All The Different Types Of Snowmobiles And Which One Is Right For You


If you and three of your snowmobiling buddies are all out riding your sleds, chances are, you don’t have the same type of snowmobile. No, we’re not necessarily talking about the make and model, but rather, the style of the snowmobile itself. What are the different snowmobile types?

The 7 types of snowmobiles are as follows:

  • Trail snowmobile
  • Sport trail snowmobile
  • Performance snowmobile
  • Touring snowmobile
  • Mountain snowmobile
  • Crossover snowmobile
  • Utility snowmobile

In today’s informative article, we will delve into each of these 7 snowmobile types, discussing the various features that differentiate one sled from another. We’ll also include pros and cons for each snowmobile type and discuss how to choose the right sled for you. You’re not going to want to miss it. 

The 7 Different Types of Snowmobiles with Pros and Cons

Trail Snowmobile

The first snowmobile on the list is the most beginner-friendly one. Trail snowmobiles have elements of touring and performance sleds rolled into one, making them an efficient snowmobile choice. 

You don’t necessarily get as much mileage with a trail snowmobile as you will some of the other types we’ll discuss shortly. That said, if you’re intimidated by the size and heft of an average sled, then a trail snowmobile will put your mind at ease. These vehicles have a lighter-weight frame that allows them to move nimbly through the snow. No wonder trail snowmobiles come so highly-recommended for new sledders.

If you eventually feel comfortable riding aggressively, the trail snowmobile can handle it. It won’t take long for this sled to reach your desired speed either. Some models even have sport suspension so they can ascend hills or ride over rough terrain, but for the most part, those features aren’t guaranteed with a trail snowmobile. That’s mostly due to the engine power of this sled type, which tops out at around 70 horsepower (HP). 

You might be able to shop around for a trail snowmobile with an electric start so powering up your sled is never a hassle. 

Pros:

  • Trail snowmobiles are beginner-friendly for new sledders looking to get into the sport.
  • Their lightweight frame makes riding and maneuvering less challenging as you get used to your snowmobile.
  • The speed is reasonable for beginners still learning the ropes. 

Cons:

  • You don’t get a lot of suspension or aggression out of a trail snowmobile, which can limit what you can do on one of these sleds.
  • You may find that if you ride your snowmobile often enough that you outgrow a trail snowmobile quickly. 

Sport Trail Snowmobile

If your first sled is a trail snowmobile, then after the first year or less, you might graduate to a sport trail snowmobile. These have far more sporty features compared to a trail snowmobile, more closely toeing the line between performance and touring snowmobiles than their entry-level brethren.

You still get the lightweight frame that makes the trail snowmobile so sought-after for beginners, but now you have boosted suspension as well. Riding on tough terrain will pose far less of a problem than when you owned a trail snowmobile, so you’re free to ride with your friends wherever you guys decide the trail takes you.

Riding with an aggressive style feels more natural to a sport trail snowmobile, and you can accelerate with more ease. Also, sport trail snowmobiles are faster, but they still come with a somewhat small engine, so your HP won’t be excessively high, maybe around 80 HP for some models. 

If you consider yourself more of an intermediate or a semi-experienced beginner, then a sport trail snowmobile makes the most sense for your skill level. 

Pros:

  • Sport trail snowmobiles include all the sporty features a trail snowmobile lacks.
  • You’re not sacrificing the lightweight frame of a trail snowmobile, so beginners moving onto sport trail snowmobiles will still feel comfortable.
  • You get all the aggression and suspension you wanted with a trail snowmobile, now sportier.

Cons:

  • Lack of speed is still an issue, even if a sport trail snowmobile is faster than a trail snowmobile.
  • More experienced riders might find even sport trail snowmobiles feel too amateur. 

Performance Snowmobile

Another type of sled to consider is the performance snowmobile. As the name tells you, a performance snowmobile prioritizes smooth rides, speed, and aggressiveness. If you were craving power with even a sport trail snowmobile, then you’ll finally feel that amazing power coursing through your performance snowmobile. This baby is built for riding.

Compared to trail snowmobiles and sport trail snowmobiles, a performance snowmobile has a bulkier frame. You will want to make sure you’ve got all the sledding basics down before hopping on a snowmobile like this.

The base speed of a performance snowmobile is 85 HP, but some models can go even faster than that. Their included suspension is heavy-duty for riding almost every terrain you’ll come across without any sacrifices to performance. 

