The bottom line remains the same: the thing’s gotta go fast. But the latest generation of coasters are also high-concept designs, built for maneuverability as well as dazzle. We asked 12-year-old Ian Boucher—a native of Crested Butte, Colorado, who lives across from his town’s Sno-Cat–groomed sledding run—to test-drive these new kings of the hill.
Sled: Airboard; airboard.com; $150
Specs: A 4.2-pound raft making inroads at ski mountains. Riders lie belly-down and tug on the handles to carve turns, as three PVC blades grip the snow.
Ian Says: "Sort of like boogie-boarding on snow. And fast! You have to pull pretty hard to turn it, but it’s light, so you can run up and go again."
Sled: Mountain Boy Ultimate Flyer; mountainboysleds.com; $110
Specs: A riff on the Flexible Flyer: 12 pounds, with a birch body and willow rails. Molded plastic skids work in deep powder or packed snow.
Ian Says: "You can go with two people, but it’s better if you go alone—on your stomach. A stable ride. I like the logo, too."
Sled: Hamax Sno Taxi; hamax.com; $90
Specs: An innovative two-person cruiser from Norway, 11.9 pounds, with flexible plastic seats, a hand brake, and a patented steering system.
Ian Says: "I thought this would be lame, because it looks like a little-kid sled, but it ended up being the best one. When you turn the wheel, you actually go that way, and the brakes really work. It’s heavy, though—I’d make Dad carry it!"
Sled: Hammerhead; hammerheadsled.com; $299
Specs: A familiar shape, updated with a 9.7-pound aluminum frame, a suspension system, and an ergonomic mesh seat.
Ian Says: "The mesh is kind of slippery to sit on, but the steering is easy and the thing gets really good speed."
Sled: Stinger; madriverrocket.com; $84
Specs: This 5.3-pound recycled-plastic sled is built for an unconventional ride: you kneel on foam pads, with a quick-release belt across your thighs.
Ian Says: "It flies on the powder, and you can cruise between trees. It kind of goes berserk on packed snow, though, so it’s best for older kids."