What Is a Mountain Snowmobile?


You’ve been reading about different types of snowmobiles lately, and one kind that has caught your eye is the mountain snowmobile. It has a rugged, sporty look that’s certainly appealing to you. Still, before you commit to buying one, you want more information. Namely, what is a mountain snowmobile?

A mountain snowmobile is a type of sled made for ascending mountainous terrain. The design of a mountain snowmobile is narrow and long, especially compared to your standard snowmobile. Besides its ability to scale hills, this snowmobile can also handle heavy snow powder. 

If you want to learn even more about the mountain snowmobile, you’ve come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know, from the features of a mountain snowmobile, the benefits, pricing, and even a few mountain snowmobile models if you want to do some shopping. You’re definitely not going to want to miss this! 

What Is a Mountain Snowmobile and What Are Its Features?

First, let’s elaborate more on the definition of a mountain snowmobile from the intro. A mountain snowmobile is one of several snowmobile types. The others are performance, crossover, utility, touring, and entry-level snowmobiles. 

As those names suggest, the type of sled you choose should match what you’d prefer to do on your snowmobile. For instance, if you want to ride for long periods, you’d want a touring snowmobile. If you want to push your sled to the limits in terms of speed and tricks, you’d need a performance snowmobile.

For riding on mountainous terrain, a mountain snowmobile is the only safe and reliable sled choice. To explain why that is, let’s take a closer look at the features of a mountain snowmobile.

Narrow, Long Body 

Since the hills of a mountainside can sometimes be a pretty tight fit, you don’t want to be lugging up them on a wide, heavy snowmobile. Mountain sleds are accommodative of their purpose with a chassis that doesn’t add too much weight or bulk to the snowmobile. Said chassis is typically far longer than what you’d find in other snowmobiles so you have the balance and the handling needed to get up a tall hill.

Durable Handling

Speaking of handling, seeing as how you’re riding a rocky, snowy trail, a mountain snowmobile has to handle incredibly well. Fortunately, it does just that. However, you will notice a decrease in handling capability once you take your mountain snowmobile off the hillside and onto the trail. These sleds can traverse trails decently enough, but it’s a little bit tougher to do because trail-riding isn’t the intended purpose of a mountain snowmobile. 

High Horsepower

If you need to gun it up a part of the mountain, you can rely on your mountain snowmobile to accelerate thanks to its higher-than-average horsepower. This horsepower boost isn’t simply for speed, but due to the changes that altitude can cause to horsepower on a snowmobile. You see, as your elevation increases, your horsepower decreases, so your mountain snowmobile must have high HP to accommodate. You won’t be zipping through the mountain, but rather, riding at a pace expected of your typical snowmobile, maybe somewhat faster. 

Tough Lug Tracks

One of the most noticeable features of a mountain snowmobile, the lug tracks are for more than just looks. These tracks are extra-long and tough so maneuvering through thick, powdery snow on your mountain snowmobile is no problem. 

What Are the Benefits of Using a Mountain Snowmobile?

If you’re still not sure if a mountain snowmobile is for you, then check out this list of benefits. It just may convince you! 

Riding a Mountain Snowmobile Is a Great Means of Exercise

In late 2018, the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations published a snowmobiles report entitled Snowmobiling and Physical Activity – Recent Research. As that name alludes, this report was all about how much exercise you can get when riding a snowmobile. 

To compile the information in the report, the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations looked at mountain snowmobiling, backcountry snowmobiling, and groomed trail snowmobiling, but we’ll focus on the former.

The report mentions the metabolic equivalent of task necessary for riding a snowmobile, or the MET. The MET is a means of gauging how much energy you spend doing something physical compared to the energy you use when relaxing. This value is typically expressed numerically. 

According to the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations, you spend 5.6 METs riding a snowmobile, which is not too shabby. The report states that for good health, it’s recommended you expend 3 METs every week, or 150 minutes of exercise in all. 

