Woo-hoo! You finally bought your very own snowmobile. Today will be the first time you take your sled out and you absolutely can’t wait. Before you go, do you have all the essentials? What’s recommended for a new snowmobile?
The following essentials will make your first experience on your new snowmobile a smooth and easy one:
- Weather tool for radar
- Tow rope
- Two-way radio
- Spare spark plugs
- Snowmobile cover
- Registration and/or certificate card (if your state requires these)
- Spare oil
- Maintenance tools
- Spare drive belt
- Food and water
- Avalanche transceiver
- Avalanche shovel
- First-aid kit
Yes, this list is quite exhaustive, but that ensures you leave no stone unturned. Keep reading for more on why these items are so important as well as product recommendations so you’ll have everything you need to safely ride your new snowmobile!
17 Must-Have Essentials When Riding Your New Snowmobile
You checked the weather last night and saw snowy conditions predicted for today. Regardless of the season, the weather can change on a dime. Perhaps what was supposed to be a light snowfall yesterday is now coming in as a heavy snowstorm today. You want to know about what’s coming, ideally before you hit the road on your sled. You’ll need a weather tool for this.
A weather tool can tell you other useful information too, such as when the sun will rise and set and what the temperature really feels like.
The good news is you don’t have to spend a lot of money on a specialized weather tool. A free or paid weather app on your smartphone should suffice provided the app comes with radar.
Your snowmobile is rated to tow a certain amount of weight. If you don’t know how much, we recommend digging into your owner’s manual and finding out. Also, always keep a tow rope handy. You might never need it, but if you get stranded or another of your snowmobiling buddies does, you’ll sure be glad you have a means of pulling them out of such a sticky situation.
A tow strap like this one from Extreme Max on Amazon is less bulky than a tow rope, so it’s worth considering. This Amazon’s Choice product is usable with ATVs and snowmobiles. It can handle a load of 1,450 pounds and has a break strength rating of 4,400 pounds.
Although you can use your smartphone to check the weather before you get to the snowmobiling trail, once you’re out there, the reception isn’t always great. Thus, if you get separated from your group, you can’t necessarily rely on your smartphone to communicate. Whether it’s your phone that’s cutting out or your friend’s, it’s a bad situation to find yourself in.
A two-way radio is more reliable when in the great outdoors. You should only need a few AAA batteries to get your two-way radios ready to use for hours. This Motorola T100 Talkabout two-way radio pack is an Amazon’s Choice product and available for under $80.
Each radio has 22 channels as well as an auto squelch, talk confirmation tone, keypad tone, call tone, and a low-battery alert that flashes. If your snowmobiling group uses GMRS or FRS two-way radios, the T100 is compatible with these.
Three AAA alkaline batteries get you 18 hours of use. Give one radio to your friend and hold onto the other to communicate conveniently anytime on the trail.
Spare Spark Plugs
Somewhere in your gear bag should be a space for some spark plugs. Since you’re new to snowmobiling, here’s a quick explanation of what spark plugs do. These small plugs generate a spark (hence the name) to the fuel/air in the tank, igniting this mixture so your snowmobile’s engine works. If one or more spark plugs fail, then your engine will as well.
Spark plugs are tiny enough that they won’t hog up too much valuable space in your bag. You can also buy spare plugs for about $5 a pop, so there’s no excuse not to have at least four or five plugs ready to go at any time.
The average spark plug lasts about two and a half years, but misuse can encourage their degradation faster. When you’re new to snowmobiling, you might go full-throttle on everything, wearing down some parts prematurely. For that reason, don’t skip the spark plugs! You never know when you’ll need them or when someone in your group will.
It’s also wise to bring with you a snowmobile cover. When you’re trailering your sled (or someone else is for you), you’ll especially want it to be covered or your sled will end up a snowy mess. Then you have to waste time when you get to the trail dusting off snow from your snowmobile in all the crevices and corners. You’ll be freezing cold before you even ride a mile!
Buying a cover now will also benefit you later in the season when you have to retire your sled until next winter.
