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Before You Hit the Throttle: How to Prepare for a Safe Snowmobile Excursion

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Traveling the winter landscape on a snowmobile is never short of being incredible – the scenery, the thrill of the machine itself, and getting out in the outdoors itself with family and friends. But theres nothing worse then not having what you need in case of emergency when your way out in gods land. There are some must haves that you should always try to include with you no matter how far out there your trip is.

A great way to feel more secure and safe is always go over a homemade Snowmobile Trip Checklist.

Here’s some great go-to's to take and build your own helpful list of what to bring on your next trip in the fresh pow to ensure a safe, enjoyable ride:

  • Layering clothing is one of the best tricks I was ever taught. You’ll stay nice and warm, and you can remove layers depending on how active of a rider you are or to match weather conditions. A windproof outer layer is a must, and I can promise you that once you invest in one of these bad boys you will never settle for anything less again!

  • An extra pair of thick socks. Coming from a fellow rider with feet that avidly stay damp regardless of the season or temp, just do it. You also never know when you may come across or step into water that goes over your boot. Better to be safe then sorry.

  • Warm gloves or mittens and water-proof boots. They also make gloves that fair better in higher wind speeds, or if you like the lighter glove install some hand guards on your machine.

  • A helmet. Check to be sure your helmet is the right size and in good condition. Make sure the chin strap fits snugly. And you should have a visor for clear vision and protection from the wind. Another great advance in the 21st century that is completely amazing and worth the investment? HEATED SHEILDS. Your welcome.

  • Glasses or goggles and some sunblock to protect you from the sun. Yes. Its winter and your not at the pool. On a sunny day, clean fresh snow can reflect up to 90% of UV radiation. This means that you can be exposed to almost a double dose of UV – directly from the sun and bouncing off snow-covered surfaces.

  • Food: one meal and emergency rations. Personally I pack several granola bars and some jerky. Make a decision based off your route distance and duration.

  • Plenty of water. Even if you aren't stranded, your working your body out there and staying hydrated is always important.

  • Waterproof matches. Just in case.

  • Extra gas and tools for the snowmobile (a drive belt and sparkplugs are the most common fixes). Most sleds come from the manufacturer with a kit already with the basics: spark plug wrench, a set of wrenches, screwdrivers and a strap for emergency starting. Its a good idea to know where this kit is located and be familiar with the tools uses.

  • A map and compass. Every club typically has a place wether online or a physical copy were you reference a map clearly stating trail locations, local road names, and points of interest (gas, food, ETC).

  • A first-aid kit.

  • Emergency flares.

Must-know Snowmobile Safety Tips With more than 1.1 million registered snowmobile riders in the US riding an average of 1,100 miles annually, it’s smart to be aware of your surroundings and other riders in the area.

  • Keep Others Informed of Your Plans Snowmobiling is safer and more fun with a friend or in a group, but sometimes that’s not possible. Either way, have a snow plan. Pick a trail or identify the general area where you’ll be riding and don’t stray. Estimate the length of time you’ll be gone. Leave those details with a trusted friend or family member. That way, if you are overdue, people have an idea where to search for you. As a courtesy, let that friend or family member know when you’ve returned from your ride.

  • Keep an Eye on the Weather Don’t plan a ride if inclement weather is expected. Getting stuck in bad weather can affect your vision, reaction time and sense of direction. Riding on lakes and rivers is also a bad idea, especially on ice with moving water under it. If you have to ride on ice, consider a life jacket over your outer clothing.

  • Watch Your Speed Maintain a safe speed. Speed is the number one factor in most snowmobile fatalities. Speed limits and other laws around snowmobile operation vary by state. So get familiar with the rules in whatever state you’re riding.

  • Don’t Drink and Ride Never mix alcohol with snowmobiling. While some believe alcohol can keep you warm in cold temperatures, it’s only a myth. It actually does nothing to raise your body temperature. In fact, it can put you at greater risk of hypothermia. You have a false sense of warmth while your body temperature declines. Alcohol also impairs your ability to make smart decisions while riding.

Respect the Trails!

Your local club and its officials work very hard to maintain, grow, and keep your trail systems so everyone can enjoy and have the opportunity to get out there.

If you properly prepare, stay alert and obey safety laws, snowmobiling is a great way to explore the countryside and enjoy the snow. You can get to remote places and see some pretty incredible scenery that may otherwise be inaccessible. There is also a great sense of community when it comes to the sport. Get ahold of a local club today and see what you have been missing!

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