Snowmobiling in Alaska has a few extra requirements, depending on when, where, and what kind of riding style. The best snowmobile for Alaska adds features to handle extremely bitter cold weather and dangerous wind chills.
This buyer’s guide explains everything you need to know to help you choose the most appropriate sled, with details and tips that explain why.
The 2022 Yamaha Sidewinder SRX LE is the best snowmobile for Alaska. It’s ranked as the most reliable brand and model on the market today. Innovative technologies and updates improve performance and versatility for tackling diverse riding conditions. Although the most expensive in this review and guide, it’s loaded with features that make it worth every penny.
Top 3 Best Sleds For Alaska
1 – Best Snowmobile For Alaska – (2022 Yamaha Sidewinder SRX LE)
The new Yamaha Sidewinder SRX LE is one of the most reliable snowmobiles on the market today.
It comes fully loaded with updates that make it well-suited for Alaskan climate and off-grid work.
The retro-styling and sporty racing class make it a versatile workhorse with a lightweight design and power to catapult it over deep snow for exceptional floatation above deep snow drifts.
Optimized geometry lends stability to land in a firm plant that grips the terrain for tearing up the trail with minimized drag to get where you’re going in style.
- Powerful Turbo Engine – The high-performance 998 Genesis Turbo engine is powerful. It features a strong Nickel alloy turbine construction supported with premium components, including Inconel turbine blade assembly, ceramic ball bearing for longevity, and an exhaust system that delivers instant throttle response with its triple throttle body. Power out of slush pockets or make quick adjustments to avoid obstacles or Power out of deep snow.
- High-Performance Clutch System – The YSRC is its primary clutch, combined with the secondary roller clutch, is durable and operates without excessive heat. They manage the engine’s incredible torque for superior performance and longevity for dependable performance.
- Updated Suspension – The ARCS front suspension features a redesign of the forged alloy spindles for extra strength and height for higher ground clearance reducing chassis roll. It improved the handling over previous model years. The upper A-arms received an update with lighter and more consistent performance. The coupled suspension’s design provides an improved controlled ski lift when accelerating for maximum floatation. In the rear, the large diameter wheels are strong with an enhanced front idler that reduces friction for longer wear.
- Fox Zero IQS Shock Package – The premium shock package is the Intelligent Quick Shift, with placement on the rear and front arm for suspension adjustment when the snowmobile is in motion. Suspension is adjustable via the switch mounted on the left of the handlebars. You can change the settings between the two driving modes. You can also preset them for storage in memory for a one-step setting.
- Over-The-Engine Steering – The steering system is lightweight, enhancing free-range steering for a tight turning radius and agile and responsive steering. The lightweight chassis and build combine with the OES package to make the Sidewinder one of the easiest to maneuver machines in the brand. The Stryke Single Keel Ski enhances steering for balance and precision handling.
- Comfort Features – Ride positioning is enhanced with the tapered tunnel design, light, two-piece, and adjustable for leg comfort. The heated trail seat helps to keep the body’s core warm in the coldest weather. Warmth settings are placed on the dash with a switch to move between two settings for ultimate comfort. Thumb and hand warm adjusters are on the handlebar switch cluster for en-route access to the settings. The throttle lever has an ergonomic shape, and the reverse gear offers push-button engagement.
- Cargo Space – Additional storage for gear is available in the bag under the seat as secondary cargo space.
The consumer reviews for the 2022 Yamaha Sidewinder SRX LE are hard to find because of its newness. Supertrax reviewed the Sidewinder SRX LE and delivered high praise for its luxury design, convenience, comfort features, and impressive power.
It offers over 180 horsepower. It’s the fastest production snowmobile of all time, but that’s just the beginning.
Ride quality and handling are ranked as excellent by experts. The lowered suspension rides smoothly with few incidences of bottoming in challenging terrain.
The track bites into compact snow and ice are excellent with light steering and are versatile for side-hilling, trail riding, and heated seats. The only complaint is the seat which is too soft for some riders.
The 2022 Yamaha Sidewinder SRX LE is $18,999 from the dealership.
What I Like
- Fastest snowmobile in the production class.
- Equipped for all-terrain, including trail riding, deep snow, and side-hilling.
- Equipped with safety, comfort, and convenience features.
- Reliable with updated systems for high-performance
What I Dislike
- It is expensive.
Yamaha updated the ARCS front suspension. They elongated the forged spindles, equipping it with a low-profile Ripsaw track.
It’s the fastest snowmobile in production for barrelling across the tundra and frozen lakes with record speed.
They relocated the spacer on the ski axles to the opposite side to create an adjustable ski stance.
2 – Most Popular Snowmobile In Alaska – (2020 Polaris 850 Switchback Assault)
The 2020 Polaris 850 Switchback Assault is a versatile machine suitable for riding in multiple terrains, including ditches, woods, fields, hillsides, and on or off trails.
Dodge obstacles or climb out of deep snow drifts with instant responsiveness of Power and handling.
