Hill Folk: The 7 Best Snow Sleds

Aug 13, 2015

Category: Gear

Sure, you can strap on an expensive pair of skis or a snowboard and head off to a resort where there’s a mass of other tourists sipping cocoa and taking runs, but where’s the fun in that? You could also try doing some backcountry, off-script adventures, but you’re still going to spend a lot of cash on the right equipment. Rather than engaging in all that grown-up nonsense, maybe what you should try is just grabbing a snow sled or snow tube and finding the nearest hill. It’s cheaper, easier, and way more childishly fun than skiing or snowboarding.

Maturity is overrated, especially if it means you can’t enjoy careening out of control on a hunk of plastic, rubber, or wood. We firmly believe that you should never be forced to abandon the simple pleasures, and sledding is as simple as a pleasure gets. We had to turn over every rock, but we managed to find a set of sleds that are sure to delight adults and children alike. We picked items that are relatively safe, durable, and fun. So ditch the suit and tie, throw on your winter boots, get one of the 7 best snow sleds for adults, and find yourself a run.

Mad River Rocket Sled 0

Mad River Rocket Sled

Pro: Easy to carry
Con: Overpriced

Light Rider: The price tag is a little steep for a plastic sled, but if you really like to do your sledding in the back country and need something light and controllable, then this is your ticket. The scooped shape can fit easily on your back, even over a travel backpack or day pack. Rather than riding it traditionally, this is meant for supreme maneuverability. You can free sled on it, take jumps, weave through the trees on snowy rocky mountains, and even pull of flips and aerials all thanks to the narrow frame and shortened body. It takes nearly as much practice to use this as it does learning to snowboard, but once you’ve mastered it then the whole world is your playground. You’ll want steep inclines with plenty of virgin snow to really get flying with this slippery runt. [Purchase: $179]

LL Bean Stowaway Snow Tube Set

L.L. Bean Stowaway Snow Tube Set

Pro: Easy to transport
Con: Impossible to control

Air Ride: Snow tubes get a lot of flak in the snow sled industry because they’re nearly impossible to control and you’re just as likely to end up spun around facing up the hill as down. Well, a pox on those that would claim this is anything other than fun. Yes, you must relinquish control and trust the snow gods to keep you safe. Yes, it is faster than most standard tubes thanks to a polyurethane bottom. Yes it’s the most heart-stopping excitement you can have for years with such a small expenditure. The actual inner tube has a urethane body that can also be used for floating down a river with a sixer of Molson’s Ice trailing along behind. The exterior protector is 600-denier polyester that prevents snags and obstructions from penetrating the tube and can hold strong through many winters. It also has a thermoplastic coating that improves glide, reduces friction, and staves off heat issues that could otherwise ruin your days of downhill. Pump and bag included. [Purchase: $179]

Hammerhead Pro X

Hammerhead Pro X

Pro: Easy, comfortable steering
Con: Cannot handle heavy users

All Terrain: One look at the Pro X and you’ll realize that this things never even tried to be a toy. This is meant for serious work and intended to handle a variety of conditions. The wide, high-density polyethylene rear skis work like alpine downhillers to distribute weight better and give you a little more drift over snow while the front runners are made more like cross-country skis out of polycarbonate that turns like a dream. The entire frame is aluminum which helps reduce the overall weight of the sled itself, but also reduces the maximum weight of the user. If you’re over 200 lbs. this isn’t going to work for you. Steering is accomplished via the rubber grips at the front. They operate intuitively and feel comfortable in your hand. At 51 inches long, it’s big enough for most riders and the mesh center is ideal for going on your stomach without taking a hit in the solar plexus if you snag a little air. [Purchase: $199]

Jeweled Fiberglass Snow Saucer

Jeweled Fiberglass Snow Saucer

Pro: Very hard to break, bend, or damage
Con: Sparkly

Sit and Spin: Toboggans are the most iconic snow sled ever made, but for individuals who preferred not to have passengers during their runs, there was always the solo disc. As reckless as an inner tube with even less protection for your tailbone, the saucer has nonetheless survived. This is a full 32″ adult model comprised of layered fiberglass that is built like a boat’s hull to help keep you above the drifts. Since weight is transferred relatively equally around much of the disc, you can use this to carve up some powder or hit an established run with equally enjoyable results. Without any notable steering mechanism, and an unusually high top speed, you’ll probably not want to go to many crowded areas unless you feel like either doling out concussions or running over small children. These are hard to break and stand up to abuse and elemental stresses well. Our major problem was that they only came in sparkly colors which made us feel like Rainbow Brite villains. [Purchase: $200]

Milson Premium Metal Runner

Milson Premium Metal Runner

Pro: 500 lbs. weight limit
Con: Cannot be stored outside

Speed and Steering: At a glance, it looks like a relic. A throwback from an earlier time that has more business being called “Rosebud” than being taken out by serious snow sledders. But look again. The bamboo deck is coated with polyurethane for better longevity and resistance to damage. Underneath, the 2.5-inch runners are made from aerospace aluminum that cut weight yet fly down the hill. Tubes on the side can assist with steering, but are also the perfect place to mount your favorite action camera so that you can show the whole wide internet your exploits and be named King of the Mountain. You’ll need to learn skid-steering, runner articulation, and hop steering to get the best this has to offer, but once you do you can literally get a lifetime of enjoyment out of this beautiful bastard. Each part can be replaced piecemeal if need be. [Purchase: $430]

Mountain Boy Sledworks Royal Flyer Sled

Mountain Boy Sledworks Royal Flyer

Pro: Looks as good as it functions
Con: Digs into powdered snow

Old School: The people at Mountain Boy know their sleds. Their approach to the industry is a classic one. They believe in handmade wooden sleds built for all ages. Their entire Flyer sled line is some of the best you can buy, so if you need to spend a little less, their slalom, classic, or ultimate flyer will suit you well. The Royal stood out as a work of art so gorgeous it seemed a shame to lay it on the snow, but once we did, it was a life-changing experience. For the body they used planks of hand-rubbed maple strapped to powder-coated stainless steel runners underneath. Each of the knees is reinforced to give it more resistance to bangs, bumps, and hard impacts from jumps. A double-pivot design unique to Mountain Boy sleds is used on the front end for better, easier, more accurate turning so you never feel out of control. You’ll never pull a Sonny Bono even if going headfirst. This works best on hard-pack and ice since the metal can bite into powder. [Purchase: $499]

Snolo STEALTH-X

Snolo STEALTH-X

Pro: Bombproof
Con: Requires practice

All Hail: It isn’t a typo, this is a $3,000 sled that is worth every damn penny. Made completely of carbon fiber you can adjust everything from the foot pegs to the seat to the handling. On top of that, it’s so bloody fast they actually have a lap belt included in the F1 style seat to make sure you and the sled become one. If you need to lug this up serious mountains, the front ski detaches for backpack mode, or those times when you don’t want to steer and would rather let the fickle finger of fate decide your path. Narrow runners underneath make the transition from powder to ice an easy one. You will need to start on lower, slower hills until you know how to keep this screaming demon under control, lest you find yourself a bloody, broken mess at the foot of the hill. If you don’t have the cash on hand, you might also consider either of Snolo’s other options, which are a mere $550. [Purchase: $3,200]

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