We’ve dug through the myriad options available for the savvy consumer and picked five of the best to show you. While we’re quite fond of the Mac Sports Heavy Duty for most people, if you want something a bit cheaper or more specialized then you’ll be pleased to know we ran these through the ringer.
Whether you’re planning on a day at the beach or a tailgate party outside your favorite sports venue, a folding wagon is a great way to ensure you’ve got everything you need. Of course, being so new to the market, it can be hard to figure out which is the most useful for your trips. Let’s get down to it: we’ll show you our favorites and then discuss what we thought made them stand out from the competition.
The MacSports Heavy Duty was undoubtedly our favorite of the various wagons we looked at. It can handle just about any terrain, it holds weight well, it folds nearly flat, and it’s tough as nails.
The Top 5 Folding Wagons
|Mac Sports Heavy Duty||Overall||5/5||Check Price|
|Mac Sports WTC-145||Flat Terrain||4.5/5||Check Price|
|Radio Flyer Ultimate EZ||Hauling the Kids||4.5/5||Check Price|
|Ollieroo Outdoor Utility Wagon||Sandy Beaches||4/5||Check Price|
|Seina Collapsible||Tight Budgets||3.5/5||Check Price|
1. Best Overall Folding Wagon
Mac Sports Heavy Duty
Of all of the wagons we looked at, this one came out as the best in the widest range of situations. It’s pretty easy to see why, once you’ve spent a little bit of time looking at these.
To start with: the wheels are wide and rugged, large enough to not sink in sand but also lacking super deep pitting which can cause the wagon to bounce. This makes for a smooth ride pretty much no matter what surface you’re going across.
In addition to the wheels being tough, this one has the front two wheels almost touching. The telescoping handle can easily be adjusted to fit nearly anyone and the tight front wheels give it the best turning radius of any of the wagons we looked at.
The material it’s made out of is also tough. Pretty much all of the wagons claim to be made of 600D fabric, but this one just felt stronger than any of the others we tried. It also came out the best in the “expected weight to actual weight” ratio, not being too hard to use until you hit around eighty five pounds or so. Keep it under fifty in the sand, however.
It all adds up to a great experience except for one thing: it lacks a canopy.
Pros and Cons
- Super tight turning radius
- Rugged, ready-to go wheels
- Stores extremely small for the size
- Can hold a lot of weight
- No canopy
- Quite expensive
2. Best Folding Wagon for Flat Terrain
Mac Sports WTC-145
MacSports makes another appearance here, with a great wagon for flat terrain. It’ll also save you a couple of bucks compared to its bigger brother, although we feel both are sound investments if you’re planning on using your wagon frequently.
The biggest difference here is in the wheels: the WTC-145 has thin wheels which roll great on asphalt and concrete but you’re not going to be happy dragging it on a trail or down the beach. It’s also got a pretty good weigh capacity, although we found it starting to get a bit less maneuverable around sixty pounds of load or so.
Unfortunately, the handle isn’t quite as nice as our first pick either. It doesn’t telescope as far, which can make it unwieldy for taller folks.
The steering is great… as long as the terrain is smooth. That can make things a little bit dicey on trails although one of our reviewers didn’t seem to mind hauling their fishing gear down a shorter trail.
The frame is pretty much the same as the heavy-duty version. Strong welds, great steel, and tough fabric make for a durable piece of equipment that should last for a long time to come.
If you’ll primarily be on flat terrain, then we think this MacSports wagon deserves your attention. It comes in at a great price, but still offers a surprising amount of utility.
Pros and Cons
- Tough frame and material
- Wheels handle great on flat terrain
- High carrying capacity
- Folds to only 8” thick
- Not good for rough terrain
- Doesn’t perform well near estimated load
3. Best Folding Wagon for Hauling Kids and Pets
Radio Flyer Ultimate EZ Fold Wagon
If kids or pets, rather than gear, are your primary concerns then you’ll love this wagon from Radio Flyer. In addition to being from one of the original wagon manufacturers, it’s got just the right design for taking children around.
The biggest features attached here are for the kids: you’ll get a UV-blocking canopy and seats. Did we mention the seats come with belts to keep your little ones safe? It’s all around great.
The telescoping handle folds down for easy storage, and the canopy can also come off if you’re looking forward to the sun. It also has holders for cups and snacks, keeping the children fed and hydrated while you’re out and about.
It does fold up a little bit bigger than most of our favorites, but chances are that if you’ve got kids you’ll be able to fit it in your vehicle.
We really didn’t find it all that suitable for hauling equipment, unfortunately. It’s a bit long, and the shape is awkward even with the seats removed, although it’ll do in a pinch.
