The Dad’s Guide to Sleds

  by Andrew Wolgemuth

We haven’t reached Thanksgiving and Denver has already experienced two sled-worthy days with more snow anticipated this weekend…and I love it. I enjoy sledding a bit more than the average adult.

There’s “Dad Joy” in watching my kids sled, and there’s also direct joy for this dad in being one of the bundled-up persons zooming down the hill himself. I love it, my kids love it, there’s a little aerobic workout (for me) and some grit to be developed (for them) in scrambling up the hill again and again…win-win-win.

Key to the win-win-winning, though, is good equipment. Here’s the progression of sleds — ordered from least to greatest by sled-driving skill required — our family has enjoyed.

For stability and tow-ability, there’s the “baby sleigh.” I feel a bit ridiculous typing that sled name, but search with that phrase and ye shall find ‘em. For the youngster who needs a little extra support to sit and is content with a sleigh-ride walk around the block, this is your snow vehicle. Be advised, however, that these rides aren’t impossible to tip; infants-into-snow-drift events have been caused by overzealously tight turning fathers.

For downhill simplicity, it’s tough to beat the basic saucer sled. Of course, simplicity also means a meager ability to steer. The saucer is essentially just a head-on-down-the-hill sled with gravity and snow drifts and the contour of the hill deciding your route. The combination of their tough-to-tipness and not-too-fastness make it a good entry-level sled for an obstacle-free hillside.

For multiple passengers/a kid with a steering dad, the plastic toboggan’s your craft. I grew up on the basic lightning sled, and several companies make similar variations. While one such sled lasted for many winters of childhood, adult weight riders mean sleds don’t last as long as they used to. Nonetheless, these are good, steerable sleds for you and the kid(s).

Up just a step in the multiple passengers/a kid with a steering dad category are the Slippery Racer varieties. Slippery Racers are fast, a bit more expensive, have good reviews and – believe it or not – come with a one-year warranty.

Smaller but a little harder to steer (and – given their short length – likely kid-only sleds) are the fast and kind-of-controlled Slippery Racer single rider sleds. These hustle, also have the one-year warranty, and are light and easy to carry up the hill after quick runs down.

Finally, there’s my personal favorite sled: the Zipfy “Freestyle Luge Snow Sled.” Available in a number of colors and possessing a racing number on the side, I know of no other sled quite like the Zipfy. If there’s much powder on the sledding hill, this sled won’t give you the quickest ride, but…it’s just fun. You steer it by leaning, your body’s hanging over the snow, and it’s a great ride. Kids pick up the balance and skill of these quickly…if – of course – they’re able to get a turn while you’re enjoying it.

dadcraft Pro Tip: equipping your crew with neck warmers can significantly extend the amount of sledding you do before someone is unbearably cold. They keep necks warm, obviously, but the real value is how they can be pulled up over cold chins and mouths. Fewer chattering teeth = a good thing for all.


If your days are cold but sans snow, we’ve got a few indoor activity suggestions for you: the scavenger hunt, indoor bowling, or a visit to Chil-fil-a.

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Photo by Michal Janek on Unsplash