L.L.Bean Sonic Snow Tube
Our 12 testers unanimously chose the L.L.Bean Sonic Snow Tube as the best sled. It travels farther and faster than any other sled, and the pull strap makes it easy to haul back to the top of the hill.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $130.
The L.L.Bean Sonic Snow Tube has a hard-shell bottom that minimizes drag, protects knees and bottoms from the hard ridges of an icy slope, and makes this sled sail faster and farther than any other model we tried. Over three years of testing, the snow tube has been successful on every kind of snow we’ve put it on, from wet and soft to frigid and crunchy. And thanks to the sturdy tow handle, even the littlest kids have had no problem hauling the Sonic Snow Tube back up the hill. One caveat: It’s difficult to steer, so it’s safest on a wide-open, straight sledding hill. The Sonic Snow Tube comes in two sizes. We recommend the extra-large version for two kids or an adult over about 6 feet tall. Typically priced over $100, it isn’t an inexpensive sled, but it is a durable one, as after three years of intense use, it has shown no signs of wear and tear. We’ve also noticed that it tends to sell out early in the season.
L.L. Bean Sonic Snow Saucer DLX
The L.L.Bean Sonic Snow Saucer DLX is almost as speedy as the snow tube, but it isn’t as cushy and doesn’t have a tow rope. It’s less than half the price and a lot easier to throw in your car.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $50.
If you’d rather not deal with a bulky, inner-tube-filled sled or you’re on a tighter budget, we also like the L.L.Bean Sonic Snow Saucer DLX. It has the same general design as a classic saucer sled but offers some added, user-friendly flourishes, such as a grippy and ever-so-slightly padded sitting area and a defined front and back. It’s not as fast as the Sonic Snow Tube (though it comes close) and nowhere near as cushy, but our kid testers liked the easy-to-grab handles and its overall durability. Similar to the snow tube, the Sonic Snow Saucer DLX isn’t made for precision steering, so it’s best for wide-open sledding hills. It lacks a tow rope, so it’s more difficult to get up a hill, but it’s a whole lot easier to toss in a car.
Shappell Jet Ice Fishing Sled
The Shappell is big, boxy, and capable of holding a lot of bodies. It’s not the fastest sled, but it’s a load of fun for families or groups of friends.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $0.
The Shappell Jet Ice Fishing Sled is all about capacity. Designed to haul gear out to an ice-fishing location, the Shappell is boxier and deeper than the standard sled and in our tests was capable of fitting more people comfortably than any other sled we found. At one point we had it loaded with one adult and four kids. Compared with the other sleds we tested, the Shappell also feels safer: It never attains the race-car speed of the L.L.Bean sleds, and the high sides and wide front offer added protection and make it very difficult to tip over. (Some of our parent testers even relaxed their “no face-first” sledding rule with the Shappell.) Because it’s so wide, we also found this sled to be great for breaking in a new trail on freshly fallen snow.
L.L.Bean Kids’ Pull Sled and Cushion Set
The L.L.Bean Kids’ Pull Sled is a high-quality, easy-gliding sled that should have no problem lasting through multiple kids (or even generations).
*At the time of publishing, the price was $180.
To give your baby or toddler a more luxurious wood-crafted ride, we like the L.L.Bean Kids’ Pull Sled and Cushion Set. It’s expensive, but I’ve used ours through four kids (over about 10 years), and it’s still in great shape. Metal bars under the wood runners add durability, and the side rails protect a tot from tipping out—without your having to deal with a fussy belt buckle.