If you use the NH snowmobile Trails Map on your phone, you just might want to consider a Snowmobile Phone Mount.
Considering most of us have our phone mounted inside the truck, it only makes sense to do the same on the snowmobile. You certainly can stuff the phone in a pocket and launch the snowmobile map as needed but displaying it front and center is superior.
There are dozens of phone mounting options out there, some fancy, others dead-simple. First and foremost, a snowmobile phone mount needs to be sturdy and grip tighter than a cranky toddler to mommy’s leg. While there aren’t a whole lot of snowmobile specific mounts, solid options exist.
Phone Bag Mount
Several bicycle mounts appear as though they would work on a sled, although the actual clamps are on the flimsy side. Handlebar phone bags are popular, inexpensive, (around $20) and offer a chance to earn your handyman badge in mounting creativity.
The phone slips into the bag behind a clear plastic front panel with a nice shaded visor. There’s even a slot for the power cord. The touch screen worked fine when zipped up on my ultra-cheap $11 Bivilictek Bike Handlebar Bag found on Amazon. Yup, Bivilictek.
Some bags are slim, others have extra storage space for cords, wallet, keys and such. One plus is that you can slip a handwarmer behind the phone to keep the battery toasty on below zero days.
As stated, these typically come with chintzy handlebar mounts made in China out of recycled milk jugs. While I don’t fully trust the mount, others have told me they’ve held up well.
If you’re concerned, I’d consider drilling a hole through the back of the unit, maybe add some reinforcement, and secure it to the sled with a bolt and wingnut of your choosing.
I’d also consider using Velcro instead of nuts and bolts, especially the heavy-duty stuff. You could even rivet the Velcro to the back of the bag, just to be safe. Maybe tie-wraps? There are plenty of ways to make it stay put, a little tinkering is all it takes.
Considered the king of device keepers by many, I prefer RAM’s basic Form-Fit Cradles, as a bare-naked phone snaps in tight. These are super simple and offer many mount component options but are specific to your exact phone. Bolt it to a flat surface or go crazy with ball and swivel accessories.
Other RAM cradles, such as the X-Grip, squeeze the phone in a spring-loaded claw. These are popular with Harley riders. The X-Grip automatically adjusts to just about any phone size, which is perfect if your phone is already in a case. RAM recommends their tether for outdoor applications. I’d agree after watching a few untethered devices go orbital on YouTube.
Belt Holster Mounts
Another variation of the snap-in mount is the OtterBox Defender Holster. If you have an OtterBox case this might be the DIY cheapo-way-out, at $15.
The holster is made to attach to your pants but you can remove the clip, drill a few holes and solidly bolt it to the sled.
I always use stainless bolts with Nylock nuts, sometimes painted black. A friend has been beating the snot out of his phone this way for years and swears by it. Other case companies make similar holsters, so look around.
Quad Lock Snowmobile Phone Mount
I’m currently experimenting with the Quad Lock Case system on my snowmobile. The Australian company originally specialized in phone mounts for bicycles but has expanded to motorcycles and cars, among others. While not the least expensive it offers incredible flexibility, multiple mounting options, and a locking mechanism like no other.
Quality handlebar mounts are trending, so I tried the Quad Lock handlebar rig. The bar clamp is highly engineered, strong, and offers unparalleled adjustability. While impressive, I really wanted the phone on the dash, sheltered from wind and weather. This required a little creativity.
Bolting the Quad Lock Motorcycle Knuckle, a U-joint swivel, directly to the glovebox door did the trick. Supported inside by a jumbo fender washer, it’s surprisingly solid and in close proximity to a power outlet. (Update: Quad Lock now offers flat bases that can be bolted directly to a flat surface)
The system is based on the Quad Lock case, which is specific to your phone. So, you gotta buy the proprietary case.
Molded into the back of the case is a bayonet socket that attaches to the mount’s bayonet (Quad Lock). Twist the two pieces together and an audible click signifies it is locked. Removal is equally simple, push the lock tab and twist.
An optional clear rubber skin wraps the phone in a weatherproof cocoon, which might be unnecessary, as many phones are now weatherproof.
One aspect I appreciate is that the phone can quickly and easily mount to other contraptions, like a car, bike or tractor. Just get another bayonet mount. The system withstood hours of hammering on dirt roads while strapped to the handlebar of my bicycle this summer.
Factory Snowmobile Phone Mounts
A few manufacturers have introduced factory snowmobile phone mounts specific to certain models. Although expensive, they certainly offer that custom look that you may desire, along with additional storage and 12-volt power features.
Cold Weather Battery Life
There seems to be a lot of concern about battery life. Unless you have an old phone or known issue, I’d say it’s overblown. I keep mine plugged in when riding and never experienced a problem.
Most sleds can easily be rigged for a hardwired USB port or 12-volt accessory plug. Some folks use a separate accessory battery pack, which would work nicely inside the bag mount.
There are a few mini heaters available for snowmobiles, specifically to keep devices warm. Again, cheap handwarmers work, too.
I’ve tested my iPhone without connecting it to power on single digit days and the juice lasted 4-5 hours with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi turned off to conserve power, which is important.
Your mileage may vary, but having a charging system is recommended. If you’ve got a fat wallet there are several mounts with wireless charging. Some are even heated!
Snowmobile Phone Integration
BRP fired the first snowball with Connect, the proprietary dashboard that does exactly that. At this time the system seems limited to BRP “compatible apps” but dash screens for phones are clearly the next big thing in snowmobiling.
There are multiple ways to mount your phone, I’m sure a few of you are screaming “duct tape!” The key is to find a way that is secure, affordable, safe, and easy to view at a glance. Never let your battery run down unless you have a way to charge it or can access another phone.
Maybe you don’t have a smartphone, don’t want an expensive data plan or don’t want to expose your new mobile baby to the elements. Here’s how to beat the system if you use the NH Snowmobile Trails Mobile Map App.
Buy, beg or steal a used phone. By “steal,” I mean find your kid’s old phone that’s sitting under a pile of dirty socks and plug it in. Hand-me-down phones are a way of life now. People have drawers full of old mobile devices. They’re like old pennies.
You don’t need a data plan, either. Simply connect to Wi-Fi, go to the app store and download the NH Snowmobile Trails Map. The phone’s GPS works on the trail without a data plan and so will the map. Simply reconnect to Wi-Fi on a regular basis for map updates.
Tests of a heavily abused iPhone 6 (2014) went flawlessly, cracked screen and all. I’ve also witnessed an iPhone SE launch the map effortlessly.
A preowned iPhone 6 or SE can be cheap – maybe even free if you know the right person!
I prefer used iPhones but many Androids will get the job done. Buy the latest device you can justify to ensure future compatibility with the NHSA map.