I recently started skiing Bozeman's backcountry via snowmobile. Sort of a dream come true, but because my buddy and I share the snow machine and we're new to this, we've had to do a lot of experimenting. Packing our skis has proved the most problematic. Because we lack the funds to buy a manufactured ski rack ($200-$350), we decided to build one that will free up space for a passenger and function well enough to make this season's trips into the backcountry more enjoyable. If you don't count the cost of beer, you can build and install this rack on your own snowmobile for less than 40 bucks.
The process is so simple it's hardly interesting. But the payoff is huge.
3 feet 3/4" square aluminum tubing ($10)
2 2 1/2" bolts ($1.50)
4 washers and 2 locking nuts ($.75)
3/4" pipe insulation ($1.50) and/or high-density foam ($5-$15)
4 2' straps ($12)
Hack saw, nail set, drill, metal bit, pliers and/or socket wrenches, clamps, BEER
1. Open beer
2. Measure and cut tubing to length (about 7" past the edge of the rear bumper on both sides). I bolted the tubing to the rear bumper so there's plenty of room for the passenger seat, if I ever order one.
3. Center, then clamp tubing to the rear bumper next to, but not touching the plastic taillight housing and/or snow flap.
4. Find and mark your drill holes by measuring center on both the new tubing and the rear bumper. Tamp a nail set at that intersection so that your bit doesn't wander.
5. Keeping your drill bit as vertical as possible, drill down and through both tubes.
6. Mark edge of bumper, and unclamp tubing.
7. Cut pipe insulation or high-density foam to fit the exposed tubing, leaving a little extra to cover tube ends.
8. Use adhesive and clamps to affix foam to tubing. Allow glue to set. Drink beer.
9. Place a washer onto each bolt and push it down through tubing. Slide the exposed bolt ends into and through holes until tubing rests on rear bumper. Slip another washer up onto each bolt then tighten nuts until the rack is secure.
10. Place backcountry boards on your new rack with the crossbar resting on the inside of your binding's toe piece. Identify where the ski's tails contact the machine's footrests. Mark spots for foam blocks.
11. Cut and affix, using glue and/or zip ties, foam blocks to foot rests and to the side of the snowmobile where skis will rub.
12. Place your boards and poles on the rack and use the straps to secure them to the footrest and bumper.
13. Smile and imagine all those beautiful backcountry turns while you finish your beer.