A Guide to the Different Types of Sleds

All Common Sled Types You Should KnowThe type of sled you choose can influence your ride downhill. While you may have an image in your mind of a wooden toboggan, a lot has changed in the sledding industry and there are many options now available.


Modern toboggans are not what they used to be. They are flat-bottomed sleds, either made of plastic or inflatable, and are designed to fit multiple people. This makes toboggans a good choice for families or groups of people who want to share a ride downhill. You can control a toboggan with a little shift in weight from side to side. There is the potential to speed down pretty fast if the snow conditions are just right. In order to have the most fun in a toboggan, try to position yourself in the middle.

Wooden Sled with Runners

These are traditional wooden sleds with metal runners and can be great for gliding down any hill. The ability to steer is one of the main benefits. Snow levels factor into how well these sleds work. If there isn’t enough snow then the runners get stuck on the grass and stop short. If there is too much snow, especially if it is fluffy and soft, then the runners don’t slide through it very well. However, if you are pulling this sled behind a motorized vehicle then the amount of snow won’t matter as much. Just be sure the rope is sturdy and you may want eye protection in case there is a rock that flies back. With this type of sledding, technically you wouldn’t need a hill to have a fun afternoon outdoors.


The saucer can be considered the sports car of snow sleds. It’s shaped like a circle and can comfortably fit one person. A saucer offers a more slick and quick ride than a toboggan. Due to the design, saucers can be harder to steer and don’t offer much control. If there is an open hill without obstacles and you want to sled down it very quickly then the saucer can be the right model for you.


A hybrid is in between a saucer and toboggan. Sometimes it’s just called a sled and the models can fit one or two people. They offer the same control as a toboggan and the same slickness as a saucer. These are great options for those who want some extra legroom or who want to go with someone.

Plastic Sleds

A plastic sled is great for the price and speed. The plastic, slippery bottom can make it easy to really fly. Some plastic sleds have a shiny bottom. The ones with the shiny bottom will go faster but the thicker plastic used makes it sturdier. It can be hard to steer these sleds and it can be hard to avoid hitting a tree or a rock. If you do, you will feel it.


Inflatables can come in toboggan or snow tube styles and may even look like a mini air mattress. The benefits of this type of sled are that it can help cushion the tailbone. They are easy to deflate and store when not in use. However, they need to be filled with cold air, and you need to keep them inflated at just the right pressure in order for them to be fast. Inflatable sleds can also tear or rip.

Materials for Sleds

Once you have the sled in mind, you need to take a look at the material.

  • Plastic: Plastic sleds are popular and the material can usually be ridden over rough terrain with little to do no damage. This makes plastic a favorite for kid’s sleds.
  • Foam: Foam sleds are a newcomer in the industry and these sleds give a more cushioned ride and cost about the same as plastic. They are not as fast but can be durable and ridden in similar terrain to plastic.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl is what many inflatables are made of and it’s best to use this in deep, light snow. It’s best to have a very open hill.

No matter what type of sled you use, sledding is fun for people of all ages. Grab your favorite sled and get out there!