Table of Contents
- Quick Overview Of What To Buy For Snowmobiling If You’re Looking A Gear List To Buy For A Trip
- Best Snowmobile Gear For Year Round Riding
- Dual Purpose Gear For Traveling On A Budget (skiing & snowmobiling)
- What Clothing NOT To Wear Snowmobiling
- What Type Of Jacket To Wear Snowmobiling
- What Snow Pants Or Bibs To Wear Snowmobiling
- The Best Way To layer For Snowmobiling
- The Secret To Staying Warm On Below Zero Days No Matter Which Jacket And Bibs You Wear
- What Kind Of Boots To Wear When Snowmobiling
- The Best Crossover Snowmobile Boots For A Variety Of Winter Activites
- What To Look For In Snowmobile Socks
- What Kind Of Gloves To Wear Snowmobiling
- What Snowmobile Helmet To Wear Snowmobiling?
- Best Snowmobile Helmet (And full face VS modular helmets)
- What’s The Difference Between A Motorcycle Helmet And A Snowmobile Helmet?
- Best Rated Snowmobile Helmet For People With Eye Glasses
- Balaclavas And Neck Warmers To Keep Your Chin And Neck Warm (even when wearing a helmet)
- The Best Place To Buy Your Snowmobile Gear In My Experience
- The Secret Electric Heated Motorcycle / Snowmobile Gear That Hardly Anyone Talks About That Will Keep You Warm Below Zero
- What To Bring On Your Snowmobile Rides ( And why everyone should carry a tampon… even you, boys.)
- Any Questions About Your Snowmobile Gear Or Trip? (or tips for me??)
Of course with a name like clever leverage, we’re looking to see how we can leverage the latest technology and materials to enjoy the great outdoors in sub zero temperatures and have more fun, and keep on loving our time in the mountains!
This might get a little lengthy, because we need to cover everything from which type of jacket and bibs to wear, all the way down to sock material and your glove choice. Not to mention all the little things in between, like keeping your face and neck warm with balaclavas, and which snacks and hand warmers to pack just in case you get a little chilly. If you’re already a little experienced with snowmobiling and you’re looking for a specific recommendation on some gear, I’ve done my best to put bold headlines at the beginning of each type of gear so you can easily scan the info. (jacket, bibs, gloves, boots, helmets, etc…)
Quick Overview Of What To Buy For Snowmobiling If You’re Looking A Gear List To Buy For A Trip
You might not want to spend time reading a long comprehensive review, so I put together this quick overview section with snowmobile gear recommendations if looking to purchase some new gear. For me personally, I prefer dual purpose gear so I can use it for skiiing and snowmobiling… and not have to pack two suitcases for airline travel. That said, I’m going to list two options when it comes to jacket and bib selection, one for hardcore year round snowmobiling, and the second which is dual purpose gear that I use. If I lived up North all year, I’d want the Klim gear for snowmobiling, and some North Face or Spyder gear just for skiing.[columns] [column size=”1/2″]
Best Snowmobile Gear For Year Round Riding
Klim Snowmobile Jackets
Klim Snowmobiling Bibs
Klim Snowmobile Boots
Kilm Snowmobile Gloves
Skidoo Snowmobile Helmet
Klim Base Layers
Klim Mid Layer
Klim Winter Socks
[/column] [column size=”1/2″]
Dual Purpose Gear For Traveling On A Budget (skiing & snowmobiling)
Spyder Ski/Snow Jackets
Spyder Coaches Pants Bibs
Sorel Snow Boots
Gore-tex Snowmobile Gloves
HJC Snowmobile Helment
ColdPruf Base Layers
Spyder Mid Layer
Balaclava / Neck Warmer
What Clothing NOT To Wear Snowmobiling
You probably already have a good idea of the essential clothing you need to pack for a snowmobile trip, and a good idea of what to wear out on your snowmobile rides. To get this out of the way, lets go over a couple ways I’ve seen people dress that is an absolute NO-NO for snowmobiling. (if you want to stay warm and not freeze your ass off, that is…)
You are NOT going to be warm riding a snowmobile in a sweatshirt and jeans. Sure, you might have a couple drinks and think you’re superman, but losing a finger or toe to frostbite is nothing to mess around with. (I’m serious, if the temp drops to – 30 below and you’re out on the trail after dark being some Florida cowboy in the North, you’re in for one hell of a lesson…)
Quick reference list of clothing that is not acceptable for snowmobiling:
- Tennis shoes (sneakers)
- Jeans, sweatpants, etc… (obviously shorts are a no go… does this even need to be said?)
