There is nothing better than blasting through the backcountry on your snowmobile. But there’s nothing worst than getting lost somewhere in the middle of winter.
When I first started snowmobiling decades ago, I didn’t have a GPS to help navigate. These days, I always like to bring a GPS unit along on the trails, and I’ve used a handful of different devices over the years.
The Garmin Montana 680t is my go-to GPS when I ride, and I think it’s the best option available for snowmobiling.
If you only rely on your smartphone for navigation, you risk losing service, especially in remote locations where most snowmobilers visit. A good GPS unit uses satellite communications for very accurate and reliable mapping.
The Montana 680t utilizes preloaded geocaches, and accurate topo maps to allow you to stay safe and on track when you ride.
I’ll also show you a few of the other best GPS units here, so you have a few options to choose from.
Open up the map and let’s hit the trail!
Table of Contents
- Top Choices for Best Snowmobile GPS
- What to Look for in a GPS
- Snowmobile GPS FAQs
- My Verdict
Top Choices for Best Snowmobile GPS
I think everyone should carry a GPS with them when they are riding. Whether you use it to navigate or just in case of an emergency, these devices can come in extremely useful when you need them. The best options can be found below.
- Best for: Overall
- Key features: High sensitivity, WAAS-enabled, GLONASS support, excellent coverage, 250,000 preloaded geocaches, 8-megapixel camera included
- Screen Size: 4-inches
- Battery life: 16 hours with lithium-ion, 22 with AA
- Memory: 2GB
If you are looking for the best of the best, GPS units don’t get much better than the Garmin Montana 680t.
This device does it all. It’s by far the most impressive GPS unit I’ve used and will suit the needs of any type of snowmobiler, no matter how far they venture off the beaten path.
It features top-of-the-line tracking utilizing both GPS and GLONASS satellites. This means you’ll get accurate and reliable mapping anywhere you roam. It works better in remote locations than any other option I’ve ever used.
It also comes packed with over 100,000 preloaded US topo maps, so you can rest assured you’ll have a good idea of the areas you are riding in any time you want. A large number of preloaded geocaches come included if you are a treasure hunter as well.
The 4-inch display is glove-friendly, so you can easily operate the Montana 680t without exposing your hands to the elements. This screen is also dual-orienting, meaning it will shift views automatically – similar to your smartphone.
It also comes with a high-quality 8-megapixel camera built-in so you can capture those magic moments to share with your friends and family. A 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter further enhance how accurate this GPS is.
You’ll also see up to 16 hours of battery life with lithium-ion or up to 22 with regular AA. Pretty impressive.
The downside? The Montana 680t is expensive and will make a dent in your bank account. It’s still more than worth it if you can afford it.
- Best for: Trails
- Key features: Color screen, supports tracks and waypoints, Bluetooth enabled, sealed for dust and water protection, Buddy Tracking feature
- Screen Size: 4-inch
- Battery life: 12V power required
- Memory: Customizable with Micro SD card
The Trail Tech Voyager Pro is another excellent GPS for snowmobiles that comes in handy when you want a good look at the trails you might be riding.
If you like sticking to a particular route, this is a good option to choose. It features a large number of base maps, topo lines, and trails to keep you on track and having a blast. You can record your trails or load them into the unit for additional navigation and tracking needs.
The Voyager Pro also comes with a cool Buddy Tracking feature that lets you see other riders on your screen. This is a fun way to watch your friends bounce around the trails with you.
It is also Bluetooth enabled to allow you to use your phone or as an intercom between other riders with the same GPS.
The 4-inch color touchscreen is clear and easy to navigate. It’s built with an anti-glare coating and sealed to keep out dust and water.
A micro SD card slot gives you customizable memory options as well. You can even store music to play when you ride in addition to all of your favorite trails.
This is a 12V powdered GPS, so you’ll have to make sure your sled has the means to keep it powered to unlock all of the fun. That limits its versatility, and it might not work for everyone.
3. Garmin eTrex
- Best for: Heavy Duty Option
- Key features: Ruggedly built, color display, preloaded with Topo Active maps, GPS and GLONASS support, great battery life
- Screen Size: 2.2-inch
- Battery life: Up to 25 hours
- Memory: 8GB internal plus micro SD slot
If you spend many of your days in the backcountry or are rough gear, you need tools that will hold up under heavy abuse. The Garmin eTrex is a rugged and durable heavy-duty GPS unit that will take a licking and keep on ticking.
This is a simple but effective GPS that will give you reliable and accurate navigation thanks to GPS and GLONASS satellite support.
The eTrex also has excellent battery life that will work for up to 25-hours in GPS mode. This can come in handy on long days or overnight excursions. A strong build and long battery life make for a very reliable unit.
It’s also preloaded with Topo Active maps that allow you to establish a route before heading out or keep track of the trails you find out in the snow. 8GB of internal memory and a micro SD card means you can pack this unit full of all your favorite trails with room to spare.
The tradeoff for being so durable and dependable is that the screen size is small. You only get a 2.2-inch display, which means you might need to squint for a good look at your map.
- Best for: Budget Pick
- Key features: Affordable, customizable user screens, smart data logging, LCD screen, accurate mapping and routing
- Screen Size: 2.7-inch
- Battery life: Up to 11 hours
- Memory: Micro SD card
The Trail Tech Voyager makes for a good budget option. You won’t get the latest and greatest features or functions here, but you will save some money without sacrificing GPS capability.
This unit is simple in design but effective in use. It can track your coordinates, speed, and distance while giving you an accurate compass and altitude at the same time.
You can use this information to create customizable user screens to share the device with your friends or family.
The backlit LCD screen is clear, but it’s small at only 2.7-inches. It’s also an entirely black and white screen that keeps the cost down and makes the unit feel pretty old school.
