How do You Snowmobile in Deep Snow? [Top 10 Riding Tips]

Riding a snowmobile in deep snow can be frustrating the first time. For your convenience, we’ve compiled the best 10 riding tips to ride your sled in powder like a pro! These are as follows:

  1. Choose the right sled
  2. Prepare and practice
  3. Stand whenever you can
  4. Look ahead and have a plan
  5. Learn how to maneuver
  6. Learn how to stop
  7. Keep up your momentum
  8. Learn how to get unstuck
  9. Know your limits
  10. Respect private property

If you want to learn more about these and how to ride a snowmobile in the mountains, keep reading!

How do You Snowmobile in Deep Snow?

1. Choose the Right Sled

If you want to regularly ride in deep snow, it’s essential to choose the right snowmobile. Small vintage sleds, 4-strokes, and short-track sleds are not recommended for this purpose. This is because they sink much easier into deep snow.

There are special off-trail sleds as well as crossover models on the market that are specially designed for deep-snow conditions. They come with lightweight chassis, powerful 2-stroke engines, and with long tracks for better floatation. If you are a beginner off-trail rider, it’s recommended that you choose a track around 145”-154”.

These tracks already do a good job in powder but still offer better maneuverability compared to the longest (159”-175”) tracks.

2. Prepare and Practice

You don’t just have to choose the right sled, but you must also adjust and customize it based on your needs.

It’s essential that you adjust the handlebar, the brake and throttle controls, so you can reach them comfortably.

This is very important as you will be “playing” with them all the time. To make it easier you should keep one or two of your fingers on the brake lever at all times.

It’s also highly recommended to carry avalanche equipment on your sled at all times. This should include a shovel, probes, and a beacon. Make sure you know how to use this gear too!

You may want to wear the appropriate waterproof clothing and accessories. As you can easily get stuck in the snow it’s impossible to know how many hours you will end up spending out there!

As riding a snowmobile in deep snow is not easy, be prepared for a lot of practice. If it’s possible, try to ride your sled close to your house at first. This will provide some safety during your first trips.

Once you’ve built up some confidence in powder, you can head to more distant areas.

3. Stand Whenever You Can

To properly ride a snowmobile in deep snow you have to stand whenever you can. You should also bend your knees and relax your arms. This is important as riding in powder requires you to continuously shift your weight from side-to-side:

4. Look Ahead and Make a Plan

Another important trick is to keep your head up, look out further ahead, and plan your route all the time. This is essential as unlike trail riding, you now have to be prepared for sudden changes in the terrain, trees, rocks, and so on.

Before you reach these obstacles, you should prepare your route through them. If you don’t know where you want to go, you can’t respond to changing conditions!

Best practice is to think and plan 5-10 seconds in front of you. In this way, you can always anticipate upcoming changes and your sled’s needs.

5. Learn How to Maneuver

Cornering in deep snow is like carving with a jet ski. If you feel your sled wants to roll over, you should shift your weight to balance it out. As conditions change very quickly you have to play with your weight a lot.

If you want to make sharp turns in deep snow, you can try placing both of your feet on one side of the sled for better balance. You can see this cornering technique in this video:

How deep your sled goes into the snow always depends on how aggressively you turn. Keep in mind that the sharper the turns the more aerobics you need to do.

Be careful, because if you ride your sled hard, it can wear you out too fast!

6. Learn How to Stop

Surprisingly, you also have to learn how to stop a snowmobile in deep snow. This is because if you stop your sled in powder it can sink in a matter of seconds!

That’s why you always have to stop on hard-packed surfaces.

It could be tricky if you just carved on an untouched field and want to stop. If this happens don’t worry, just make a full circle and stop on your own track.

It’s also recommended that you don’t stop on an incline. But if it’s unavoidable, always point the sled downhill, as it makes the start easier.

7. Keep Up Your Momentum

To properly ride your sled in and out of the trail, the key is to keep your momentum up at all times.

This is because the momentum is what always keeps the sled on top of power. This means going at too low a speed can cause your sled to sink.

Also, try to avoid very aggressive accelerations from low speeds and on steep slopes, as it can easily spin your track.

If you feel you’ve applied too much throttle and the snowmobile starts to sink, just release the throttle. This trick usually helps to bring the sled back to the surface of the snow. Once it’s on the surface again, just hit the throttle and move on.

Another technique to continuously stay in motion is to blip the throttle instead of letting it return to idle. This makes your engine more responsive.

8. Learn How to Get Unstuck

One of the biggest concerns about off-trail sledding is getting stuck into the snow.

Believe it or not, even professional sledders get stuck in deep snow occasionally. This means if you ride in powder, accept that you will get stuck sooner or later.

That’s why you have to learn upfront how to get your sled unstuck. As you won’t be able to lift a 500-pound sled out of the hole, your only chance is to ride it out.

In a nutshell, you have to remove the snow from under the front of the snowmobile. Then, you have to make an exit track by walking on the snow in front of the sled.

Once the track is done, apply some throttle and slowly ride out of the hole.

You can see the whole process in this video:

9. Know Your Limits

To ride safely it’s essential to know your limits, especially if you ride in the mountains. The tricks of the most experienced riders may amaze you, but you should always be mindful of your skills.

Keeping safety in mind never push yourself beyond your limits!

It’s also a good idea to learn from professionals.

In this post, we’ve compiled some of the best off-trail sledding tutorial videos. Beyond these, you can find many other helpful videos on YouTube. Don’t hesitate to watch them to pick up on the basics!

If you feel you still need some help, you should consider taking a course at a riding school.

This is a great way to learn the basics of off-trail riding, and the skills learned will also make you a better sledder in general.

10. Respect Private Property

Finally, it’s very important that you respect private property.

It’s a growing problem that some sledders leave the trails and damage other’s properties. They think that riding in the fields won’t cause any damage during winter, but they are wrong.

This is because certain crops have already been planted in the fall, and snowmobiles can cause significant damage in them.

To avoid these issues, always check the rules and regulations and obey them. If you are not sure about the local rules, best practice is to stay on the trail.

You should only exit the trails where you know sledding is permitted!


Riding a snowmobile in deep snow can be challenging the first time. The 10 basic tips of this unique riding technique are as follows:

  1. Choose the right sled
  2. Prepare and practice
  3. Stand whenever you can
  4. Look ahead and have a plan
  5. Learn how to maneuver
  6. Learn how to stop
  7. Keep up your momentum
  8. Learn how to get unstuck
  9. Know your limits
  10. Respect private property

As the final word, the most important thing is to always stay safe and legal on the slopes!


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