A throwback to the old days, metal bed wagons are rough, tough and sturdy. There’s nothing like wizzing down a hill full speed in an old Radio Flyer, steering from the cockpit while your wingman hangs off the back, pushing and trying to keep you upright. What’s changed with the metal wagons of yester-year? Not much…but there’s a reason why they’ve been around for so long.


  • Sturdiness – You still see these metal wagons at gardening nurseries because they can take the daily abuse
  •  Longevity – Keep it out of the rain and these wagons will last 20+ years
  • Capability – It’s like a truck, it can pretty much do anything for you, depending on the weekend chores and activities at hand.


  • Low Sides – not great for small kids in need of back support. There is a taller sided model from Radio Flyer (see below)
  • Lack of Accessories – you won’t find cup holder and seat belts here. Accessories are extra
  • Rough Ride – The basic Radio Flyer #18 model (70+ years in existence) comes with solid rubber tires so although it provides a solid ride, it’s less than desirable with kids as your main cargo.

What to look for
Powder Coating – be sure it’s not just painted, it needs to powder coated; a process that “bakes” the paint on the metal and keeps rust away much longer.
Tires – depending on desired usage, you can find air tires or solid rubber

The Bottom Line

Metal bed wagons are great for hauling heavy loads on paved surfaces. Kids’ imaginations can also run wild with such a basic toy (think lemonade stands, sailing the seven seas and selling girl scout cookies), but the metal wagon is not ideal for keeping kids contained for long hauls unless you get the side rails to keep them firmly (safely) in place.