9 of the most brilliant machines to travel on snow

From screw-drive vehicles to ice-cool sports cars, these are the craziest coolest machines on snow
By Will Gray

The tried-and-trusted snowmobile is the best way to travel on snow. Or is it? Around the world, ingenious inventors have created some incredible contraptions to move across the white stuff, from fan-powered ski cars to screw-driven monsters. 

Here’s our pick of the most unique, fun and functional snow machines…

More: 7 of the most amazing ice caves in the world


Skibob © Helmut Plohberger

Manufacturer: Stalmach/Brenter
Type: Ride-on bike
Power: One human
Cost: From €1,200 (US$1,300)
Cool rating: 7

This is basically a bike with skis instead of wheels – and it’s so popular there is now a world championship for riders.

The concept was invented in 1949 but only went global around 10 years ago. The rider uses two additional stubby skis strapped to his feet to help steer it down the slopes.


Ripsaw EV2

Ripsaw EV2
Ripsaw EV2 © Howe & Howe

Manufacturer: Howe & Howe Technologies
Type: Dual-tracked tank
Power: 600bhp
Cost: From €270,000 (US$300,000)
Cool rating: 10

Originally built for the military as a high-speed super tank, this machine has been converted for sale to high-end private punters.

The 3.5-tonne machine runs on a 6.6-litre diesel engine, has a zero-degree turning circle and can climb gradients of 75 degrees. It tops out at 104kph and its rubber tracks give quick acceleration on any surface.


TH!NK Frost

TH!NK Frost
TH!NK Frost

Designer: Anders Gloslie
Type: Concept tracked sports car
Power: n/a
Cost: n/a
Cool rating: 10

Designed by a student for a Norwegian electric car company, this would be the ultimate sports car – if it were ever made.

Its asymmetrical bodywork mimics ice formations using ‘crevasses’ to hide lighting systems; wheels are replaced by radical triangular tracks; and an ‘information hose’ delivers live weather information to the driver.


Mountain Horse

Mountain Horse
Mountain Horse © Timbersled.com

Manufacturer: Timbersled
Type: Tracked dirt bike
Power: Depends on dirt bike
Cost: From €4,850 (US$5,300) plus dirt bike
Cool rating: 8

This kit turns a conventional dirt bike into a snow bike, giving motocross riders the opportunity to carve up the slopes at up to 104kph.

The brainchild of snowmobile modifier Allen Magnum, the bikes are lighter and easier to manoeuvre than a snowmobile. In the five years since going on sale it has created a new sport with thousands of followers.


Snowbird 6

Snowbird 6
Snowbird 6 © icechallenger.com

Manufacturer: Steve Brooks and Graham Stratford
Type: Archimedes screw vehicle
Power: Unknown
Cost: Unknown
Cool rating: 6

These rare screw-driven machines were first created in the 1960s by the Russian Space agency to recover Star City cosmonauts from frozen Siberia.

This version was used to cross the Bearing Sea in 2002. During the journey it had to float on water, climb onto icebergs, drive on solid ice and power through crushed ice. All at temperatures below -40ºC.

Arctic Air boat 

Arctic airboat
Arctic airboat © Henrik Paersch

Manufacturer: Airboats
Type: Lightweight boat
Power: 70bhp
Cost: €38,600 (US$42,000)
Cool rating: 7

This revolutionary boat looks like an SAS version of an Everglades fan boat and can reach speeds of over 100kph on ice.

Made out of polyethylene using a unique new construction technique, it is 4m long, weighs just 250kg and is propelled by a 3-blade carbon-fibre fan. It's used by Finnish fire brigades and private consumers.


Snow Crawler

Snow crawler
Snow crawler © Michal Bonikowski

Designer: Michal Bonikowski, Mindsailors
Type: Concept snowmobile
Power: n/a
Cost: n/a
Cool rating: 8

Is this the future of the snowmobile? Stick on a cabin, put in an electric engine and turn the tracks triangular and you get something that looks like it’s straight off the new James Bond set.

A pure concept, this really should be made into reality.


Snow Glider

Snow glider
Snow glider © Roman Subar

Manufacturer: Václav Zahrádka
Type: Fan-powered ski vehicle
Power: Depends on fan size
Cost: From €8,000 (US$8,700)
Cool rating: 8

Built by a father and son team from the Czech Republic, this lightweight vehicle can skim across the snow at 120kph.

The pair are trying to create a sport around their concept and have trialled ski-towing as well as high-speed racing. Coming to a slope near you? Watch this space.


Antarctic Snow Cruiser

Antarctic snow cruiser
Antarctic snow cruiser © Leslie Jones, Creative Commons License

Manufacturer: Armour Institute of Technology, Chicago
Type: Fat wheeled crew transporter
Power: Not enough
Cost: US$150,000 (in 1939)
Cool rating: 4

This 37-tonne 16.7m-long monster machine is now lost in the Antarctic – potentially buried under ice or settled at the bottom of the ocean.

It was taken south in 1939 but its four 3m-high treadless tyres, designed for crossing crevasses, lacked grip and the diesel-electric engine was underpowered. So it ended up as a static crew station.

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