The 10 Best Snow Sleds
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in June of 2015. When winter comes and the snow falls, many thrillseekers look for some heart-pounding, fast-paced action on the nearest powdery hill. These sleds are provide plenty of speed and fun, and are sold in various shapes and sizes to suit kids of any age. Since these can careen down slopes very quickly, always have children go feet first, facing forward, and make sure they're well supervised. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 16, 2020:
Today we added in the GoFloats Inflatable, which is sure to make for Instagram-worthy photos whenever you bring it to the sledding hills, and it comes in your choice of bright bold designs such as a rainbow unicorn, a pink flamingo, an ice dragon, a goggles-wearing polar bear, or a scarf-wearing penguin. Made of raft-grade vinyl, this blow-up option is thicker than many others to help it withstand bumps in the snow. It features a rapid-inflate valve and is easy to inflate if you’ve got an air mattress on hand. It’s 45 inches in diameter and, when deflated, is easy to fold up for compact storage in a drawer or a cabinet. Note that it can be a bit of a chore for kids to lug this one up a hill, however, as there is no tow rope. It replaces the A-Dudu Inflatable in this update, which is rather difficult to inflate and tends to lose air quickly.
For a classic wooden toboggan sled, we still think you can’t go wrong with the Flexible Flyer Runner. It’s got powder-coated steel runners that help it to glide quickly down slopes, and the steering bar helps give you control to carve turns. It doesn’t come with a rope, but it’s easy to attach one to this bar. For another wooden design that doesn’t include the runners, check out the Flexible Flyer Wood Toboggan, a six-foot-long option that can accommodate up to three riders, and its slats help to keep everyone in place safely. Our list wouldn’t be complete without an option or two for young tots, and the Flexible Flyer Baby Pull is made with safety in mind, thanks to a wide, stable base and crack-resistant polyethylene build. Parents are sure to appreciate the long tow rope so they won’t have to break their backs bending over to pull their kids. Speaking of which, the Zipfy Freestyle is another thoughtfully designed option that features a tall handle that makes it easy to push a child along in the snow. As noted in our last update, be sure to practice sled safety by going town the hills feet first, and always supervise children closely during sledding.
December 16, 2019:
Whether you prefer a disc-shaped model, a toboggan design, an inner tube, or a classic wooden style, our list of the best snow sleds has something for you. Five new models join our selection in this update. The A-Dudu Inflatable can be blown up in mere seconds using an air pump and, although it reaches a 47-inch diameter when fully inflated, it’s easy to deflate and fold it up to a compact size for storage, making it great for apartment dwellers or anyone with limited space in their home. You can choose from two festive, wintry designs.
The Slippery Racer Xtreme Toboggan accommodates one to two riders and has two sets of cutouts for hand grips. It’s coated with the manufacturer’s proprietary IceVex treatment that helps prevent cracking and scratching. Its attached rope makes it easy to pull a youngster or to make your way back up a hill for another run. Another toboggan-style model is the Best Choice Products Toboggan, which doesn’t feature cutouts to grab onto; rather, it’s got a ridge on both sides designed for gripping, so you’re not limited as to where you can place your hands. It can comfortably accommodate multiple small children or a teenager, and is good for those up to age 15.
For a toboggan with the classic curved front style and wooden construction, look to the Flexible Flyer Wood Toboggan, which can hold up to three riders at a time and features crosswise slats to keep everyone in place during each run. It’s handcrafted in Canada using the wood from maple trees and features a simple, elegant design. Its durable yellow pull cord actually runs the entire length, giving everyone a place to hold on. A cushion that’s made for this sled is sold separately from the manufacturer.
If you’ve got a toddler who’s ready to get in on some sledding fun, the Flexible Flyer Baby Pull is a great way to tow those up to three years of age through snow of up to four inches deep. Its safety-minded features include a wide stable base, an adjustable seatbelt, and an extra-high back for support. It comes with a long rope so you can pull your little one comfortably.
For more choices made of wood, check out our list of the best wooden sleds. Some feature a classic toboggan design, while others are equipped with sturdy metal runners to cut effortlessly through the snow.
No matter which model catches your eye, for safety’s sake, it’s best to always sled facing forward and with your feet first, to avoid head injuries. Spend time with your kids teaching them the best ways to slow down or stop, when needed. When sledding, children should be supervised by an adult at all times.