It can handle multiple riding scenarios with a powerful 850 Patriot engine that gains a top speed of 112 mph.
Riders appreciate the immediate surge of power and throttle response to deliver enjoyment for aggressive riders who enjoy taking on a challenge.
- Pro-Skid Steer – The steering system features the Polaris added over-traction traction that plants the machine firmly on the ground to prevent slippage in deep powder. Its unique rib design and rigidity enhance skating steering precision in all conditions.
- Premium Shocks – You can depend on the smoothest ride possible with premium shocks featuring a high-pressure hydraulic force needle design. The shocks absorb jarring to increase rider comfort and mitigate bumps in the trail.
- Multiple Track Options – The 2020 Polaris 850 Switchback Assault offers customization with the option of various tracks. Match them to suit your riding style. The 1.35 Cobra track provides control in loose snow. Its 1.6 Cobra track is the best option for ungroomed trails, off-grid riding, or soft snow. The sled comes with a standard track 4 series 2.
- Wind Protection – Alaska’s wind chill values can drop quickly. Riders get protection from dangerous frigid temperatures via the windshield and bonnet design that maximizes wind diversion. The panels feature side foils that further protect riders from cold winds.
- Updated Hand And Thumb Protection – The Switchback Assault comes with left controls mounted on the handlebar with an improved hand and the thumb warmer to throw off the chill of frigid temperatures. You can adjust the heat to the optimal level for the most comfortable ride.
- High-Power LED Lighting – The enhanced LED lighting system provides a headlight 80% brighter than incandescent for trail illumination for after-dark riding. The head and taillights are safety features that let others know where you are to avoid collisions or determine your location.
- GPS – The Bluetooth and GPS provide additional safety features to stay connected with members of your riding party. GPS mapping helps you plan your ride and share your location with others.
Expert reviewers tested the 2020 Polaris Switchback Assault 800 and remarked on the Axis architecture design and its enhanced balance and control delivery.
Improved rider positioning moves forward by 2 feet, enhancing leg room and overall control and comfort.
It’s a smooth operating machine with versatile capability for tackling multiple riding conditions. The sled is a powerhouse with agile handling and instant throttle response.
The Polaris 850 Switchback Assault costs $11,599 to $13,599. It’s less expensive than the 2022 Yamaha Sidewinder SRX LE by more than $6,000.
The model is two years older, but Polaris is one of Alaska’s most popular snowmobile brands. It’s capable and versatile in all terrain conditions.
It’s a more affordable option that maintains high quality and value for the price.
What I Like
- Powerful Patriot engine to power out slush pockets and deep snow and avoid obstacles on the fly.
- Affordable price
- Responsive and agile steering with less effort required
- Protection from wind and the elements
What I Dislike
- Not as fast as the Yamaha Sidewinder. Powerful, but not the top of the line. Technologies are not as advanced as the Sidewinder.
Updated seat and Axis architecture for customizing body positioning for enhanced rider control and leg comfort/mobility.
3 – Best Snowmobile For Trapping In Alaska – (2022 Arctic Cat M 8000 Mountain Cat Alpha One 154)
The Arctic Cat M 8000 Mountain Cat Alpha One 154 was the most innovative design before the decade’s turn. It re-emerged as a top ten-rated sled in 2020.
The 2022 edition is a powerful machine that takes on deep powder and performs precisely for side-hilling, navigating through trees, and single-ski tilt.
It’s a capable mountain sled with agile steering for off-the-grid riding in Alaska’s backcountry.
Its powerful engine, payload capacity, and towing performance are ideal for trapping activities in Alaska.
- Adjustable Ski Stance – One change in the location of the spacers on the ski axles allows riders to adjust the ski stance. Another innovation gives the rider customization options to match the riding style. It takes seconds to adjust from 35.5 to 37.5 inches, with options for a wider stance for trail riding and a narrower stance for dodging through the trees.
- Alpha One Single Beam Rear Suspension – Maneuverability received improvement through the revised single-beam rear suspension. It comes equipped with Fox Float QS3 premium shocks. They’re adjustable to customize for deep snow performance vs. groomed trails with three-position settings.
- AMS Front Suspension – The front suspension is Arctic Cat’s Arctic Mountain Suspension. They made it of lightweight forged aluminum spindles, customized for maneuverability in deep snow. The innovative design improves ski camber for riding off-trail with more precise control and steering for side-hilling, cornering, and more. They lighten the sled’s overall weight thanks to the dual-phase alloy-steel A-arms for reduced drag and durability.
- Powerful 8000-Series C-Tec2 Engine – The M 8000 Alpha One engine is a cleaner burning powerhouse with a 2-stroke performance. Technological advances made to the 794cc engine include new components. The 2022 engine has a new fuel rail, flywheel, combustion chamber, cylinders, and pistons. They also improved the Arctic Power Valve system with new fuel calibration in its 3-stage auxiliary exhaust ports. It’s a cleaner running machine with instant throttle response, precision oil injection, a lightweight design, and new sensors. It’s a technologically advanced engine that generates 165 horsepower.
