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Thread: Best Back Country Sled

  1. #1
    Member GrassLakeRon's Avatar
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    Default Best Back Country Sled

    I was wondering what is the best back country sled for:

    1) hauling/pulling
    2) cold starting
    3) fuel economy
    4) all around toughness?
    5) price

    Thanks for the info.

    Ron

  2. #2
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    If one sled fit all we'd all be riding the same thing. We don't.

  3. #3

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    Probably be easier if you gave us a price limit to work with.

  4. #4
    Member SusitnaAk's Avatar
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    SWT ,Viking, Bearcat, Widetrack. Any 2 stroke, Any 4stroke or 600etec. They all have there strong and weak points. None, They all $$$$$$

  5. #5
    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Default Well Ron...

    ... doesn't seem like you are talking about hotdogging, carving powder, or hillclimbing, so I assume you want an economical work machine. This has been tossed around before many times. How much weight do you want to pull? What will the terrain be like? Do you wish to play as well as work?

    Why not a Yamaha Bravo? They are time tested, economical, low geared and fun. Tundras are great too.

    For more pulling power the Viking, Bearcat, or Widetrack Polaris.

  6. #6

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    The only snot'ball you just had to throw in the equation was COST. Other wise hands down SkiDoo Super Wide Track, but $10,699.00 plus two spare belts & some oil and your at $11,000.00 OUCH.

  7. #7
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Wondering why people didn't see item #5 when making their cost statements? I think price & cost are the same thing, yes? When someone says price is important, that means they are looking for low cost, not high cost, right? Anyways...

    Your sled is going to be a used Arctic Cat Bearcat from the late 90's through the early 00's. Or, as Sayak mentioned, a Bravo or Tundra. The deal with those is that they are fairly lightweight sleds, so they fail to fully meet your item #1.

    Yep, definitely an older Bearcat 550. Or even a mid to late 90s EXT 550 longtrack. Nothing less than about 5-6 years old though. And there are good deals to be had with used sleds in that age bracket. The used workhorse sleds are generally in good mechanical shape as they weren't being run ragged by kids.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

  8. #8
    Member GrassLakeRon's Avatar
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    I was thinking in the good all round utility sled. The conditions would be what Alaska has to offer. New or used makes no difference. The last sled I was on was a Cat 650 EXT. Has anyone come across a better cold weather sled?

    Ron

  9. #9

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    Joat,

    Sorry I had to ask cost anyways. Everyone's price point is different. Some might be able to swing a 2000-2002 skandic for 5K or so and some might be only able to swing a early 90s polaris widetrack for 1500. There is are lot of wiggle room in there.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    Wondering why people didn't see item #5 when making their cost statements? I think price & cost are the same thing, yes? When someone says price is important, that means they are looking for low cost, not high cost, right? Anyways....

    Price: Original amount of money to procure machine.

    Cost: = original procurement amount + Belts, fuel, Oil, filters,tune-ups, replacement of things that break over given useful life of machine.

    See your not the only one who can be argumentative, nit-picky, and have delusions of intellectual superiority, I can do it also.

  11. #11
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Best "all around" as in go just about anywhere, do most anything well sled

    2002/3/4 Polaris 700 RMK in 144 or 151

    Super reliable motor(many say best one Poo ever built)
    Plenty of power
    Not a belt eater
    Fairly nimble
    Can be rigged for towing
    Still a popular sled so lots of parts and aftermarket goodies available

    And when you need to cross difficult terrain or really deep snow...you can, with confidence

    Best part is one can be had for around 3000.00 (Do a compression check before plunking your ducats down--factory specs are 145 psi +/- if either cyl is at 125 psi or less OR if there is a 10 psi difference it needs a topend [$700])

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    Price= what it costs.
    Value= what it's worth.

    They aren't necessarily related. The value of a new sled is far easier to determine than that of an older used sled.

  13. #13
    Member GrassLakeRon's Avatar
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    nothing on questions 2 and 3????

    Ron

  14. #14

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    I would avoid liquid cooled. I am not happy with my V-800 4-Tec engine for long runs on snow-less rivers, hard-packed trails, and plowed roads.

  15. #15
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Amendment to my earlier post for questions 2 & 3

    Cold starting: Based on my experience with my sled the Polaris 700 Liberty starts dependably down to -40. You have to be cautious with the warm-up at those temps but that's true for just about any 2 stroke motor

    Fuel economy: My sled has no engine performance modifications. On trails or well set snow I get 115-120 miles on an 11.8 gallon tank. In deep snow or when I'm out playing and romping on the throttle mileage drops to about half that.

