Staying warm and protected on your snowmobile

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Stay informed and get the right clothing

When you’re snowmobiling, you need to be dressed warmly so that you can truly enjoy this recreational sport. You also need to protect yourself from dangers such as hypothermia, frostbite and snowblindness.

In this article, you’ll learn how to recognize these common dangers associated with winter sports and wear the right clothing to protect yourself.

About hypothermia
About frostbite
About snowblindness
What to wear

About hypothermia

Hypothermia is defined as the lowering of the body’s core temperature, which can occur on water or land. Wind chill, which is a lower temperature caused by wind or the momentum of your sled, can lead to hypothermia. Keep in mind that alcohol also increases your susceptibility to hypothermia. If you dress warmly in water-resistant layers, you can generally avoid this.

How do you recognize if somebody is suffering from hypothermia?
People affected by hypothermia will often say they feel chilled and shivery. More serious symptoms include muscular coordination problems and difficulty moving the limbs. Wrap the victim carefully in warmer clothing and get medical help as soon as you can.

About frostbite

Frostbite is caused by freezing temperatures and poor circulation, occurring most often on extremities and exposed skin. Signs of frostbite are unnaturally white and numb skin surrounded by bright red colouring. If you or somebody you are travelling with is suffering from frostbite, seek medical help immediately.

About snowblindness

Sometimes when you’re riding, the sun glare can simply be too bright for your eyes and cause temporary blindness. As well, riding without UV protected sunglasses can cause permanent damage to your eyes.

What to wear

The rule here is that you can always remove layers if you get too warm. Your best choice is long underwear that is lightweight and doesn’t restrict your movement. Generally speaking, fabrics which wick moisture away from your body are ideal. These are often synthetic blends. Avoid wearing cotton, which simply absorbs moisture and can make you feel even colder.

Snowmobile suits
Buy suits with outside shells that are windproof and waterproof. There are many makes on the market to suit your specific budget. Avoid anything cotton, which can become saturated with snow.

Buy an approved helmet, which is your most crucial piece of equipment. Snowmobile helmets are mandatory in Canada. There are many models on the market, and your choice will depend on your budget. Helmets can greatly reduce your chances of head injuries. Helmet visors protect the face and eyes from cold as you ride.

For extra protection from frostbite, some snowmobilers feel facemasks are essential. This is especially true if your helmet is not a full-faced model. The most common facemasks are made of thin, synthetic fabrics. These are superior to wool or knit-stocking facemasks.

Sunglasses or goggles
You need to protect your eyes from dangers such as flying debris, sunlight, water and cold. Some snowmobilers prefer goggles to sunglasses, depending on their helmet model. For late afternoon driving, you can try amber or yellow-coloured lenses.

Gloves and mittens
Whether you choose gloves or mittens is mostly a matter of personal preference. Whatever you do, make sure that you can manipulate the snowmobile controls easily. Like any outdoor clothing, your gloves or mittens should repel water and wind. The best brands are made from synthetic fabrics which keep moisture away from the skin. Generally speaking, wool mittens are effective in warmer weather, since you can always add or remove the liners.

First and foremost, avoid wearing cotton socks; they just absorb moisture and can actually make your feet feel even colder. The blends that provide good insulation are synthetic and thin or thicker wool.

Ideally, your boots should have a rubber, waterproof bottom and good traction to avoid slipping. The upper part of your boot should have a nylon or synthetic shell and a removable liner made of wool, fleece or synthetic materials that keep perspiration away from the foot. Buy boots that give your toes room for movement and don’t cut off your circulation.