After modern Arctic Cat snowmobile riders have watched with jealous eyes while Polaris and Ski-Doo riders glanced at their gauges to choose a direction on an electronic map, Team Green has answered with its own GPS accessory option.
In doing so, Cat offers a third take on how to properly deliver this high-tech feature that makes snowmobiling in unknown territory so much easier in the current era. It is the result of an agreement between Arctic Cat and GPS giant Garmin.
The New Cat Option
The Arctic Cat “TREAD” option announced this week utilizes a separate, dash-mounted 5-5-inch screen that sits below the main, two-screen gauge that comes as stock equipment.
According to the press release (posted far below), the Powersports Navigator gauge will give Cat riders the convenience of glove-friendly touch screen control, and will include pre-loaded topo and street maps. The base kit costs $550, while the Premium setup with group ride functionality and Group Ride Radio will be $700. Installation kits will cost you another Benjamin.
Other Takes On GPS
Polaris and Ski-Doo both jumped deeper into the GPS water than Arctic Cat, though each system is unique.
Polaris initiated use of GPS and impressively complete mapping on snowmobiles, first with its Ride Command App, then the PIDD gauge and now with the incredible 7S gauge that puts full functionality and touch-screen controls right in front of the driver on the main gauge.
Ski-Doo answered with its high-tech 7.8-inch Panoramic LCD gauge starting in model year 2021. When connected to a rider’s phone (which can be kept in a warm pocket behind the gauge), it brings GPS mapping through the BRP GO! app.
At this point the GO! app doesn’t show quite as many trails or cover as many areas as the Polaris Ride Command app, but it continues to improve. When hooked into the gauge, a rider can control the phone-based app’s display on their main gauge through a huge dash-mounted joystick and related controls.
At this point, Yamaha doesn’t have a system in place, but we would be shocked if one didn’t come soon.
One key for each of these brands, though, may be the ability to spread whatever is developed (and thus the cost of developing them) to other markets the brands serve. Polaris’ 7S and Ride Command is a selling point on everything from ATVs and UTVs to Indian Motorcycles. We’d expect the BRP GO! to be spread to Can-Am and Sea-Doo products soon, and would think that TREAD might expand to other Cat or Textron products as well.
Below is that Cat press release.
The Cat Press Release
Arctic Alert: Arctic Cat® to offer Garmin® TREAD™ GPS Kits for Snowmobiles
Whether in the backcountry or on the trail, a GPS is an essential device for snowmobilers. And thanks to a new agreement between Arctic Cat® and Garmin®, Cat riders can go confidently into every ride with TREAD™, the rugged 5.5-inch Powersport Navigator.
Built by the leader in GPS technology, TREAD features a glove-friendly touch screen and is built to withstand the most-extreme temperatures, terrains, and weather. Carve the powder or take the trail less known in confidence with TREAD’s preloaded topographic and street maps for North and South America. In addition, its high-resolution Birdseye Satellite Imagery can be downloaded directly to the device via Wi-Fi® connectivity without a subscription. Its built-in altimeter, barometer, compass, pitch and roll gauges help riders navigate any terrain. Upgrade to the premium GPS kit for Group Ride Radio (available in the U.S. only) which features group tracking for up to 20 riders. When paired to Bluetooth, it offers handsfree communication so the rider can focus on the trail and stay in contact with other riders.
TREAD integrates into most newer Arctic Cat snowmobile models with TREAD install kits — available in trail and mountain versions. Its custom dash mount to house the GPS provides excellent visibility for the rider, protects all wiring and radio components, and integrates with most windshields.
The TREAD GPS Kit retails for $549.95 with the Premium Kit retailing for $699.95. Install kits are sold separately for $99.95 for the Trail and $109.95 for the Mountain. Available at Arctic Cat dealers.
Editor’s Note: This review was originally published in the October 2020 issue of Snow Goer. Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more! Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door or your computer for a low cost.