A red wagon is one of the most classic gifts any kid can get. To be honest, it’s also one of the best gifts a parent can get, seeing all the possible benefits one such four-wheeler can have for the little tyke. To wit, a ride-on toy like the wagon helps strengthen psychomotor skills in older kids, and it’s also beneficial for cognitive, as well as emotional and social development of younger kids, as they take turns waiting to ride on the wagon, all the while soaking in the view of the big wide world (ideally, you’d cut the kids loose in the backyard or a park).
Of course, there are other ride-on toys, such as rocking horses, kiddie bikes or trikes, and even pedal-powered kiddie trucks or cars, and they’re also great for developing these skills, but there’s an air of nostalgia and playfulness about red wagons that’s quite unique and heart-warming (though these might just be personal preferences taking over). Still, even if you disregard this, the wagon is just so much more versatile – you can only ride all the other toys, but you can lug things in the wagon. In other words, you can finally have a way of making your five-year-old useful around the backyard, as he or she slaves away… erm, plays with his or her younger sibling. In all seriousness, though, the cart is great for bonding between siblings of different ages, as the older kid can pull the younger around.
The question on everyone’s mind now is – What should I look for in a red wagon? Well, short of actually building one, the best thing is to go with a tried and tested design; check out what sells well and what people say. Radio Flyer pops to mind. You can go either with steel or plastic, though either way you choose, the wagon should not feel flimsy or cheap. You’re probably all too painfully aware of how much punishment the kids can dish out, so get something that can withstand it. Other than that, you might want to consider the tires – pneumatic tires are more comfy, but solid rubber is more durable. Seats are also a nice option, but ultimately non-essential. On the other hand, a canopy might be a good idea, especially if you live in an area with lots of UV radiation coming at you during summer. However, your first and foremost concern is to get a durable red wagon.
The Step2 All Around Canopy Wagon is pretty much what it reads on the tin – a quality red wagon with a UV-protection canopy, so that your kid can enjoy being pulled to the park on a hot, sunny day. All jokes aside, though, the wagon is made of a pretty heavy-duty plastic, so it should withstand being rammed occasionally. It does require some minimal assembly on arrival, but nothing a single adult couldn’t handle. You could even include the kid and make it a family activity.
The wagon features an access door, which will allow your little tyke to practice being a big boy or a girl. Don’t worry, it won’t open by itself. The manufacturer recommends the red wagon be used for kids aged 18 months to 8 years, though that will probably depend how fast your child grows more than anything. With this in mind, you should know that the weight limit is 75 pounds, though you could probably stretch it to a round 100 without consequences (just make sure to check for signs of wear & tear regularly).
There are two seats facing each other, both with seat belts (when they’re not in use, you can just tuck them in under their respective seats). There’s plenty of legroom even with two younger kids inside (think an 18-month and a 3-year-old), though you can flip one of them to make a table, or both to make a bed. You’ll just need to place a blanket for a bit of cushion, and your sleepy princess or prince and you are ready to go.
However, one of the the major selling points of this puppy are its wheels – the “whisper ride” solid rubber wheels which very much live up to the name. On a similar note, don’t think that Step2 forgot about the parents – there are two cup holders in the front (on the outside), and a nice little “trunk” in the back, so you don’t have to carry everything in your hands or on your shoulders.
The very aptly named Radio Flyer Classic Walker Wagon is indeed a timeless classic. It’s a great choice if you’ve got a kid just learning to walk, since the wagon is much sturdier than those cheap plastic replicas you might find dime a dozen. Considering it’s made of solid wood throughout, with even the nice removable sides being made of natural wood, it doesn’t really come as a surprise the wagon is sturdy and supportive enough. Granted, you might want to weigh it down for added stability (six-pack, anyone?), but even without the added ballast it won’t fly from under your kid’s feet.
This is a wonderful way to help your kid get the confidence and stamina for venturing out on their own two legs. Just a week, two tops after pushing this puppy all around the house and patio, your little tyke will be walking on her or his own. Of course, this applies only provided you time it correctly – think about 10 months to a year and a half at the most. Granted, it does require some minimal assembly, but if you’ve ever ordered from IKEA and survived, this should be a walk in the park for you. You could even do it with your kid “helping” you out.
Now, as we mentioned, the wagon is solid wood, and serves as a walker. The wheels are quiet (surprisingly so), and there’s even a front bumper that makes this thing quite furniture-friendly, even if the kids aren’t. You could conceivably use it as a pull wagon, though you’ll need to use a belt or some other sort of lead to make it easier on your spine. The best thing about it is that you can be certain at all times the wagon won’t break, it’s that solid.
