The top 10 rigs for skiers

The top 10 rigs for skiers

We skiers love our rigs—the machines that get us to and around the mountains—nearly as much as we love skiing itself. Sometimes we name our rigs. Sometimes we invest all of our money in them. Heck, sometimes we even live in them. So, to give these powerful motor vehicles their proper due, we deemed it necessary to round up the 10 best, from conventional to out-of-the-ordinary. This is our ode to the outright importance of a reliable, righteous ride. Some of these offerings are attainable in nature. Some are aspirational. In some cases, very aspirational. But, all are absolutely awesome. Vroom, vroom.

Ski-Doo Summit X 850 E-Tec

“BRAAAP” your way to dreamy ski lines with this efficient, powerful sled.

©2016 Bombardier Recreational Products Inc., used with permission. All rights reserved.

The 165-horsepower Summit X 850 E-Tec is designed with agility and responsiveness in mind, making it ideal for skiers who often sled far into the mountains in search of untouched pow.

Its nimble character is achieved in part thanks to Ski-Doo’s fourth generation REV platform: The concentration of weight is in the center in order to increase rider responsiveness and an incredibly narrow design provides dreamy travel through deep snow. Also, to reduce drag in powder conditions, an open-tunnel backend is implemented to allow snow to clear the rear track seamlessly. All told, it’s a streamlined, snow-obliterating monster.

The use of Ski-Doo’s RAS 2 front suspension also helps to ensure a smooth, predictable ride. This way, no matter what obstacles litter the route to the ski line you’ve been eyeing for years, you’ll be able to handle them comfortably. Its heightened upper ball joint on the spindle also aligns the roll center closer to the sled’s center of gravity, minimizing the chance of a rollover.

The details:
• Begins at $12,899 not including transportation and preparation
• Comes with a 36-liter fuel tank
• Weighs in at 434 pounds (dry, at 154 inches in length)
• Ski-Doo offers a quick-attaching ski rack, dubbed LinQ

Timbersled LT 137

This snow pony makes the entire backcountry your oyster.

Photo courtesy of Timbersled

Timbersled systems are aimed at taking the headache out of those difficult, deep snow approaches in the backcountry. By swapping out the tires on your dirt bike with the Timbersled—a front ski and rear track system—riders can have the speed and agility of a dirtbike with the snow performance of a snowmobile.

The LT 137, in particular, is geared towards powder hounds traveling deep into the backcountry and searching for the type of snow that’ll be talked about on barstools for years to come. Up front, the 10-inch backcountry ski will help keep you above the snow. Behind, the 137-inch-long track utilizes a convex shape—similar to a car tire—to improve traction in powder snow and variable conditions. This lowers your probability of getting stuck on the way to, or worse, on the way back from, your objective.

Its long travel rear suspension is built for smooth, efficient climbing. The suspension’s Front Flex Arm mechanism also aids in keeping the machine level, which is especially useful in uneven terrain.

This all results in a badass, Frankenstein-esque snow machine that’ll help propel you up the mountain, regardless of how gnarly the conditions may be.

Photo courtesy of Timbersled

The details:
• Begins at $5,999 for LT 137
• Integrated fuel storage rack
• Multiple color options available
• Pro skier Corey Seemann utilizes a Timbersled to access backcountry lines

Ford F-150 SVT Raptor a.k.a. RaptorTRAX

This pickup truck-snowcat hybrid is straight out of a video game.

Photo courtesy of Hoonigan Racing Division

Ken Block is well-known for his rally car racing prowess; he rips his rigs around tight courses that would make most mere mortals’ hearts pop out of their chests. He’s also an avid snowsports enthusiast with a love of the backcountry, in particular. In order to max out his wilderness fun he—along with the help of Ford—modified a Raptor pickup truck, transforming it into the ultimate high-octane powder slayer.

The “RaptorTRAX,” as Block affectionately calls it, began as a stock 6.2-liter Ford Raptor, but he incorporated a Whipple Supercharger providing an incredible boost of power to the overall package. Specifically, Block estimates the RaptorTRAX operates at 650 horsepower.

