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Snowmobile Tips

Snowmobile Tips

Riding your snowmobile in the backcountry can be an exhilarating experience. All that excitement can come with challenges too, especially for beginners. Not only are you braving the cold, but you might also happen upon icy patches on the trail, steep hills, and a learning curve when it comes to hand signals or signs. Although there is no official handbook to teach you the basics of snowmobiling etiquette, handling, and safety, this guide includes an assortment of snowmobile tips that will give you the upper hand when you’re ready to take on the trail.

Snowmobile Tips for Beginners

  1. Dress appropriately and be prepared. When you are just starting out with your first sled, it can be difficult to know what to expect and how to properly dress for the trail. You will want to stay warm and dry, which makes a snowmobile suit one of the best options to buy. Most snowmobile suits consist of jackets and insulated bibs, which cover the torso to keep you cozy. If you decide to buy your jacket and pants separately, there are three different types of snowmobiling jackets to choose from: trail, trail and backcountry, or Snocross. Under your snowmobile suit, you should dress in layers so you can add or remove depending on the conditions. Base layers are what you will wear closest to your skin. These should be thin and tight. Mid layers can act as insulation between your base layers and the outer shell of your snowmobile suit. You might also want to invest in gloves that won’t limit your dexterity, boots that will keep your feet dry, and a balaclava or facemask.

  2. Check the trail conditions and weather forecast. Before you head out for a fun-filled day in the snow, you should always check the trail conditions and weather forecast to plan ahead. On any given day, the trail might be frozen or the wind chill might be too low, posing a risk of prolonged exposure to cold. If there is a chance of a blizzard, you and your riding companions should plan to ride another day.

  3. Inspect your snowmobile before you ride. Part of being a responsible snowmobiling enthusiast is performing routine inspections on your sled. You should always make sure that your snowmobile is running properly before you head out to the trail. Whenever possible, you should also have your owner’s manual handy in the event that it breaks down or you encounter a mechanical mystery. Follow the recommended service schedule to keep your sled maintained and running smoothly between trips. Before every ride, be sure to check the fuel and oil levels as well as the battery, brakes, drive belt, handlebars, headlights, skis, taillights, and throttles. Give your snowmobile a little time to warm up before you take off on your snowy adventure.

  4. Ride with an experienced friend or group. Snowmobiling alone is never a good idea, especially in terms of your safety. Beginners may not realize just how easy it is to get lost on the trail or how quickly a breakdown can ruin a perfectly good ride. As a rule of thumb, you should always ride with someone that is experienced and knows how to handle an emergency in the backcountry. You do not want to find yourself stranded in the snow or without fuel. You might also want to invest in a two-way radio, an intercom, a satellite phone, or some kind of a communication device that allows you to stay connected in the backcountry.

  5. Bring a first-aid kit and some safety essentials. As exhilarating as snowmobiling can be, accidents do happen. To stay prepared for the unexpected, you should always bring along an emergency kit that is fully equipped with adhesive tape, bandages, disinfecting wipes, gauze, hand sanitizer, and other first-aid essentials. We also recommend that you pack a blanket, compass, flashlight, map, knife, snacks, and waterproof matches. Even if you regularly inspect your sled, it’s also wise to bring a few tools for repairs.

Basic Trail Riding Techniques

  • Riding Uphill: When you are riding uphill, use the kneeling position and lean forward. Increase the throttle to maintain your speed, especially in deep snow. Don’t slow down or come to a full stop until you get to the top of the hill, as you may not be able to start climbing again if you do.

  • Riding Downhill: When you are riding downhill, use the sitting position and sit as far back on the seat as possible. You can easily lose control as you come down a hill, making it very important that you stay focused and prepared to stop. Do not release the clutch, leave your sled in low gear, and pump the brake every few seconds.

  • Traversing: When you are traversing a hill, use the kneeling position and lean forward. Try looking for more loosely packed snow, as this may prevent your snowmobile from sliding.

  • Turning: When you are turning, lean into the turn to gain more control and place your body weight forward to put more load on the inside ski of your sled for better traction.

  • Stopping: When you are stopping, pull over to the extreme right and always get off on the right side. You should never stop on a curve or a hill, as these are commonplace for accidents and collisions.

  • Crossing a Road: When you are crossing a road, select a point that provides good visibility in both directions. Come to a complete stop on the shoulder of the road and look both ways before you cross. You should always yield to any traffic on the road. Drive slowly and straight across to minimize the distance you need to travel.

Hopefully these snowmobile tips help you feel more prepared for your first snowmobiling adventure and every trip you take in the future. Ski-Doo Parts Nation proudly offers a wide selection of accessories, apparel, and parts to choose from and keep you trail-ready. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us today!