- Pullover jackets, sweatshirts, etc…
- Hats, ball cap, etc…
Sure, a lot of the above items like fleece sweatshirts are commonly found under your snowmobile suit, but that windproof and waterproof outer layer is essential for staying warm. (I’m sure you already know this, but you never know what tourists are planning their winter vacations are expecting)
What Type Of Jacket To Wear Snowmobiling
The single most important aspect of keeping your upper body warm while out on the trails snowmobiling, is to be dry. This is a two stage problem, as both sweat and moisture from the outside are constantly trying to drench you in bad conditions. The best type of jacket for snowmobiling, is a weatherproof shell, preferably somewhat abrasion resistant, yet still breathable so if you’re riding hard on the trails, your sweat can still dissipate. There are two ways to go about this, but the most popular is a lightweight outer waterproof shell jacket, and then the right moisture wicking layering underneath. This was you can adjust your insulation based on the days temperature.
There are literally tons of companies that make good snowmobiling gear, but opinion is going to be biased toward Klim and Spyder gear. I own a Spyder Leader jacket, and it works the best for me because I lived in Florida and want dual purpose winter gear so traveling for both skiing out West and snowmobiling on the East is easier. (and a lot less luggage!)
That said, I believe Klim is the best snowmobile gear on the planet for year round riding if you live in brutal temperatures. There’s a reason all the big name snowmobile manufacturers license some of their gear lineup to Klim. For non stop sledding, I like this Klim Vector Parka for year round riding. For skiing and snowmobiling, I like my Spyder Leader jacket, and that’s what I personally wear. To read a more in depth review of what I like about it, see my Spyder Leader jacket review here.
What To Wear Under Your Snowmobile Jacket
Moisture wicking thermals are key here, so your chest doesn’t build up condensation when you’re hot, and then potentially freeze after sun down/temperatures drop and you get cold. You’d be surprised how you can start the day off nice and cozy, and within 10-20 miles the climate can change drastically… especially if you’re changing elevation. Your most important bulk is jacket and bibs, but what goes on underneath can also affect how dry you are.
Most people are comfortable in a wide range of temperatures with a lightweight moisture wicking base layer, and a medium weight fleece liner under their snow jacket. This provides extra insulating properties on those extra cold days, and gives you the ability to shed the mid layer if you get too hot. If you’re prone to being cold frequently, it’s a good idea to put a packable down jacket like this one in your rear compartment just in case.
So to recap, your layering should go like this… T shirt or moisture wicking base layer, mid layer or lightweight fleece jacket, then your outer shell or snowmobile jacket. As an option in case you get really cold easily, you can pack and extra down jacket or fleece jacket to add a third layer under your snow jacket to keep you extra cozy. It might get a little bulky, but if you’re in – 30 below weather you won’t care. I wear a combination of one or two base and mid layers, and rarely add a mid layer fleece. Keep in mind I’m a fairly cold tolerant person, and my jacket also has 100 grams of insulate in the shell as well. For a non insulated shell, this would not work well. For either the Spyder or Klim snowmobile jackets I recommend above, you’ll be warm.
Ski Jacket VS Snowmobile Jacket (And versatility compared to warmth)
In my opinion, there are two main differences between ski jackets and snowmobile jackets. First off, skiing is much more active than snowmobiling, and you can generally rely on your body heat to assist in keeping you warm. Snowmobiling however, sometimes gets really windy, both from the climate and the speeds at which you’re traveling. Usually you’ll find that skiing jackets are more breathable than snowmobile jackets, and snowmobile jackets are normally a bit more stiff and made from tougher, thicker fabrics.
That said, I still prefer a skiing type jacket because it’s a lot more versatile. It’s easier to travel with one set of gear instead of two, and I can wear my Spyder jacket snowmobiling or skiing. If I know it’s going to be extra cold out on the sled, I’ll just add an extra layer for the day.
Where a lot of the skiing jackets fall short, is in the abrasion resistance and durability in the woods. If you saw above where I recommend the Klim jackets for riders who will be riding year round, that’s mostly due to the added insulation in the Klim’s, and the durability of the outer shell. They’re made from a tough cordura nylon, which is very abrasion resistant so when you get in the woods and whatnot, a tree branch won’t ruin your jacket if you happen to brush by it.
