Tough and versatile, they make dreaded winter cabin chores easier
Published: December 1, 2012
If your cabin is anywhere in the northern United States or Canada, then you know that a forecast of snow means that you will be waking up early to clear the driveway. If you are like me – too stubborn to have someone plow your driveway, but too cheap to buy a new ATV or tractor with a plow or snow-thrower attachment – the next best thing is a snowblower with tracks.
Photo by Honda
There are several snowblower manufacturers that have tracked models available, including Honda, Ariens, Yamaha, Husqvarna and more. These are the M1 Abrams tanks of the snowblower world, but not because they are obnoxiously big or loud. Quite the contrary, in fact. Like our military’s top tanks though, these snowblowers are versatile and tough. Want to build an ice rink for your kids on the pond or lake? These are the perfect machines!
Why tracks are better
Honda HS1336i Hybrid
Photo by Honda
Because the Army uses them on tanks? True, but in the world of self-propelled snowblowers, tracks allow for equal, predictable traction to move across ice, dirt and, of course, snow.
Although they are more expensive and generally larger than their wheeled counterparts, tracked snowblowers will tackle any size drift, the hardest snow-packed driveway and the steepest, slipperiest inclines. They will even stay stable on icy sidewalks. Oh, and when the county plow comes by and stacks up a 3-foot snowbank at the end of your driveway, you will finally be prepared!
I have owned many snowblowers in my day, from an old Cub Cadet 2-stage behemoth, to a smaller 2-stage Ariens, to a new, even smaller Toro. But one thing I have learned is that when the snow gets deep, wheels just don’t cut it. I even put a small set of chains on my old Ariens to help with traction, but simply put, nothing works like tracks.
One new tracked blower that impressed us recently was the Honda HS1336i Hybrid. It comes with a self-propelled variable electric-drive system. The motor is a commercial-grade iGX390 with an electric starter and two batteries. One particular thing that we liked about this one was the electric transport mode, which helps you effortlessly move the unit from the garage. The snowblower is not only easy to use with an auto-choke starting system and a nice big halogen headlight, but it is also fuel-efficient and tosses snow up to 62.3 feet – far enough to bury your snobby neighbors’ driveways and the professional landscaping service trucks they hired to plow them out.
For more info, visit www.honda.com, www.ariens.com, www.yamaha-motor.ca and www.husqvarna.com.
Mark Boncher has “lived the cabin life” 365 days a year for 35 years. He is also the senior editor for American Snowmobiler magazine, www.AmSnow.com.