Overall, if you’re looking to haul kids then you should snap up the Radio Flyer Ultimate EZ Fold Wagon, but if it’s primarily equipment you’re worried about then you’ll want to look elsewhere.
Pros and Cons
- Has all the amenities for hauling kids
- Durable, removable canopy
- Super easy to clean fabric
- Folds one handed
- Not good for hauling stuff other than kids
- Folds down fairly large
4. Best Folding Wagon for Sandy Beaches
While we really like the MacSports Heavy Duty as the overall best, we found the awkward looking stance on this wagon really helps in rough, sandy situations.
Our first focus here is undoubtedly on the stance. The wheels sit slightly outside where the weight is, keeping everything balanced. The wide, paddle wheels also help with loose terrain, powering through even the softest sand.
Of course, all of this comes with a little bit of a cost: there’s a fairly small storage area compared to others, the turning radius is a bit iffy, and it doesn’t seem to sit all that well with a ton of weight on it.
On a better note, it does fold down to size extremely well and we found it to be small enough to not be a burden to haul around. The wheels also fold inwards, making it smaller than it otherwise would be with the thick wheels.
If you’re intent on handling beaches, no matter how soft and hilly, then the Ollieroo Outdoor Utility wagon is a fantastic option. Hint: it works on snow just as well.
Pros and Cons
- Unique stance for balance
- Wide, paddled tires to easily handle sand
- Fairly low priced compared to other all-terrain options
- Long, telescoping handle
- Fairly small storage space
- Frame can’t handle as much weight as other options
5. Best Budget Folding Wagon
They can’t all be perfect, but this was the best of the best when we were doing quality testing for lower prices.
Let’s go over the bad stuff first: the reputed weight capacity is pretty much a lie, the tires are terrible for rough terrain, and it’s smaller than many of the folding wagons out there.
Basically, you do get what you pay for.
On the other hand, the steel frame seems to be top notch despite the lack of structural triangles and it folds up easily. It’ll fit pretty much anywhere, it was actually surprising how small this wagon was at the end of the day.
The handle is also great for the price, with a long telescoping action. It also had a surprisingly tight turn radius, although that may just have been part of the lowered weight we tested the wagon with.
At the end of the day, it wasn’t anyone’s favorite wagon but for the price it’s an exceptional value. This one is best for those who are only going to occasionally use their wagon, pretty much, otherwise you may want to invest a little bit more.
Pros and Cons
- Surprisingly tight turning radius
- Handles smooth surfaces and grass really well
- Super low price for what you get
- Frame holds up well
- Wagon is overall quite small
- Reputed weight capacity is just absurdly wrong
Uses for Your Folding Wagon
If you’re hear, then chances are that you’ve already got a use in mind for one of these handy little devices.
Of course, these can make a serious difference in your everyday life if you give them some thought. They can make a special difference for those who are disabled or not really able to carry heavy loads as well.
Some of the places that our reviewers tested their folding wagons out were:
- Hauling wood for camping trips
- Carrying groceries in from the car
- Lugging around a cooler during a tailgating party
- Hauling pets and children
One of our more adventurous reviewers even hauled one along a trail with a small barbeque and some meat. The only real obstacle, according to them, was hills where it can feel pretty hard to drag things along.
The uses are only limited by your imagination… well, and the qualities that we’re going to get into.
Wheels, Wheels, Wheels
When we were looking at these wagons, this was the first thing our reviewers brought to our attention: the wheels of a folding wagon are make-or-break.
The thing is, depending on the terrain which you’re going through, different wheel types will be more or less advantageous.
There were two big qualities we noticed make a serious difference in how well you can use the wagon:
The size of the wheels determines the terrain that can be taken. Skinnier wheels are usually cheaper, but they don’t hold up well over rough terrain and have a tendency to get caught easier.
They also make sand pretty much an impossibility if you’re planning on beach trips.
Wider wheels are better for most applications, but smaller wheels can take less force to haul if you’re using them indoors or on cement since there will be less friction.
When you consider your wagon, we strongly recommend making this your first consideration unless you need a huge capacity for something specific. As a general purpose thing, wider is generally better.
We’d comment on the tread as well, but there wasn’t enough variation in the models we found to be good for an in-depth analysis.
The other main factor with your wheels is how close together the front wheels are. This will determine the turning radius of your wagon, the tighter the better.
There’s one caveat, however, which is the fact that you’re going to need a super solid frame to support front wheels which are exceptionally close together. Keep that in mind, particularly for interior applications which are bound to be heavy in many instances.