The caveat to those tough snowmobile jackets is, they’re way to stiff to wear skiing on the slopes. So I choose to forgo a little abrasion resistance, so I A) don’t have to buy two sets of gear, and B) don’t have to travel with double the luggage. If you live up north it’s easy to just grab whichever gear you want for the weekend and go! But when you live in Florida and fly everywhere for your winter sports, it’s a pain in the ass to pack everything… especially double!
In almost all of my winter pictures, you’ll see I’m wearing Spyder gear because it’s lighter, more flexible (literally, to move around in) I travel with it, and it’s not practical for me to carry two sets of gear. Once you get used to layering, it’s easy to have flexibility in a wide variety on temperatures, whether you intend to go on a skiing trip or snowmobiling.
Related Reading: See my Spyder Leader jacket review here
The Best Snowmobile Jacket If You’re Looking To Buy One
If you can’t tell already, I’m a bit of a Klim fanboy. But there’s a good reason why… anytime we arrived at a remote destination up in Maine (like the one pictured below) 90% of all the other snowmobilers were wearing some type of Klim gear. And you can tell the experienced snowmobilers from the inexperienced. I also started poking around and asking, and pretty much all veteran snowmbilers say you can’t go wrong with Klim. Some bitch about the price, but I’ll tell you what, they’ve probably never been cold out on the trail before! As a Florida boy who’s experienced that, I don’t mind spending a few extra bucks compared to freezing my ass off. No one in their right mind would, once they’ve been in the middle of nowhere and can’t stay warm either!
Where To Buy Snowmobile Jackets On Sale & The Best Brands For The Money
To my surprise, Amazon had the best deal on my Spyder gear of all the places I checked. I saw some pretty good deals on Backcountry.com, PeterGlenn.com, and a few various outlet sites, but my Leader jacket ended up being the best price on Amazon by a long shot at $249 with free shipping. Unfortunately, I they didn’t have my size in the Spyder Coaches Bibs I bought, so I had to buy them from a mom and pop ski apparel website called Artechski.com which was a horrible experience. They sent them late, I hard to reorder, then had to file a dispute with paypal to get my money back for the second set. Now I only recommend buying from Amazon since they’re so good about returns in case something doesn’t fit right.
What Snow Pants Or Bibs To Wear Snowmobiling
You can get away with a lot more with your lower half, as many people choose to wear jeans or fleece sweats under their snow pants or bibs without affecting move-ability as much as your top half. Personally I like bibs over snow pants, because they keep you warmer and keep more snow out. I recommend either the Klim snowmobiling bibs, or the Spyder Coaches pants I wear. The Klim bibs you won’t be able to ski in very easily, but they do offer more insulation. The Spyder bibs aren’t designed to be ski pants either, but they’re thin enough to where you have good mobility.
What To Wear Under Snowmobile Bibs Or Ski Pants (or any snow pants)
Much like the jacket under layers you read about above, your leg base layers are much the same. The prominent areas you need extra wind protection in, are your inner thighs and the knee area. This is due to the wind while riding at speed, and it can penetrate average quality gear with ease after a couple hours of riding. If you’re a beginner snowmobiler, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be riding hard enough to break a sweat, and any wind penetration is going to make you cold in these areas.
I personally wear a set of moisture wicking base layer thermals under my Spyder Coaches Bibs, and that’s it. The only time I was cold last year, it was mostly my hands and chest when we rode up into the mountains at elevation. It was 10 – 20 degrees back at camp, but in a matter of a 40 minute ride, it was well below zero with the wind chill. For most people, you will want to add a second mid layer in between your base layer and bibs. A good option for this is a pair of thinner sweatpants, or a fleece set of long underwear.
What To Wear Under Your Snowmobile Suit
Some people opt for a one piece snowmobile suit, and it’s very common for women. I suppose they could be a tad warmer, but most one piece snow suits don’t have the high end taped and sealed zippers like the newer jackets they keep improving every year. Unless you get into like an Arcteryx one piece, but that will run you almost $1,000 dollars. The only difference in a one piece, as far as what base layers to wear, is the added need to shed a layer once you heat up. Meaning, since there’s no air gap between your bibs and jacket, there’s going to be less natural venting. If you start sweating, you’re going to get hot.
Bibs VS Ski Pants For Snowmobiling
There’s a lot of controversy on bibs compared to ski pants for snowmobiling. For me it’s a no-brainer, since I like to go out and ride in the powder and break trails… I tend to get stuck every now and then, and when you’re in waste deep snow sweating your ass off trying to dig out your sled, it’s nice to be able to take your jacket off and not get snow down your pants. That said, I use snow bibs exclusively for snowmobiling, and will not wear ski pants.
