Whether you are chasing snow or bringing your snowmobile to the shop we all have to transport our snowmobiles at some point. Throughout this article we list out the different equipment options for transporting your snowmobile, safety tips to take before transporting, how to protect your snowmobile during transport and what our go to piece of equipment is when it comes to transporting our own snowmobiles. Let’s go!
How To Transport a Snowmobile
1) Pickup Box
Your first and maybe most obvious option for transporting your snowmobile is a pickup box. While rather limiting the use of a pickup box is convenient and cost effective, being you already own the truck or we hope so anyways. Regardless you will need a truck to transport your snowmobile unless you plan on never having to transport your snowmobile by any other means than itself. There are a few “do it yourselfers” out there that are going to tell you about how they transport their snowmobile on the roof of their car or tow it behind their tiny car. All we are going to say about that is “not ideal”.
Getting your snowmobile into the box of your pickup is not the easiest. With that said there are numerous ramps available on the current market that work great for loading your snowmobile into your pickup. Other, more cost effective ways to load your snowmobile into your pickup include backing up to a snowbank and using it as your ramp or calling over 5 of your best friends and having them lift it into the back of your pickup for you. We would highly suggest just getting a ramp as they are not that expensive and save you a headache.
Another downside to using the box of your pickup for transporting your snowmobile is the fact that you can only haul one snowmobile and you lose all of the space the snowmobile takes up that could be used for your gear or whatever else you need to bring with you. Although the pickup box is rather limiting on who and what you can bring with you, it is a cheap way of getting your snowmobile to where you need it to be.
2) Sled Deck
Do you want to transport more than one snowmobile, keep your pickup box free for storage and not have to pull a trailer? Look no further, stop everything you are doing and buy a sled deck. Sled decks are on the rise to be the most popular way to transport snowmobiles. For those who are not familiar, they are literally platforms that sit on your pickup’s box, acting more or less as a cover over your box that your snowmobiles can sit on.
Sled decks are super convenient for getting to those harder to get to places. Not having to pull a trailer into tight areas where turning around is difficult is one of the biggest benefits we see to using a sled deck. They are also nice if you are road tripping with one other buddy and want to save on fuel. Another benefit, as we previously mentioned, is the freeing up of your box for storage. The sled deck seals off your pickup’s box which keeps the gear or other items you choose to store in it dry and protected.
Acquiring a sled deck will cost you anywhere between $1500 USD to $5000 USD. Prices vary depending on the size, materials used and features each deck has to offer. The sled deck is a tad more expensive than just getting a ramp for your pickup box, but the benefits listed above definitely justify its pricing if you ask us. If cost is a concern for you, take a look at the used market to find a sled deck that might work better with your budget.
3) Open Trailer
The classic snowmobile trailer, an open two place. If you are really balling out it may even be a tilt bed with a salt shield. Transporting a snowmobile using an open trailer is one of our go to methods when we are making a quick run somewhere. Light and easy to move is what makes these trailers desirable.
Typically made out of aluminum these trailers come in a variety of sizes with numerous different features. Some have salt shields on the fronts, some have ramps on the front, some have both. Some have tilt beds and some have back ramps. These trailers are what we define as handy. You can literally move these around your yard without even hooking them up to your pickup.
There are a couple downfalls to using an open trailer. The first being your snowmobile is left exposed to the elements, but this is true for the first two options listed as well. The second being it is a trailer meaning it requires licensing, although not much, an additional expense. The final downfall we see to using an open trailer is the fact that it limits you on where you can park and get to. This is not a huge downfall as most open trailers are relatively small and not too difficult to get pretty much anywhere with.
Open trailers cost about as much as a sled deck will cost you and in certain cases maybe a tad more. If you switch between vehicles a lot and do not have a specific vehicle you use to transport your snowmobiles, the open trailer may be a good option for you. Load them up and head out. It is that easy with an open trailer.
