Sometimes a product comes along that makes the skeptic in me say something like “Really? That just seems like a gimmick.” So it was with the Stuckmate – a gizmo that attaches to a snowmobile’s throttle that allows you to pull on a stuck sled’s ski and depress the throttle at the same time for alleged easier, single-person extractions.
Literally within 15 minutes of taking the Stuckmate out of the box, though, the gadget completely converted me into a believer. It occurred in February, after our region had been dumped upon by repetitive snowstorms. My riding buddy
Steve and I briefly played with the Stuckmate inside our warm shop, but we’d never used it in the field. Before we headed out on a ride, I told Steve to put it in his sled’s rear bag, thinking we might create a situation to try it out.
Getting to the first trail, though, required a short jaunt of deep-snow ditch riding. I led the way – bounding over freshly plowed snowbanks and traversing down a couple of ditchlines. In less than 5 minutes, I was at the trailhead… but Steve wasn’t. I waited for a minute, said aloud, “How did I lose that putz already?” and doubled back to find Steve and his MXZ stuck in deep snow. By the time I found him, though, he already had the Stuckmate out of its carrying pouch and was attaching it to the sled.
Per the instructions, Steve shut off the sled and placed the Stuckmate’s bright yellow plastic clip on the end of the throttle. Then the gadget’s handlebar mount was placed opposite the throttle – with the cupped end in back and the actuation cable that runs between the handlebar and the throttle clip on top, with just an iota of “play” in the cable. Next, Steve pulled the trigger on the Stuckmate’s plastic Y-shaped handle to make sure the throttle moved to about half-throttle when triggered and then returned to a closed position when the trigger was released. A tether cord was then wrapped around his wrist.
Steve started the sled and waded through the deep snow to position himself just outboard of the right ski. He then gave the ski loop a tug with his right hand while burping the throttle by pulling the trigger on the Stuckmate with his left hand. Sure enough, that’s all the stuck sled needed – it popped out of its hole and on top of the fresh snow!
The system has limitations – it’s not going to unearth a seriously augered sled in chest-deep powder on a mountainside. However, pretty much every veteran rider has gotten stuck in a swamp, ditch or field where all they needed was somebody tugging on a ski while they give the sled some gas – but what if that second somebody isn’t there? Suddenly you’re digging and lifting, and you may end up walking out or spending the night – unless you have the Stuckmate.
If you ride alone, we now believe you should have a product like the Stuckmate with you.
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