Okay, so what should you look for in a snowmobile cover? Very importantly, you want a cover that fits your specific make and model of snowmobile. That’s why we’re not recommending any covers here, as there are so many options out there depending on how big or small your sled is.
Buy a cover that’s waterproof, not water-resistant. Yes, there’s a difference. Water resistance means the cover has a coating that repels water, but only until that coating washes or wears away. A waterproof cover is stitched or weaved that way, no coating included. You can always rely on a waterproof cover to keep your sled dry.
You also want a cover material that’s breathable so mold and mildew can’t form beneath. Check that your snowmobile cover has UV resistance too. If it doesn’t, then the strong, harsh rays of the sun can beat down through your cover and reach your snowmobile. You may come back to discoloration and other damage.
You’re not supposed to go sledding after dark, but listen, sometimes stuff happens. Perhaps you got off to a really late start and you were having so much fun on the trail that you didn’t stop to look at the time. Maybe a buddy had technical issues (aren’t you glad you brought those spark plugs?) that sucked up a lot of time.
Regardless of the situation, if you’re in low-visibility conditions such as riding after dark or getting caught in a snowstorm, you’ll be glad to have a flashlight. The more compact the flashlight, the better, as you don’t want it to be a space hog. Try to buy one with LED illumination that can cut through thick snow and fog.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to turn your flashlight on, but having one just in case will bring you peace of mind.
Registration and/or Certification
In this post on our blog, we went state by state and discussed which states in the US required you to have a snowmobile license or certification. This documentation is also sometimes called a trail permit. No matter what your state refers to it as, if you need a license, then it’s a very poor idea to leave without it.
That goes for your snowmobile registration too. We also detailed which states require snowmobile registration in the above link, so read over that article if you missed it. You’ll learn more about your own state as well as surrounding states if you ever do out-of-state snowmobiling.
You filled up your snowmobile this morning. That should be more than enough fuel for today’s ride, but what about the next one or the one after that? If you get forgetful another day, then at any point during your day out, your sled could run out of oil.
If you’ve ever driven your car to the point where the fuel tank is empty, you know that when that last drop of fuel is gone, so too is your ability to drive. It’s not all that different with your snowmobile. You’ll be stopped dead in your tracks with few options to get up and running again.
You’d either have to have someone lug a gas tank to you to refill or use starter fluid. We’ve warned against doing that on the blog before, as starter fluid can degrade snowmobile parts. Also, as you use it, you have to double your quantities the next time for the same effect.
When you fill up your snowmobile, pour some spare fuel in an airtight container. Try to keep the spare oil at a warmer temperature if you can, as sometimes the oil can separate if the density changes between the hot fuel and cold fuel are too different.
How do you pour the spare oil into your fuel tank or that of your buddy’s? Do you just dump it right in there? It’s best if you can funnel the oil in, so having a few plastic funnels in your gear bag doesn’t hurt.
This four-piece plastic funnel set on Amazon is very inexpensive, costing less than $15. The funnels are multi-functional and the main funnel includes an extension nozzle. That funnel’s spout is 8 inches, and you can even take the spout off. Whether you want to pour antifreeze, lubricant, or gas, the corrosion-resistant plastic won’t degrade.
You should get into a regular, reliable snowmobile maintenance schedule such as cleaning the shocks and other components, inspecting everything, and running pressure and compression tests. None of that will happen on the trail, but what about on those days when your sleds starts acting up when you ride?
For those times, you’ll be glad to have a slew of basic maintenance tools. We like this Cruztools Compact Tool Kit on Amazon. For less than $45, you get a tire pressure gauge, a two-in-one spark plug socket, pliers, a five-in-one screwdriver, hex wrenches, star bits, nut drivers, and wrenches. The carrying bag is 7 inches by 2 inches by 2 inches and fits all the tools.
These tools can’t fix serious issues with your sled, but minor fixes here and there? Most definitely! At least you’ll be able to get through the rest of your afternoon before you bring your snowmobile to your local repairperson.