With an electric reverse gear and an electric start, getting a performance snowmobile up and running won’t pose a huge challenge at all. You’ll also find that maneuverability is simple, so even if you have to make sudden turns or stops, this sled will do so right along with you. 

Pros

  • The high-speed, high-adrenaline thrills of a performance snowmobile are big selling points.
  • This sled can handle snowy and icy terrain thanks to its adept suspension system, which is made tough.
  • Maneuvering is a lot easier compared to trail snowmobiles. 

Cons

  • This type of snowmobile is not for beginners, but rather, more experienced sledders.
  • Although some performance snowmobiles can hit speeds of 100 miles per hour, that’s not necessarily true of all sleds in this category. 

Touring Snowmobile

Next, let’s talk about touring snowmobiles. If you’re the type of sledder who loves riding trails for hours upon hours at a time, then a touring snowmobile is perfect for you. This sled can traverse miles, even into the hundreds of miles, without wearing down on you. You only need the stamina to keep up!

The frame of the touring snowmobile is more sizable than the other sleds we’ve covered so you can bring a buddy or several on your snowmobiling adventures. Otherwise, you can use the extra space for storing cargo or gear. 

Since you’ll spend so long riding your touring snowmobile at a clip, this sled has lots of amenities for a more comfortable trip. These include suspension that’s as smooth as ice, seat heating, backrests, and a communications system that lets you play music so you can hum along to your favorite songs as you ride. 

You also get engine variety with a touring snowmobile so you can choose a somewhat slower sled if you don’t care about speed or a faster one if you’re a speed demon. That said, if you like to turn on a dime, you’ll find you can’t do that with a touring snowmobile due to its length and bulk. 

Pros:

  • By far the most luxurious type of sled we’ve covered, the touring snowmobile is made for your comfort. You won’t get that in a performance or trail snowmobile.
  • The speed variable means you can equip your touring snowmobile with the type of engine you need.
  • You don’t have to ride alone when using a touring snowmobile,  as you can bring some friends or family with you.

Cons:

  • The lack of maneuverability may pose a problem to some sledders, especially if you’re used to being able to make quick turns, spins, and stops on your old snowmobile.
  • The longer track length of a touring snowmobile may also take some getting used to. 

Mountain Snowmobile

As you may have guessed from the name, a mountain snowmobile is designed for those snowmobilers who want to ascend wintry heights on their sleds. To reach those dizzying peaks, a mountain snowmobile isn’t as heavy as a performance snowmobile, but it does have a track length like a touring snowmobile. This track, called a lug track, is somewhat shorter and a lot narrower though.

As the snowy powder gets thicker higher up on the trail, your mountain snowmobile will keep on keepin’ on. The same is true if the trail turns from hard ground to even harder mountainous terrain, giving you reliability and durability on your snowmobiling trips. However, in regular snow, you might have a harder time navigating on your mountain snowmobile.

The horsepower of a mountain snowmobile is higher than average so you could theoretically zip around. That said, as your elevation goes up, the horsepower typically decreases, so you might not enjoy as much of a speed boost as you were anticipating. You don’t have to worry if the mountain snowmobile is fast enough for your needs though, as we’re certain it is.

Pros:

  • Mountain snowmobiles are sporty-looking, often colorful, and the only choice for mountainous riding on your snowmobile.
  • The lightweight frame of a mountain snowmobile will feel somewhat familiar to you if you started with a trail snowmobile.
  • You can ride on brand-new terrain that was previously inaccessible to you if you own a mountain snowmobile.

Cons

  • Despite the speed of a mountain snowmobile, on higher trails, the speed loss means that a mountain snowmobile won’t feel all that much faster than a touring or performance snowmobile.
  • You cannot just ride on any type of trail with a mountain snowmobile. It must be mountainous terrain only or the sled won’t perform or handle well. 

Crossover Snowmobile

If you do want more versatility in your riding conditions than that which a mountain snowmobile offers, you might want to look into a crossover snowmobile. This sled has crossover in the name because it can handle powdery snow and trails as well as almost anything in between.

The long track of a crossover makes it adept at riding through powdery snow without getting stuck. If your buddies often have to find an alternate trail because their sleds can’t handle all that powder, you can motor right through on your crossover. which is pretty cool.

Uneven terrain won’t shake the crossover snowmobile, so if you’d prefer to go off the beaten trail like through the woods, this is the snowmobile for the job. A boosted suspension system is also ready for wherever your desires take you.

You get plenty of maneuverability and aggression for pushing through in tough spots as well as speed appropriate for off-road riding. 

