Are you a beginner snowmobiler who is just learning about this fantastic winter activity? Are you a seasoned rider with a thirst for all of the information you can get about the sport?
Either way, you’re in the right place. I’ve compiled an in-depth list of some statistics and facts about snowmobiling.
I’m Chaz, an avid snowmobiler who has been riding almost as long as I can remember. I love keeping up to date on all of the latest news and interesting information surrounding the sport and want to share some of what I’ve learned with other riders.
Below you’ll find some of the stats and facts that I found most interesting after researching many different areas within the sport and industry of snowmobiling.
Let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
Quick Facts and Statistics
- The United States alone has over 135,000 miles of snowmobile trails.
- The first modern snowmobile was built in 1935, but early concepts of powered sleds date back to the early 1900s.
- Over 2 million snowmobilers participate in the sport in North America alone.
- There are over 4 million snowmobilers worldwide, and that number continues to grow.
- The current world record for the fastest speed on a snowmobile is 172.2 mph (277.13 kph).
- The trails funded by snowmobilers are used for other popular winter activities, including snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
- The average snowmobiler rides their sled 1,200 miles every year.
- There are over 3,000 snowmobile clubs in North America.
- A snowmobile exerts less pressure on the earth’s surface than many other recreational activities, with only 0.5 pounds of pressure exerted per square inch.
- Snowmobile engines (especially 2-stroke engines) are notorious for poor emissions and pollution, but they have been improved drastically over the years.
- Snowmobile sound levels have been reduced by 94% when comparing modern to early machines.
Snowmobile Industry Facts and Statistics
- The snowmobile industry generates over $26 billion in the US.
- The Canadian snowmobile industry generates $9.3 billion annually.
- The European and Russian snowmobile markets generate $5 billion annually.
- There are over 100,000 full-time snowmobile industry jobs in North America.
- Some locations in the US and Canada rely almost entirely on snowmobiles for transportation in the winter.
- The average snowmobiler spends $4000 every year on recreation associate with the sport.
- The average annual household income for a snowmobiler is $68,000.
- The state of Wyoming has an annual economic impact from snowmobiling of over $175 million and supports over 1,000 jobs.
- There were 123,862 snowmobiles sold worldwide in 2020.
- 51,036 snowmobiles were sold in the US in 2020.
- 43,535 snowmobiles were sold in Canada in 2020.
- The US, Canada, Europe, and Russia have 42 registered non-profit associations between them, and this number continues to grow.
- Hybrid motorized/non-motorized recreation is growing in popularity – meaning the number of people who use snowmobiles as part of another winter sport or activity continues to grow.
- Wisconsin has the most registered snowmobile users out of any US state with 219,761.
Snowmobile History Facts and Statistics
- Joseph Bombardier built and tested one of the first modern snowmobile designs in 1935 and generally gets the credit for the invention.
- The first patents for modern snowmobile designs were granted in 1915 and 1916.
- Early versions of an over the snow machine involved a sled pushed by a spinning propellor and a Model T Ford automobile fitted with skis and tracks.
- Bombardier snowmobiles were built to carry multiple passengers and more resembled modern-day Sno-Cats than snowmobiles.
- Polaris was the first brand to put a modern snowmobile into mass production in the mid-1950s with the Sno-Traveler Model.
- Early snowmobiles only had about 5 horsepower.
- The first Canadian-designed snowmobile was the Ingham Motor Toboggan which was produced in 1950.
- Ski-Doo first developed the ski carbide in 1973.
- Independent suspension wasn’t used until the 1908s.
- The first fuel-injected snowmobile was the Polaris 650 RXL EFI, which came out in 1991.
- Four-stroke snowmobile engines began to go into production in the early 2000s, improving performance and emissions drastically.
- The first OEM snowmobile with a turbo-charged engine was the Yamaha Sidewinder.
- Electric snowmobiles will soon be widely available to the public, with the brand Taiga creating some of the first production models.
- Today there are four major snowmobile manufacturers – Polaris, Ski-Doo, Yamaha, and Arctic Cat.
Snowmobile Riders Facts and Statistics
- The U.S. has 1.4 registered snowmobile users, Canada has over 600,000 registered riders.
- The average age for a snowmobiler is 44.
- 70% of riders are male, and 30% are female.
- The average snowmobiler in North America rides 1,111 miles (1,788 km) every year.
- Snowmobilers raise an average of $3 million/year for charity.
- 53% of snowmobilers use a trailer to transport their machines to trails or backcountry locations to go riding.
- 47% of snowmobilers have access to trails or other riding locations from their homes or other property.
- Snowmobilers are more likely to participate in other off-road activities such as OHV and ATV use in the summer months than other members of the public.