Old-Fashioned Wood Sled Plans If you’re looking to make your own sled, these patterns will provide you with the directions to construct one that can be displayed proudly anywhere in your home or actually used for a run in the snow. It’s made to resemble the ones previous generations had as children, with a high-backed wooden panel and sides that feature cutout handles. thewinfieldcollection.com
L.L.Bean Sonic Snow Tube Originally designed for use at commercial tubing hills, this inflatable model features a semi-rigid polyethylene base that prevents drag and allows it to slide exceptionally well. Its rugged shell helps protect the inner tube from punctures and abrasion, to give you years’ worth of use. Its sturdy handles and integrated tow strap make it easy to get it back up the hill for your next run. llbean.com
Types of Snow Sleds
There are also sleds used in cold weather climates for travel that are pulled by animals such as dogs or horses.
Snow sleds are specifically designed with slick bottoms or runners to carry one to two passengers and easily glide along the snow while being either pulled, pushed or ridden downhill.
There are several types of snow sleds that you will encounter while shopping for your best option. The first is often referred to as a toboggan. It is generally long, sits directly on the ground, and can hold up to two passengers. It is usually made from plastic but is sometimes made from wood.
The second type of sled might be the most popular and is a steel runner sled. It has the classic design that is often seen in movies and is made of wood with steel runners that are capable of carrying the sled at high speeds.
The third is called a saucer. As its name suggests, it is round and curved. It also has no runners and sits directly on the ground. It is usually made of plastic and is slick on the bottom so it will pick up speed and spin while flying downhill.
Other types of sleds include kicksleds, foam sliders, and back country sleds. There are also sleds designed specifically for small children that can be pushed or pulled by an adult using a rope or handle and are not designed to be ridden downhill.
The majority of today’s snow sleds are intended for recreational use although there are still sleds such as bobsleds and luges used for competitions. There are also sleds used in cold weather climates for travel that are pulled by animals such as dogs or horses.
Don't Click The Buy Button Just Yet
Purchasing a snow sled can be a fairly straightforward transaction. You don’t need to take many things into consideration before you run out and buy one. After all, you just need something that slides on the snow, right?
As it turns out, it’s not always that simple. There are so many types of snow sleds on the market now that there are a few things you will need to think about before you open your wallet.
If you want a toboggan that is easy to use and transport, it will generally be a more affordable purchase than a classic wooden sled with steel runners.
First, consider the age recommendations on the product you are considering buying. Some snow sleds are built specifically for babies and toddlers and are not intended to be ridden downhill. They are often only meant to be pushed and pulled through the snow by adults. Still other sleds are intended for particular age groups based on their size. Many sledding injuries happen because of improper supervision and using the wrong sled.
Second, consider the weight capacity of your chosen snow sled. This is especially important if you plan to purchase a toboggan or saucer sled. Some toboggans are built specifically to hold two or more people. However, saucer sleds are generally built for one, and injuries can occur if the weight recommendations are exceeded.
Third, take a look at the material from which the sled is constructed. Many are made of plastic, but some are made from wood and steel. Some are even made of foam. The light-weight sleds are generally made from foam or plastic and are built to be affordable and reach significant speeds while still preventing certain injuries that occur with more solid materials. Wood and metal tend to be more durable over time but can sometimes result in painful injuries if used improperly.
Next, consider the type of sled you want. If you want a toboggan that is easy to use and transport, it will generally be a more affordable purchase than a classic wooden sled with steel runners. However, the nostalgia and speed of the classic snow sleds are often worth the additional cost if it is an age-appropriate purchase.
The most important consideration when purchasing a snow sled is safety. Children should be properly supervised at all times when using their snow sled, and it should always fit the recommended age and weight limits.
A Brief History of the Snow Sled
Sleds were originally developed for practical purposes in geographical areas that received snowfall for a large portion of the year. Sledding vehicles were invented in order to transport people or important materials from one place to another. They were easier to use and more efficient in the snow than cars, carriages, or other wheeled vehicles. The large sledding vehicles were often pulled by an animal such as an ox, horse, or dog.
Recreational snow activities have evolved over time to include skiing, snowboarding, and tubing.
The word “sled” is derived from the Middle English word “sledde” which meant “slider.” It seems an appropriate term since that’s basically what happens when you use a sled.
The earliest sleds were actually intended for use on sand and were developed by the early Egyptians around 2600 BCE. They used wooden sleds to haul materials to their construction sites.
It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that snow sledding began to develop into an actual sport. In Davos, Switzerland in 1883, George Robertson, an Australian student, won the world’s first international sled race. He won this race on what is considered a traditional wooden sled that is often referred to as a “Davoser” based on that first race. This sled eventually evolved into the classic wooden sled with steel runners that we still know and love today.
Today, sledding continues to be a recreational activity mostly enjoyed by children. However, snow sledding is still present in many sports and including the luge and bobsledding. Recreational snow activities have evolved over time to include skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. There are many resorts in winter climates across the world that make significant money renting equipment and offering lessons to people who wish to learn and enjoy this popular winter pastime.