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MaxSled Review – Polaris RiderX Snow Trails App

As a snowmobiler, I like to be prepared. Even in the Midwest where towns are six miles apart and there’s a bar in between, it’s no fun being stranded in the middle of nowhere. In more remote areas knowing where you are and how much fuel it will take to get you home is crucial.

I remember during a trip Larry and I took in 2003 to the northern part if Minnesota to ride the 2003 Firecat and 2003 Yamaha RX1. We ventured out and decided that it might be fun to explore a small lake. We headed to what we thought was a boat landing (as it turned out it wasn’t), and went down a steep hill onto the lake below. We drove around, found open water, stopped and took pictures and decided to head back. We could not get off that lake. The hill we came down was sheer ice, and there wasn’t any other place to get off the lake. It was surrounded by steep banks and trees.

Picture 067

We traveled down a river and thought we saw a cabin off in the distance. The river ice soon turned into flowing rapids and the cabin we thought we saw was simply a large uprooted tree. The only way off the lake was the way we got on. We managed through sheer determination to get off that lake just as it was getting dark.

As we headed back, we got turned around and ended up taking a trail in a circle. We were lost. It was 20 below zero, and we were running out of gas. Cell phone service was spotty at best and we only had one phone with nary a charge left and it wasn’t the one with the phone number we had to call in its recent call list. To make a long story short, we found a road, called the ( bar here ) and they gave us direction based on where we told them we were and we got back there just as we ran out of fuel. We were still 25 miles from the truck and trailer, but we refueled, ate a burger, warmed up and I vowed from that day on I would not go riding without a GPS ever again.

This was back when a cell phone’s main purpose was to make phone calls. This was also in the days where portable chargers didn’t exist, and sleds didn’t have 12v. accessory plugs (although the RX1 did), and you didn’t carry a cord with you if it did.

As a snowmobile journalist, I would also carry a digital camera and camcorder, but we weren’t planning on being out much after dark so we didn’t prepare like we should have. No extra water, nothing to start a fire with, nothing to eat; just a day’s ride. I’m more prepared now, but with the advent of smartphones I can travel much lighter.

IMG_3472One of the recent additions to my arsenal is Polaris’s RiderX Snow Trails App. By recent, I mean when it first came out. It is now on version 2.2 and has improved over the last year and a half.

The main feature of the Snow Trails App is the snowmobile trails. This app shows most of the snowmobile trails across the US. It combines that data with the built-in GPS chip in your phone to show your location, whether on trail, off trail, or following a road ditch. Combined with a paper map, you will be able to tell exactly where you are and plan your destination.

IMG_3467This app also tracks your rides by showing where you traveled, how far you’ve gone, and your average speed in that distance. This information can be synced to an online account you sign up for future planning or reliving the memory. You can also share your rides with friends on Twitter and Facebook. Maps are cached in the phone’s memory so you don’t always need a cell data connection, which is paramount to remote riding. Data can also be exported to other devices in GPX or CSV format.

The app also shows current weather including temperature and snow cover, and it gives you an indication of how the trails are based on your location. Looking for fuel or need a new belt? The app shows you the nearest fuel and Polaris dealership, which is pretty cool.

IMG_3403At the Polaris Media Event, they showed us a glimpse of what is coming in the next version of the app and hinted at some features in the pipeline. One thing they are doing with the app is working with local clubs offering an opportunity for the club to earn revenue. Clubs rely on paper map advertising as a portion of their income. That income helps pay for things like signage, groomers, maintenance, fuel, and more. The trails you enjoy don’t just appear by magic, it takes money and volunteers to keep them in tip-top shape.

Another feature they are working on is the ability to pick a destination and plan a route. The way you plan a ride now is to simply use the app to plan where you want to go ride, not a trail route plan.

IMG_3397I’ve used this app and while there are a few things I’d like to see improved, it’s currently the best one out there. One of the things I had trouble with was that the app would not go into landscape mode on my iPhone. After talking with one of the app developer at Polaris about it, it turns out the Android version 2.2 and iOS version 2.2 don’t necessarily offer the same features. The Android version will go into landscape mode while the iOS version doesn’t, but I was told will after the next update.

Another issue I had was that if the phone shut off (which it did a couple times in the cold, as they don’t work well in the cold) you lose the route altogether. An auto-save function here would be nice where it would save on the fly. I would also like to see it override your phone’s sleep mode. While you can go into settings and turn off the sleep mode, my Garmin GPS app automatically overrides the phone’s sleep mode so I don’t have to think about it.

One of the biggest improvements that I’d like to see the app do is work with software such as Garmin’s Basecamp where you can plan a route and upload that route to the phone. Then allow the app to give you turn-by-turn directions so when you come to a crossing or junction in the trail, you know exactly where to turn. I was told this has been thought of, but may be a year or so off.


