Life & Style

What Kind of Sled Should I Buy?


Brendan Leonard’s The Great Outdoors: A User’s Guide is an easy introduction to outdoor life that will ensure that even a novice won’t get lost in the woods while finding an activity he loves to do in the great outdoors—whether it’s hiking a 14er or camping on ice.

In the wintry excerpt below, Brendan breaks down common sled designs so you can decide which one is right for you and your family.

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What Kind of Sled

What Kind of Sled Should I Buy?

Contemporary sleds (not including dog sleds, bobsleds, and kick sleds, which are not for recreational, slide-down-a-hill-of-snow sledding) break down into five categories.

  1. Runner sled: A classic but potentially more dangerous sled design. The runner sled is made of wood with two steel runners underneath to glide over the snow. Runner sleds are best (and fastest) on packed snow, not deep powder. As you might imagine, a wood and steel sled can do some damage in the event of a collision with another sledder or someone standing at the bottom of the hill. But this is the only sled type that looks cool hanging over your fireplace.
  2. Toboggan: Probably the most common sled of the past two decades, toboggans are made of plastic or, less often, wood, and are commonly available at department stores, hardware stores, and even grocery stores. Toboggans offer better steering control than some other types of sleds.
  3. Inner tube: Inflatable tube-style sleds are the exact same design as an inner tube–style pool float, but with more durable materials and usually plastic handles for carrying and hanging onto while screaming down a hill. Steering an inner tube is pretty much impossible, but if that isn’t your thing you’ll love the downhill ride on a inner tube.
  4. Saucer sled: Saucer sleds are made of metal or plastic and are fun if you enjoy having no control over where you’re going as you speed down a hill. The saucer sled was made famous by Chevy Chase in the movie Christmas Vacation.
  5. Foam slider: The foam slider sled is the newest sled style. Foam sleds are similar to bodyboards or surfboards in their design and are the most lightweight of sled styles, so they’re easy to carry back up the hill for another run. However, depending on the design, these sleds can be the least durable.


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