I am the first to admit that I dislike snowmobiles. The noise, the smell, the image, and the environmental impact have always turned me off. I also try to limit ownership of motorized vehicles, because no matter how well you maintain them, they are still a money trap. Alas, though, my daily desire to ski more fresh snow and reach more distant peaks finally won out this year. So I purchased.
I quickly realized that stock snowmobiles aren’t really setup for skiers (or tall people) and they take a lot more work to operate than one would assume. So I have spent quite a bit of time over the last few months figuring out how to make this machine more useful for my purposes. The first thing that jumped out at me, it needs a ski carry system. So I began the internet search. Looking at offerings from companies such as CFR and X-Rack. Two things became clear, there aren’t many ski rack options for a sled and the ones that do exist aren’t cheap.
So like any self-respecting backcountry skier, I continued to bungee my skis to the tunnel, and generally ignored the problem. That is of course until I got an offer to build something custom…
My friend Andrew just happens to possess both the tools and ability to make this sort of thing happen. Andrew is an avid backcountry skier and has been making custom ski racks, on a one-off basis, for friends in Colorado’s Front Range for a while now. Unfortunately he also has a day job, so production is limited to his copious spare time.
The deal was that I would provide the sled, funding, labor, food, and beverage. Andrew would provide the design and craftsmanship. A good deal if you ask me.
The first step was to send him some photos and measurements of my tunnel.
Andrew ordered the appropriate materials and we set up some time to manufacture.
The idea was to create a design that was light, reinforced the tunnel walls, and of course secured two pairs of skis to the sled in a solid and convenient fashion. The skis would be held in place by wedging the tails between the rack bars and the foot rails on the sled. Holes would be drilled in the sides of the box portion of the rack to attach bungees for extra peace of mind. We measured as many ski and binding combos as we had on hand to make sure the fit was going to be universal. Luckily Andrew has as many skis as I do, so confidence was high. After measuring twice, it was time to cut.
I began the prep work while Andrew began the metal work.
Two issues I was sure to mention to Andrew about the design were the inconveniently located exhaust and that I needed my brake light to be visible. We toyed with several ideas before settling on a few modifications to ensure we solved both of these problems.
We inked out the last stylings for the rack, spot welded the design together, and I left the final cutting and welding to Andrew.
A few days later I got the call that it was ready to be mounted to the sled. I found my way back over to his garage with anxious anticipation. I was not disappointed. The final product looked great. And the ski test, perfect fit. Looks like it’ll work for luggage as well, such as strapping on a backpack. Let the bolting begin.
The final version of the ski rack fit perfectly and weighed in right at 7lbs.
After the fact, I have been experimenting with some padding ideas to prevent friction on bindings and skis. I haven’t found the exact solution yet, but I have a new idea using rubber tubing.
In closing, after 20 days of use I have been very pleased with this snowmobile ski rack design. The skis go on and come off quickly and it’s been very durable. Every time I see one of the many junk shows on the back of sleds these days, my tight rig brings me a feeling of comfort.
Though Andrew does this as a hobby, I am sure he could be persuaded to put something together for anyone interested. He is truly a mountain craftsman.
WildSnow guest blogger Caleb Wray is a photographer and outdoor adventurer who lives in Colorado and travels worldwide. He enjoys everything from backcountry skiing to surfing.
As though that sled needed to get heavier! Just kidding. I have certainly benefited from this ski rack on his sled. Great design! Andrew, what do you think you can do with an 800 rmk?
Try using old bike inner tubes for the padding. Wrap them around then secure with zipties. Unless it was the zip ties that failed with your first attempt.
Can we see apicture with the skis in the rack I am not sure I see how they stay on?
Will that desing work with freerides? Doesn’t really look like it would…
On occasion…Old man Caleb does bring out his freerides, and yeah it works just fine. The skis slide under the front and lower bar and over the top of the taller back bar, then for reassurance he just throws some bungies on them. The only improvement I can see to it would be a better system for attaching ski poles. But thats just me.
So far I have had everything from Freerides to a snowboard on the rack. No issues at all with the fit. The design is quite simple. The tails wedge against the foot rail, under the fore bar and over the aft bar. With every snow riding apparatus that I have had in there so far the pressure alone seems to hold things in place. I throw in the bungees just to be sure. As Jordan mentioned though, the poles can be a little bothersome to keep in place.
“I am the first to admit that I dislike snowmobiles. The noise, the smell, the image, and the environmental impact have always turned me off.”
