Factors To Consider Before Going On A Ride…

To find scenery like this, choose a saddlebag ride from snowmobile tour types.

Photo © by Craig Nicholson

Related: Planning Your Snowmobile Tour


What snowmobile tour types are right for you? Are you a touring novice who needs some advice? Before reading on, check out check out my beginners tips.

Once upon a time, most snowmobiling originated from our own backyards. A large part of its appeal was day riding from home and back. Even weekend overnighters by sled started and ended there. So did multi-day getaways by snowmobile.

In fact, the only time you’d trailer your sleds anywhere was for service or to go to a more distant destination for that special winter holiday. But then factors like changing weather patterns, creeping urbanization and private land trail closures came along. And they gradually changed the way many of us are able to go snowmobiling.

So today, unless you live in the heart of a very reliable snowbelt, most trail rides begin by trailering to the snow. And when we do, here’s a quick overview of options and considerations…

All snowmobile tour types can offer groomed trails like this.

Photo © by Craig Nicholson

Snowmobile Tour Types

Day Rides

Typically, snowmobilers set out for three main types of trail rides. One, many of us still go on day rides. But as already stated, many of us we now leave home and return by trailer instead of snow machine. This snowmobile tour type is by far the most prevalent and least expensive. And since you only have to prepare for a finite number of hours, day riding generally means less to bring or carry in comparatively predictable conditions. Plus, you are able to pick your day ride location according to current conditions.

Choose among snowmobile tour types for one that's compatible for all riders.

Photo © by Craig Nicholson

Long Weekend Rides

Meanwhile, since we can travel farther more quickly by towing than sledding, our range of destinations choices has increased. So, trail riding farther away from home for a 3 or 4-day weekend is more popular.
When these quick getaways include several different overnight stays, they are sometimes referred to as “blitz rides”. Alternatively, if you choose to stage from one location for your long weekend, they are known as “stay & play” or “day loop” rides. Whatever your choice, most of us didn’t have time to do as much of this type of trail riding before trailering became so prevalent.

Long weekend rides tend to be fairly flexible riding and route-wise. Also, since you don’t ride as far from your staging location, you can remain relatively accessible to your truck & trailer. And you may need to carry only day essentials on your sled. (Note: for all snowmobile tour types, always carry an emergency kit).

Sleds geared up with luggage for a saddlebag ride among snowmobile tour types.

Photo © by Craig Nicholson

Multi-Day Saddlebag Rides

Finally, there’s a third type of trail riding, which fewer of us used to do by snowmobiling from home. That involves going on a saddlebag tour over multiple days, stopping at a new location each night.

Typically, saddlebag rides are longer duration and require a greater time commitment to ride a pre-planned route. In addition, you carry everything with you on your sled, including extra fuel & oil. And barring trail-closing storms, you go each day regardless of conditions. So, because this tour type occurs over so many days, you need to be well-prepared to encounter variable weather and trails.

Nowadays, saddlebag tours often take place in bucket list destinations that are usually too far away to reach by snowmobile given time limitations. So most often, we trailer to our staging location.

Questions About Snowmobile Tour Types

Taking a break on the trail is common among all snowmobile tour types.

Photo © by Craig Nicholson

Over my years on the snow, I’ve experienced each of these three main types of trail rides. Each can be great fun and make lasting memories. But each also has its pros and cons. So, which one will work for you? Well. That depends on many variables…

How Much Time Do You Have?

Most of us have jobs, family and home obligations that limit our play time. So how much time you have available is a huge factor in deciding which snowmobile tour type you can do. As you can tell by their names, day rides, long weekend rides or multi-day rides each require different time commitments.

That’s why it’s always preferable to know how much time you have before choosing among snowmobile tour types. Some desirable destinations are simply too far away or take longer to do than the time you have. Remember, you can choose among snowmobile tour types to fit the time you have, but it’s much harder to make your finite time fit if you choose the wrong one.

Where Do You Want To Go?

Parked sleds ready to ride for any kind of tour.

Photo courtesy of Ontario Tourism

You may have a bucket list destination. Or one you’ve heard good things about. Or maybe one that friends want to visit. It’s always good to research these in advance to get an idea of how much time you’ll need. By planning ahead, you can often make more time available at a future date, it it’s not doable at the moment.

Meanwhile, familiarize yourself with potential destinations. Try to get a sense of which snowmobile tour types to choose for each. This way, when you have “X” amount of time, you’ll know which destinations are viable for that occasion.

Sometimes, you can make a destination fit your time. For instance, can you do it as a long weekend stay & play ride, instead of as a longer saddlebag ride? The answer to this depends largely on trailering distance to the destination.

When Are You Planning To Ride?

The time of the season plays a key role in choosing among snowmobile tour types. Early and late season options are generally more limited and usually farther away. As well, they can often be more a crapshoot for snow & trail conditions than mid-season choices.

So, if you have finite riding time available during the winter, you’re likely better to stick to mid-season opportunities. Even then, you’ll want to go where the best snow is. And that can also determine your choice of both destination and snowmobile tour type.

What’s Your Riding Budget?

Trail riding is what day rides, weekend rides & saddlebag tours are all about.

Photo © by Craig Nicholson

If money is not an issue, then skip this section. But the reality is that you’ll incur different levels of expense for fuel, food, lodgings for different snowmobile tour types. Day rides are obviously least expensive with less trailering and lodging expense. Typically, long weekend rides cost more than day rides, but less than multi-day saddlebag rides. So, before you decide which snowmobile tour type to pick, know your budget and choose within it.

Who’s Going On The Ride?

Even when you’ve nailed the preceding questions, there’s one more consideration. Who are your riding companions?

You’ll need to take into account factors like their available time and budget, plus riding styles, experience level, expectations, compatibility, gear and sled readiness. Family or couples rides often have varying abilities and preferences. So, just be aware that it’s smart to match your companions to your choice among snowmobile tour types.

My Last Word

As you can see, choosing among snowmobile tour types involves many variables. Making the right choice for you and your companions is very important. It can make the difference between a thoroughly enjoyable experience and one that’s memorable for all the wrong reasons.

To make your destination choice easier, Ontario offers a large number of turn-key snow tours that include various snowmobile tour types. You also have the option of choosing a guided tour.

Check out more planning tips!

The tips and advice in this blog are the opinions of the author, may not work in every situation and are intended only for the convenience and interest of the reader, who has the personal responsibility to confirm the validity, accuracy and relevancy of this information prior to putting it to their own use.


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