Snowmobile vs. Snowmachine: A Simple 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 term snowmobile. This article is written to shed light on what both the words mean in different contexts.

Is There Any Difference Between a Snowmobile and a Snowmachine?

It is often confusing for the layman to know which 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 the terms have been used interchangeably by the papers.

However, a snowmobile is called a snowmachine by the Alaskans as it is more of a lingo 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 traces back to the days of the 1950s when a group of three men built one of the first modern snow machines at 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 very famous Polaris line which was later developed into the modern-day snowmobile.

What is a Snowmobile?

A  snowmobile is a  motor vehicle that has its origin traced back to the 1900s when cross country transportation in the winter used to be a considerable challenge. It has since then evolved so much so that, more than a necessity, 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 in all terrains.  It is not like a usual vehicle, and it does not have any wheels or enclosures except for a windshield. Instead of wheels, the snowmobile has a continuous track at the rear that is driven by their engine and skis at the front that helps in directional control.

The snowmobile is called a snowmobile because it operates on snow and ice, and it does not require a road. Today snowmobiling is a serious 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 that are 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 the propulsion of vehicles on snow.

Today, the engines of most snowmobiles are either four-stroke or two-stroke internal combustion engines. However, historically, the snowmobiles used only two stroked engines as they were less complex, weighed less, and cost less than the four-stroke ones.

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 confined mostly to the Alaskan region.

It is a local lingo there to refer to the snowmobile that is used as a snow sport. There is no precise knowledge and facts on 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 today all across the world to refer to the vehicle that moves across the snow.

Apart from the synonym for snowmobile, snowmachine is also used to refer to a machine that produces artificial snow in skiing events. The snowmachine 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. Snowmachine-created snow is more preferred by skiers as the snow is smoothed and compacted using a tractor, making more durable slopes that take longer to melt.

Final Words

Snowmachines, be the vehicle or the machine that creates snow are both used for snow sports. They dominate a huge market in countries where snow cover is stable during the winter. The popularity is enormous in mostly arctic territories.

Dinesh Kumar
I love winter season, that's why I do my best to spend as much time as possible to enjoy winter sports with my friends.

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