The stars of the show, of course, are the full set of Mattracks—tank-like treads that replace the wheels and allow for travel over rugged terrain and through through deep snow. RaptorTRAX is also outfitted with an off-road suspension and skid plates to protect the underbody.

Photo courtesy of Hoonigan Racing Division

Block didn’t stop the modifications at the engine and tracks, though. A full roll cage protects the rig and its inhabitants; the rear seats have been removed to account for gear storage; the front seats have been replaced with Recaro race seats complete with four-point harnesses (safety first) and two more rear-facing Recaros are situated in the bed. Because, sharing powder days with your pals is fun, despite what advocates of “no friends on a powder day” might claim.

And there’s even more: Racks on either side of the truck accommodate skis and snowboards while a winch-and-rope system ups the fun level if someone feels like being towed through waist-deep powder.

The details:
• There’s a barbecue that attaches to the rear of the truck
• Rigid Industries Lights ensure visibility even in poor conditions or at night

Tucker 1600 Terra Sno-Cat

Luxury transportation from downtown Crested Butte to the Irwin backcountry.

Photo: Alex Fenlon

Imagine a luxurious lounge on wheels that will swoop you up in the center of a cozy ski town and whisk you away to some of the best backcountry skiing in the western United States. That service is a reality with Irwin Guides’ Tucker Sno-Cat.

On the morning of a guided experience, guests meet at the Irwin Building in downtown Crested Butte, Colorado—one of the great American ski towns. From there, a monstrous, mean-lookin’ snowcat rumbles up the road to collect you.

Stepping into its cab, it’s quickly apparent that this badass machine has a softer side to it. Soft, like, plush leather seats kind of soft—with cup holders fit for hot chocolate. Indeed, the Tucker has earned its fair share of “oos” and “ahhs” since 2010 when it joined the Irwin family. Its cab is basically a living room. Beyond its cushy seating are things like reclaimed wood cabinetry, large windows and a big, flatscreen TV linked to a surround-sound system.

When folks settle inside, the vehicle begins its trek west from downtown and up Kebler Pass. During the ride, guests get prepped for the day by watching a safety video as well as real-time streaming images of the Elk Range—one of Colorado’s most picturesque mountain ranges. Or, if preferred, passengers can just sit back and enjoy a movie.

Before you know it, you’re deposited at the steps of the remote, petit yet awe-inspiring Irwin Lodge. From there, guests utilize a smaller snowcat to travel high into the alpine where they take on chutes, glades, bowls and more. To book your very own cat-ski adventure, head to day-cat-skiing.elevenexperience.com.

Jon Olsson’s Audi R8

Black, sexy, fast and equipped with a ski box—this baby purrs its way to the hill like a damn panther.

Photo: Oskar Bakke

Thirty-four-year-old Jon Olsson is a freeskiing icon and was instrumental in putting the sport on the map. After winning many a contest and starring in films throughout the early to late-2000s, today, the Swede spends the majority of his time gallivanting around Europe in his array of truly mind-blowing sports cars. In our opinion, the Audi R8 with its signature Jon Olsson ski box on top is without a doubt the most epic of them all.

The R8 is a lean, mean driving machine that gets its passengers to the slopes in seriously fast style. “When you roll up with this [to go skiing] you have just gone so far beyond what people think is possible, so they just laugh, thinking it’s super funny that someone could be this stupid,” Olsson says.

Photo: Oskar Bakke

Despite Olsson’s efforts to downplay his creation, there’s nothing stupid about this rig. It’s pure brilliance, in fact. Under the hood, Olsson installed a custom V10 engine with a Stasis Supercharger. In other words, he took an already speedy car and gave it steroids. (He once drove it 161 MPH to see how fast he could go without the ski box ripping off. He speculates it must be some sort of world record.) Additionally, the entire body was replaced with a carbon fiber shell. Then came custom suspension, brakes, wheels, tires, exhaust and a completely redone interior, including seats made precisely to fit his own back anatomy. Olsson estimates he invested $325,000 into the car.

