Mountain Safety
February 1st, 2021
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Every Mountain Snowmobiling Budget Should Prioritize These Crucial Items

This winter, with more riders than ever pulling on a helmet and heading into the backcountry, it’s worth pointing out some crucial mountain snowmobiling budget items that should be considered mandatory by all riders, but sadly aren’t.

Snowmobiling Budget for Mountain Riding

Why bother even thinking about a snowmobiling budget?

Well, if money was no object, everyone would ride brand-new sleds with every available option and accessory. Or maybe we’d all own custom one-off sleds with exotic lightweight components, like the kind Chris Burandt likes to build. Realistically though, we all have a snowmobiling budget that we need to work within, whether it’s a self-imposed spend limit or just our financial reality.

I won’t get into how to set your budget limit; your finances are your own business and responsibility. However, I will point out a few things that absolutely need to be considered when you plan out how to spend that budget.

Mountain Snowmobile Budget New Riders

With more riders in the backcountry than ever, newer riders especially need to be encouraged to consider all the costs of safely riding in the mountains.

Budgets and Mandatory Requirements

Let’s assume you have your snowmobiling budget $ number in mind, and are ready to go buy your sled. Budget is X, find a sled worth X. Easy, right? Wait a second! Not so fast.

To understand why this is a terrible idea, let’s look at another budgeting scenario.

When you buy a house, there are a lot of costs to factor in besides the mortgage payment. Property taxes, house insurance and utilities all play a part in what you can afford. These are costs that must be paid, plain and simple. Go ahead and try getting a mortgage without putting insurance on your house. Fortunately, these costs are all taken into account by your mortgage lender when they decide how much the bank is willing to loan you for a mortgage.

When you buy a new truck you have some of the same considerations: insurance, fuel and maintenance all must be considered in addition to the price of the vehicle itself, because they are not optional—not if you actually want to drive the thing. The police tend to frown on driving without insurance. Again in this case, the extra costs are mandatory.

Mountain Snowmobiling Budget Vehicle Expenses

Extra expenses associated with vehicle ownership are readily accepted as the cost of ownership, but inexplicably, important safety gear for mountain riding is considered unnecessary by some.

How is a buying a sled for mountain riding any different? Well, most riders probably know what they SHOULD have: transceiver, probe, shovel, avy bag, two-way radios, good gear that will keep you warm and dry and so forth down the line. Unfortunately, we’ve seen that some riders don’t consider these to be immediate “must haves”. Sure, it would be nice to have them, they think.

But let’s be honest. Unlike the case with property taxes or vehicle liability insurance, you CAN actually ride your sled without proper safety gear. No one is making you spend money on those things. Your lender doesn’t care if you do, and except for the requirement of wearing an approved helmet, the police don’t care either. But just because those extra expenses aren’t mandated by someone else doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother. Unfortunately, we’ve seen the importance of having the proper gear bumped down the priority list by some riders.

“I’ll get a beacon later,” has been said far too many times.

Mountain Riding Snowmobiling Budget

Next time you are in the market for a new sled, try this: Work your budget backwards. Go shopping for the gear first. Whatever your new snowmobile budget is, go sign up and pay for an avalanche training course first thing. Get the entire mandatory gear list first, and I would suggest getting the invaluable gear list as well:

Essential Safety Gear for Mountain Sledders!

I don’t mean just price and consider the items, humming and hawing about which payday you will get around to buying them on. I mean go and actually get them. Take them home. Then look at what’s left of your budget and start snowmobile shopping with that.

Maybe your newly massaged (dented?) budget means that you need to look at last year’s holdover sled instead of a brand-new one. Maybe it means that you need a three-year-old unit instead of last year’s demo. Maybe it even means you have to ride your current Mountain Masher Extreme for another year instead of upgrading to the Mountain Masher II Platinum edition.

Whatever the budget is, there’s no justification for riding around on brand new sleds, complaining that we can’t afford mountain riding safety gear and training. These items need to become an integral part of the plan right from the start—before “I will take a class someday” becomes too late.

Snowmobiles today take us into areas that we never dreamed of in years past. The days of heading out into the mountains with little or no gear or preparation are over. And no, borrowing your buddy’s old analog beacon, zipping it into your jacket pocket and thinking you’re good to go just doesn’t cut it anymore.

 

 “I’M GONNA TAKE AN AVY COURSE NEXT PAYDAY”, has to be the worst headstone inscription I could possibly imagine.

 

– Marty

Mountain Riding Budget tombstone