4) Enclosed Trailer
The king of transporting snowmobiles, the enclosed trailer. Once you transport a snowmobile in an enclosed trailer you will not want to go back to the other methods. Enclosed trailers serve so many purposes at the same time. From a heated workshop to an offseason storage unit. The enclosed trailer cannot be beat when it comes to function and purpose.
Enclosed trailers are nice because they protect your snowmobiles and allow you to put much more than just your snowmobiles in them. With that said they are quite a bit heavier than open trailers and will require a vehicle with the proper power to pull them. Having the right pickup for the size of your trailer is vital. Being underpowered while towing is miserable and also dangerous.
The price of enclosed trailers vary so much as some are goosenecks with heated interiors and decked out with work benches and sometimes even living quarters while others are just bumper pull trailers with shells that keep your stuff dry and protected. Identify what you need and what your budget is before you start shopping for enclosed trailers.
5) Ship It (plane, boat, etc.)
Maybe you are not transporting your snowmobile yourself. If you are sending your snowmobile overseas there are options for shipping it via boat in a storage container. This is rather expensive and time consuming. Most people that are planning on riding overseas rent snowmobiles as it ends up being cheaper and much less stressful. You can also transport a snowmobile via airplane, but this is not very common as it is expensive and not the most efficient method.
If you are looking to get your snowmobile somewhere within the USA we highly recommend checking to see the cost of having a third party ship it for you via semi truck or pickup truck and trailer. There are people who hire out to do this kind of work. Not only that, but other snowmobilers are frequently traveling across the country and may have an open spot on their trailer. Do some asking around and see what options are available to you.
Safety Tips For Transporting a Snowmobile
Transporting a snowmobile can be dangerous if not done properly. Make sure you have your snowmobile strapped down properly. Every transportation method requires strapping down your snowmobile, even in the enclosed trailers. Not having your snowmobile strapped down could result in damage to your snowmobile or worse yet it falling off your trailer or sled deck and harming someone else. You do not want your snowmobile moving around while being transported.
Another safety tip to keep in mind is making sure all your lights on your equipment are functioning as it should. Burnt out lights could be a serious danger for you and others on the road. Make sure all your lights work. Not having proper lighting is dangerous especially in low visibility conditions.
If pulling a trailer it is vital to ensure the trailer is hooked up to your vehicle properly. We have seen it before where the driver forgot to put the safety pin in the hitch and while going down the road the trailer actually separates from the vehicle. You can imagine how dangerous this would be. With this it is also very important to make sure you have the right vehicle for the job. If you are pulling too much weight for the vehicle to handle you put the vehicle at risk of damage and it will not tow the load properly making it a dangerous situation for you, everyone in the vehicle and everyone else on the road.
Protecting Your Snowmobile During Transport
Strapping down your snowmobile during transport is the most obvious way of not only protecting your snowmobile but everyone around it. If you are not using an enclosed trailer we highly recommend putting a snowmobile cover on your snowmobile to protect it from the road grim as well as any snow, rain and other debris that you may encounter while traveling.
When hauling snowmobiles close to each other we recommend placing soft items such as pool noodles between the snowmobiles to ensure they do not rub and scratch each other. You will want to make sure these are fastened to the snowmobile some way so that they do not fly off while traveling. We like to zip tie pool noodles to the running boards of our snowmobiles if we have them sitting side by side during transport.
Do not forget to set the parking brake on your snowmobile while transporting. It seems kind of silly, but you would be surprised at the difference it makes when keeping your snowmobile from moving around. Although snowmobiles do not have wheels, which are more prone to roll, the track of a snowmobile will move during transport if the parking brake is not set.
Now you have more of an idea of what options you have when it comes to transporting your snowmobile. When making the decision on what you will use to haul your snowmobile, keep in mind where you are going and what your needs are. There is something that will work for everyone’s budget. We feel all options are good and realize most snowmobilers, ourselves included, have more than one option when it comes to transporting their snowmobiles. Let us know what you use and what you like about it in the comments below! Follow us on any social platform @sledheadzzz. Braap on!