- Tow Bar – Alaskan Trappers will find payload cargo space on the sled, with optional add-on cargo space. A tow bar is also available. Combined with the powerful engine and transmission with reverse option, its towing capacity is high for bringing in gear for trappers and taking out the catch.
- Adapt CVT System – The new design is lightweight and narrower to enhance belt life and performance. It delivers smooth Power for improved throttle response.
- Power Claw Track – The track is lightweight with durable paddle towers curved forward and stagger set for enhanced floatation in deep snow. The track is single=ply with a 3-inch pitch.
- Other Outstanding Features – The 2022 M-8000 Alpha One 154 comes with a premium LED headlight to illuminate the riding area for night riding. A goggle holder is mounted in the dash to protect goggles and make them available with easy access when not in use. A 60th Anniversary Decal comes with a special commemorative edition.
“Brilliant sled in most situations.” It delivers Power to the ground, although not as powerful as the Ski-Doo’s comparable model.
It helps keep the rider from getting stuck. Throttle responsiveness helps avoid getting stuck because of its immediate power rush.
Combining all-new design features helps keep it grounded and moving. It sidehills well, and the Alpha is a top performer in powder snow.
The single rail performs well in deep snow but does not perform as well in hard snow.
The price of the 2022 Arctic Cat M 8000 Mountain Alpha One 154 is $15,745. It’s less expensive than the Yamaha Sidewinder but higher than the Polaris Switchback Assault.
It’s an exceptional value for the price if you’re looking for a versatile and powerful mountain machine for trapping.
What I Like
- Powerful engine
- Numerous updates to improve overall performance
- Customizable suspension
- Adjustable ski stance
What I Dislike
- Few user reviews are available because of the newness of the vehicle.
The 2022 Edition of the M 8000 Alpha One 154 received an update that relocated a thick spacer, repositioning them to the opposite side of each ski axle from previous models.
The result is an adjustable ski stance. The sled has numerous updates that enhance throttle responsiveness and smooth power delivery through its Adapt CVT system.
Other updates include revamping the engine components with new pistons, cylinders, flywheel, combustion chamber, and more.
How To Choose The Best Snowmobile For Alaska
1 – Determine Your Riding Style
The best snowmobile for Alaska or any other state is one that is suitable for the riding you plan to do.
A utility snowmobile or mountain sled may be best if you ride in diverse areas. Look for a model with features that place it in a category for aggressive sidehilling.
It has an adjustable ski stance for switching from wide for trail riding to a narrower stance for accommodating rides through the trees.
A mountain sled may be the most appropriate for powering through deep snow if you ride through challenging environments.
Suspension and shocks designed to mitigate rough terrain can deliver a smoother ride.
2 – Protection From Wind And Frigid Temperatures
If you plan to ride in frigid conditions, be aware that wind chill factors can further lower the temperature.
Your hands, thumb, and body need protection from the wind. Some snowmobile models are better than others for wind protection.
Choose the optimal windshield height and foils that help to deflect wind away from the extremities.
Heated seats and hand warmers on the throttle with one-switch adjustments are best for protection from the cold.
3 – Choose A Sled That Fits Your Body Style
A good fit for your body style is essential for comfort and maximum control of the snowmobile.
The best sleds for customizing body position and comfort level offer an adjustable suspension.
Taller riders may benefit from a higher seat position and a design that makes more leg room.
4 – Match The Model With The Rider’s Skill Level
Beginning riders have unique needs. Start with a sled that is either less powerful or has a design that allows for governing the power output with the ability to increase the power as confidence builds gradually.
5 – Choose A Reliable Brand And Model
Some snowmobile brands and associated models are more dependable than others. When traveling in the tundra of Alaska, your safety depends on a reliable snowmobile.
Yamaha has a top brand rating in dependability ratings. Ski-Doo, Arctic Cat, and Polaris also have high ratings.
Consult the model you’re considering by checking user reviews for the pros and cons, according to their experience.
Helpful Tips To Know About The Best Snowmobile For Alaska
Some parts of Alaska are frigid with dangerous wind chill values, rugged wilderness terrain, and challenging riding conditions.
It’s essential to match the features of a snowmobile with the type of riding conditions for personal safety and enjoyment of the ride.
- Choose machines with body protection features, including adjustable heat in the throttle and seat. Also, look for a tall windshield and design that diverts frigid air away from the body.
- Use lubricants that offer maximum cold weather viscosity to maintain optimum performance in all weather conditions.
- Compare 3 to 4 models for the best features and value for the price.
The best snowmobile for Alaska is suitable for handling the weather, terrain, and your style of riding.
It offers safety, comfort, and convenience features to help you reach your destination and return from the ride. Each premium brand offers models that vary in features.
Although most are versatile, some are for specific riding. Choose a model that fits your body style and skill level.
Check reviews to learn about the pros and cons before making your decision.