Saddlebag or Stay and Play?

Day loops from one spot, or multiple destinations? We weigh the pros and cons.

It’s that time of the year, when snowmobilers are thinking about planning their vacations. Chasing the snow in early season will generally have sledders heading to Northern Ontario for their first rides of the year. As winter progresses, there are many destinations to visit as trails start to link up to one another.  

Early morning riding on the trails

What is your favourite type of destination when planning that epic snowmobile trip?  Do you trailer and ride day loops out of one location, or load up those saddlebags and hit multiple destinations over several days? Here are some things to consider when planning your trip.

I think I’ll stay…

Loading up those trailers and heading to the open trails is one of the first thing on any diehard sledders mind. I’m one of those riders that fall into this category. A few nights prior to leaving I’m going through my Choko snowmobile gear, packing my clothes, and loading the Royal Distributing Yamaha Sidewinder into the trailer.  Preparing for that maiden ride of the season can never come soon enough. My season usually always starts in Cochrane, ON on the Polar Bear Riders trails. This Northern Ontario destination is a mecca for snowmobilers with the longest snowmobile season in Ontario practically every year. We check into the Best Western Swan Castle Inn after being in the trucks for a good half of the day to kick off the season.

Blasting through some fresh powder while touring the Gold Rush Tour

There are many benefits to staying in one location when away on a snowmobile vacation. Having a “home base” allows you to carry minimal gear with you when our riding for the day. The truck and trailers are never far away if something should happen mechanically to one of the sleds, which will give you peace of mind especially when riding in larger groups.  

Enjoying the sunset in Cochrane

Staying in a town that caters to snowmobilers has its advantages.  Restaurants and gas stations are never far away, you get to know your way around the trails, and there are many attractions that can provide nightly entertainment such as live bands or a Cochrane Crunch hockey game.  Near Cochrane, you can explore trails that will take you to such places as Timmins, Kirkland Lake, Smooth Rock Falls, and Kapuskasing.  Staying in a place that has a variety of OFSC snow tours within the vicinity will lead to many days of riding on different trails.  While in the area, be sure not to miss the Abitibi Canyon and Lumberjack loops.  

Visiting the Abitibi Canyon Base Camp on a loop from Cochrane

There are many advantages of getting comfortable in one area. Having all the creature comforts that you’d have at home and having the freedom to bring more supplies makes this a popular choice among sledders. If adventure is on your bucket list, read on…

Time to load and go!

Let’s go somewhere new and travel for multiple days. Does this sound like you? Saddlebag touring is an attractive way to explore a variety of snowmobile trails.  Whether it’s an overnight trip or a multi-day excursion, this is an experience that all snowmobilers should consider. Touring takes a little more planning, but the rewards can be very satisfying.  

Destination riding out of Hearst

One of the obvious things when planning a multi-day trip is what you can carry with you.  If riding a 2-stroke machine, you’ll possibly have to leave room in the saddlebags for oil. Packing light is the name of the game if you’re going for an extended period. Securing a pair of Crocs with a Zip tie to the outside of your bags will save you internal space, keep you from having to wear your snowmobile boots in the evenings, and provide you with stylish pool/hot tub footwear.  

Weather can play a huge factor when traveling from destination to destination.  If a snowstorm hits the area, it could delay your plans of covering a lot of miles to get to your next location.  Be sure to know where you’re heading, as getting lost could wreak havoc on your plans, cause you to run out of fuel, and so on.  Being prepared and having a Plan B is always a good idea, especially if a breakdown occurs.

Saddlebag touring near Sudbury

Saddlebag touring is something that I look forward to every year. The sense of adventure as I explore new trails, staying in different towns and meeting new people along the way, is what snowmobiling is all about. I may not have an excessive amount of gear with me due to the limited amount of space on my machine, but packing only what I’ll need is half the fun. 

Sidewinder on the trails

Every sledder has their own idea of what their ideal snowmobile vacation looks like. Regardless if you prefer to stay in one location or travel with what you carry on your snowmobile, you must remember one thing. We’re all out there riding and enjoying all that snowmobiling has to offer. Why not combine a staycation with an overnight out and back at some point during your trip? Stay and play or saddlebag to a destination?  It really doesn’t matter, just ride!

Be sure to follow Canuck Powersports on social media as Ryan Hawkins explores epic roads and snowmobile trails throughout the year.

About Ryan Hawkins

Ryan Hawkins (Canuck Powersports) eats, sleeps, and breathes snowmobiles and motorcycles. As a freelance writer and aspiring photographer, he can be found carving up twisty roads and trails year round.

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