It’s like learning how to fake sincerity – once you figure it out, the world is your oyster.
True words Andrew. Apparently my skills have gotten a little rusty.
Here in WA. many of us use Cabela’s gun rack mounts (for ATVs) which bolt onto the side of the tunnel. They seem to work very well and retail for about $40 each. I was surprised how well skis fit in the racks instead of a rifle. Sorry I don’t have a picture. Just another way of doing it. Skip Edmonds
Here at Lake Tahoe, the Alpine Meadows’ sleds have something similar but with 4 vertical tubes, with a hole pattern for drainage, mounted onto a rack instead of the bars.
I bought the CFR rack this year. – love it. This one looks sick as well!
Andrew does fine work. We have the same rack on our Arctic Cat 1M and then have a very elaborate 4-ski rack on the Bearcat widetrack. I need to get some pics of that one as it’s quite impressive craftsmanship done by Andrew. The 4-ski rack also holds up to 4 ski packs, a cooler, and ski poles. It probably weighs 25 lbs., but another 25 lbs. on an already 750 lb. Widetrack 4-stroke really doesn’t matter.
Albert speaks to how I do my rack as well for thoes who don’t have the professional skills show on this blog. I use ATV gun racks mounted to the rear bar on the tunnel. One ski on each side. I got a 3 foot piece of old fire hose for the local fire department (4″ diameter), ripped the hose in half and bolted each end to either side of the tunnel. this creates a big strap over the seat…simply slide your ski tip between hose and seat and the rear of the ski into the gun rack. A bike inner tube completes the tie down. Only holds one set of skis and snoboards need not apply…
Cheap and effecient.
Great work though Caleb…looks solid. Can you use the rack to lift the sled out when your stuck?
avid backcountry skier
copious spare time
Andrew McL? :biggrin:
You might be able to use Mountain Bike grips on those pegs, the ones with a wider rim on the outboard side could really hold em in.
Not to dog on your handiwork, which looks nice, but in my experience when the skis are kicked up like that it puts them in a vulnerable position to be broken from a rolled sled or bouncing from rowdy sledding.
The CFR racks have the same issue.
Earlier this year I saw my buddy break a pair of Pontoons on his CFR rack from taking air and landing hard on the sled.
I have an ’08 Nytro also, which I put my skis on the left side running board and camstrap them from the right side of the rear bumper bar to the hole in the back of the left side running board. They only fall off occasionally.
Other guys will camstrap one ski and one pole to each side of the tunnel on the running board, which seems to work pretty well too and reduces the exposure to the inevitable sled carnage.
I’d like to see some type of running board / tunnel rack system. I keep meaning to make one but pesky work and skiing keep getting in the way.
Bungees will hopefully break before my skis. My machines have utility racks, so I use ski bags and bungees and angle the ski bag toward the rear. So far in 20 years I have broken two ski poles, but no skis so far.
Caleb, nice setup. You might want to read Lou’s write up about his rack. I copied his idea of using snowboard bindings to fasten the skis and it works great. As far as a rubberized coating for the ski racks, large heat shrinks from ilsco work well. They are for electrical splices and have an adhesive on the inside.
The Yamahas are great sleds for ski access, but they really need to do work on the exhaust systems. They are either under the tunnel or exposed in the back like yours is.
When I put my ski rack on I had to ditch the rear light, which has not been a problem. It just is not legal without it. I bought a small LED tail light to put on the back of the rack but have not gotten around to installing it
I would really love a picture of how a snowboard fits into this system, because we are in dire need of functional racks on our patrol skidoo, and this is something that our maintenance dept could whip up pretty quick – but it has to be functional w/ boards as well obvously.
why don’t they just put CHAIRLIFTS in the backcountry, so the unlucky few of us who don’t have a SLED yet can also get there. i wish they still made skins… 🙁
Unlucky, most everyone I know with sleds like this use them to go up snow covered roads for 10-15 miles. In the spring we drive our Subarus and Toyotas up the same roads to the start of the skinning. They still make super macho skins for those of you who enjoy endless road slogs. I use my regular skins for bagging vertical, after the sled cuts off four hours of flat skinning. The negative of the sled is that I have to work a lot of hours to pay for and maintain it.
i had no idea thats what you did. i thought you went straight up that gol darn hill. i still think we should just put really long gondolas in, that way, those of us without cars could still play, and git sum dat wild snow too. :tongue:
ps, when i see all of these decked out garages, i always thinks of Black Flag’s Family Man…get some nails from your well stocked garage, Family Man…
you see, i have neither car nor well stocked garage…arrrrrg
Unlucky, sorry I came on too sarcastic. Nice good humor response! Most of the people on this site who use sleds use them for access and don’t use them to ski from the top of the mountain, not that there is anything wrong with that if it is legal. It is just not what most people on here are into. Think of our sleds as a gondola to the bottom of the mountain.