Have you ever tried to start a fire with winter gloves on? Good luck with that! When you’re freezing cold and craving warmth, you’ll get frustrated a lot faster with your inability to produce fire.
Fortunately, you don’t have to rub sticks or kindling together in blustery winds and hope for the best. Commercially available firestarters like FireFlame on Amazon will save you so much time, discomfort, and aggravation. This waterproof firestarter produces fire in seconds. All you have to do is ignite the sachet like you would a candle and you have glorious heat. Each sachet burns for 10 minutes.
Spare Drive Belt
Another spare part to bring with you on your snowmobiling adventures is a second drive belt. This crucial component of your drive system sends engine power to the track of your snowmobile. The drive belt doesn’t look like much, only a thin band made of rubber, but if the belt snaps or wears down, you’re in big trouble.
Admittedly, a snowmobile drive belt is a little more costly than a set of spark plugs. Most belts start at $30 and some cost $100 and up. Yes, this is an extra expense now, but the convenience of being able to reattach a broken belt when you’re in the middle of the trail is unbeatable.
Food and Water
You’ve fueled up your snowmobile, but don’t forget to fuel up yourself as well! If you’re planning for a day-long snowmobile expedition, you’re definitely going to get hungry at some point. You also must maintain your hydration so you can stay clear, focused, and alert when on your sled.
What kind of snacks and meals should you pack? Obviously, nothing that’s best eaten warm. The more portable and handheld your food of choice, the better. Premade packaged sandwiches (or those you make at home and wrap tightly in plastic wrap) are a favorite among many a snowmobiler.
A protein bar will give you the energy and nutrition to finish out your afternoon of snowmobiling strong. Beef jerky has lots of protein and tastes great at any temperature. Even leftover pizza is a choice some snowmobilers opt for. Keep in mind it will be cold, but hey, that’s part of the charm. A candy bar also tastes great when chilled.
Your beverage choices include water, Gatorade, or an energy drink. Since you do sweat and work your muscles when snowmobiling, make sure you restore those lost electrolytes!
The gorgeous, breathtaking views of the mountainous hills on many snowmobile trails is part of what makes riding those trails so exciting. Unfortunately, where there’s mountains or tall hills, there may also be avalanches.
Considering that some snowmobilers–especially those with mountain sleds–will ride on this terrain, you have to be ready for disaster to strike. To stay safe when riding hills and mountains on any given day, buy an avalanche transceiver, also known as an avalanche beacon.
This radio transceiver is an emergency device that can detect when someone is buried beneath an avalanche. Even if you didn’t lose someone in your group during an avalanche, someone else could be lost under there, and time is really of the essence here.
This Backcountry Access Tracker S Avalanche Beacon + Avalanche Probe on Amazon is a must-have. Yes, you will spend several hundred dollars on it, but this little device can save lives, and you can’t put a price on that.
What if you do find someone under the snow? Using your hands to dig them out will take too much time, not to mention you’ll end up freezing cold yourself. Instead, a portable avalanche shovel like this Black Diamond pick on Amazon is also worth adding to your list of snowmobile essentials.
An Amazon’s Choice product, the Black Diamond features a D/T hybrid handle, blade anodization, an aluminum body, and a trapezoidal shaft you can extend or even remove. You’ll quickly be able to shove aside snow and get to whoever’s stuck in the avalanche with this shovel. Keep it handy!
Last but certainly not least, all smart snowmobilers should bring a first-aid kit. A good kit will include the following items:
- Gauze pads of varying sizes
- Dressing bandages
- Elastic bandage roll
- Medical tape roll
- Butterfly closures
- Adhesive bandages of varying sizes
- Adhesive dressing pads
- Alcohol wipes
- Mouth-to-mouth mask
- Triangular bandages
- Latex gloves
- Emergency blanket
- Disposable heat pack
- Bandage scissors
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Having the right essentials for your snowmobile is more than a matter of convenience, but sometimes even life and death. We hope that you now realize why each of the above-recommended items is so important to have with you every time you go snowmobiling.