The sled deck vs. trailer debate is one of the biggest arguments among snowmobile fans. Some say sled decks are better as they are maintenance-free and offer better maneuverability. Meanwhile, others claim that trailers are the only way to transport snowmobiles. This is because trailers can be used for many other purposes, can be hooked up quickly if needed, and loading the sled onto them is much easier.
Beyond these major factors, there are many pros and cons on each side. If you are hesitating on what to buy, a sled deck, or a trailer this post is for you.
For your convenience, we’ve gathered all of the important factors under one roof!
No useless affiliate links, no fluff, just the solid info you need!
If you want to simply transport you sled on the back of your truck, don’t miss our step-by-step guide on how to load and tie it down on the truck bed!
Sled Deck vs. Trailer – The Pros and Cons
Before we drill into the details, let’s look at the pros and cons on each side in a nutshell!
Pros of Trailers
- they can be easily hooked/unhooked
- low height, which means easier loading and unloading
- you can use them for hauling other vehicles (tractors, lawn mowers, etc.)
- larger trailers offer more capacity, up to 3-5 sleds and a lot of gear
- enclosed trailers are also available for more protection and security
- low center of gravity
- ideal for the largest long track sleds
Cons of Trailers
- higher costs (registration fees, insurance, inspection every year)
- more maintenance (tires, axles, bearings, lights, etc.)
- hard to tow in the mountains or on rugged terrain
- need a lot of space to store it when not in use
- your sleds will get very dirty (if the trailer is open)
Pros of Sled Decks
- keeps your sleds very clean compared to open trailers
- you can store your gear under it
- no yearly costs or inspection
- no maintenance
- better maneuverability and parking
- does a better job in the mountains
- better traction (weight above the rear wheels – less risk of getting stuck)
- can hold dirt bikes, ATVs, or other vehicles as well
- you can ride onto them directly from a snow bank
- you can use it in tandem with a trailer or camper
- much easier to store during the off-season
- less amortization – better resale value
- better fuel economy in transit
- others can drive the truck as well (towing a trailer needs practice)
Cons of Sled Decks
- it’s a hassle to load /unload the deck onto the truck
- they can only carry one or two sleds
- ideal for more mobile snowmobiles
- lack of storage space
- offer less protection than enclosed trailers
- they are not as long as sleds, so the tracks overhang on the rear
- decks have a very high center of gravity and getting down is tricky after loading the sled
- loading the snowmobiles onto sled decks is harder, more time consuming, and dangerous
When to Choose a Sled Deck Over a Trailer
If you are still wondering which is for you, a sled deck, or a trailer, keep reading!
First, let’s see when you should choose a sled deck over a trailer to transport your snowmobile! A sled deck is recommended when you:
- have a bigger truck
- want to transport one or two snowmobiles
- your sled/sleds are more mobile
- live in the mountains
- want to reach the backcountry or your cabin, but the terrain is rugged
- prefer shorter day riders
- don’t like towing trailers
- can leave the deck on your truck for longer periods
- want to tow a trailer or a camper in tandem with the deck
- are looking for the easiest and cheapest way to transport your sled
When to Choose a Trailer Over a Sled Deck
Let’s move on and consider when you may need a trailer instead of a sled deck! A trailer would be recommended when you:
- want to regularly use your truck for other purposes (removing the deck takes time)
- want the most protection (only enclosed trailers provide this)
- are afraid of loading your sled onto a sled deck
- want to transport other bigger vehicles on the trailer (tractors, lawn mowers)
- can store the trailer easily when it’s out of use
- have more than 2 sleds
- have a lot of gear
Sled Deck vs. Enclosed Trailer
We can say that hauling sleds on sled decks or open trailers is similar on a certain level. But when it comes to enclosed trailers, they are in a unique class all their own. Thus, it is worthwhile to discuss them separately.
Let’s drill into the sled deck vs. enclosed trailer comparison, to find out which is for you!
In the previous sections, we went through the pros and cons of sled decks, so here we will primarily focus on enclosed trailers.
Pros of Enclosed Trailers
If you are hesitating on what to buy, an enclosed trailer or a sled deck, one of the most important factors is how many sleds you want to haul.
As sled decks can accommodate just one or two snowmobiles, many say that enclosed trailers are the only way to go if you have more sleds. Although you can haul a 2-place open trailer in tandem with a sled deck, loading and unloading 4 sleds from this setup could be a real pain in the neck.
