If you are considering purchasing a vehicle to transport you and others, or even haul stuff..there are many considerations that you would need to think through. In this article I am going to take you through some of them, based on experience and research before purchasing our own snow transportation vehicle.
My wife and I have owned a mountain property for a few years now, and one of the issues we have felt we have had on our property, is to be able to transport ourselves, as well as equipment, lumber, etc. to our destination. I have chosen to write a short series of articles, whereof this is the first one.
Important things to consider
Before you open your wallet, speak with your bank, ask a friend for a loan, or whatever you would do to afford any kind of winter transportation, i would suggest there are some practical things you should think through:
- What can you afford? This might be the most important question you will have to ask yourself. Do you really have the money cash? Do you have money available on a credit card? Do you have money in the bank? Did you just get an inheritance after a long “lost” uncle in Australia? There are many ways to be able to afford any type of major purchase. Make sure you choose the one that you will be able to live with the next months, or the next year.
- What are you transporting? Ok, the obvious answer to this question is probably – you and your family, or at least: people. But, will you need to transport provisions to your property during the winter? If you are i.e. building a cabin, did you get all the lumber you needed transported to your cabin lot before the snow started to cover the ground? One of the reasons it is important to ask yourself this is also that you need to choose a vehicle that is strong enough to haul your “stuff”.
- How far do you need to transport personell and/or provisions, etc.? The reason I am mentioning this is that based on what type of snow transportation you choose, there might be a big difference in speed. Do you have time and patience to travel with speeds around 13-16 mph? Or, do you require to get to your destination quickly? If you have a several miles long road to travle, this might be an important factor for you.
- What is the altitude where you are going to use your snow vehicle? It is a known fact that most engines loose a bit of power the higher the altitude you are using your vehicle in. This is because the air gets thinner and thinner the higher up you come. If you have some steep hills to go up, you definitely need to make sure your snow vehicle has enough “guts” to pull you and whatever else you are carrying/hauling up the hills.
- What type of tracks can you use? If you are only going to drive on your own private road, this might not be an issue for you. But, if you need to access your property on maybe a public road that is not maintained when there is snow, or drive partly on someone else’s private road (through agreement with the road owner), this might be an important question for you to ask yourself, AND the owner(s) of the road that you are driving on with your tracked vehicle. Before the snow covers the road with more than maybe ten inches of snow, or when spring is coming and the snow starts to melt more in some places, metal tracks will totally tear up the road beneath a thin layer of snow. If it is your private road, and you do not care, that would be your choice. But, if you are choosing a vehicle for using on the snow, you might want to consider a rubber tracked vehicle.
- How many vehicles? So, how much money do you have? Let us say that you own a property with a mile long road on it, but the road cannot be driven on unless you have a 4WD Jeep, or an ATV or UTV. Can you afford to have two different vehicles – one for winter usage, and one for summer usage? And, what about when it is right between the seasons, where there might be snow, mud, and water all mixed together? Do you want a vehicle that can handle all kinds of conditions? For my wife and I this has been a very important question, since we have Aspen and Pine trees on our property, but we have unfortunately not been able to find a money tree yet…
- Do you need reverse? Ok, so this might sound like a silly question, but there are actually some serious thoughts behind it…based on experience. If you drive on your road every day to be able to compact the road often, you might not have any problems. But, if you access your property once in a while during the winter, this might be an issue. If you are blessed to have a road that is pretty straight and wide, you are in good shape. But, what if you have a bunch of narrow switch backs/turns that you need to make, and you have not been driving on your road yet after a three feet layer of dry and loose snow…you might come in a situation where you would consider wanting a reverse on your vehicle if it does not have it. I guarantee you.
Ok, so we have finished the first part in the “Choosing The Right Winter Vehicle” series. The next we are going to do is to start looking at four different types of snow vehicles. First out is the snowmobile. A snow vehicle most people are familiar with.
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