What is a Snow Sled?

Nychole Price

A snow sled is a vehicle, usually mounted on runners, that is used to move across the snow. In the past, sleds were pulled by horses or dogs and were used to transport people and items across the snow. Although they are still used for that purpose by some people, they are mostly used for recreation. Sleds come in many different styles, including baby sleds, high-performance sleds, plastic sleds, saucers, snow tubes and toboggans.

A toboggan is a classic winter snow sled.
A toboggan is a classic winter snow sled.

Baby sleds are used by babies who can sit upright and toddlers. Young children often want to join the older kids but don't yet have the coordination or ability. A baby snow sled has a back and sides to protect them from falling out. The seat comes equipped with a buckle to fasten the baby in, should the sled tip. It also has a corded handle to pull baby along, or a push bar so it can be used like a stroller.

Snow sleds are usually mounted on runners.
Snow sleds are usually mounted on runners.

A high-performance snow sled is used by people who like extreme sports. They are often used for freesledding purposes and include styles such as knee-boards and air-boards. The air-board travels as fast as 70 MPH (110 KPH) on open terrain. The hammerhead sled has built in skis that allow you to turn sharply and carve in the snow.

Some sleds are made to be pulled by dogs.
Some sleds are made to be pulled by dogs.

The plastic snow sled is the most popular. It is inexpensive enough for the average person to be able to purchase without breaking the bank. They are durable, allowing children to play with them without fear of damage. The best feature of plastic snow sleds is that they are lightweight, so children can tote them uphill on their own and slide back down.

A saucer is a circular snow sled made of plastic. To use a saucer, a person climbs to the top of the slope and sits down in the middle of the circle. He can either cross his legs or place his legs straight out in front of him. It is easiest if a friends pushes him down the hill, but he can also get himself started with his hands, then quickly grasp the handles.

Snow tubes look exactly like inner tubes used to ride the rapids in the river. They are large inflatable tubes that a person sits in the center of and slides downhill. They are wonderful for adults and kids, as they are large and lightweight.

The toboggan is a classic winter snow sled. It is made from steam bent planks that curl at the front so a person can tuck in their legs. Toboggans range from 4 feet (1.21 m) to 6 feet (1.83 m) long, allowing them to seat several people. A toboggan makes for a wonderful winter of family fun.

Huskies are popular sled dogs.
Huskies are popular sled dogs.

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Discussion Comments

@pollick, I remember all of those sleds, but you have to admit the king of the hill was always the Flexible Flyer. You could steer it with your feet, or if you were really daring, you could steer it with your hands while your head led the whole way down. We'd rub wax on the runners and it would really fly.

I didn't see it in the article, but we used to have toboggan runs at a local park. They were wooden chutes filled with snow, and riders would rent a wooden toboggan and slide for at least a quarter of a mile. Sometimes these chutes would end on a frozen lake.


Those plastic saucer sleds were fun, but just about impossible to steer. Once you started down the hill, it took everything you had just to keep facing forward. I preferred the plastic sleds with the grooves on the bottom. You could at least use some body English to steer away from people or towards a ramp. The cheapest sleds were large sheets of rolled plastic that would curl up around the rider while he slid down the hill. We called those sleds "tobaggans", but I'm sure that was wrong.

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