Guide to Snowmobiling

Guide to Snowmobiling

Snowmobiling is terrific fun. It's not just a means of transportation. It's an exhilarating and thrilling experience heightened only by the beauty of the trails and the cold pinch of frosty air as you zip through the snow. If you have cabin fever, this is the perfect way to get outdoors. That said, following basic safety protocols and observing the rules of the road keep the experience both safe and fun.

Accessories for a Snowmobile Ride

Don't go snowmobiling without the proper gear. Snowmobiling is a high-energy sport. The terrain can be unstable, and you want to make sure you're safe and comfortable in the cold outdoors when riding. The most important thing to wear is a helmet, to protect your brain if you crash into an obstacle or you're thrown from your snowmobile after it flips over. The helmet should fit your head snugly and the safety strap should fasten securely. Even with the face shield to protect your face from the elements, the helmet should be as light as possible. Water is a must so that you stay hydrated. You might also pack extra pairs of gloves, a first aid kit, a small shovel, and a change of clothes in case you fall through ice.

Riding Safety

Snowmobiling is fun, but it can also be quite dangerous. Young children should never operate a snowmobile alone. A child younger than six shouldn't even be allowed to ride a snowmobile as a passenger. There is a minimum age required to operate a snowmobile, which varies by state so be sure to be aware of the laws in your area. Teenagers and adults old enough to drive a snowmobile should take a safety course before going on any excursions.

Once you've chosen your trail, diligently check the weather forecast to make sure conditions are safe before riding. Some snowmobile drivers have become trapped in avalanches or had to confront thick mud and melting ice when weather conditions are too dangerous for snowmobiling. Don't try doing tricks on a snowmobile unless you know you're the only one on the trail, and you're an experienced driver.

Check your snowmobile before each trip to make sure there are no engine defects or other mechanical problems. Follow the same rules as you would if you were driving a car. Stay on the trail, and don't drive when your drunk or under the influence of drugs. Be careful not to overload your snowmobile too much. Don't use it to tow another vehicle or drag someone behind it. Hunting season can be dangerous for snowmobiler riders.

Trail Etiquette

Following the proper trail etiquette promotes rider safety and helps make sure that everyone is having a good time. If you're part of a group, drive single-file so you're not blocking the trail for others. Skiers and hikers are like pedestrians - they always have the right of way. So do other snowmobiles when they're driving uphill. Beginners and slow drivers should let faster drivers pass them on the trails.

Proper Clothing and Gear

Getting dressed for snowboarding requires multiple layers. Start with the base layer, which can be thermal underwear. Put on a couple of additional layers, and then finish off with a heavy, waterproof winter jacket. If you'll be going on a long trip, take a small backpack with extra items you might need.

Rules of the Road for Snowmobiling

Respect yourself and others when snowmobiling. Avoid negative interactions with other drivers and riders. Do your best to signal when turning unless signaling would affect your ability to maintain control of the vehicle. If there's no speed limits posted on the trail, the right speed limit is that of the nearest road. Some states require adults operating snowmobiles to also have a valid driver's license. In other states, there's a safety course to pass before being allowed to drive a snowmobile. Snowmobiles can't be driven on highways or expressways.