    BTW this is the machine
    Attached Images Attached Images

  16. #16
    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    Default Utility sled

    I've personally got a 2008 Scandik Tundra 550F and I love it.
    I am sure I can haul more than I will ever need to. I have never really pushed it but it is geared for utility wook.I haul a lot of ice fishing gear around and you can't really tell you arer towing anything.Probably 300 or 400 lbs was the maxed I hauled but no problems with that weight.
    Never tried to start it in the truly cold stuff but -35 was no problem started several days in a row in that stuff on a camping trip up resurrection pass.
    Fuel economy averages @ 11mpg.Not as good as a lot of the 4 strokes but I like my 2 stroke a lot.
    I have rolled mine once or twice and run over some small trees and alder brush with no ill effects.
    Price new was @ $7200
    800 miles on mine and other than routine maintenance no major expenses. I have replaced 1 belt but I was on and off the throttle hard that day. Spare factory belts run $50.
    I would avoid the mountain sleds like the RMK as they are usually geared too high to be good at pulling large loads. That and you have to add a hitch as they are not set up for towing.I also like having a good rack like mine has for hauling gas and gear when not towing a sled.
    I have a 99 tundra 2 witch I believe is a 266 cc engine and I really like the 550f better. The Tundra 2 is a good sled a little underpowered for heavy hauling and the suspension is not all that great. The 550f suspension is great.Plus my 550 has a deeper lugged 154" track for deeper snow.
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

    "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

  17. #17
    RMK
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    Default You're in the utility sled market

    Figure out which brand you like, and then check out their utility sleds. I ride a mountain sled, but have ridden with guys who were on Bearcats, or Skandiks and their sled were more than capable. They make for better 2-up riding if that's in your plan.

    The earlier post was correct about the air cooled advantage for hard trails and low snow conditions. Liquid cooled engines have more HP per cc of displacement, but you need to have fresh snow to cool the hyfax, and the the engine coolant.

    You might want to consider a sled with reverse and electric start options. That can make working a bit easier.

    I would look at the following if shopping new:

    Ski-Doo Tundra/Skandik
    Polaris Super wide track
    Arctic Cat Bearcat
    Yamaha Venture

    In the used market, there are probably some older tundras and Yamaha Bravos that would fit your needs.

    The best thing to do, is find someone who owns a particular sled, and see if you can tag along and try it out.

    When I was a kid, we owned a couple of Ski-Doo Alpines. They had a single ski and two tracks. It was quite an arrangement. It would pull like heck, but heaven help you when it was stuck.

    Good luck shopping. Craigslist has hundreds of sleds for sale so the choices are endless.

    P.S. A friend of mine has the exact Ski-Doo 550F that Kasilof mentioned, and he loves it. He uses it at Lake Louise to haul in building supplies for his cabin. It hasn't left him stranded yet.

  18. #18
    Member GrassLakeRon's Avatar
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    I don't care about brand. What I am looking for is something that would almost always start, even in cold weather(-40 or -50) and is built tough enough to withstand some of the worst Alaska has to offer. You folks are the best guide to what the before mentioned things. Thanks for all the insights


    Ron

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    A polaris 440 fan transport is a nice little work and play sled.
    Gets good gas mileage and has the grunt to pull loaded sleds plus has a 141 track.

    Another good engine from polaris is the 488 fan.
    You can find it in the widetrack and trail touring.

  20. #20
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=kasilofchrisn;662236]
    I would avoid the mountain sleds like the RMK as they are usually geared too high to be good at pulling large loads. That and you have to add a hitch as they are not set up for towing.QUOTE]

    I respectfully disagree. Mountain sleds are geared and clutched low specifically because they are mountain sleds. Climbing in deep snow requires a low gear hole shot and quick transition to the powerband.
    Granted, they're geared higher that a utility sled but Ron didn't ask what was the best utility sled he asked what was the best all-around sled for Alaska.

    I can skid two drums of fuel to Skwenta with a homemade hitch and I can also eat lunch on top of Seattle Ridge. I don't recall seeing any Skandics, or Bravos up there.

    Ron if you primarily want to haul supplies get a utility machine. If you primarily want to explore waaay off the road, and retain the ability to haul supplies when you need to then get a mountain sled in a proven design--RMKs like mine or 02-06 Skidoo Revs, or Arctic Cat M series sleds.

    (as soon as you ride one you'll want one)

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