Naturally, the first things that you should put on your list are the personal items. These include several things such as your medication, ID, the driver’s license, insurance for you and the vehicle, the snowmobile safety certification card (in case it’s required), money, your cellphone, food to give you energy and, never forget, water.
These things are part of those items that are so obvious that we tend to forget about them, thinking “how could I forget about them?” Because of this, people tend to leave them behind, but also because we tend to leave them to pack when we finish the luggage so they’ll be easily accessible.
Keep them all together and put a note on your door that you shouldn’t forget them. Remove the note only after you left the house and checked that you have them with you. Check them again before you leave for the ride to the mountain. Don’t forget to keep the kit with you at all times.
Make sure you charge the battery of your mobile phone, satellite phone, and external battery soon before you are about to leave your home or start the trip. Keep them warm, in the inside of a pocket of the coat you are going to wear. In order to preserve battery life, turn the phone off or switch it to airplane mode.
If you’re going to a remote place in the mountains, it’s very likely that you’re not going to have cell service, not even for the satellite phone, so don’t rely completely on them as safety devices – you can also use a dispatch radio. In case of an emergency, call 911 directly so you don’t waste time as the dispatch center is able to determine your location with ease.
The safety equipment
Your snowmobile should always have in it some safety equipment that should be able to help you in case there is an emergency. The bare minimum you should have is a map and a compass, some waterproof matches with a fire starter (highly important because dampness can make the regular ones useless), a flashlight with extra batteries, and another ignition key.
Highly important are also a GPS or even a SPOT messenger unit that has the role of providing the exact location in which you are found so you can let the emergency personnel know where you are without them having to waste time looking for you while you are in danger.
Such devices run on batteries so check how charged they are before you go on the ride, take some spares with you always and don’t forget to keep them warm. A bit of good advice is to play around a bit with the unit so you familiarize yourself with it before the time when you may actually need it – it’s not the best time to learn how to operate it while under stress.
One thing that may not come to mind quickly is a small shovel which can be really helpful to have in case you are stuck or stranded somewhere. You can find models that are small enough for you to store on your snowmobile or to put in your backpack. Take an avalanche beacon as well if you are riding a zone that is prone to avalanches.
In emergency moments, flares or strobe lighting can be of great help! Because strobes also run on batteries, bring more than just one pair and also keep them at a warm temperature so they don’t discharge because of the cold. This way you’ll be able to maintain the strobe in a working mode until help is on their way.
If your route is going to visit frozen rivers and lakes, then an ice pick that is fastened to a cord should be part of your luggage as well. The cord from all picks has to be threaded through the sleeves of the jacket you are wearing, but keep them out of the way of your hands, while also close, so in case there is an emergency, they’ll be available fast.
If you jam the pointed end of the pick in ice, then the pick has the ability to act as an anchor for yourself and will let you pull yourself back onto the ice with much more ease compared to the struggle that someone without this help will go through.
Don’t forget to prepare a tool kit for the maintenance of the snowmobile as well.
The tools you’ll need
Manufacturers of snowmobiles may include a basic tool kit inside the hood of the snowmobile or under the seat. This kit will probably be made of a spark plug wrench, various types of wrenches that are used for some common adjustments, screwdrivers and so on. Never remove these tools from the snowmobile as they can be used in times of need.
Also, keep in mind to always have with you several spare spark plugs and a spare drive belt that you will be needing in case of some failure. Other items that may be of great help to you are knives, pliers, duct tape, an adjustable wrench, and tow rope as they all can come in handy when you have a problem with the snowmobile.
An emergency first aid kit
A first aid kit while on a trip is a no-brainer even when you go to the beach or on a historical tour of some city. There are so many things that can happen from a small scratch to a gash from the shoes to serious things that may require medical attention. Therefore, the kit should have several items that are useful for you in a given emergency.
You can buy an already full type of first aid kit. These ones are compact which means they’ll be carried with great ease on the snowmobile or in your backpack. In case you don’t want to rely on store-bought already-full types of first aid kits, you can always build your very own from scratch.
Such a kit has to include several important elements like bandages, compresses (2 inches and 4 inches), a roll of 2-inch gauze, an adhesive tape of 1 inch, a thermal blanket, alcohol wipes and scissors (or knife) plus an ointment that has antibiotic properties. Place them in a waterproof container and don’t add any liquid that may freeze.
It’s not a bad thing if you decide to take a CPR course and have a certified first aid as well as they’ll prove to be of great help for you or anybody who is in danger. Don’t ever forget how snowmobiling can lead to frostbite so prepare yourself by having all of your skin covered at all times.
Before going on the first ride of the year, you ought to do a full check of the snowmobile so you can be sure that everything is working in the proper way. Ask for the help of a mechanic if some of the items need to be fixed, preferably before the start of the season, so they won’t be already under a lot of demand from other clients as well.
There are many things that need to be checked when it comes to the snowmobile and among them, we can mention: the air intake (check to see if the intake hasn’t become clogged), the throttle, the brakes, the wheels (make sure that they turn with ease), the wear bars, the lights, drive belt, spark plugs and so on.
It’s enough for only one of these items and features not to be working properly and in case of emergency, you may have to deal with double the trouble.
Before the snowmobile ride
Here are some of the things that you should be aware of or check before you go on a ride: the weather forecast (so you can have the best clothes for it, see if it’s too risky to go out, etc.), the level of fuel and oil, the drive belt, the ski assemblies and rods, the general condition of the vehicle, if the handlebars can turn easy in both ways, the aforementioned kits, etc.
With all of these things in mind, you are sure to have a (safe) blast!