Snowmobile vs. Snowmachine: A Detailed Comparison

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There are a lot of terms that you can call a snowmobile – a motor sled, sled, or skimobile. But many people have also been calling it a snowmachine.

People have been found to disagree with settling for one name, to decide what to call a machine that moves through the snow.

While one of the terms also refers to a machine that creates snow, it is also used interchangeably with the snowmobile.

This article is written to shed light on what both words mean in different contexts.

Is There Any Difference Between a Snowmobile and a Snowmachine?

It is often confusing for laymen to know what is what when they read or hear snowmobile and snowmachine being used interchangeably.

To cut to the chase, there is no difference between a snowmobile and a snowmachine as long as we use these terms while referring to vehicles.

However, not in all contexts do they both mean the same.

Difference between snowmobile and snowmachine

The snowmachine, which is not a vehicle, is also related to skiing or snowmobiling but only as a means of aiding the sport.

In this context, this particular snowmachine is a machine that only helps produce artificial snow in resorts or skiing events where there is not enough snow by itself.

While talking about the vehicle, both terms have been used interchangeably by the papers.

However, a snowmobile is called a snowmachine by the Alaskans as it is more of a slang attached to the Alaskan sentiment.

It is a local preference for the Alaskans to call the snowmobile a snowmachine as the origins of the ‘snowmachine-snowmobile’ split trace back to the days of the 1950s.

This was when a group of three men built one of the first modern snow machines in a northern Minnesota agricultural and industrial equipment factory.

They used a grain elevator conveyer belt for a track, and for skis, they used a Chevy bumper.

This prototype was the origin of the famous Polaris line, which was later developed into the modern-day snowmobile.

What is a Snowmobile?

A  snowmobile is a  motor vehicle whose origin is traced back to the 1900s when cross-country transportation in the winter was a considerable challenge.

It has since evolved so much that it has become a desirable property for recreational activities on snow today.

It moves through the snow. Where other vehicles flounder, a snowmobile can travel across deep snow on all terrains.

It is unlike a usual vehicle and has no wheels or enclosures except for a windshield. Instead, the snowmobile has a continuous track at the rear driven by its engine.

Furthermore, they have skis at the front that helps direct directional control.

The snowmobile is called a snowmobile because it operates on snow and ice and does not require a road. Today snowmobiling is a brutal sport that most enthusiasts consider earnestly.

In older times, snowmobiles were designed to accommodate two people. However, in modern times, manufacturers design snowmobiles to accommodate one person.

Snowmobiles designed to accommodate two people are called ‘2-up’ snowmobiles or ‘touring’ snowmobiles.

The snowmobile is not the invention of just one person but an evolution of many engines for propulsion vehicles on snow.

Today, the engines of most snowmobiles are either four-stroke or two-stroke internal combustion engines.

However, historically, snowmobiles used only two-stroked engines as they were less complex, weighed less, and cost less than four-stroke ones.

snowmobile vs. snowmachine

What is a Snowmachine?

There are two meanings attached to the term snowmachine. Traditionally, snowmachine was used to refer to snowmobiles.

It is still used by people mainly confined to the Alaskan region.

It is a local lingo to refer to the snowmobile used as a snow sport.

There is no precise knowledge of how snowmobiles came to be called snowmachines by the people in Alaska, but it dates back to around the 1950s.

Snowmachines and snowmobiles are used interchangeably worldwide, which refers to vehicles moving across the snow.

Apart from the synonym for snowmobile, snowmachine also refers to a machine that produces artificial snow in skiing events.

The snow machine uses freezing water to create synthetic snow crystals.

Snowmachines are of two types; the lance snow gun and the fan snow gun. Snow created by snowmachines is different in shape from natural snow.

Instead of snowflakes, these are shaped like tiny balls frozen from outside.

Skiers prefer snowmachine-created snow as the snow is smoothed using a tractor, making more durable slopes.

is snowmobile and snowmachine the same

When is a Snowmachine not a Snowmobile?

There is no distinction between snowmobiles and snow machines; it all depends on where you live.

Most people in the United States refer to them as snowmobiles.

If you say “snowmobile” in Alaska, the locals will know you’re from somewhere else. Snowmobiles are referred to as snow machines in the north. It’s just a regional difference for the same thing.

So if you’re from the rest 48 states of the U.S, you will hear the word snowmobile, but if you’re from Alaska, you’ll be hearing Snowmachines. 

Because the origins of the snowmachine-snowmobile’ split date back to the 1950s, Alaskans prefer to refer to the snowmobile as a snowmachine.

In a northern Minnesota agricultural and industrial equipment factory, a group of three men built one of the first modern snow machines.

They made a track out of a grain elevator conveyer belt and skis out of a Chevy bumper.

This prototype was the inspiration for the well-known Polaris line, which evolved into the modern snowmobile.

Fascinating, I know!

Final Words

Snowmachines, be the vehicle or machine that creates snow, are both used for snow sports.

The popularity is enormous in mainly arctic territories.

They dominate a huge market in countries where snow cover is stable during the winter.

On the other hand, a snowmobile is purely used for traveling in snow or recreational purposes.

We hope this article helps you to understand the difference between a snowmobile and a snow machine.

Photo of author


Thomas Miller
Thomas is an adventurous man from Colorado. He likes to ride snowmobiling in the harsh cold weather. Along with snowmobiling, he is also involved in the combat sports like boxing.

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