A typical short bed truck’s bed is about 5’8, though this can vary slightly. A youth snowmobile will fit inside, but a regular snowmobile is generally 9.5 to 11′ long, so it won’t even fit inside a full-sized truck bed.
What is the best way to load a snowmobile into a short-bed truck? I will explain everything you need to load a snowmobile into a short-bed truck safely to transport it.
The best way to load a snowmobile into a short bed truck is with a ramp that doubles as a platform for the back end. Since there’s no real expectation that a full-sized sled can fit inside, you need additional support and sturdy tie-downs. Fortunately, most of the weight is on the front end, so it’s technically possible.
Will A Snowmobile Fit In A Short Bed Truck
Snowmobiles come in a variety of sizes. Some small snowmobiles will fit safely in a short-bed truck.
Kid’s snowmobiles usually range between 72 and 73 inches, and youth models range between 84 and 85 inches. Meanwhile, your short bed truck bed is only around 77 inches.
Adult snowmobiles, on the other hand, are typically somewhere in the 8.5 to 14-foot range, with most between 9.5 and 11 feet long.
If you can avoid it, I strongly recommend that you do not put a snowmobile that size in a short bed truck.
Sometimes, there is no practical way to use a 5’8 bed to accommodate your sled, such as those over 12 feet long.
Regrettably, if the weight rests too far back, even a well-secured snowmobile is at high risk when in motion. Transporting a snowmobile should not be a balancing act.
Snowmobile trailers range from 8 feet, for kids and youth models, to 14 feet or longer for adult machines, and they are wide enough to accommodate sleds that can get up to 50 inches wide.
The one direction most short bed trucks have no trouble handling sleds is width. Most models of short bed trucks have a 65-inch width at the railing.
However, bed liners, wheel wells, and other features can reduce this, so it’s essential to know the length and width of the sled you plan to load and the inner diameter at floor level before you attempt to put a larger sled in your truck.
How To Load Snowmobile In Short Bed Truck
Once you’re ready to load a snowmobile in a short bed truck, there are just a few easy-to-understand steps. I will walk you through the process, so you don’t forget anything.
Here is how to load a snowmobile in a short-bed truck.
- Measure Everything Twice – Before you ever start, you need to grab that measuring tape and check the dimensions of the space and item you have. Eyeballing it and estimation are excellent skills, but knowing for certain is essential when you’re not sure an expensive piece of equipment like a snowmobile will fit. Check the sled’s length and width, and the truck bed’s inside area.
- Level Your Truck – Loading a sled should never be something you attempt on a slope or angle. Level out the truck, so your ramp doesn’t tilt to one side and run a higher risk of dumping rider and sled during loading.
- Attach Your Tie Downs – Put at least four ratcheting tie downs in place so they’ll be ready in a few minutes.
- Set your Ramp – Your ramp should attach securely to the truck when you set it up. Please do not use loose boards or un-anchored metal as a ramp. Doing this can lead to significant injuries and damage. If you are loading a longer, adult-sized snowmobile, I strongly recommend using a sled deck-ramp as this will be the most practical way to distribute the weight and secure your sled in a too-short bed. You can see an example of this type of deck-ramp in action and how easy it is to use for loading a sled in a short bed right here.
- Line Up Properly and Slow Down – Take your time lining your snowmobile up to load it into your truck. It’s okay to make your approach more than once if necessary. Moreover, a few wide swings to zero in your aim is much wiser than falling off a ramp because you called it ‘close enough’ and subsequently tipped. There’s no reason to rush the sled up the ramp. Slowing down can save you tons of time, energy, and unnecessary expenses because you are less likely to get injured or wreck your sled.
- Ride Snowmobile Into Truck – This step is self-explanatory. Don’t gun it too hard getting into the truck bed, or you’ll crash into the cab.
- Cinch Your Tie-Downs – Wrap those long tie-downs around the sled’s body to hold it in place. This is easiest with a friend or assistant, so you can simultaneously work on ratcheting opposite sides for an even hold.
- Flag As Necessary – Most states require neon flags in place if your cargo overhangs the end of your truck by more than a few inches. However, since standards may change from one area to the next, I recommend reviewing your local DMV website’s flagging rules and laws. Once you have any flags you need in place, all you can do is drive safely to your destination.
How To Secure Snowmobile In Short Bed Truck
Securing a snowmobile in a short bed truck is fundamentally the same as in a regular truck. Truck beds come with one of two types of anchor points for tie-downs and securing loads.
Your vehicle has rectangular post holes or rings attached to the outside edge of the bed, but regardless of the style, you will use these as a place to attach a rope, bungee cords, or ratcheting tie-downs.
Using rope, paracord or bungees is acceptable when you do not have other means to secure your snowmobile.
However, I strongly recommend ratcheting tie downs because they are wide, flat, easy to attach, and highly sturdy once they are locked in place.
Moreover, you don’t need to worry about hand strength because the ratcheting action takes care of cinching things down with less effort on your part.
You want to work on opposite sides of the sled and wrap a long tie-down over and around your snowmobile’s body.
Never attach it on one side; always use four or more anchor points opposite each other to hold the sled in the middle.
Working on opposite ends, rather than going around the machine like a clock to tie it securely, helps keep the snowmobile centered and the pressure even.
There is no perfect tie-down method that works on every body style equally. So long as the sled doesn’t move around in the truckbed once you tighten the straps, you’ve done a good job.
Pro Tip: Attach all your tie-downs before you load the sled into the truck, then set them so they fall outside the bed area. Doing this makes it easier to pass them over the snowmobile once it’s in.
Helpful Tips To Know About Loading A Snowmobile In Short Bed Truck
Fitting a kid or youth snowmobile in a short bed truck is no big deal. You may even be able to close the tailgate.
For other styles, it’s not generally recommended, though it is possible for some shorter sleds with a sled-deck ramp.
Here are more helpful tips to know about loading a snowmobile in a short bed truck.
- If you must transport a full-sized snowmobile and all you have is a short bed truck, consider renting a tow-behind trailer to accommodate the sled. Most short bed trucks are surprisingly powerful and can handle towing a heavy load easily. By spending a little more on a good haul-behind, you can save a fortune on not having to repair or replace parts on your snowmobile and truck.
- A snowmobile that is long enough to tip when parked in a short bed truck is too long to travel that way. Sometimes you have to call it quits and find a better way if you don’t want to risk equipment damage and physical harm.
- You don’t need two people to get an even tie-down. Once you have a generally even hold, start cinching down opposite corners. Do it yourself by leaving a little play in the tie-downs at first and then trading sides back and forth as you ratchet them shut a few clicks at a time. It’s worth the additional effort for a better hold.
Loading a snowmobile in a short bed truck is similar to losing a full-size truck, though you naturally have less space.
Unfortunately, some of the longer snowmobiles will not fit in this space no matter what you do to adapt.
You can generally transport children’s and youth snowmobiles and some shorter adult models with a special ramp that turns into a platform, but you should never attempt to fit a 12+ foot snowmobile in this truck style.
The chances of it tipping and having a catastrophic accident are too high.