To see more of Jon’s roof-box-equipped masterpieces—including a Nissan GT-R, a Lamborghini Gallardo LP 540 and a Lamborghini Murcielago LP 670-4 SV—visit jon-olsson.com.

Sorento Ski Gondola Concept Car

The self-driving, powder-plowing vehicle from the future.

Photo courtesy of KIA

Taking the idea of a sport-utility vehicle to new heights, the luxurious and self-driving Sorento Ski Gondola by Kia is all about climbing to higher ground in style, comfort and warmth.

Right now, it’s just a concept car, but if it doesn’t come to life one day we’ll be mighty disappointed because this vehicle is bonkers. Pop open the suicide doors, hop in (keep your ski boots on because it comes included with weatherproof rubber floors) and revel in the modern, gondola-style interior. That’s right, its front seats are turned around so passengers can face each other, relax and converse while the car does all the work. Basic functions are controlled via a command portal, at center.

Photo courtesy of KIA

On the exterior, Kia reimagined the Sorento’s wheels with Dominator Rubber Tracks that’ll carry passengers to the top of any slope they please. Side cameras prevent the vehicle from scraping up against shrubs, trees and rocks and extra-bright LED lights clear the way when the sun’s setting. Up top, a big ol’ ski rack has plenty of room for the squad’s planks.

Keep dreaming, dreamers.

The Line Traveling Circus Van

In just six short years, this Dodge Sprinter has been on more skiing adventures than most will have in a lifetime.

Photo: Rocky Maloney

Perhaps the ski community’s most beloved rig, the Line Traveling Circus (LTC) van has some miles on it—200,000 to be exact. According to LTC veteran Will Wesson, the van has been to at least 35 of the 50 United States as well as four Canadian provinces and has inspired pure fun around every turn.

Back in the fall of 2010, the LTC crew found themselves in need of a vehicle that would accommodate their transient nature of filmmaking and gallivanting from ski town to ski town in search of just enough snow to adhere to their creative skiing style. “Saving money by combining lodging and transportation is just one of the obvious benefits of having a large van,” Wesson explains. And so, the 2005 Sprinter was an easy choice.

The van’s configuration is decidedly achievable—something that any skier keen to live on the road could mimic. Originally a delivery van, LTC made it all their own by installing bunk beds on one side of its interior and a single, tall bed on the opposite side; ski bags and such are stashed underneath. Storage space and a place to rest your head, what else do you need?

If you’re thinking of starting your own circus act and fixing up a rig to be an integral part of the big show, Wesson and co. would be more than happy to provide you with some beta. Reach out via @LINE_TrvlngCrcs on Twitter.

Kai Krepela turns hand-plants the iconic van. Photo: Will Wesson

About the van:
• The 2005 Sprinter 3500 is built with two-wheel drive, so plan accordingly with your purchase
• The most it’s ever slept is five people. Wesson says it’s a great size for two to comfortably live in
• The van once got stuck while its crew attempted to drive at full speed across the Bonneville Salt Flats, in Utah. It ended up stuck in the mud and had to be towed out by a “mud cat” at a cost of $750
• Soak in some of the van-inspired madness and mind-boggling skiing antics by tuning into linetravelingcircus.com

Sportsmobile 4WD Conversion, Ford E-350

Throw a baseline Ford E-350 into the Sportsmobile Machine and it comes out as the ultimate road-trip vehicle.

Photo courtesy of Sportsmobile

Founded in 1961, Sportsmobile specializes in converting full size vans into custom RVs. But not just any ol’ RV; when it comes to the 4WD offering, in particular, a plush interior is backed up by jaw-dropping off-road performance.

