When the real wintery months hit in Quebec, the city is ready and most daily chores keep rolling along without any serious trouble other than a workout for snow machines and shovels. It is when you decide to drift out into the back country that you might find that you will need some serious help navigating the deep powder there. Adventures are measured in the memories that are made and if you want to find adventure you do need the right tools, so that all of those memories are good ones!
Recently we had a chance to once again experience the drifts of nature’s miracle dust up around the lodge at Canada’s Lac des Bouleaux. This fine facility is located just north east of Saint Urbaine and is a great anchor point for those looking to ride sleds or even the latest in SXS technology. This is where the Can-Am PAC (Parts Accessories Clothing) team decided to introduce journalists to their latest Apache brand snow tracks. You might recognize the Can-Am Apache brand as their tracks have been on the market for many years as an All-Season Track kit. Having the latest in their technology at our disposal we had a chance to experience the new BackCountry and BackCountry LT track systems.
Can-Am had outfitted several SXS and ATV’s with the BackCountry tracks and had plenty of serious snow for us to test their mettle on. The construction included a 2-inch lug on a 3-inch pitch to increase the versatility and to give uncompromised traction. This design also proved to add serious flotation. Special features, departing from the normal all-season track design, are very unique to this new set of tracks and at the core is the slider system. The BackCountry uses an aluminum rail or slider for more contact patch. There is actually 29 percent more contact patch according to Can-Am. This allows the track to stay a bit looser and pliable for that traction input mentioned earlier and is cooled or lubricated by the snow it runs through. This is actually the same technologically advanced track that a Ski-Doo Summit snowmobile uses. If you are familiar with the Summit’s engineering, then you already know it performs very well and now you can have that track on every corner of your machine. One other feature is the extra 7-inches of ground clearance added to the machines running the BackCountry LT tracks.
Our ride consisted of many vehicles but our first would be the Can-Am Maverick Xrs. This big and very powerful machine donned with the Apache BackCountry LT (Long Track) looked simply incredible but looks were not what the engineers at Can-Am were wanting us to focus on. Remember that these rigs are already heavy, and the tracks are adding to the conceived ability to remain on top of the snow. The brutal torque and power of this Rotax engine made short work of getting the tracks spinning and the drive was nothing less that amazing. Obviously, the tracks do take more energy to move and the power is a bit less responsive than we were used to but hearing the Rotax turbo come alive and launching the Maverick up and out of the snow never became tiring. The turning radius is significantly increased with these track’s and the fluffy powder did find its way onto the windshield several times due to the sheer width of the rig with tracks. However, the fact that a large machine like this could float across the hillside covered in an amount measure by “feet of snow” is a powerful statement in itself.
Getting all of the factory systems to work together nicely is something that had to be considered and steering a big SXS like the Maverick X3 Xrs or even the Maverick X3 Xds, with tracks could be a handful without the help of Can-Ams Dynamic Power steering. The DPS is only set to help with tires though so Can-Am engineers developed an advanced DPS module. This plug and play unit corrects speed as well the odometer and it adds maximum performance to the Dynamic Power Steering on your SXS. This module simply plugs into the existing harness under the dash and with a quick check before takeoff the digital readout should indicate you are in “Track Mode.” Now you are ready to tackle the blinding white powder with little effort.
The Maverick X3’s were not the only vehicles on hand as the Defender HD10 and a Maverick Sport Max were also included in the fun. Both of these machines were equipped with the BackCountry LT tracks, giving us a few passes snow drift testing as well as a little different perspective out of the front windshield. The Can-Am Defender was a crowd favorite as the seating allows much more of a view across the front of the machine in the deep powder and the tracks are set back and seemingly lower so the snow flying in front of the glass was much less. One additional feature that we find extremely important now for this type of riding is the fact that both the Defender and the Maverick Sport Max had accessory heat installed. The Maverick X3’s did have heated seats which helped but there is no comparison to the actual heater option.
The power in both the Defender and Maverick Sport Max was noticeably reduced but it did not seem to impair the rigs from getting up on the top of the snow and pulling along the trails we were on. Both of these machines gave spirited rides and the enjoyment of the ride was also very well received surprisingly, compared to the X3’s. It seemed the tracks did very well at their designed purpose, and it was us who had to slow down a bit to really appreciate it. To clarify that last comment, Hammering the impressive throttle of the Maverick X3’s left us with literal “Snow Blindness” as the powder just showered the entire machine anytime you turned the wheel. All things considered, the tracks did perform well on those big Mavericks and a slower pace did make for a better view out the front glass.
Lastly, we spent some time on the Can-Am Outlander 1000R with the all season tracks and then we were able to get on the Outlander 850 using the BackCountry track system to pull us along. Surprisingly, these were quite possibly the funnest machine’s with tracks. Being on an ATV in the snow is something oddly refreshing. Standing on the pegs of the ATV looking way out into the snow bound mountains in front of you is simply indescribable and even though the temperatures did seem to get quite chilly in the morning it was still very fun. Our afternoon exit on the quads was fabulous as well and out of the entire day this might have been the favorite. You are out in the wild back woods in deep powder and with the All-season track the Outlander did feel a little looser on the snow allowing for a bit easier turning. But it was very apparent when throttling up the 850 with the BackCountry snow track that you were really putting the power down to the surface. Again, floating on the top was made really easy and the ground clearance did get us over most of the clear-cut stumps under the powder. Now, finding our way through the trees was somewhat exciting but if I we could just free ride at least once or twice a year on these products, we are completely in on that one.