You might use even more METs when riding a mountain snowmobile. The report adds that “mountain riding requires riders to spend a large portion of their time standing and shifting their weight as they lean to turn the snowmobile in deep snow, and to maintain balance on hills.” This makes mountain snowmobiling much more physically advantageous than trail riding and even backcountry sledding.

Mountain Snowmobiles Look Cooler Than Other Sleds

Snowmobiles are not all about performance, but looks as well. The mountain snowmobile delivers in the looks department in a big way. The long, streamlined chassis of a mountain snowmobile, those prominent, mean-looking tracks, and the neon, Day-Glo colors combine into one awesome-looking sled. All your fellow snowmobiling buddies will definitely be jealous! 

You Can Go on New and Unexplored Terrain on a Mountain Snowmobile

Riding a snowmobile never gets boring, per se, but if you stick to the same trails, you might find yourself yearning for something new. Trying new trails satiates the urge…at least for a little while, then you’re off searching for something else that feels fresh and invigorating.

With a mountain snowmobile, it’s like unlocking a new map in a video game. You can now do something you couldn’t with any other type of snowmobile, safely ride up and down hills and mountains. You’ll love the off-roading freedom afforded to you through a mountain snowmobile! 

What Is the Average Price of a Mountain Snowmobile?

You’re certainly intrigued, and more and more, you’re beginning to lean towards buying a mountain snowmobile. One area that you’re still curious about is the price. How much will you pay for this specialized sled?

The average price for a brand-new mountain snowmobile is about $15,000. Considering that other types of sleds may be somewhere in the ballpark of $10,000 and up, this isn’t all that much more expensive. 

What Are Some of the Best Mountain Snowmobiles on the Market?

Next, let’s talk about today’s most powerful and impressive mountain snowmobiles from your favorite sled brands, including Yamaha, Arctic Cat, and Ski-Doo. All models are 2021 versions unless otherwise indicated.

Yamaha SXVenom Mountain 

Our first suggestion for a top mountain snowmobile is the Yamaha SXVenom Mountain, which starts at $8,499. This appealing mountain snowmobile in Yamaha Racing Blue has the cool-looking chassis you want and the performance you’d expect out of a Yamaha sled.

Its two-stroke, mid-performance, single-cylinder, EFI engine with liquid cooling at 397ccs has a three-stage exhaust power valve and computerized ECM ignition. A digital gauge indicates fuel levels, RPM, and speed level.

Yamaha equipped the SXVenom Mountain with its new and improved Mountain Single-Beam Suspension System. This includes a rear suspension that’s 12 inches with a single-beam skid frame that improves handling in deeper snow. The single rail features a midpoint single pivot for better handling and flexibility.

The Challenger Track is a generous 146 inches and includes single-rail skid-frames for slicing through the snow. 

Polaris RMK KHAOS 155 850

If you’re more of a Polaris fan, their RMK KHAOS 155 850 is another of the best mountain snowmobiles around. It starts at $14,699. Weighing 420 pounds dry, the RMK KHAOS 155 850 has a fuel capacity of 11.5 gallons. It measures 43.5 inches wide, 131 inches long, and 49.1 inches tall. 

The two-cylinder, liquid-cooled Patriot 850 engine at 840ccs is a powerhouse. Then there’s the KHAOS rear suspension system, which boosts control, handling, and traction all at once. Also part of the suspension system is the PRO-RMK React Suspension, which has a stance of 36 to 38 inches as well as forged spindles, reinforced A-arms, and a sway bar.

Polaris’ AXYS chassis lessens drag and helps you ascend mountains with ease. You’ll also ride smoother thanks to the SnowCheck Exclusive 8 Series Track with redesigned lug and pitch to cut down on your inertia. If you need flotation or lift, you’ll get it with these tracks, and right away too.  

Ski-Doo Summit X 

Change the way you go snowmobiling with the Ski-Doo Summit X, which starts at $13,699. This sleek-looking sled available in black or blue with white is 54.9 inches tall, up to 129.9 inches long, and up to 43.7 inches wide. 

