In the Northern hemisphere, winter is just around the corner, and GPS for snowmobiles is the smart solution to find the fastest and the most adventure track.
It could be snow-covered meadows and woods as well as good ice fishing spots on the frozen lakes, rivers, and even the sea bays.
I would not like to write a classic style product review or pretend to be a great snowmobiling expert. Only the honest overview of the topic as I like ice fishing and have knowledge about GPS and other systems satellite navigation systems. Even more, I used to drive a snowmobile quite a lot though have no my own. From the other hand, I have an experience of icy lake driving by four-wheel drive cars as Land Rover Freelander 2 and Volvo XC70.
Every fisher knows that not in every place are fishes. To find out where they are you must know the depths, the pits, depth exchange places, rocks or snags, and other relief peculiarities.
It is crucial not to lose the time for searching for a good fishing spot and get satisfaction by catching fish. The experienced old generation of fishers might say that you must feel the fish place and so on. Maybe, but I know how to use marine charts, and even more, many of new generation fishers are familiar with GPS fishfinders and other helpful electronic devices.
Let’s skip car driving a car on ice because mainly, even on most powerful off-roaders, you must follow some rules set by local authorities and sooner or later you have reached the limit. Either hummock or deep snow.
Let’s stick with snowmobiles. You can reach more distant areas although a car has some advantages like the place to escape from icy winds and warm up a bit.
Depending on size and distances of the ice fishing area, mainly distance from shore, you have to have your exact position. Not only to find the right place to drill the fishing hole but it is for your safety.
Today almost everyone has a smartphone with GPS option and theoretically no problems by placing pinpoint to returns to the starting position guiding by phone GPS directions.
I would say that only smartphone GPS solution is worse than not the GPS assistant at all.
In most cases, it is so, and people relax and rely solely on the Phone’s GPS. I would say that only smartphone GPS solution is worse than not the GPS assistant at all.
I do not want to argue that the phone’s GPS is a useless thing.
I use it quite often both in the car and sometimes even on the yacht. Actually, I have iPhone in my inner, the closest to the body, pocket even when on the ice fishing as the backup unit.
So, now I want to find out what is the best GPS for snowmobile when it is used for ice fishing.
I have a post about GPS for ATV trails and the mentioned GPS as Trail Tech 912-301 Voyager GPS, and other devices could be used for a snowmobile ride. Voyager is the perfect device for the trail rider’s GPS.
I say again that I am not so conversant in snowmobile details and therefore I am searching for what I do not know on the internet.
I am surprisingly found that no especially for snowmobile designed GPS device.
At least by simple typing in Google with keyword GPS for snowmobiles.
Some manufacturers try to do something to fill this gap with the help of a smartphone app by connecting a phone to the factory-installed infotainment system. One of it is a Polaris Interactive Display 2.0.
Is it a good solution will show the real riders reviews? I have not found any until now.
What to do at present to enjoy the safe and pleasant ride by snowmobile and not to get lost in the woods or to safely reach a solid ground when sudden fog or a snowstorm hit you on the ice far from shore.
Not so big choice of a good GPS for snowmobiles, but some solutions have been found.
Firstly, I would like to consider the idea, which was suggested by one of my site’s visitor.
Why not use for your snowmachine a marine GPS device?
There are many known brand devices which fit for snowmobiling conditions. By conditions I mean is low temperatures and shatter-proof.
I would not like to dive deep into the details just to say that it could be an option for ice anglers who already have a GPS for boats.
When you do not have such a device, then better and cheaper is looking for something else even GPS watches.
Garmin Montana 6xx series devices are what I am looking for
Skipping nuances of the search process, I concluded, that the Garmin Montana 6xx series devices are what I am looking for.
First of all, Garmin Montana series units are designed for outdoor use. Operating temperature range: From -20º to 55ºC (from -4º to 131ºF)
Charging temperature range: From 0º to 45ºC (from 32º to 113ºF).
For snowmobiling it is crucial. We used to sled in conditions when the temperature is close or even below the temperature range, and GPS unit may unexpectedly shut down.
The cold kills any phone when using GPS. Therefore, smartphone app cannot be as main navigation source for snowmobile adventures.
Battery life of Montana device is also significantly reduced by the cold so need to look for the constant power source. Even more, mount a GPS device in most wind-protected place and do it in a way to be easily removable from cradle or holder to put into the pocket close to your body to heat up.
The cold can cause the fragility of plastic and GPS device’s display is slowing down. So, the extremely low temperature is not the best friend of any electronic device, and we need to use it with maximum caution.
How could this be solved?
Only by heating the GPS unit that is not so easy to do, but it is possible.
Modern snowmobiles can be fitted with plug-in outlets to power nice-to-have items like a GPS, heated apparel or electric visors and add some heating to the glove box. Because the glove box is the perfect place to install Garmin Montana 650, e.g., I found the great instructional YouTube video and if your hands are in the right place, then you can easily DIY in the garage.
Relating to the options and features and characteristics of Garmin Montana 600, 610,650 and the latest model Montana 680.
Not as much difference could be found regarding the main purpose- obtaining your geographical position.
Only more or less considerable improvement I found is GLONASS receiver for Garmin Montana 680t. In some situations, it can improve accuracy and accessibility. In fact, it is a consistent improvement for sled journeys in high latitudes.
GLONASS is a Russian Satellite navigation system, and orbits of navigational satellites allow terrestrial objects to be found at latitude 60º+ with more accuracy. So, if you are about to hit the ride in Alaska, Northern Canada or Lapland, then GLONASS feature could help.
Montana has a good reputation among ATV riders and except the cold, driving conditions are about the same.
Finally, but not less important is maps.
Garmin GPS devices have a wide range of mapping solutions.
For road driving, you can use turn by turn navigation like City Navigator NT maps.
For hiking and even for ATV or a snowmobile you can use TOPO Maps.
Blue Chart maps are for boaters and yachts.
There are some companies which develop GPS maps directly for ATV and snowmobile trails like GPS trailmasters, and Garmin units are top consumers.
„Our GPS snowmobile trail maps and GPS ATV trail maps are ONLY compatible with Garmin brand GPS units. In general, we tell people that our maps are compatible with just about any Garmin GPS that is less than 10 years old. This means you can use your automotive GSP as well as outdoor units.“
But do not be sad if for your region is not yet covered by ready to go GPS trails for sleds.
There are ways to create your own trails or use the Topo maps.
In any case with Garmin Montana GPS for snowmobiles, you will never get lost whether it be a snowy mountain slope or deep ice-covered lake.