Coming up with my top 10 favorite mountain snowmobiles for model year 2019 was actually easier than I thought it would be. Mostly.
If you don’t overcomplicate things, the choices shake out fairly quickly. Look at the big picture (or put all the mountain sleds on a spreadsheet) and you realize sleds basically come in threes: three basic engine sizes (600, 800/850 and 1000 turbo-charged), three track lengths (mid 150s, low to mid 160s and mid 170s) and three lug heights (2, mid 2s and 3 inches).
So figure out what engine size you want and track length and height and your choices narrow down pretty quickly. I know I like 800cc engines (which includes the new 850 powerplants) and the 150-plus and 160-plus track lengths. My choices pretty much reflect those likes.
That’s why you won’t see any 170-plus-inch tracks on my list. Those long tracks definitely have their place, mostly western locales that have consistent, really deep powder conditions, like British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies. There are a handful of places in the western United States where the 170-plus inchers will show their might. Having said all that, just prior to this past season’s photo shoots in West Yellowstone in late February it snowed and snowed and snowed and then snowed some more—to the tune of 2-3 feet of new powder all over Island Park and West Yellowstone. It was pure bliss. And 175-inch track conditions for 2-3 days until the snow settled and then a 162/163/165 was a great choice. We rode from Island Park to West Yellowstone while the snow was still falling and our mid 160s tracks were just about tapped out.
When it came down to my favorite first five, it really boiled down to a flexible chassis vs. a rigid chassis. Both have their place and their fans/loyalists, but for me, the flexible chassis gives me more confidence and is easier to ride. I can ride the rigid chassis but it’s more work for me.
If I didn’t think I would get skewered by top 10 purists, I was very tempted to put as my No. 1 sled for 2019 any Ski-Doo Summit with the SHOT system. Seriously? Yes, seriously. It’s that good of a feature and an absolute lifesaver on one of our rides this past winter—that same ride where I was wishing for the 170-inch-plus track in that monster snowstorm at the end of February. We got stuck a lot that day and I was sure glad I didn’t have to pull on the starter rope even once (except first thing in the morning) during the day. Maybe SHOT wasn’t a lifesaver but … it made my day more doable.