Since many states prohibit everyday road use of your snowmobile, you’re left with no choice but to transport your sled on a heavy-duty vehicle, most often a truck. How do you get your snowmobile from the ground to the truck?
Here are some options for lifting your snowmobile:
- Buy or make a lift system
- Use a ramp
- Rely on gravity and park on a hill
- Lift the snowmobile manually
Ahead, we’ll discuss these 4 lifting options in greater detail, recommending products and tips that will make your life easier along the way. Once you get the hang of lifting your snowmobile, you’ll find that you’ll have more options for taking your sled further!
Methods for Lifting Your Snowmobile
Your first option for properly lifting your snowmobile is to use a traditional lift system. This device is often made of heavy-duty steel finished in a powder coat for more durability. The average lift can hold at least 1,000 pounds, although some can go over that.
You have two styles of lift systems to choose from for your sled: a lever lift stand or a jack stand.
A jack stand lets you select the height you want to raise your snowmobile to (such as to the bed of your truck) and then elevates your sled to that height per the lift jack. Most lift jacks are made of strong materials such as anodized aluminum so rusting isn’t an issue. Lift cushions come coated in rubber to protect your sled, and some jack stands also include tip-up supports if the track of your snowmobile is longer than average.
Your other option, a snowmobile lever lift stand, is for subtly raising or lowering your sled. Besides getting your snowmobile onto a truck, a lever lift stand also comes in handy if you’re prepping your snowmobile for offseason maintenance, adjusting the suspension, working on the track, or taking care of other basic upkeep.
If you’re looking for a lever lift stand system, we quite like this one from Extreme Max on Amazon. This highly-rated lift stand also comes with a handlebar cup if that’s easier for you. The lift system can raise your sled up to 33 inches. It includes a steel frame with powder coating as well as hardware that’s reinforced with zinc.
You do have to take care of the installation yourself, but this lift stand system bolts together so the installation job won’t be too tough. The bumper cradle, which comes dipped in vinyl, as well as the cushioned handle, are two other standouts.
The Big Red Torin hydraulic powersports lift jack, also on Amazon, is another great lift system to consider. It too has a powder-coat finish, this time in bright, appealing red. Its jack bears wide loads so you can use this lift system for vehicles like UTVs, ATVs, motorcycles, and of course, your snowmobile.
A pulling bar, bottle jack, and dual swivel casters which lock let you set your snowmobile exactly how you want it. Further, you can choose from up to six different locking positions. Start at a height of 5 1/8 inches and raise your sled all the way to 16 1/8 inches on this lift system, which can hold 1,500 pounds or ¾ a ton.
Some snowmobilers also make their own lift systems from scratch. This isn’t necessarily an easy project, but it is possible. Here is a video courtesy of SLEDSTORE on YouTube that shows you what the job entails.
Your second option for lifting your snowmobile is to use a ramp.
Your snowmobile ramp must have panels on the sides to accommodate the ski runners. Using any other type of ramp might transport your sled to your truck, but often at the expense of the runners coming off or breaking. The ramp should be extendable as well.
If your ramp doesn’t include one, then it helps to add a chain or ratchet strap for securing your ramp to your truck’s hitch. Then, to properly use your snowmobile ramp, make sure your sled is aligned with the ski and track portions of your ramp. Otherwise, you could tip right off on your sled, ruining the ramp and–much more importantly–your snowmobile.
You will have to sit on your snowmobile as the driver and gun it to get it up the ramp. Using enough speed to ascend the ramp but not too much is crucial, so that’s a careful balance you have to get down pat. If you don’t, you could speed up too much and end up smashing through the back glass of your truck. It can happen; just check out this video!
This Black Ice snowmobile loading ramp on Amazon is an Amazon’s Choice product. The entire ramp is 54 inches wide by 94 inches long. When compacted, the ramp’s width is only 17.5 inches so you can take it with you anywhere.
The ramp is made of durable aluminum with a serrated rung section in the center so you can feel confident about your snowmobile’s tracks gripping right into the ramp. Dual cam buckle straps for securing your sled will keep your setup in one place as you drive to your destination. All attaching points are made of rubber too to prevent chafing your sled’s finish.
The Black Ice loading ramp also includes two carbide ski glides that are low-resistance yet generously wide at 12 inches each. Made for 4×4 trucks, this loading ramp can hold 1,500 pounds.