Framing Your Folding Wagon
The frame is also an important consideration.
The best of those we took a look at were made out of heavy-duty steel tubing. While it’s a little bit heavier than some of the other materials available it’s also much more durable than anything else on the market.
Lightweight plastic frames can be found on budget folding wagons, but we don’t recommend them for anything but the lightest of applications.
Of course, you’ll also want to ensure that the frame is up to par.
Look for lots of x’s and triangles in the shape. These are your structural shapes that will ensure your wagon can hold a full load without any swaying or, even worse, complete structural failure.
Too complex of a shape, however, is going to add a lot to the weight of your wagon. It’s unlikely to be a problem in most cases, however, since the frames of many models tend towards skimpy.
Getting a Handle on Maneuverability
How useful your wagon remains is going to be largely determined by how maneuverable it is.
Apart from the wheels, you also want to take a look at the front hinge of the wagon where the handle attaches and the handle itself.
Some of the shorter handles may not be suitable for people of all heights, after all it can be a bit of a pain if you’re six feet tall and have to bend at the knees in order to move the wagon. Longer handles are quite rarely a problem with these wagons.
Telescoping handles are best for the storage of your wagon, and if they can be locked at different points… then you’ve got a winner.
Maneuverability has a lot to do with the weight of the load in many cases. This means that although a frame may be able to support the weight you’ve got it loaded down with, it’s not necessarily going to make it easy.
There are two categories we had to look at here: the maximum capacity and the realistic capacity were often different for the wagons in practice.
A high maximum capacity says more about the frame and overall construction of the wagon than it really does how much you’ll be hauling with it. The truth is that none of the wagons we tested were all that maneuverable when you were approaching maximum capacity.
Even the best tended to be good only for straight lines once we loaded them to the max.
On the other hand, the realistic capacity varied quite a bit as a percentage. Most of those we tested came in at about 30% of their supposed max capacity before they became unwieldy. The best, as we noted, came in at more than 50%.
You’ll also need to look at the dimensions of your folding wagon. Too big and it’ll be hard to maneuver indoors, too small and no matter what the carry weight it’s rated for you’re going to have a hard time fitting what you need in it.
A low center of gravity is also desirable if you’re planning on stacking things super high. It’ll keep your wagon from tipping, which is particularly useful if you’re planning on hitting hills.
It’s also a useful factor for racing, but we can’t really recommend you do that in good faith.
Tough Wagon, Long Life
Durability was a big concern for some of our reviewers, although others didn’t see the need for quite as much use.
The truth is, some of the better wagons do cost a little bit more than the competition but they’ll also last a lot longer. In addition to the frame’s folding ability you’re going to want to take a look at the material contained within them.
While we didn’t have any rips or tears in the folding wagons we tested… we also didn’t use most of them all that much before we finished our reviews. Some of the fabrics were obviously of a much higher-quality than the others, which probably means they’re going to last a lot longer.
If you’re going to pay a premium… it makes sense to ensure you’re going to have the wagon for a long time.
On the other hand, if you’re planning on rarer usage then we recommend you just save some money.
While not all that common, some of the wagons we took a look at had some nifty little extras which make them stand out.
Our personal favorite?
Canopies can help keep coolers cold over a long period of time. Depending on the weather where you’re lurking, this can make a huge difference. No reason to let your sodas get warm, right?
Folding and Storage
We found that this factor was a lot more variable than we’d have thought at first glance. The truth of the matter is that there are a variety of thicknesses, lengths, and even the handle plays a big role in how well everything slides together.
Our favorites stayed as a single unit and folded as flat as possible, some of the others didn’t have quite that much luck. Instead you’re left with a gigantic mess that is hard to haul around or find safe storage for in the back of your vehicle.
That really won’t do.
We’ve noted which the best at folding down are and ignored those which don’t use an at least halfway decent system, but if you go out seeking one on your own then you might be surprised at just how bad some of the folding systems are.
Putting it All Together
So, which wagon you go with really depends on what your main usage is going to be. For our money, the best folding wagon is going to have the following qualities:
- Heavy duty, wide wheels
- Folding as flat as possible
- Tight maneuverability
- Large estimated weight with the ability to maneuver at least 40% of the estimated weight
- Durable cloth to hold up to long usage
- A canopy
Sadly, none of our wagons actually met all of the qualities we liked, but some almost made it there.
Enjoy your next adventure even more with the best folding wagon for your needs. We did the research, sorted the lemons, and brought you only the best. Now all you need to do is make a final decision, easy gear hauling is just a click away.