Looks like a pretty good setup, I’ll be trying to make something on my new M8 this week, probably similar to the gun rack system. Always good to see other ideas, though. I think one advantage of this setup is that the forces on the ski are top and bottom of the ski, versus hitting the sides of the ski like the CFR racks (which blew up the Irwin Viking’s skis)
I built a very similar rig for my 08 polaris RMK. All I did was bolt some 3/4″ steel tube stock to the T-Slot tracks on the tunnel. Holds the skis the same way and keeps them out of the way. I was able to score some used MTB grips and used those to pad the bars. Works awesome and cost under 10-15.00 total. Did the ATV gunrack deal for years w/ great success. Had to replace one or two over the years but they’re cheap. got some pics over on TGR on he snowmobile thread
Thanks for the kind words Caleb, I’m glad the rack is working out well for you. Glad to hear your back is healing well and you’re playing again. We need to get out on the next storm cycle.
Jordon – You can contact me at email@example.com and I can take a look at what you got. If you are near the Front Range Foothills it’s best to stop by so I can mock it up while on the sled to ensure we don’t interfere with the heat exchangers, lights, etc…..With that said I’m building one for a guy in CA with an 04 144” REV from pictures. I’m a little leery of doing so due to the design relying on wedging the skis against the foot rails but he seems to understand the concept and is experienced using a tape measure and Photoshop 😉
To answer a few more questions; I came up with this design after a couple of years of using the Cabalas gun racks and a myriad of contraptions and a watching them break, damage the tunnel, or in some cases, break skis. The gun racks work well if you are driving on trail at slow speeds and avoiding whoops. I have found over time the gun racks will pull through the relative lightweight tunnel material, or worst case, twist the tunnel if you have a heavy thumb. I wanted a lightweight design like the CFR rack but found in deep snow while carving on the sled the CRF rack has a tendency to bend the tip or tail of the ski back due to the sled being laid over and the snow rushing by and pulling on the skis. We did manage to keep K2’s “Hell Bent” true to it’s namesake. This is a consequence of how the skis sit on the CRF or any rack for that matter that has the tips and tails facing out and the reason why I use the foot rails to keep the tips or tails wedged firmly in place.
The rack is strong enough to pull and pry on when getting un-stuck, and unlike other racks, actually strengthens the tunnel. I am working on a design similar to Lou’s that allows the tubing that holds the skis in place to be removed for the more Sledneck minded folks but I have found them to be handy to stand on when things get steep. On a couple of racks I have built I have incorporated and replaced the Factory pull bar. It’s amazing how much force you can put on the tunnel with a couple pairs of skis when you hit a whoop at speed, and again, the reason strength is important. Skidoo REVs tend to have the most issues with tunnel strength from my experience.
Hopefully this answers some of the questions. If anyone else would like some more pictures to build your own, or if I can find the time to build one for you shoot me an email at the addy above.
Let it snow!
“Looks like a pretty good setup, I’ll be trying to make something on my new M8 this week, probably similar to the gun rack system.”
Thank heavens above somebody finally mentioned guns as no posting on sleds is complete without them. 😉
The snowboard fits in just like the skis, wedged between the rack bars and the foot rail. This set up does require bungees to hold the board in place, but works pretty well. Especially with the kind of riding that i would expect at a ski area.
Nothing like starting a post apologizing about disliking snowmobiles in the first paragraph and then writting about them! Unless you leave your front door in tour mode on wooden skis and wool clothing, you are using fossil fuels… don’t give in to your hippie-angst but instead be truthful about what you do/are! We ALL drive to the trail head, ski plastic skis and boots and wrap ourselves in the lastest and greatest in petrochemical outerwear… why should snowmobiles be any different? Just because you look down with distain at the yahoos from Grand Junction when they go tear-assing half-cocked in the bc and feel the need to shake you head in disappproval does not equate youself to them!
