Who invented the sled? It turns out the first sleds weren’t designed for snow. Early sleds can be traced back to Egypt, used to transport equipment across sand to make those amazing pyramids. In Canada, the toboggan was invented for similar reasons by First Nations tribes to move goods and people. Of course, toboggans gained traction with dog sledding, which is still popular across Canada and Alaska today.
Sleds on sand never really took off, but by the 1600s in Europe, sleds began to be used recreationally. In the United States, sleds came into prominence during the 1930s and remain a popular activity for kids and families during the winter. Most households that see snowfall during the cold weather months have at least one sled hanging in the garage or sitting in the corner of the shed. If a sled is on the list this holiday season or you want to get ready for winter activities before it starts snowing, here are the best snow sleds for racing down a hill.
When it comes to picking out a sled, two things are important. Since sledding is known for its accidents, having a high-quality sled that’s durable is a must. While the ride down doesn’t last long, the walk up does. So, look for a lightweight sled that isn’t too difficult to carry or pull on the walk up.
Good: Flexible Flyer
The Flexible Flyer metal runner sled is a classic. Flexible Flyer has been making sleds for kids since 1889. It boasts the traditional sled design and is fashioned from birch wood and features metal runners. The Flexible Flyer is available in a 48-inch design that is ideal for a single rider. A 60-inch version is also available if you’re looking for a sled to hold one or more riders. The 60-inch Flexible Flyer can hold up to 250 pounds. This vintage-style sled comes completely assembled and offers the ability to steer. Steering with the hands can be done while lying down or with feet while sitting. Steering with the hands can also be achieved while sitting up but requires the attachment of a rope to the steering bar. The rope is a separate purchase and a good idea especially for getting the sled back up the hill.
Better: Flexible Flyer Flying Carpet
If you don’t want to go retro and are looking for a lightweight sled kids can carry up and down the hill easily on their own, Flexible Flyer has a Flying Carpet sled design that fits the bill. Unlike the classic design that is a bit bulky to store and carry, the Flying Carpet can actually be rolled up, which makes for quick and easy storage even for homes with space issues. The durable sled weighs just over one-half of a pound, making it a perfect pick for kids and parents. No lugging a heavy sled back up to the top of the hill. The two punched-out handles in the front are used for steering as well as transport. Flexible Flyer’s Flying Carpet can be used for adults and kids. It’s recommended for ages 4 and up.
Best: Jinshiband Snow Sled
If you’re looking for a sled with a bit more versatility that will grow with your kids, check out the Jinshiand snow sled. It features an environmentally friendly HDPE plastic design and weighs just over 2.5 pounds. The sled features a seat with back support and anti-slip panels in the footrest, which is a plus for parents going down the hill with little ones. It also includes brakes that can help make sledding a safer experience for kids. The sturdy drawstring comes in handy when pulling the sled back up the hill. Like those sleds originally designed to build the pyramids in Egypt, this snow sled can also get some use hauling all that stuff onto the beach come summer. It glides easily across sand and grass if you want to repurpose it when the snow melts.
Other snow sleds for kids
Here are some other sleds that are great for kids to take a fun ride down the hill after a snowstorm.
- Calo Snow Tube: ideal for kids and adults
- Slippery Racer Downhill Toboggan: good for one to two riders
- Flexible Flyer Lightning Snow Sled: ideal for families because it comes with three lightweight sleds
If you live in a cold-weather state where skates and sleds get a lot of use, it’s important to have a quality sled that will last for more than one season. For the rest of us, you never know when you need a sled until it snows and you don’t have one. Definitely have at least one of if you live in an area when a substantial snowfall is a possibility. Flexible Flyer has been making sleds for a long time and has two options ranging from retro to modern. If you’re looking for something with more flexibility and a more comfortable ride, Jinshiand’s Snow Sled is a perfect fit, especially for younger kids. It’s also a good fit for kids riding alone or with a buddy. Sledding has really stood the test of time and for a good reason. It’s fun and completely family-friendly.
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