I carry light these days when riding. I no longer carry the Garmin Nuvi, but I will carry the eTrex as a backup GPS. The Canon EOS-M is a small camera to take that takes excellent video and images, but sometimes I leave that and just use the iPhone.

With this app and my iPhone, I’ve managed to lighten my gadget load when I go riding. Even as a snowmobile journalist I no longer need to take a bulky camera, video camera, GPS, MP3 player, as well as my phone. Now it can all be done with the iPhone. OK, so the MP3 player wasn’t a necessity, but it’s really cool listening to Thunderstruck while you’re riding.


The Splash Caddy Dry Gear zippered pouch features adjustable straps that wrap around the handlebars. I don’t know if they are available any longer, so you may need to engineer something yourself.

I’ve used a Garmin Vista eTrk (and still do in the woods while hunting) and a Garmin Nuvi while riding and while they worked OK, this app is so much better and adds so much more information. Plus the ability to allow you to save and share your rides is the cherry on the shake.

One thing I will mention is that using a GPS on your smartphone will chew up power like Pacman chomping dots. I’ve purchased an external charger and while using this app I keep the external charger plugged in. I’m able to go all day with enough juice left to recharge the iPhone the next day. I highly recommend this.

The PowerGen 9000 will recharge your iPhone 4-5 times, or last all day with it plugged in and using the GPS.

The PowerGen 9000 will recharge your iPhone 4-5 times, or last all day with it plugged in and using the GPS.

I also purchased a zippered window pouch and made a foam liner to fit the iPhone and power supply in, and strap it around the handlebars.

If you haven’t downloaded the RiderX Snow Trails App, do so now. It is one of those things you’ll be glad you did when you’re lost in the middle of nowhere, stuck on a lake until dusk, and low on fuel. They also have an ATV/Dirt off-road sister app for summer trails as well.

Go here to find out more information on the RiderX Snow Trails App.

6 Responses to MaxSled Review – Polaris RiderX Snow Trails App

  1. Sean Areoply December 31, 2016 at 10:55 am #

    Brenda, Sorry you are having issues with this. Please follow the recommended guidelines to successfully transfer maps to your unit. Battery must be fully charged: Files loaded to a usb that is formatted and at least 4GB in available space: Files in raw form and not in a folder and not compressed: The file transfer takes aprox 35 minutes and you must not interrupt this process: The condition you are in, currently, means your unit has been erased and basic commands to start up the display and unit are lost: Please take the unit to your nearest dealership to have it renewed. A service charge (aprox150.00 – 200.00) will apply.
    Good luck,
    Sean A. Senior Rep: Polaris

  2. Keith weber February 14, 2016 at 8:28 am #

    Where did you get your info from,sledx tried to steal copy’s of villas county maps and never compensate any club in that county.We had a meeting with them and the person that came out did not have a clue how Wisconsin clubs get paid.Clubs are all volunteers,some groomer drivers do get paid but very few.they are out to profit and not compensate club or support the snowmobile industry.clubs invest there money every year,,and donate their time in hopes they make money to SUPPORT trails,we don’t see POLARIS helping us in any way not one dime ,any one wants to contact me President NORTHERN HORNSHOE TRAILS CLUB

  3. Brenda Nygaard November 9, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

    Can anyone call and help with the download of the maps on my GPS? I have tried and tried to get the maps transferred from website. Support finally said my Scan disk of 64 gb was too big so got a 32 gb and it was transferring today. The transfer was taking so very long so decided to start the RZR so battery did not run down. After it ran a long time, I shut it off and whole GPS shut down and now it has a black screen but the buttons are all lit up and key is out of the machine. What do I do now?

  4. bill January 24, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

    App stinks. No cached map. Gps enabled but still only worked on cell. There aren’t many trails in pa gamelands that have any cell service …. And on trail with cell service on ridge. No trail on their map
    … Tried to track my trip thru gamelands but it did nothing but kill my battery. No trip tracked. Worth- less

    • Shane Zeppelin January 24, 2015 at 8:03 pm #

      Hello Bill,

      Sorry to hear you’re having issues. I am working on a follow up article talking about some of the improvements the app has gotten recently. I understand that you are now able to download maps so it should work without cell service. Yes it will drain your phone battery as any gps app will, so you will need to either plug it into a power outlet or carry a power pack with you. GPS chips take a lot of power whether in a cell phone or stand alone gps unit. Update the app, sign up for a RiderX account and play with it some more. Polaris is always improving the app so hopefully it works better in the future for you.

  5. Mark February 21, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    Does the app really cache the maps? I have both the Polaris and the MN Snowmobile Trails apps on my HTC One, and they work great – when there is cell service. Last weekend we were riding the Suomi trail north of Grand Rapids, and neither app worked without cell service. I talked (by email) to the developer of the MN Snowmobile Trails app about map caching, and this app doesn’t support the feature.

    Is there a setting or protocol that you need to use to get caching on the Polaris app? I tried to email the Polaris developer via the Play Store link but the email comes back as undeliverable.

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