Pros:

  • Crossover snowmobiles are an off-roader’s dream sled.
  • The tracks of a crossover can handle powdery snow while the other features of this snowmobile make trail riding easy, giving you the kind of versatility you wish every sled had.
  • You can also get aggressive and maneuver with ease if a situation calls for it when riding a crossover.

Cons:

  • If you don’t off-road, then a crossover snowmobile isn’t really for you. 
  • The longer track of this and several other snowmobile types will take some adapting on your end. 

Utility Snowmobile

The last type of sled we want to discuss is a utility snowmobile. Named after their utilitarian usage, a utility snowmobile is meant for doing heavy-duty work. You get the most engine power out of all the snowmobiles on this list so you won’t struggle to tow and carry loads of very high weights with a utility snowmobile. 

The wide shape of the utility snowmobile makes it easily distinguishable, as does its heaviness and long body. These sleds aren’t so bulky that riding becomes a chore, but you are not going to have nearly as much performance as you would with a lighter-weight snowmobile.

Hop on your utility snowmobile if conditions are especially tough, such as when the snow is heavy. You can just as easily shift into trail-riding on a utility snowmobile without difficulty. An electric reverse and electric start help somewhat with maneuverability, but this area is certainly lacking.

If you ever need to pull toboggans, work sleds, or even a buddy’s snowmobile that broke down, you’ll be happy to have a utility snowmobile.

Pros:

  • This heavy-duty snowmobile can tow or carry whatever you need on your sled, be that another snowmobile or cargo and gear for a day out.
  • The engine power of a utility snowmobile is crazy good to enhance that towing power.
  • An electric start makes it easy to get your utility snowmobile revved up and ready to go.

Cons:

  • You don’t get nearly the same maneuverability freedom as you do with other, lighter types of snowmobiles.
  • You’ll also notice a significant drop in performance in a utility snowmobile because that’s just not an area these sleds are meant to excel at. 

How to Choose the Right Type of Snowmobile for You

We just highlighted 7 awesome types of snowmobiles. If you’re debating whether you want a utility snowmobile or a touring snowmobile, allow us to help make your decision a little easier. Here are some factors you’ll definitely want to keep in mind as you narrow down your choices. 

Cost

How much money can you afford to put towards a snowmobile right now? What about in several months? Trail snowmobiles are going to be among the cheapest since they’re made for beginners. That said, the sled manufacturer you choose will also make a big difference in how much you pay. 

Do your research into different brands and models of the type of snowmobile you wish to own. Then, set your budget and search for a sled that’s within that budget. Don’t be afraid to go used if that’s easier for you financially, but take many more precautions when buying used versus new. 

Ease of Use

Another factor you have to consider is how easy (or not) your snowmobile is to use. Many of the sleds we talked about feature electric starts so you won’t struggle to turn your snowmobile on. However, the bigger, bulkier sleds such as utility snowmobiles aren’t exactly turn-friendly, nor are mountain snowmobiles or touring snowmobiles.

If you want to be able to turn, stop, and even do tricks, then you’ll want something like a trail, sport trail, or performance snowmobile, as these are more your speed. 

How Often You Plan to Ride

Are you the type who spends every nice day you can on your snowmobile? Perhaps you ride only seldomly. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with either, but you certainly wouldn’t want to spend the money on a touring snowmobile when you ride five times a year. It just doesn’t make sense. 

Where You Plan to Ride

You also have to think about your favorite type of snowmobiling terrain as you choose your ideal type of sled. If you stay on the trail all the time, then you can use a touring, trail, sport trail, performance, or even a utility snowmobile. If you like off-roading, then a mountain snowmobile or crossover will suit you perfectly. 

Speed and Performance

Speed isn’t necessarily everything, but it is important. On the list of snowmobile types we discussed, the max speed is commensurate to the purposes of the snowmobile. For instance, a utility snowmobile needs more power than speed to lug around heavy cargo. A mountain snowmobile though must travel faster, as its speed will begin dropping as the altitude goes up.

If it’s performance you’re after, then skip the utility snowmobile. Mountain snowmobiles probably won’t perform as well as you want either, unless of course you exclusively ride on mountainous terrain. 

Conclusion 

You have your pick among 7 types of snowmobiles: trail, trail sport, touring, performance, mountain, crossover, and utility. Each of these sleds has its own unique purposes, such as touring snowmobiles for long trips, mountain snowmobiles for mountainous terrain, and crossovers for off-roading. 

With all the handy info in this article, you can make an educated decision on what the best type of snowmobile is for you. 

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Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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