The Radio Flyer Classic Red Wagon is pretty much what you’d expect after reading the name – this is the closest red wagons can get to a golden standard. As some might put it, it’s a real symbol of American childhood, and chances are you had one of these while growing up. Come to think of it, why are you not passing your old red wagon to your kids? Too scratched, is it? On a more serious note, though, the wagon is really sturdily built. It’s solid and seamless stainless steel throughout, so you can enjoy peace of mind knowing it won’t break apart into million little pieces. Even scratching the paint should prove a difficult task, as the cart is heavily (and we mean heavily) coated.
The wagon does seem shallow and unstable on first sight, but it’s only at first sight. It has a controlled turning radius, so that it won’t tip, and the 10-inch steel wheels are wide apart enough to prevent it even if the kid were leaning heavily on one side. Speaking of wheels, they come with real rubber, which makes them not only durable, but also soft and silent. Granted, they’re not pneumatics, but even so they tread softly.
Another good thing about this puppy is the extra-long handle which allows you to pull the cart, loaded or not, without causing any stress to your spine. Also, it’s foldable, which is great for efficient storage. The best thing is that when the kids grow up and stop lugging toys and younger siblings in their cart, you can take over and use it for groceries, tools, or even as a garden cart, whichever floats your boat.
The Radio Flyer Ultimate Comfort Wagon is one of those rare products that actually live up to their name. For a start, it is indeed comfortable, mostly due to the padded seats (two of them, both with seat belts). Of course, you can choose to remove the seats (completely), or simply fold one or both down to make any configuration you can imagine (provided you can stop imagining at number five).
Moreover, there’s the (also removable) UV-protection canopy, which comes in real handy if you live in an area with early spring heat. The no-tip handle is definitely up to scratch – it’s foldable, which is of great help for storage, and, more importantly, it’s attached not to the wheel axle, but rather the wagon’s heavy-duty plastic body. While we’re on the subject, the wheels are also on par with the rest of the components, though it would be nicer if they came with rubber instead of this foam rubber-like material. The cart does require some assembly, though nothing out of the ordinary, and you might even include the kids, making a family activity out of it. It should keep them entertained for about half an hour to an hour, if you stretch it.
Before you think that Radio Flyer forgot about you, the parents, we should also note that the cart features two adult cup holders in the front, on the outside, as well as a “trunk” in the back, and even an extra-storage compartment in the likeness of a sizable tote bag (attaches to the back). On that same note, there are some pockets on the backs of the seats (well, the covers), if you need the extra storage space. One seat has two pockets, each large enough to hold a cell phone, and the other has just one, but as large as the other two combined (think tablet).
You’ll find plenty of stories online of Radio Flyer wagons rolling for 10, 20, even 30+ years, and the best thing is that you can take them all to be true. This speaks volumes in and of itself about the company and their products. The All-Terrain Steel & Wood Wagon definitely pulls its load (no pun intended) when it comes to maintaining this reputation.
It’s exactly what it reads on the tin – a rugged, yet comfortable red wagon that you can pull across any terrain, be it concrete, turf or sand, with barely breaking a sweat. The body is all steel, seamless and solid as Fort Knox, with steel wheel axles and steel wheels. The handle is also steel, and folds away under the body for efficient storage.
The turning radius is controlled, so that there won’t be any tipping, not even if the kids really want it, and the wheels feature rugged 10-inch pneumatic tires, which makes them not only ideal for all kinds of terrain, but also incredibly quiet on solid ground. The only wooden part is the stakes on the sides, which make a nice fence for the kids to rest their backs and arms.
Perhaps the most telling thing about this puppies durability is that the manufacturer recommends it for ages of 18 months and older, which must mean a lot to the inner kids of some parents. Seriously, though, the wagon has no problem bearing the weight of two three-year-olds, as its maximum weight capacity is 200 pounds (that’s the recommended capacity, not the breaking point, by the way).
Granted, there’s not much in way of padding, to be honest, but that’s easily solved with a blanket or two. And besides, who even needs a blanket when going off-road?
All things considered, we tried to include a little bit of something for everyone, so there’s a variety of red wagons you can choose from, depending on your needs. Even if you don’t find anything you like, we hope that this will at least give you an idea of where to start your search. Happy wagonning!