to haul heavy objects over great distances!

Zachary Gault, Owner and Instructor at Primitive Living is a Wilderness Skills Instructor whom specializes in the art & skills of Bushcraft, Self-Reliance and Sustainable Wilderness-Living. He passes on his knowledge of nature and the outdoors with formal teaching of these tribal skills, as he feels there is a strong connection to the earth when you strip away modern comforts and learn to create them yourself from nature. Zach's exploits of his treks in different remote environments can be viewed through his social media page.

Cody Bokshowan, the man behind Trustin Timber Productions, is an avid backcountry canoeist, adventurist, photographer, and filmmaker. His journeys often take him far out of range of cell phone service so maintaining a strong instinct and understanding of survival skills in various conditions is a responsible part of training for the next production. In this series, he teams up with Zachary Gault, Wilderness Skills Instructor, to share with you a few lesser known skills that could save a life.

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