Snow Drags and their best uses
Usually, but not always, snow drags are a large rectangular frame with multiple angled snow cutting blades throughout the frame and a compaction pan at the back. As the snow drag is pulled, it cuts the top layer of snow, ice, and or slush, and passes the loose moisture from one blade to another, dragging it along, hence the name, Snow Drag. This process fills in the tracks of the machine in front of the snow drag, along with any small ruts or gaps in the trail. The processing of the snow also has the effect of warming/reviving the snow so that it can be more densely packed by the compaction pan at the back of the chassis. This results in a fresh surface of renewed and packed snow. A larger vehicle is usually required, especially with larger Snow Drags, as the Snow Drag it self is heavy and becomes heavier as more snow is cut and dragged. A smaller machine can be used, but may be overworked if too much snow builds up in the snow drag. Some snow drags can add extra pressure using hydraulics and the three-point hookups of a tractor (or something like a Tucker) to keep the front of the snow drag down and cutting into the moguls.
Snow Drags perform best on flat land snowmobile trails. They can be extremely effective at removing moguls or whoops by utilizing their multiple blades to cut down the tops of the hills and depositing the snow in the valleys between. It may still be necessary to make multiple passes on larger moguls and whoops, and getting rid of them and totally flattening out a trail can still be difficult, especially in icy conditions. Something to keep in mind though, snow drags have sides that keep things level but there are cases where the sides keep the drag on top of the moguls and do not let it cut them off as much as needed.
Snow drags are not as good for the following
Sledding hills: Because they are heavy, they may want to slide sideways when you drive along the side of the hill. Also they can tend to push snow where you may not want it pushed.
Ski hills: Because of their shape and intended use. Snow drags regularly leave a ridge of disturbed but not compacted snow on either side of their path. Because very few snow drags have wings to prevent these ridges, this makes it difficult to not have ridges between the paths of the drag. It can also cause a problem on narrow paths with snow banks on either side, as the snow drag does not keep the sides of the trail from falling back into the groomed area.
Deep powder conditions: Many drags can have the powder go over the top of the drag instead of under it, which results in poor corduroy because of the uncompacted powder on top. Some of this can be solved by using a snow plow to knock down the snow before it gets to the snow drag.
- Cutting Moguls and Whoops
- Reviving snow quality
- Compacting snow
- Heavy, especially in use
- Not great behind a snowmobile or smaller machine
- Not always affective in fresh powder
- Some trail snow is lost over the edges or taken away by the drag
Snow Groomers and best uses
Our snow groomers are primarily a heavy compaction pan that is built to pulled by anything you ride on the snow and will float on any type snow. Snow Groomers are not intended to drag snow, and even when using the attachable Razor, that performs one of the functions of a Snow Drag (Cutting the top layer of snow/ice and reheating it for better compaction) the snow is cut and then deflected to go under the compaction pan. Because there is not a constant load of snow on/in the groomer, the pulling power necessary is greatly reduced allowing for a greater range of machines to pull the groomer (we have even pulled our smallest groomers with a sno-scoot).
Snow Groomers with Razors are very effective at cutting down moguls and whoops. And while you may need to make a few more passes than you would with a snow drag, our snow groomers, especially small ones, can be effortlessly dragged behind a snowmobile or any larger machine at all times and prevent trails from deteriorating rather than fixing them after they are a problem. Though they are still capable of renewing trails that have been chewed or rutted up. The larger groomers also have a wheel kit that allows you to take it across asphalt and road ways. The wheel kit also has a benefit of making it easier to store in the off season.
Our snow groomers (not including the sno-Blaster) are also better at keeping snow on the trail as they don’t lose snow to the sides or take it along with them as you go. In the case of the Sno-Blaster, it’s purpose is to remove the top layer of fresh powder and bring the trail back down to the deeper hard pack snow that is used for Fat Biking, Trail Running, Snow Shoeing, or any other reason you may want to be down there.
For best results when snow grooming, you should let the trail sit untouched after it is groomed. The longer, the better as that allows the groomed snow time to harden to the same quality as snow compacted by a snow drag. For this reason, we prefer to groom late at night. This will usually give us another benefit of colder air to help in hardening the corduroy
For deep powder conditions, our snow groomers will always stay on top of the snow if you have your deflectors in front of your compaction pan. This keeps snow from going over the groomer and onto your fresh corduroy, as well as keeping it on the trail.
For walking trails, ski hills, tubing runs, snow fishing paths, ski joring, dog sled trails, cross country skiing; It is way more efficient and better to use a snow groomer than to use a snow drag.
- Cutting Moguls and Whoops
- Reviving snow quality
- Still affective in powder
- Relatively light
- Can be pulled behind most any snow worthy vehicle
- Does not cut as much off the top layer of snow
- May need more passes for compacting snow
Grooming at ski resorts – Worth Noting
Ski resorts groom their hills with a plow and a snow groomer behind them. There are two big ones who do this. Prinoth and Pisten Bully. They move the snow with the plow on the front which has many ways it can turn or push the snow. That is the easiest way to get snow to the correct place to be groomed. It then both grooms and compacts the snow as it drives over it. Because of how large these machines are, they do not need to warm up the snow for compaction in most cases.
We are hoping this answer questions about snow drags versus snow groomers and when to use each.
Snow drags are most useful in keeping very used snowmobile paths smooth. You need machines that are meant for towing lots of weight to pull most snow drags.
We do not even know how to classify the sno-Blaster as it is neither a snow groomer by definition or a snow drag. We call it a snow groomer because it leaves nice corduroy but the plows in front. This is different than any other snow groomer.