In has only been the last few years that there has been an awareness of "Ice Road Trucking". Not until after the History Channel did a documentary about the trucks and truckers who brave the bitter cold and darkness did the world really become aware of them. Of course since that time almost everyone want to become an "Ice Road Trucker".
Hauling on the ice roads is nothing new to those who live in the circumpolar regions of the world. For most this is the only time of the year that supplies can be trucked in remote areas. Most of this vast country is covered with rock, swamp, muskeg and lakes. Almost like one big boggy sponge. Nothing can travel on this type of terrain. Once winter hits though it becomes a whole ball game. The ground freezes up and the trucks start to roll. A whole lot of freight has to be hauled in a very short time. For a lot of the diamond mines that are getting supplies hauled in that means getting a years supply of fuel, steel, building supplies etc. brought in in record time because time is money. If the Ice Road Truckers can't get the goods in the only other option is air freight and getting things in by air is very costly. For a lot of companies in this remote area getting supplies in on the ice roads is a matter of staying in business or not.
Most trucks that transport goods on the ice roads are "tandem" drive trucks. Most would be of severe service rating to be able to handle the off road conditions.. Most "highway" transport trucks do not fair so well out here. Most "highway" model trucks today are built for aerodynamics and have to much added fiberglass that can shatter or break apart. Also suspensions need to be a bit tougher here due to extreme weights being hauled. It not uncommon to see trucks with over height, over weight, over dimensional loads on these roads.
Aside from heavy loads, there are lots of legal weighted loads that travel in on these roads. Some shipments are loaded in Southern Canada and trucked right out to the job sites. Loads like fuel and propane are hauled in "B-Train" type trailers. In other cases some products are shipped up and stockpiled during the year.
As far as most trucks though that haul the winter roads go, the only other features you may find is added fuel tanks because of the lack of fuel stops and extra storage and tool boxes to carry additional parts and tools. No repair shops out here. Drivers need to be prepared for trips to take extra time due to white outs, blizzard conditions, break downs, road closures and whole list of other things that most people never even think of.