Another option to consider is the Titan ramp, also on Amazon. This ramp is 54 inches wide and 94 inches long. Its aluminum base is lightweight yet tough, and the ramp itself is 75 pounds. It includes the straps you need for securing your sled as well as ramp stud protectors. Like the Black Ice version, this Titan ramp can compress when it’s not in use. At that point, its width is 17 inches and its length is 54 inches.
Again, if you’re more of the DIY type, you can build your own snowmobile ramp. This YouTube video illustrates how it’s done.
Let’s say that your budget is a bit low right now. Maybe you’re already away from home and you’ve decided you need to load your snowmobile onto your truck, but you don’t have a lift system or a ramp. What do you do?
Well, what some snowmobilers of Reddit recommend is a free option that could be suitable for your sled. What you want to do is park your snowmobile near a hill or ditch so your sled’s rear is on the ditch or hill’s opposite side. Then, you’d align your truck with where your sled is and, with a bit of a boost, help your snowmobile onto the truck bed.
Make sure that as you do this, you lift your snowmobile high enough that the tracks don’t collide with the ground or the hill or ditch.
Your last option for lifting your snowmobile is to pick it up and load it onto your truck bed using nothing more than some muscle and elbow grease. If your sled is lightweight, like under 500 pounds, then this option is feasible. Once you get into heavier-duty behemoth sleds though, good lucking lifting one off the ground.
Also, even if you do have a 500-pound sled or one that weighs less than that, it’s still not a good idea for you to attempt lifting it yourself. You’ll want at least another buddy to help you. It’s also ideal if you use some sort of ramp to put your sled on, this way you don’t have to lift the snowmobile to the height of your truck bed. That can be pretty tough if you’re carrying several hundred pounds between you and another person or two!
This is by far the riskiest lifting option, so you should only attempt it if you have the utmost confidence in your abilities. As you can imagine, if you or your partner were to drop their end of the snowmobile, the external and internal damage that would cause could be quite costly. That becomes more of the case from the higher your drop your sled.
How to Secure Your Snowmobile to the Vehicle
Through one or more of the above methods, you got your snowmobile onto the bed of your truck. Before you set off for your trip to the riding trail, you must secure your sled. Otherwise, as soon as you hit the gas pedal, your snowmobile will go flying off the back of your truck, crashing into whatever’s behind you. Your sled would likely be toast, not to mention you could destroy other cars in your wake.
If you’re buying one of the two snowmobile ramps we recommended earlier, those both come with safety straps. Otherwise, you’ll have to purchase safety straps separately. You want tie-down straps rather than towing straps, as there is a difference. The former is made for securing your sled while the latter is for pulling it.
Besides tie-down straps, some snowmobilers take their sled’s security one step further with a tie-down bar. The Super Clamp on Amazon is one such good option. This tie-down system has everything you need for securing your sled, such as a deck hook and a 12-inch adjustable mounter, both from Supertrac. You can even use the included padlock to keep thieves from snatching your snowmobile.
Yes, the Super Clamp is a bit expensive, but you’ll use it often, so it’s very much worth the money.
Once you have your Super Clamp or a similar solution, you can attach it to the front skis and then use ratchet straps on the rear skis. Double-check, even triple-check the security of your connections. The looser they are, the more your suspension system can move as you drive, which can jostle it and potentially damage suspension components. Only when you’re confident that your snowmobile is tied down tighter than Fort Knox should you get into the truck and drive.
Snowmobile Unloading Tips
You just got to the trail and you’re ready for a day of snowmobiling. Now you want to unload your snowmobile so you can get started, but how?
The best and safest option is to follow the above steps but backward. So you’d want to bring your lift system and then set it up at the site. Raise the lift so it’s at the height of the truck bed, guide your snowmobile onto the lift, and then lower it down to ground level (or thereabouts).
If you have a ramp, then place the ramp near the truck bed and slowly guide your snowmobile down the ramp. The keyword there is slowly, by the way, as too much speed here could cause the sled to roll down the ramp and careen into whatever’s closest. We know you’re in a rush to get riding, but do take the necessary precautions.
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When transporting your snowmobile, it’s best to use a truck with a generously-sized bed. There, you can attach your lift system or your snowmobile ramp to get your sled onto the back of the truck. Make sure you use straps and a tie-down system so your sled can’t move too much, then you’re free to hit the road!