You can feel it almost as soon as you wake up. The world seems a bit quieter; the day, full of potential. A quick peek between the blinds confirms your suspicions – it’s a perfect snow day. The powder is piled up, just begging to be flattened under the speeding weight of your sled. It doesn’t matter if you’re 5or 55; there’s nothing quite as fun and freeing as getting outside for some exciting snow sledding.
But a lot has changed in sleds since the wooden toboggan days of yesteryear. Styles like saucers, toboggans and tubes, and even different material options each have their own unique properties that put you in control of your sled ride. So, make sure you have a great time out in the snow by finding the right sled for your conditions.
SLED MODELS & STYLES
When it comes to snow sleds, there are a few styles to choose from, and which one you pick can influence your ride downhill.
If your mental image of a toboggan is one made of smooth wooden slats with a curved front that would look right at home in a Currier and Ives print, you may need to branch out. Modern toboggans are flat-bottomed sleds, typically inflatable or made of plastic, designed to fit multiple people, which makes them great for groups or families looking to have a shared ride down the hill. They can be controlled with a little shift in weight from side-to-side and have the potential to speed down the slopes if snow conditions are right.
If toboggans are the mini-vans of sleds, the saucer is the sports car. Shaped in a circle and able to comfortably fit one person, saucers are quick, slick and offer a faster descent than toboggans, with or without buffing on a hefty coat of high-quality “kitchen lubricant.” Due to their design, though, saucers aren’t as easy to steer and offer little control. But, if you have an open hill with few obstacles and a need for speed, then saucers are the model for you.
There is a third sled style available that falls in the middle of a toboggan and a saucer. Sometimes called a “hybrid,” or simply a “sled,” these models can fit one or two people and offer the slickness of saucers with the control of a toboggan. These options are perfect for those looking for a little extra leg room in their sled or someone who might want to steer down trails.
Snow tubes are another great choice. Their inflatable design offers a comfortable ride and can come in shapes ranging from circular to toboggan to something else entirely.
Once you have a sled model in mind, it’s time to choose which material will be best for your snow conditions. Be sure to take your terrain, snow depth and number of potential obstacles into consideration when deciding the snow sled’s material.
Plastic sleds can come in a variety of styles and are a popular choice among children for their lightweight and durable qualities. The material is slick and can be ridden over somewhat rough terrain with little to no damage. Plastic sleds are also popular because they are a relatively inexpensive option.
A newcomer in the sledding realm, foam sleds offer a more cushioned ride than plastic sleds at close to the same cost. While foam sleds might not be as fast as plastic, they are still very durable and can be ridden in similar terrain and snow conditions.
INFLATABLE TUBES & SLEDS
The last material to consider is vinyl, which is used to manufacture inflatable tubes and sleds. Vinyl is extremely lightweight and can be a comfortable option, as well as a fast and enjoyable ride. For best results, though, use inflatable tubes and sleds in deep, light snow. Vinyl can rip easily if ran across rugged terrain, obstacles or even ice. It is best to have a lot of snow or a very open hill if you plan to use vinyl tubes or sleds.
Before your next snow day or the next blizzard hits, be sure to pick up a snow sled that fits your needs. The right sled is a great way to get the most out of the winter weather. Now, bundle up, get out there and happy sledding! Let ’er rip!