– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

Outdoors with Car Tyres

You might have noticed that lately I’ve mentioned tyres quite often in my tweets.

Tyres? Yes, tyres.

Why? Well, let me explain…


Who can read the runes?

Most who are serious about their outdoor ventures like to be fit. Maybe the greatest way for outdoors enthusiast to stay fit is to spend a lot of time outdoors on the chosen level of activity, and if necessary have some rest and recovery scheduled in between. Unfortunately the great majority of us can’t do this as we have other responsibilities in life. But often we have the odd hour here and there enough for training and physical excercise and training can help you to make most out of your limited time outdoors. (And in my opinion it also generally makes you feel better.)

I believe in “low tech” training in the spirit of “train as you fight”. If you train for backpacking, walk. If you train for climbing, climb. Et cetera. Just make it little harder to compensate with the limited time you have for training, for example if training for backpacking trip carry heavier backpack or walk more uphill. But what if you’d like to be training for winter expeditions and it’s +5C and raining?

Meet the tyre, your new best friend!


Pulling tyres with poles in hands is probably the most efficient way of training for sledge/pulka hauling trips or expeditions when you can’t do the actual thing. But in addition the tyre is also great way of adding extra resistance to any other form of training (my hat is off for anyone doing serious climbing training with a tyre in tow). In addition it’s cheap and easy to make. And as a bonus you’ll learn to hate it in a nice way. But don’t worry, the tyre hates you too. In a nice constructive way.

How to make your new best friend?

Making a tyre to pull is actually very easy. Well, as long as you don’t try to make the tyre itself. My tyre is based on the instructions at Kerkesix’s pages but here’s a short how-to in english. The illustrative photos at the Kerkesix page are good and worth checking to accompany the instructions below:

1) Get yourself an old car tyre. These should be freely available from servicing gas stations, car services and tyre shops. The shops have to pay to get rid of the waste tyres so they are usually happy to give them away for free. Normal sized one is enough but if you want it to look macho, get a big one, maybe even with studs.

2) Get also a half a meter piece of garden hose, some 5-6 meters of cheap rope and some pieces scrap wood and few nails or screws.

3) Make two holes about 25cm from each other near the top edge of the tyre. A power drill is helpful and makes nice round holes but you can also manage with sharp knife or hot iron (just don’t make it a Springfield Tire Fire).

4) Use the pieces of scrap wood to make a securely fitting floor inside your tyre. It takes probably 5-7 pieces of typical 4′ board to make the floor. First measure and cut pieces to fit side by side forming a solid platform that fits inside the tyre but doesn’t fall out (it’s worth cutting the edges in an angle to get a better fit). Then measure and cut a crossing piece or two. Next fit the pieces of the floor inside the tyre (It’s easiest to start with the long ones and crank them in while bending the tyre.) Now assemble the floor with nails or screws.

5) Thread the hose through the holes you made in the tyre and then the rope through the hose (or you might want to do it in opposite order if it’s a tight fit). For sledge/pulka hauling oriented tyre pulling the proper length is so that the hauler is 2-2.5 meters away from the tyre.

6) Finally attach the tyre to yourself somehow and try to have fun! A good way for attaching is to use a sledge hauling harness or a strong backpack and attach the rope to it with knots or carabiners.

The Kerkesix instructions also mention making bottle holders on top of the tyre with some bungee cord but I don’t find it necessary: it just as easy to toss the bottle at the bottom of the tyre. Plus when keeping the bottle in the tyre it tends to get covered with a thick layer of dust.


What to do with your new best friend?

The basic idea of the tyre is to add extra resistance to movement, and in my case simulate a heavy pulka I like to drag behind me in winter times. The basic manhauling training is to load some weight into the tyre (that’s why you made the floor) grab your poles and go pulling the tyre around dirt roads and trails. The force needed to pull the tyre, or a pulka, depends a lot on the quality of the surface but generally a tyre setup around 30kg should simulate a 80kg pulka in typical non-optimal conditions. You can vary the load, the speed, the duration of the exercise and the route (smooth dirt, bumpy trails, uphills, etc.) While training my loads on dirt roads usually vary from 28kg to 45,5kg for session of one hour or more and sometimes I load in 50kg or more for short (30 minutes or so) strength training sessions.

I know also that some top class Finnish ultra runners use tyres for more effective training for mountain ultra marathons. Apparently the training regime is to walk up a hill with a tyre and poles and sprint down with the tyre in tow. The right load for this training is when running downhill with the tyre feels like running on flat without it. Sounds hardcore for me.

Little easier way of using tyre for running is to run with a light load (no extra weights needed) on easy surface to develop your posture and running technique. Apparently you should have better posture, shorter step and land more on the ball of your feet than on the heel. I have tried it a few times, it feels about right, the posture and technique do change. And at least you’ll get more intense workout.

You can also use the tyre for upper body strength training, especially if you add longer ropes (maybe 10-20 meters). Load the tyre heavy, sit down on the g round knees bent with some support for your feet and start pulling the tyre to you. You can do it only with your arms, with your back or with the whole body depending on what you are training. Nice exercise is to pull the tyre to you, sprint on the opposite side of the tyre until the ropes are tight, pull it back again and repeat as long as necessary.

And if you have a big tyre and a sledgehammer, hammering the edge of the tyre also makes good functional core strength training and shows how you feel about the tyre…


Tyre 9,5kg, the small rocks 19kg and the big rock 37kg. Great way to ruin a walk!

Do you have a tyre to train with or would you like to have one? Or is this just plain stupid? 😀


3 responses to “Outdoors with Car Tyres

  1. Joni Palomäki (@valppaus) 13/11/2013 at 23:37

    Having climbed up and down the stairs with waterbottle-filled backpack, preparing for mountaineering, or pulled my daughter in a pulkka on skis and skins to get ready for some backcountry telemarking, I can see a point in free time activities such as this – and it certainly works!

    But I must admit that pulling a tire with rocks on it is (or at least looks) pretty hardcore in comparison, strongman stuff 🙂

  2. Lauri Hilander 14/11/2013 at 12:20

    I have one of these badboys at home too. When combined with weekly session of uphillwalking with a 20kg rucksack one can achieve horse-like legs 😉

    Not really, but it is sure that this is the second best for of training for pulka-skiing. The floor is essential piece in this build-up, otherwise all the fallen leaves, sticks and small stones fill your beloved partner up or jagg it so that it wont slide well enough.

    Good post, chears Korpijaakko!

  3. korpijaakko 14/11/2013 at 22:09

    Joni: It’s not as hard core as it may sound (and it actually literally sounds quite hard). I recommend giving a try if training for some bc telemarking on the fjells.

    Lauri: Luckily I’m blessed with tree-like thighs by born, I buy XXL trousers to fit legs and use belt to keep them up… But it’s great training, as is uphill walking with extra load. Good point about the function of the floor! I’ve never thought about it as I’ve always useda tyre with a floor. Well, ones I tried a big broken tyre with the rim on but it didn’t really work: as the tyre was flat the edge of the trim got stuck to every minor obstacle and being heavy it was just a nightmare…

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