Its Rotax 850 E-TEC Turbo engine, a Ski-Doo standard, is a two-stroke, liquid-cooled, two-cylinder turbocharged eRAVE engine with 849ccs of displacement. You can reach a stunning horsepower of 165 HP on the Summit X! 

The suspension system includes RAS 3 front suspension with HPG Plus front shocks and tMotion rear suspension with rear shocks also from HPG Plus. Ski-Doo also includes a new ski stopper and ski spindle with the Summit X for riding over rocky terrain, navigating steep parts of the mountain, and ascending sidehills. The polypropylene frame makes the Summit X 6.2 pounds lighter than other Ski-Doo snowmobiles for awesome handling. 

Go ahead, tackle that tall hill with deep snow. The Summit X has a reduced handlebar strap height, a smaller handlebar diameter, and a low seat so you can continue riding in snowy conditions even if that snow gets pretty deep. 

Yamaha Mountain Max LE 165

Here’s a second great Yamaha mountain sled that should be on your radar, the Mountain Max LE 165. Starting at $14,249, this sled is also available in Yamaha’s trademark Racing Blue. It boasts a high-performance two-stroke engine with 794ccs of displacement as well as an electronic start for quick, convenient mountain riding whenever the urge strikes.

The Mountain Single Beam Suspension System is back in the Mountain Max LE 165. This time, the suspension system boasts a rear suspension that’s 15 inches for riding steeper hills and deeper snow. The Mountain Single Beam Suspension also has the single-rail midpoint pivot just like the other Yamaha mountain sled.

The Stealth Control System included with the Mountain Max LE 165 is built within the handlebars for letting you quickly and easily reverse your gear shifts at the push of a button. You can also toggle the thumb warmers and hand warmers; yes, you get both. The stop switch and the throttle lever are on the other side of the handlebars for easy access as well. 

Arctic Cat M Mountain Cat Alpha One

The last top-of-the-line mountain snowmobile we want to discuss is the Arctic Cat M Mountain Cat Alpha One, which starts at $15,745. This sled is powered by an 8000 C-TEC 2, two-stroke, liquid-cooled, two-cylinder engine with 794ccs of displacement. 

Arctic Cat equips the Mountain Cat Alpha One with its own Arctic Mountain Suspension or AMS system. That system includes Fox ski shocks, typically the Float 3 iQS or Float 3 QS3 as well as ALPHA-ONE rear suspension.

The sled itself is 50 inches tall, up to 137 inches long, and up to 44.5 inches wide. The Mountain Cat Alpha One uses Power Claw tracks that dig and grip into the snow so traction never becomes an issue. That track is 15 wide inches and up to 165 inches long. 

Should You Buy a Mountain Snowmobile?

You know quite a lot about mountain snowmobiles at this point. Now it’s time to ponder an important question. Is a mountain snowmobile the right pick for you? That depends on a few factors.

Do you enjoy riding at high altitudes and steep terrain? If so, then using any other snowmobile for this kind of sledding is a poor idea. Mountain snowmobiles have the horsepower, clawing tracks, and narrow shape for high-thrills, high-altitude snowmobiling. 

Do you like your snowmobile lightweight and with bright colors and cool designs? Then a mountain snowmobile checks all the boxes. Remember though, you can’t just buy a mountain snowmobile for its looks. Trail riding on a mountain snowmobile will deliver a lesser experience compared to other types of snowmobiles out there. Stick to the mountains with your sled and you’ll have a much better time. 

Final Thoughts 

Mountain snowmobiles are specially formulated for ascending tall hills and mountainous terrain. Their gripping tracks can traverse deep snow, their long and narrow bodies are lightweight enough for climbing hills, and their horsepower keeps your performance reliable even at higher altitudes.

If you’re thinking of buying a mountain snowmobile, we hope this article helped you decide to do it! 

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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