So please don’t apologize for something like snowmobiling just because it offends the sensebilities of some “enlighted” long-hairs from Boulder…
(love the Black Flag reference… (be the first one with his Christmas lights up, Familiy Man”)
Surely Njord, you can think of some other differences between cars and snowmobiles and petrochemical clothing. Not all dislike of snowmobiles has an environmental basis.
I actually really hate my petrochemical outerwear smelling like snowmobile exhaust all the time. I also like the sound of the wind in the trees and on occasion my partners have something interesting to say. But, skinning 10 miles of flat road is even less appealing soooo. And Njord, how did you know I was a long-haired hippy :biggrin: ?
I think that the approach used in Vail Pass and Butler Gulch/Jones Pass addresses the snowmobile problem well, or at least is a step in the right direction. People that want fresh air and quiet are separate from the ones with the internal combustion fetish. Everyone wins (more or less).
John Gloor hinted to it, but one thing to watch with the Yamaha exhaust is the temperature of your skis and/or anything else you might have strapped to the back. I had a buddy melt his base pretty good on a long ride in…
In reference to the fossil fuel debate… give it another 15 years and they’ll all be electric!
:biggrin: LOL electric… Something tells me you will have a hell of a time matching the power of an 800 with any electric device. Not to mention the distance you have to travel round trip on a recon mission. Hope they have a solar panel to keep them charged LMAO :ninja:
Fuel cell, they pack some power.
Very clean design! I’m hoping that there will be a follow-up after you’ve used it for a season or so.
Thinking about buying a snowmobile too. But I know nothing about the things. I went to visit the local SkiDoo dealer and they had no clue what I was talking about. “What, you just want to drive out on summer roads and park the beast at the bottom of the hill and not high-mark?”
So, I’d like to read a discussion about which machine to buy. I seem to remember a lot of talk before Lou bought his Nitro about SkiDoo Tundras being the best work horse. But then Lou bought the Nitro and now he calls it “Mr. Tipsy”. So what’s up with that??
I’d especially like to learn about older machines that have a great reputation. The sticker shock was extreme in that fancy showroom.
Thanks for all the great articles!
I ride a 2008 SkiDoo Tundra 300 which is very light and has great powder float but sadly is underpowered compared to what is needed for breaking a track in deep power and going up a steep hill at the same time. If you ride at elevation (mostly >11,000 ft for me) it takes a lot out of an engine – so don’t underestimate the value of horsepower.
I just strap my skis on the back rack which works OK. Many racks will break when subjected to the forces involved in hammering over massive bumps, etc. Make sure to overbuild it whatever it is.
I had a group of snowshoers give me the stick-eye this past weekend on the way in to access the back of the valley and skin some laps – until I ended up rescuing them on the way out after they got lost and found themselves 7 miles back in a snowstorm at 3pm (without maps, compass, headlamp, etc).!
Carver, if you will use the sled for flat road access only, towing skiers, I would go with a touring or work sled. They are heavy and slow, but the will pull on packed roads very well without overheating. I am on my second mountain powder sled, and towing skiers is hard on it and overheating is a constant worry.
The new four strokes are awesome machines. They are clean and quiet. Unfortunately, the selection of cheap used ones is small since they have not been around long. With a little shopping time, you can probably find a 2004 era two stroke for $2500-3000. They are simple to work on and maintain, but they, and you, will smell like gas.
Wilson, you have to get used to the stink eye from snow shoers and dog walkers. Don’t you know, they are athletes of the purest variety and you are just a filthy polluting redneck (grin).
smiley face did not work at the end. I was not serious.
Don’t know what’s wrong with the emoticons, I’ll check into it. :angel:
Seems to work for me. Gloor, if you need a smily in your post try just placing the following in there: the word “smile” with no quote marks, but with a colon character : as the first and last character with the word “smile” in the middle of the two colons. Like this, (smile) only use colons instead of the parenthesis.
Thanks Lou. That was the first time I tried to use the smiley faces and I clicked and dragged.
Oh, nope, they’re not click/drag, just click.
Lou, when clicking on some of the ‘Your comments’ on the right hand side, they don’t seem to link to the comment by that person. Carver’s comment above is an example. Other links are working fine, for example John Gloor. No big deal, but thought you would prefer to know.
Frame, I didn’t know that so thanks for bringing it up. Probably a bug in how the “recent comments” are being extracted and displayed. BUT, I’ve also experienced that behavior when the site is running slow, and it’s actually just a delay in the time it takes for the browser to go to the post with the comments, then focus on the comment. Could be that’s what you’re experiencing.
