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Sledding is a great winter activity for the whole family. Sleds are inexpensive, sledding hills are free, and getting your children outdoors promotes physical activity and a love for nature. Our snow sled buyers' guide suggests four categories to consider as you shop for winter sleds.
Sled Safety Is Worth the Price
Sledding is primarily a children's pastime, which is why, when buying a toboggan or snow sled for your family, age recommendations and weight capacity are just as important as sled types and materials. Most sledding injuries happen to children 14 years of age and younger. Selecting a sled that's appropriate for your children's age and size will guarantee them a safe and exciting sledding season.
Sled Age Recommendations
All snow sleds and toboggans come with age recommendations. Be sure to always follow these manufacturer's instructions. For younger children, look for snow sleds that provide slower speeds and greater control. Studies have shown that sledding injuries most often strike 10 to 14-year-old boys and 5 to 9-year old girls, so take extra care that children in these age groups are using safe and appropriate toboggans and snow sleds.
Sled Weight Capacity
Weight capacity is primarily an issue with larger snow sleds such as toboggans, but overloading saucers with two or more people will also create a weight hazard. If sledding is something your family enjoys doing together, look for a metal or wood toboggan with a high-weight capacity and easy steering. The more weight on a snow sled, the faster it's going to travel once it picks up speed, so inform your children that piling on a snow sled is unsafe.
A number of different materials are used in sled construction. A vinyl sled, plastic sled, wooden sled, metal sled, or a foam sled are your primary material options. Snow saucers and other fast, lightweight snow sleds tend to be made from plastic or foam. The lighter weight of these snow sleds is less likely to cause injury.
Wood and metal are found in more expensive, higher weight snow sleds and wooden toboggans. These materials offer durable construction and stability. Inflatable snow tubes or snow sleds are often made from vinyl, which is also an inexpensive option, but not suitable for hills or sledding areas where rocks or other objects might rip the snow tube.
Our guide to snow sled types has information on the most popular snow sleds. But in general, saucer sleds are a fun and fast ride for children old enough to ride them, while inflatable toboggans and larger snow sleds that can accommodate two or more people are fun for the whole family. Since smaller snow sleds are inexpensive, consider buying two or three different kinds of sleds on which your children can take turns.