- Snowmobilers spend an average of 4.8 to 5.2 hours riding each day they are out – nearly double that of cross-country skiers.
- The average snowmobiler rides 100-320 kilometers a day every time they go out.
- Snowmobiling is a great family-friendly activity, and children 12 years old and younger can often ride on their own under adult supervision.
Snowmobile Performance Facts and Statistics
- The average modern snowmobile weighs between 500-600 pounds and can reach speeds over 90 mph.
- The fastest production snowmobile currently available is the Yamaha Sidewinder, which can reach speeds of over 120 mph.
- Many snowmobiles still use 2-stroke engines, although 4-stroke options are much more common than they used to be.
- Electric snowmobiles are beginning to become available and boast impressive acceleration and top speeds while having limited range due to battery charging.
- Turbo-charged engines have improved performance considerably in recent years, with horsepower numbers in excess of 150.
- Most modern sleds today have 80-135 horsepower.
- Average engine sizes vary from 600cc to 1000+cc.
- The greatest distance covered by a team of snowmobilers in 24 hours is 2,081.83 miles (3,350.38 km).
- The longest snowmobile journey ever recorded was 12,163 miles (19,574.45 km) by Robert G. Davis over the course of 60 days in 2008.
- Modern 2-stroke snowmobile engines have been able to cut emissions in half since the early 2000s.
- All snowmobiles built after 1975 must permit not more than 78 decibels from a distance of 50 feet while traveling at full throttle – this is less than a lawnmower.
- Today, you can custom build a sled to meet any specific needs or desires you have.
Snowmobile Injuries Facts and Statistics
- There are an average of 200 snowmobile-related deaths every year.
- There are over 14,000 snowmobile-related injuries every year.
- The leading cause of snowmobile-related deaths and injuries include excess speed, alcohol, poor judgment, and driver inexperience.
- Avalanches are another cause of severe injury and death, though not as common as the above.
- Extremity fractures (broken legs, arms) are some of the most common injuries.
- Head injury leading to multisystem trauma is the most significant cause of death.
- Always wearing a helmet and adequate safety education is key to limiting the risk of injury and death when riding a snowmobile.
- A large number of snowmobile deaths in Alaska are caused by drowning.
- The Snowmobile Safety and Certification Committee (SSCC) is a non-profit organization promoting snowmobile safety since the 1980s.
- Only 10-15% of snowmobile accidents occur on well-maintained and designed trails.
- Most of the accidents occur in the backcountry or off-trail riding without established trails or routes in place.
Snowmobiling continues to grow in many different ways all across the world. While its popularity and economic impact are most evident in areas of North America, other markets in Europe and Russia continue to grow.
As the sport develops, so will many of the facts and stats that are listed here. It’s an exciting time for anyone involved with the world of snowmobiling as the options in where you can ride expands, right along with the technologies powering our sleds.
- ISMA (2020). Snowmobiling Fact Book. http://www.snowmobile.org/docs/isma-snowmobiling-fact-book.pdf
- American Council of Snowmobile Associations (2014). Facts and Myths About Snowmobiling and Winter Trails. https://www.snowmobilers.org/docs/ACSA_Facts_and_Myths_book.pdf
- Statista (2019). Number of snowmobile registrations in the United States. https://www.statista.com/statistics/420693/us-snowmobile-registrations-by-state/
- Wikipedia (2021). Snowmobile. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowmobile
- Pierz, JJ. (2003, April). Snowmobile injuries in North America. National Library of Medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12671482/
- Canadian Council Of Snowmobile Organizations (2021). Facts + Stats. https://www.ccso-ccom.ca/facts-stats/
- SnoRiders magazine (2020). ISMA reveals intriguing snowmobiling stats and facts. https://snoriderswest.com/article/general/isma_reveals_intriguing_snowmobiling_stats_and_facts
- Nelson’s Speed Shop (2021). 6 Surprising Facts About Snowmobiling Superpower Polaris Industries. https://www.nelsonsspeedshop.com/6-surprising-facts-about-snowmobiling-superpower-polaris-industries
- Guinness World Records (2021). Fastest modified/prototype snowmobile. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/fastest-snowmobile
- Snowmobile-Ed (2021). Snowmobile Clubs and Resources. https://www.snowmobile-ed.com/vermont/studyGuide/Snowmobile-Clubs-and-Resources/501049_142692/
- Guinness World Records (2021). Snowmobile – greatest distance in 24 hours (team). https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/snowmobile-greatest-distance-in-24-hours-(team)
- Guinness World Records (2021). Longest snowmobile journey. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/longest-snowmobile-journey
Do you know of any other interesting facts or statistics related to snowmobiling? Let us know in the comments below.About Chaz Wyland