To get the most out of snowmobiling, you need equipment that matches your riding goals and that helps you to stay safe. Equipment can be distilled to three main categories: Sleds – Apparel – Tools. The following is a basic analysis of each:

Sleds

When it comes to selecting the right sled, it helps to understand your riding goals. Are you looking to tour the trails? Is the backcountry calling your name? These are good questions to start with, because manufactures produce different sleds that can help you achieve your various riding goals.

Touring Sleds

These sleds are perfect for those with riding goals that focus on trail riding, sightseeing, and maintenance activities, like accessing a cabin. Features often include:

  • Comfortable seating for two
  • Wider track for comfort with smaller lug for improved steering
  • Softer suspension
  • Larger windshield
  • Rearview mirrors
  • Luggage rack
  • Tow hitch

Mountain Sleds

If the backcountry calls your name, you will want to invest in a mountain sled. This sled variety focuses on what you need to maneuver aggressively and find the traction you need to go where no one has gone before. Features often include:

  • Less comfortable seating
  • Narrower track for maneuverability with longer lug for traction
  • Stiffer sport suspension
  • Little to no windshield
  • No mirrors, luggage racks or other amenities

Buying New vs. Used

There are several advantages to buying a new sled over a used one. However, many good used sleds can be found that will be much easier on the wallet. Here are the benefits:

New Purchase Benefits

  • Technology - As with many sports, sled technology changes every year. Buying new gets you at the forefront
  • Warranty - You have typically three years of worry-free coverage so long as you follow the manufacturer's maintenance schedule
  • Knowledge - You know exactly where it has been and what it has been put through and if it has been in any accidents

Used Purchase Benefits

  • Price - Depreciation is a NEW sleds worst enemy. However, buying a good used sled can save you a ton of money.
  • Warranty - Often one can find a used sled that is still in its warranty period, which gives you the best of both worlds
  • Variety - The secondary market has tons of options, including interesting vintage and collectable sleds. 
  • Read this guide to buying a used sled for more tips.

Apparel

Buying the right apparel is important to both comfort and safety while snowmobiling. There are many options out there, so here are a few tips to consider:

  • Waterproof & Breathable - There are several fabrics that provide excellent waterproofing, but are still breathable, which helps you maintain your body temperature. Look for apparel that features fabrics like GORE-TEX or eVent for optimal performance.
  • Durable - Because snowmobiling conditions change constantly, wear apparel that is durable, especially your coat, bibs and boots.
  • Comfortable - Snowmobiling causes riders to move constantly and in a variety of ways. Before purchasing new apparel, try it on and bend and move your body, as if you are sledding, to test the comfort level of the clothing.
  • Helmet - There are an unlimited number of helmets to choose from. Some riders prefer a moto-cross type helmet, while others prefer a closed-face model. In either event, find a helmet that is comfortable and that vents perspiration and fog easily. You may want to consider a heated visor that helps fight fog in closed-face applications. If you choose a moto-cross type helmet, choose good snowmobiling goggles that keep cold wind off your face to reduce the chance for frostbite.
  • Boots - A good pair of heavy duty warm boots will help you have a better day snowmobiling. It is well worth the money to buy good boots.
  • Gloves - There are several varieties of gloves. Some have leather palms for added grip and others feature additional fill to keep your hands warmer. Cold, wet hands make for a long day, so look for gloves that feature GORE-TEX or eVent fabric and that have adequate fill to keep your hands warm. Mittens are not recommended for snowmobile applications as they limit your hands range of motion. 

Tools

There are quite a few tools that you should make use of each time you head for the hills. The following tools will make your ride safer and more enjoyable:

  • Beacon - If you are planning on sledding in the backcountry, please wear a beacon. A beacon is a device that helps searchers find you in case you are buried in an avalanche.
  • Probe - A probe is a collapsible stick that is used to find a person buried in an avalanche. It is lightweight and easy to pack, but critical in an avalanche rescue.
  • First Aid Kit - Invest in a small first aid kit that contains gauze, ointment, and a bandage roll.
  • Flare - Purchase an automotive flare and transport it in a sealed bag to keep it from getting wet. Flares make starting a fire much easier, in case you need to start one.
  • Shovel - In several cases, a shovel will help you and other snowmobilers dig out sleds that have become stuck.
  • Pull Strap - A long piece of nylon strap can be helpful in getting a sled unstuck. It is an inexpensive and light must have. Make sure to sew a loop on each end for even more grip.