Cold start in Sweden: a visit to the training camp for sled dogs.

Michael Hess and two helpers with his dogs next to the Sprinter.

In the Swedish town of Flötningen/Idre, Michael Hess trains with his pack of Siberian Huskies for long-distance dog sled races. Always with him: a Sprinter 4x4.

Through the fantastic Swedish landscapes with the Sprinter 4x4.

Seemingly endless snowfields and clear blue sky as far as the eye can see – the countryside between Idre and Flötningen in the Swedish province of Dalarnas Iän resembles a winter fairy tale for nine months of the year. This is where Michael Hess breeds and trains a pack of 12 dogs for long-distance dog sled races. The passionate sled driver needs a vehicle which not only offers plenty of space but can easily handle the extreme weather conditions at two digits below zero to safely transport the dogs and his equipment. That is why he chose the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4. "The combination of the engine, the spaciousness and the all-wheel drive was the deciding factor for me. I have never regretted the decision to this day", says the pack leader.

The most common terms which sled drivers use to tell their dogs what to do:

Gee

means right

Haw

means left

Come Gee

means turning the sled 180° to the right

Come Haw

means turning the sled 180° to the left

Stop or Woa

means stop

Go

means forwards

Straight ahead

means run straight ahead

Fold in
Fold out

Animal and machine – an astonishing number of similarities.

Michael Hess values one characteristic in particular among both his sled dogs and with his vehicle: reliability. Neither the dogs nor the Sprinter 4x4 have ever disappointed the pack leader in this respect. Yet the animals and the vehicle also have a surprising number of other aspects in common. Just like the Sprinter 4x4, the Siberian Huskies are optimally adapted to the conditions on the long distances in the Scandinavian cold. But both have to be optimally prepared for the conditions: The dogs need to be fed and trained, the Sprinter 4x4 maintained and refueled. To improve traction, the tires on the Sprinter are equipped with spikes, the dogs' paws fitted with "booties".

The combination of the engine, the spaciousness and the all-wheel drive was the deciding factor for me. I have never regretted the decision to this day.

Michael Hess’ Sprinter 4x4 has the eyes of a Siberian Husky.

Michael Hess and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4 outside his house in Sweden.

The toughest dogsled races in the world.

  1. Yukon Quest: The race runs around 1,600 km through Alaska and Canada and is regarded as one of the toughest races in the world.
  2. Iditarod: With the route running 1,850 kilometers it is the world's longest dog sled race. In the race through Alaska the competitors may use teams of up to 16 dogs to tow their sleds.
  3. Finnmarksløpet: The northernmost dog sled race in the world takes place in Norway near North Cape.

Huskies as snowdogs running through the snow.

Fast and furious: The dogs are dashing through snow.

The race is its own goal.

However, the months of preparation and training pay off: In 2015 Michael Hess successfully competed in the Finnmarksløpet, the northernmost dog sled race in the world. This race is infamous because of the extreme climate conditions near North Cape and the very poor trail. Unlike 33 other competitors, Michael Hess successfully reached the destination with his dogs. In moments like these, training in the Swedish winter fairytale truly pays off.

Michael Hess' Siberian Huskies tow him through the snow.

Toward the sun: Michael Hess on his dog sled

Two of the sled dogs outside Michael Hess’ house in Sweden.

Michael Hess' Siberian Huskies perfectly match the Swedish winter landscape.

Michael Hess unloads a husky from the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4.

Michael Hess obviously loves the training in Sweden.

Fastening the dogs to the dog sled.

Michael Hess fastens one of the huskies to the dog sled.

Michael Hess kneels next to two of his dogs.

Not lapdogs: the Siberian Huskies almost look like wolves.

Sprinter

Regardless of what job you have to tackle – the Sprinter will make your day-to-day tasks easier. And even if those tasks are weighty ones, together, you’ll move mountains. Thanks to a host of different variants and over 600 optional features, the Sprinter can meet a wide variety of requirements.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
Slider images