Powder is a winter sports enthusiast’s best friend in many ways, and riding a snowmobile in deep snow can be the thrill of a lifetime. But to best take advantage of this type of condition, you need to have a snowmobile that can handle it.
I’m a lifelong snowmobiler with years of experience on the trails and backcountry. I try to go riding in deep snow as often as possible, and I’m familiar with what machines are best suited for powder and backcountry conditions.
This post will show you a number of the best snowmobiles for deep snow. I’ll explain why these models are suitable for this type of riding and some other things to consider when you are getting ready to go chase powder on your sled.
Let’s get after it.
Table of Contents
- How Deep of Snow Can a Snowmobile Go?
- Choosing a Snowmobile for Deep Snow: What to Consider
- 5 Best Snowmobiles for Deep Snow Reviewed
- Snowmobiling Tips for Deep Snow
How Deep of Snow Can a Snowmobile Go?
There really isn’t a limit to how deep of snow a snowmobile can go through. If you get yourself a model built to handle powder conditions and has a longer track and lighter weight, you can float through just about anything.
If you go riding right after a big storm that drops say, 3-4 feet of powder, you might need to change your riding style and sit back a bit to stay on top, but a deep snow sled should still be able to handle it easily.
Choosing a Snowmobile for Deep Snow: What to Consider
Here are a few key factors to consider when choosing a snowmobile for deep snow.
A lighter machine will do better in deeper snow than a heavier one. This is because the heavier a snowmobile is, the more it will sink in the snow. Other factors come into play, but weight is probably one of the most significant.
Much of the weight of a snowmobile comes from its engine, so a smaller engine will cut pounds and help make the machine more capable in deep snow. With that in mind, 2-stroke engines are lighter than 4-strokes, making them a better option for machines designed for deep snow.
Longer tracks are better for deeper snow. They will give you more surface area, providing more float on top of the snow.
Think of it like a snowshoe compared to a snow boot. The snowshoe is much longer, allowing you to stay on top of the snow without sinking.
If you ever see the term “long track” snowmobile, that will give you a good idea that the machine you are looking at is good in deep snow. Generally, track lengths that are about 145 inches or longer will do you well in deep snow.
The skis on a deep snow sled are also something to consider. Just like with the track length, more surface area will give you more float. That’s why a lot of powder-focused snowmobiles will have skis that are wider and longer than trail sleds.
The exact length and width of your skis are somewhat of an individual rider preference, but there are definite advantages in going bigger when it comes to riding in deep snow.
5 Best Snowmobiles for Deep Snow Reviewed
Here are my picks for the best snowmobiles for deep snow this year. The models below are all a little different, but they are all designed to handle powder and lots of it.
- Designed for deep snow
- 180 horsepower
- Excellent handling
- Starts at $13,099
The machine has a lightweight 2-stroke engine that still delivers a pretty impressive 180 horsepower, which will help steep hill climbs. It also has a very balanced feel, which is great for bouncing around in deep snow.
This model has several versions, and you can spend more to get extra features that can come in handy when the snow starts to stack up.
- 2.6-inch deep track
- 154-inch length
- Powerful with excellent response
- Starts at $15,199
If you want power on your side when you are bombing through deep snow, I think the Yamaha Mountain Max LE 154 is great choice. This is another model that is fully equipped with powder and backcountry conditions in mind, and it can really rip.
It features a 2.6-inch deep track that gives you excellent traction to ride through serious powder with ease. It also has a 154-inch length, providing extra float when you need it. The 2-stroke 794cc engine is no joke either, and it will blast you uphill as fast as you can handle.
This is an expensive model, but it delivers top-notch performance when the snow gets heavy.
- Fully engineered for deep snow
- 850 Patriot engine
- Racing suspension
- Starts at $16,299
The Polaris RMK Khaos is another deep snow monster that is ready and willing to dive into as much powder as you can find. This is another model that is fully engineered for mountain riding and the deeper snow conditions that come with it.
The 850 Patriot engine puts out a ton of powder, but the lightweight chassis keeps the pounds down, so you stay on top of the snow. It also comes with a racing suspension that allows you to enjoy excellent handling and response no matter how hard you like to ride.
I also like the aggressive look of the Khaos and think that the newer models are really sweet. It does come with a hefty price tag, so get your wallet ready.
- CTEC-2 engine
- Adjustable shocks
- Power Claw track
- Starts at $16,045
The Arctic Cat M 8000 Mountain Cat Alpha One is another awesome deep snow sled engineered to eat up the backcountry and come back for seconds. The single-beam rear suspension gives you a tremendous amount of maneuverability.
It also comes with an ATAC on-the-fly suspension system, which lets you adjust the shocks’ stiffness with the push of a button. The Power Claw track is another sweet feature that keeps the weight down while still providing excellent deep snow traction.
In my opinion, this one comes with a lot of bells and whistles, which might be overkill if you are just looking for a simple sled that can handle deep snow.
- Deep snow design
- Rotax 850 engine
- Starts at $15,949
The Ski-Doo Freeride is another deep-snow-specific machine from the top snowmobile manufacturer in the game.
It gives you plenty of power with a Rotax 850 engine without adding much weight to keep you floating and having fun when the powder gets going.
It also comes with a tMotion X rear suspension that helps keep the sled agile and maneuverable in all sorts of situations. The large digital display is another nice touch that gives you easy access to all the control you need when riding.
Snowmobiling Tips for Deep Snow
Deep snow riding comes with a particular skill set and knowledge that you need to learn about. Avalanche safety is a big concern whenever you take to the backcountry, so be sure you have all the necessary safety gear and equipment to dig out if you’re caught in a slide.
You also need to sit back on the machine when things get really deep to keep your front end from digging in. This can take some practice, so play around with it before diving into deep powder.
Also, bring a rope to help out in case you get stuck. It can come in useful in many ways, and you can also help other riders out.
Here are a few other questions about snowmobiling in deep snow that I think you should know about.
Can snow be too deep for snowmobile?
The snow can’t really be too deep for a snowmobile, so long as you are moving and don’t get stuck. Some models are better suited to riding in deep snow, but you shouldn’t have any issues unless there is a huge storm that drops many feet of snow.
What to do if my snowmobile gets stuck in snow?
There is no wrong way to get your snowmobile free if it gets stuck in the snow. You can use a rope and try to pull it out. You can twist the skis and pull it if it is facing downhill. And you can also use another snowmobile to try and tow it out.
Deep snow riding is one of my favorite types of snowmobiling, and all of the machines I mentioned here are specifically designed for this type of condition. If you want to take advantage of deep powder, get yourself one of these amazing sleds.About Chaz Wyland