Three Men driving their Snowmobiles

Snowmobile: Everything You Need to Know

Snowmobiling is pretty much the same as jet skiing, but as the name suggests, it is used on snow. The snowmobile doesn’t just provide a thrilling sensation, but it also lets us explore landscapes that are hard to reach by foot, ski, or snowshoe. If you want to know everything about snowmobiling, you are in the right place! Throughout this article, we will give you all the information about this activity, and we’ll also share the best spots in which you definitely need to try snowmobiling.

Snowmobile, what is it?

To know everything about snowmobiling let’s start with the basics. A Snowmobile, also called a snow machine or ski-doo, is a little motorized vehicle that moves on crawlers and that has skis in the front, controlled by a steering wheel. This machine doesn’t need any specific road, since the crawlers make the way. Snowmobiles can go anywhere, which gives you a feeling of total freedom. Plus it is easy to drive, at least when you have a reasonable speed! Most people can drive it without any problem.

The first snowmobiles were created in 1936 by a Canadian manufacturer. At the time, they were called “snow flyers” and were derived from models previously known as the Fort-T. These snow flyers could have up to 7 passengers and were used to travel in between the small villages in the northern Canadian area. The snowmobiles, as we know them today, only transport a limited amount of people, and they weren’t sold by the same manufacture until the 1950s, but they were also known as “ski-doo”s. These engines were actually supposed to be called “Ski-Dog”, but because of a typing error, it became “ski-doo”!

Since the 1960s, we’ve seen important growth in the snowmobile industry,  and today, it isn’t only used by small Canadian or Scandinavian communities, but it is also used to entertain people. The snowmobiles created nowadays are usually cylindered from 500 to 1000 cm3 and are used to having only a driver and a passenger only. Their power is pretty much equal to a big motorcycle, and they will take you up the hills very easily. In some cold countries, this snow engine has completely replaced dog sledding!

How to ride a snowmobile?

Snowmobiling in Tignes on our list of  everything about snowmobiling

You must be at least 18 and own an up-to-date driving licence to be able to drive a snowmobile. And before driving this engine, it would be best if you already had a previous experience driving a motorcycle or a scooter. To be a passenger on the snow machine though, the minimum age is often 12 years. This can, however, depend on the instructors, so it’s best if you ask the professional for more information when traveling with children.

Generally, a snowmobile can reach up to 60 km per hour, which is just enough for you to get an adrenaline rush while enjoying the views. 

Driving the snowmobile is quite easy because, unlike cars and motorcycles, you don’t need to change the gear shift. There is only a “start button”, a throttle handle, and breaks. But you must wear a helmet, that will be given to you by the instructor.

Snowmobile in Iceland on our list of  everything about snowmobiling

Where can I rent a ski-doo?

Unlike jet skis, you can’t rent a snowmobile in France and go on a free ride. In most places, the instructor has to be with you. That is because the mountains can be dangerous and there are only certain hours in the day when you can use the snowmobile. So trust your instructor and listen to the advice he/she will give you, so you can have a wonderful time!

But where can I rent a snowmobile, and which are the best ski-doo spots around the world? There are for example Rovaniemi in Finland, Tromso in Norway, Gulfoss in Iceland, and Kiruna in Sweden. In these places, it is pretty easy to rent a snowmobile as it’s a very common vehicle there and you have fewer restrictions than in other parts of Europe. You can have long rides in between lakes or in snow-covered forests.

In France for example, there are also many places where you can rent snowmobiles and go on rides but often, it is the case when the ski slopes are closed. Most of the rides are done at night making you enjoy the particular environment. Here are a few places you can practice snowmobiling in the Alps or the Pyrenees: Chamrousse, Serre-Chevalier, Auron, Les Sybelles, Saint-Lary-Soulan, Isola 2000, Barège, Tignes, La Plagne… 

Here you will have all of our snowmobile destinations.

Things you must know before going on a snowmobile excursion

Not only should you have an up-to-date drivers’ licence, but you must have no medical contraindications (back problems, not fully recovered sprains, pregnancy, vision problems that could affect your driving…).

It is also very important to say that good physical health is needed for this activity. The snowmobiles are very heavy engines, and you might need to drive while standing up on some of the hard roads you take. We might think that driving a ski-doo is easy, but you shouldn’t underestimate the strength you need to drive this 300 kg machine! Plus, you will be driving for hours in the cold, so you need extra strength to drive correctly.

Speaking of cold, you must absolutely wear clothes that will keep you very warm (a layer of heat and one resistant to water and snow) and most importantly don’t forget your gloves! It would be ideal to have winter motorcycle gloves for maximum heat and protection. But don’t forget to contact the professional and to ask them about the material you will need. 

Finally, don’t forget that most rental places will need you to leave a security deposit. Even though the driver is responsible for his engine and for any material accident during the ride. The professional can claim the money for the damages. But most professionals will give you specific insurance, although most franchises can’t provide you with one.

Snowmobile in Iceland during sunset on our list of  everything about snowmobiling

The Best places to go Snowmobiling

Now that you probably know everything about snowmobiling, we will discuss the best places you can go to have the best snowmobiling experience. The magic formula for an unforgettable ride is enough snow + beautiful sceneries!

Concerning the best locations, we obviously recommend the very cold countries like Canada or Greenland. But we have a preference for these places: Tromsø in Norway, La Plagne in the French Alps, and Reykjavík in Iceland. In this last spot, you can also admire the aurora borealis while driving.

But here you will find all the destinations we have for you to go snowmobiling!

Ski-dooo under the aurora borealis

To finish off here’s a little fun fact: Did you know that it is possible to do tricks with a Snowmobile? Today, Snowmobile Freestyle is an actual sport!

If you read this article till the end, you, not only know almost everything about snowmobiling, but chances are you really are interested in going on a snowmobile excursion. So you might also like other activities that involve snow. You can take a look at the best activities you can try in Tromsø, Norway!

But if you are looking for another activity involving snow and beautiful sceneries, here is Everything You Need to Know About Dog Sledding.

P.S: the pictures were all taken by Mountaineers of Iceland and Evolution 2 Tinges.