No worries, J.G. 🙂
although, not so bad being a filthy polluting redneck – just in moderation. Master of all trades, I say. Snow pit analyst, Dad to my daughters, slayer of fresh pow, environmental professional, and filthy polluting redneck all rolled into one.
Anyways agree on the workhorse sleds having their place. My 2nd sled is a SkiDoo Skandic wide track. 650 lbs of monster machine with lots of track and a low range shift on the fly transmittion. Just make sure to not hurt your back getting it unstuck (which you will do with regularity with any snow machine).
Thanks for the resposes to my questions.
I’m all over craigslist now!
Carver I am a 20- year Ski Doo Tundra user. The older Tundras pull well and are very light= one guy can pull them around with relative ease. In the day when my 1989 Tundra was new I pulled 5 skinny-skiers up a logging road on a rope, no problem. Also, in the old days my little light Tundra would float deep snow beyond some big sleds of that time- point being that there is a decent capability with the light weight and tractive power. I own a 1989 short-track Tundra and a 2006 Tundra II that has a longer track and a lot more suspension. The newer Tundra II has a smoother ride, the older shorter Tundra pulls the large loaded cargo sled better then the longer track Tundra II The older short Tundra has a narrow ski width and is very maneuverable like a trials motorcycle through trees etc. The longer track seems to bog down more easily, the smaller engine spins the short track with more efficacy. It seems to me that the late-model Tundra 300 longer tracks outgrew the power of the small single-cylinder engine. Tundras have racks, I use ski bags and bungees, one can pile on all sort of luggage as needed. I also have pulled my loaded cargo sled with a rider on the cargo sled. Tundras are good for simplicity, ease of use getting unstuck or pulling around, and certainly serve me well to approach ski tours.There is a photo of my Tundras here-
Check out the atv gun rack option for ski holders. You can usually find them for around $25. Reinforce the tunnel with a little iron and then bolt the gun rack down and your ready to go. For snowboards, just split the board and use teleski straps to hold the board together. Otherwise, another cheap and functional way to hold skis, is to pop rivet a small cam strap to the tunnel. (Make sure to put a gromet in the cam strap) Total cost about $5, takes 10 minutes to set up and weighs alomst nothing, yet is still very functional. We tow a lot of skiers into the mountains and we’ll carry our skis on a phazer and rmk in this manner. On the workhorses it’s way easier. On the Skidoo skandic swt and the Artic Cat Bearcat, we are able to tuck the tails of skis under the passenger backrest then cam strap the skis down to the rear rack. Works everytime, without issue. Also gives plenty of clearance for the gear sleighs that like to bounce around.
I started out with a rack like this with sharp poky poles sticking out the side they worked good until i took my wife out to ski. it was a amazing powder day and the draw to play pulled me in. Unfortunatly the snow pulled my wife off and the rack hit her in the back and did some major damage. The risk was not worth having the sharp ends sticking out. So i checked out some of the other brands and came across Back Country Adventure Gear. They sell racks for half the price or more of others they work with skis and boards and they weigh less then a pound and best of all they have a low profile and no sharp edges we have been enjoying them for a few years now. Check them out at http://www.backcountryadventuregear.com
Jon, good point. Your racks look good but please be upfront that you are the guy selling them?
Your video does a good job of showing what they look like and how they work.
Meanwhile, the type of racks we make that have nubs sticking out to the side are indeed a concern when not loaded. When loaded with skis, any rack is going to get in the way if you fall off the back of the sled. Padding on the nubs/bars is a good idea, as well as keeping them as short as possible.
The rack I built for my Yamaha had removable nubs, but my present rack on my Arctic Cat does not. Thanks for the reminder to at least pad them.
On my last comment my intention was not to hide the fact that i make and sell the BCAT rack it was to in form others about the injury my wife sustained using a rack like the one above just want others to be aware if they have a passenger when riding in deep snow there is a possibility of injury. That is the reason I came up with the Back Country Adventure Gear Rack. And we priced them for what i paid for my first prototype so everyone could afford them.
Jon, all good, it’s just that you had two comments in a row and didn’t make it clear you where the guy selling the racks. We want industry folks like you to show up here and comment, we are not anti-business, but we do ask that you make it obvious that you’re the person making/selling the product. Thanks, Lou
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