The battery life of the Voyager isn’t great. It claims up to 11 hours, but I’d place that number closer to 6 or 8 with regular use in cold weather. That’s another trade-off for a budget pick.
Still, if you only need a GPS unit’s basics functions and want to save some cash, this is a recommended option.
- Best for: Budget Garmin Pick
- Key features: Trusted brand, Highly sensitive and accurate, glove-friendly display, good battery life
- Screen Size: 4-inches
- Battery life: Up to 16 hours
- Memory: 2.7 GB
The Garmin Montana 610 is an excellent option to look into if you want nearly the same features as the top GPS unit on the list at a more affordable price.
The 610 has many of the same outstanding features as the 680t but is a few hundred dollars cheaper, especially if you can find it on sale.
You’ll get highly accurate and reliable GPS and GLONASS satellite syncing that is extremely sensitive and capable of reaching remote locations.
The 4-inch display is bright and clear as well as being glove-friendly for easy use on the trail.
This unit also comes preloaded with thousands of geocaches and comes with a 1-year subscription to Birdseye Satellite Imagery.
Even though the 610 is budget for a Garmin unit, it’s still relatively expensive. Highly recommended but not quite cheap.
- Best for: Multi-Vehicle Off-Road Use
- Key features: Large screen, plenty of memory for loading trails, preloaded with maps and campgrounds, topo maps for North and South America
- Screen Size: 6.95 inches
- Battery life: 3 hours
- Memory: 64GB
The Garmin Overlander is a recommended option for any snowmobiler who likes to go off-roading when the snow melts away.
It is a great multi-vehicle option that will show you roads, trails, and campgrounds that you can explore all season long. It also comes with many topo maps covering both North and South America for extended global coverage.
A large 7-inch touchscreen gives you in-depth imagery of your surroundings and makes for easy access to all of the Overlander’s built-in features.
It also has a massive 64 GB memory to store any additional maps, guides, or routes. It’s a great option to use if you ride near private property and want to know where established boundaries exist.
The Overlander can be used on your snowmobile but was designed more for 4-wheel use and has a limited battery life of only 3-hours. You’ll need to have a way to charge it on the trail. It’s also very expensive.
7. Spytec GL300
- Best for: GPS Tracker
- Key features: Fast processing time, fast-tracking, 4G satellite tracking, app compatible, accurate within 15 feet
- Size: 1-inch thick
- Battery life: Up to 2.5 weeks
- Memory: N/A
The Spytec GL300 is a different GPS unit style that can come in handy if you want to track your sled in case of theft.
It’s a small device that you can attach to your snowmobile or any other machine and uses 4G satellite tracking to provide accurate location mapping within 15-feet.
The GL300 will hide out of sight, and the rechargeable battery can stay active for up to 2.5 weeks.
The unit uses an intuitive software platform that is easy to use, allowing you to track the device on your smartphone or other devices.
This isn’t an option that will show you the best trails to ride on but can be an effective theft deterrent and security measure.
What to Look for in a GPS
Here are some considerations to keep in mind when you are looking for a GPS unit.
Type of Navigation System
You will always want to use a satellite-based navigation GPS for your snowmobiling needs. This will give you the most accurate and precise location capabilities when deep in the backcountry or away from other people.
If you rely on another type of navigation system, such as cellular service, you risk not having accurate GPS capabilities when you need them. Satellite systems can find you anywhere and pinpoint your location no matter where you ride.
Battery life is another major consideration when you get a snowmobile GPS. Even if you spend a ton of money on a fancy GPS unit, it’s worthless if the battery dies quickly in the cold. All of the options you’ll see here have long battery lives built for colder conditions.
I’d recommend a battery life of at least 10 hours. This gives you reliable performance all day long. The best options will provide you with 20 hours or more of operating time, which can last for a few days and stay on in case of an emergency.
Handheld or Hard Mount
Most GPS units for a snowmobile are either handheld or hard-mounted units. I typically like a handheld unit because I only pull out my GPS when I am stopped on the trail and accessing new terrain or lost.
Hard-mounted units are more similar to what you might be used to in your vehicle. These can be installed either onto your handlebars or other locations where you can see the GPS as you are driving. They are convenient if you are trying to follow a specific trail.
Snowmobile GPS FAQs
Here are some quick answers to commonly asked questions relating to snowmobile GPS units.
What is the best GPS for snowmobiling?
I recommend the Garmin Montana 680t as the best GPS for snowmobiling. It’s an expensive option but comes packed with preloaded maps. This has everything you’ll need and want out of a GPS.
Where is the best snowmobiling?
I’m partial to the Rocky Mountain region of Colorado. But you can find really good snowmobiling all over the world. I’ve also had some great experiences in Alaska as well. Any day on a sled is better than one spent indoors!
What is the best handheld GPS to buy?
The Garmin eTrex is a top option for a handheld unit. This is also one of the most affordable options from Garmin, which is another perk. I like to use a handheld unit over a hard-mounted option because I want to keep my eyes on the trail when I ride.
What is the easiest handheld GPS to use?
I think the Garmin Montana 610 is the easiest handheld GPS to use. It has a bright screen that stays clear even in the snow, and the touch screen works well. I also like that it’s a thicker GPS so you can get a better grip when using it.
The Garmin Montana 680t is a fantastic GPS unit. If I only had to use one option for the rest of my days on the trail, I would choose this time and time again. It’s very accurate, works well in cold weather, and is built to last. The battery life is outstanding as well.
You can’t go wrong with any of the options you see on this list. Just remember that I strongly recommend using a dedicated satellite-based GPS unit instead of your smartphone. You need reliable service and navigation capabilities when out on the trail, and a GPS unit provides it.About Chaz Wyland