Another important factor is where you live and ride regularly. A trailers works great if you have a large parking spot to leave it in.
Enclosed trailers also offer much more space for your gear as well. If you have to take fuel with you, you can store the cans much easier.
Moreover, the other main advantage of these trailers is that they can keep the sleds and your gear completely dry and clean. Heated snowmobile trailers are also available on the market, which means a huge difference in comfort compared to sled decks and open trailers.
It also gives you a great place to have a beer or get dressed after your rides, and it keeps your gear and sleds warm, which is another advantage.
The other huge benefit of an enclosed trailer is that you don’t have to unload your sleds after each ride. You can simply leave them and your gear in the trailer when they are not in use.
It’s a huge advantage, especially during the summer. It’s safe to say that enclosed trailers are like garages on wheels, so storing the sleds during the summer is not a headache!
Finally, the main reasons why you should buy an enclosed trailer over a sled deck are as follows:
- it keeps your sleds and gear completely clean and warm
- can transport more sleds and cargo
- offers higher comfort and security
- it’s a garage for your sleds when they are not in use (during the off-season as well!)
- loading/unloading is much easier and safer
So, if you are transporting more than two sleds regularly for longer distances, you can’t go wrong with a large enclosed trailer.
Cons of Enclosed Trailers
Enclosed trailers have many benefits, that’s why they’ve become more and more popular over the years. But as you can assume, their advantages are accompanied by disadvantages!
Let’s look at the cons of enclosed snowmobile trailers.
The first issue with these trailers is that they come with very hefty price tags. Sled decks are much cheaper compared to them, as they cost around $3,000-$5,000. In contrast, the price of v-nose enclosed snowmobile trailers can range from $10,000 up to $20,000!
This is not even mentioning their owning costs like registration fee, insurance, yearly inspections, and the other maintenance costs.
Another argument against enclosed trailers is their huge dimensions and weight.
Towing and maneuvering with a large trailer is always tricky, especially in tight places. Also, you can easily overload these huge trailers, especially if you want to haul 4 or 5 sleds. For example:
- 5 snowmobiles: 3000 lbs.
- 5 riders: 1000 lbs.
- Gear/fuel/tools: 500 lbs.
- Snow and ice buildup: 1000 lbs.
- Trailer: 3500 lbs.
Total: 9000 lbs. – or even more!
If you want to haul just 2-3 sleds, an enclosed trailer still means a heavy load, which could be a problem in the mountains or on warm days.
Every season many owners get stuck with their snowmobile trailer, especially during the spring. Why?
Because when they arrive in the morning everything is still frozen, and the snow is set up. But when they leave the wheels can easily be buried into the snow or even mud.
That’s why sled decks are much better choices for spring rides. As the weight is above the rear wheels of the truck, this setup offers much better traction and maneuverability.
Let’s look at all of the cons of enclosed trailers in a nutshell:
- hefty price tags
- more maintenance and owning costs
- harder parking and maneuverability
- much more weight
- higher risk of getting stuck
- hard to tow in the mountains and on rugged terrain
- need a place to store it when not in use
- you need a big truck to tow it
As you can see, there is no winner in the sled deck vs. trailer contest! There are many pros and cons on each side, so finally it’s up to personal preferences.
It seems sled decks could be a real alternative to smaller open trailers. What’s more, they can often be a better choice!
If you want to transport one or two sleds for shorter distances, you can’t go wrong with a sled deck. It’s affordable, maintenance-free, and does a really good job in the mountains and on warm days. If you have a cabin or prefer backcountry rides, a sled deck is probably the only way to go.
When it comes to the sled deck vs. enclosed trailer debate, many say that it’s an unfair comparison as they are vastly different.
If you want to cover longer distances, or transport more than 2 sleds, you may want to consider an enclosed trailer. It offers more protection for the sleds and your gear, which means they will remain completely dry and warm.
The other main advantage is that you can store the sleds in the trailer when they are not in use. It’s very useful during the summer as the sleds won’t hog space in your garage.
If you are still hesitating on what to buy, a sled deck or an enclosed trailer, why not get both? If you can afford it, you will have a lot of flexibility this way.
It’s not a cheap investment, but don’t forget that sled decks don’t need any maintenance and using them means you don’t have to deal with an increase in fuel consumption in transit.
This is our short sled deck vs. sled trailer comparison. We hope you find it useful!