When schools shut down and the snowballs start flying you’re going to regret not having a good sledge buried somewhere in the shed.
For the purposes of this piece we broadened our definition of “sledge” to include pretty much anything that’s going to get you from the top of the hill to the bottom, so we’ve looked at all kinds of products, from snow tubes and scooters to snow shovel sledges and traditional toboggans.
Of course, the adrenaline rush that kids love so much about sledging comes from the speed they build up down the slope, which is great when there’s forgiving snow for them to plough into, but as it becomes hard-packed you need to know that what they’re riding on is fully controllable and that they won’t spoil their fun with an unscheduled stop in a hedgerow.
We tested at our local snowsports centre looking for speed and control down the slope, as well as stopping power that wasn’t going to dump the rider unceremoniously into the slush.
We were left with a fleet of flyers perfectly suited to the kind of conditions that we can expect in the UK. All of these sledges are robust enough to keep delivering the fun until the big thaw.
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Flexible Flyer snow tube
The unpredictability of a snow tube only adds to the excitement of a day on the slopes, however many of them don’t last past the first couple of runs before a rock or branch hidden beneath the snow causes a puncture. You won’t have that problem with the flexible flyer, which has a hard shell plastic bottom to protect it from the terrain, while the top is thick black rubber covered with Cordura nylon.The tube comes with another inner tube that you can use to create a padded seat and the valve stems for inflation are left purposefully short and then covered with rubber, so as not to interfere with the handling.
It took us around 20 minutes to inflate with a handheld bicycle pump and the whole tube is well constructed with double stitched grab handles and pull strap for getting it back to the top. Easy to control using the handles and your legs, you can get some serious speed up without ever feeling like you’re headed for a sudden stop. This will be back in stock on 13 January, but you can order it now.
Buy now £197.86, Amazon
Stiga Snow kick scooter
One of the things that this scooter offers is serious maneuverability to carve up a sledging run while staying out of trouble, it also means that you can kick along any plateaus where other lie-down sledges will stall. It’s comfortable to ride with warm, foam handlebar grips and an adjustable bar, which can be locked in five different positions. This means that we had a four-year-old and a 12-year-old ride the same scooter. There is a nice, sticky anti-slip coating on the tread board and the scooter can be folded easily so it will take up the minimum of space in the boot of a car.
Buy now £39.90, Amazon
Sirch Davos sledge
The “Davos” sledge is the classic style that was originally intended for transporting goods on snowy Alpine slopes, until a carpenter launched them as a “sports sledge”. This laminated beech veneer model is solidly constructed and has a nice weight to it that adds to the handling in the snow, as it starts slowly but picks up speed as the ride goes on. Steering and braking can be done with the feet and there’s a tow bar at the front for attaching a rope that you can hang on to on the way down and pull on the way up.
Buy now £41.00, Connox
Decathlon snow shovel sledge
Okay, this might just be a step up from the classic metal tray, but this snow shovel sledge offers enough simple acceleration to provide plenty of thrills without having to worry about the spills. Lightweight and easy for kids to carry around in their search for the best snow, steering and braking is done with your feet so there’s nothing too technical here to get in the way of having a good time. It’s surprisingly robust and at this price you can always buy a back up too.
Buy now £1.99, Decathlon
Boyz Toys warp speed slider sledge
For those who like to hurtle headlong down the slopes, cresta run style. If it’s straight line speed you’re after then this was the quickest on test with its comfortable mesh body base allowing the rider to get a nice low profile, while steering with the ergonomic handlebar with moulded non slip handles was very responsive. Lots of fun, although to stop you’d best head for the biggest snow drift.
Buy now £72.00, Millets
Boyz Toys RY838 sound barrier snow sledge racer
Another cresta-style racer and as the name suggests this can seriously shift over fresh and harder packed snow thanks to the grooved skis at the front. The wide hand-grips on the front steering bar give lots of control and confidence when you’re starting to pick up speed and there is another comfortable, mesh body, which is strong enough to take two children or even a parent and child.
Buy now £84.99, Amazon
Stiga snowracer toboggan GT
One for the big kids out there this winter, this well-made steel toboggan is a must for mums and dads who want to get in on the action with its 100kg max weight. The long, comfortable seat allows plenty of room for a tandem run with good control, shock absorption and stopping power from a pre-assembled steel hand brake. It’s also nice and lightweight for the trudge back up the hill, using a nifty tug rope that retracts into the front-runner when not in use.
Buy now £79.90, Amazon
The verdict: Sledges and toboggans
If you really want to make the most of your snow day then the versatility of the Flexible Flyer snow tube is a must, as it offers the comfort of a snow tube with the durability and speed of a sled with the added advantage of being easy to haul around a slope.