At a cost of approximately $150,000 (or more, “the sky is the limit,” says Jonathan Feld, president of Sportsmobile West Inc.), the company will strip a 2008+ Ford E-350 down to its bare bones before building it back up into a rugged, badass, all-bases-covered adventure mobile. The conversion kit includes Dynatrac Pro-Roc front axles; Fox 2.0 Performance Series Shocks; an Atlas transfer case; a six-inch suspension lift; quick disconnects on the sway bar; a twin-stick transfer case to shift front and rear axles independently; front end upgrades and so much more. Sportsmobile also cuts in windows, adds its patented pop-top lift mechanism (hello, sleeping space) and installs durable flooring, cozy insulation, custom cabinetry and a range of appliances from fridges to furnaces and everything in between.

When it comes to additional custom installations, solar panels, roof racks and bathrooms are among the most frequent and easy-to-accommodate requests. But, that’s just the start of it. Sportsmobile even had one individual ask about including a large hole in the flooring for ice fishing purposes. Just think: Ski boot dryers… televisions to screen your favorite ski films… heavy-duty ski racks… no idea is a bad idea when it comes to crafting the ultimate ski rig.

Photo courtesy of Sportsmobile

The details:
• 46-gallon fuel tank provides an estimated 600-mile range
• 10 forward gears, two reverse gears. You can utilize RWR, FWD or 4WD
• 40 different floor plans exist, or, you can design your own kit to accommodate a variety of toys (read: skis) and desires
• Takes two weeks to do the 4WD conversion, 8-10 weeks for interior depending on options

The Snowmads Truck

This beaut’ used to fight fires in Germany. Now, it roams the Earth in search of pow.

Photo: Leander Nardin / Nine&One

Decking out a truck to live and ski out of is a rite of passage for many. But have you ever heard of a ski bum deciding to call a fire truck home? That’s exactly what Austria’s Fabian Lentsch has done with the 1985 Mercedes 1113 LAF that was once used by a German fire brigade.

Lentsch bought the truck in 2015 and, with the help of family and friends, completely refurbished it over the course of eight months. They rebuilt its engine, installed a top-notch living space in the back and, as icing on the cake, gave it a shred-inspired paint job, complete with a stunning mountain-scape on one side and a skier on the other.

The truck is packed with home essentials: eight beds, a wood stove, shower, speaker system and a full kitchen. Everything Lentsch and his squad needs is right there. And to prevent ski gear from clogging the space, the walls pull out into drawers and bins beneath the seats provide ample storage.

Photo: Pally Learmond / Nine&One

Lentsch and company have used the rig to travel all over Europe as well as Turkey, Armenia, Georgia and Iran in search of deep pow, adventure and good times. It’s ironic: While this big ol’ Mercedes once did a noble job battling blazes, it is now officially the one that’s “en fuego.” Learn more via snowmads.world.

La Chanchita Bus

This retro-licious bus totes passengers to South American skiing glory.

Photo: Nate Abbott

Manu Fombeurre comes from the ski-crazed nation of France, but decided to move to Argentina in search of something new. There, he fell in love with a refurbished 1966 Mercedes school bus for sale, bought it and named it La Chanchita, roughly translating to “the little piggy.” Fombeurre gave the rig a makeover and it now spends its time scouring South America for powder. And the best part is, you’re invited.

Fombeurre calls San Carlos de Bariloche home, near the base of the Argentinian Andes. But when the snow flies, he loads up La Chanchita and hits the road. Sometimes, that means a solo mission or cruising with a tight group of friends. But most of the time, he’s the chauffeur for eager visitors who pay to sleep in the rig and ski for days on end.

The bus is equipped with a wood stove, shower, toilet, electricity, running water, movie projector and five beds. And it’s all high-quality stuff—not your average stench-riddled ski home by any means. Its engine is also totally rebuilt, so there are no worries of a breakdown en route to the pow.

“During storms, there’s nothing better than watching the snow fall from inside, beside the wood stove, and knowing that you’ll be the first people tracking fresh powder the next day,” says Fombeurre.

Photo courtesy of Manu Fombeurre

Looking to ski down south but bummed that you don’t have any connections in the region? Well, you now have two friends waiting to pick you up: Manu and his trusty side-kick, La Chanchita. To book your spot on the bus, head to chanchitabus.wixsite.com/chanchitabus.


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