I ride with friends and family that do just fine in ski pants however, so to each their own. I just like the added protection you get from the higher rise covering your lower back from drafts and waste deep snow. I also want to be able to ski in my bibs though, so I chose a lighter weight pair of Spyder bibs that I can use for dual purpose winter sports.
The Best Snowmobile Bibs If You’re Looking To Buy A Pair (And where NOT to buy them!)
If you ride year round, or want dedicated snowmobiling bibs, these Klim bibs are the way to go. Keep in mind you won’t be able to ski in these, but the quality is second to none, and they will last you a long time. I wear a hybrid style set of bibs now, which work well enough for snowmobiling, but are still nimble enough to go skiing in. If you travel, and want to just go snowmobiling for the week, I’d pick the Spyder Coaches Bibs in case you want to hit the slopes a day or two on your trip… You won’t have to get a second set of gear or rent a snowsuit, and they have awesome cordura nylon stitched in knee sections for added durability and tons of storage pockets.
The Best Way To layer For Snowmobiling
You probably already know that most snowmobile riders recommend layering up under your outer wear for long rides. But how do you know exactly what to wear underneath? Here’s a good rule of thumb for zero degree weather, and you can simply adjust up or down depending on the temperature.
To stay warm on the trails in – 0 degree weather, you need a target of about about 350 – 400 grams of insulation total. For aggressive riders, they’ll be hot once things get moving and want to shed layers. For beginner riders on windy days riding at a slow pace, they’ll be nice and comfy. Most snowmobile jackets have between 100 – 200 grams of thinsulate, unless you have a higher end bulky style sled jacket with 300 – 400 grams, but that’s not as common. That said, you need to add a base layer which would at at most 20 – 50 grams, and a mid layer which can add up to 100. Keep in mind, the more you bulk, the harder it can be to maneuver the sled. I like to wear no more than 3 layers to keep good mobility in the turns.
So for me, a base layer and insulated outer wear keeps me warm on most days above zero. On those cold days, the key component is a high end mid layer, that’s a quite a bit thicker and more insulative than most base layers. A good option is the Coldpruf gear, or Klim mid layers.
Best Base Layer For Snowmobiling
It’s important not to wear straight cotton base layers, so sweat doesn’t build up on your skin, and then freeze if at some point you shed some layers for one reason or another. Moisture wicking is key to keeping you dry, in addition to a waterproof windproof outer shell. If you can stay dry, you can stay warm. You can use any brand for a base layer, it doesn’t have to be Klim, Under Armour, Patagonia, etc… The important thing is to have an idea of the temperature you’re going to be riding in (if you can estimate), and then pack accordingly. For instance, if it’s going to be close to zero degree weather, you want expedition weight thermals. This year I had Champions from Target, but they were too thin and I kept having to double them up… worked okay for this year, but this year was a weird winter and it was above 32 degrees on a lot of days. (except when we got up into the mountains at elevation, then it was likely below zero with the wind chill.) The next set I buy will be these Duofolds on Amazon.
Best Mid Layer For Snowmobiling
We’ve kind of already covered this in the overview above, but your mid layer should not function as your primary moisture wicking piece of clothing. It should be much more insulating, maybe fleece, definitely something thicker than your base layer, and easy to shed if you get hot and pack-able to store quickly. If you think you’re going to be really cold, this Klim Inferno mid layer might be a good choice for you.
What Are The Best Socks For Snowmobiling?
Depends on your boots really… Are you wearing heavily insulated boots rated down to -40 degrees? Or are you wearing some thin waterproof Columbia’s that don’t have much insulation? Big difference in sock choices based on your boots. The best thing you can do is take multiple pairs, and double up if need be. The Klim Mammoth Socks are going to be some of the warmest socks for snowmobiling, but if you’re wearing heavy snow boots, you can wear thinner socks like the Spyder’s I wear. A lot of people like real wool, but if it’s going to be 100% wool, the trouble is your feet will sweat like crazy and have no way to dry out until you take your boots off.
The Secret To Staying Warm On Below Zero Days No Matter Which Jacket And Bibs You Wear
The secret to staying warm on days when it’s 10 below zero, and you’re out on the trails or you’re riding high up in the mountains where the elevation causes the temperature to drop dramatically, is to have a wide variety of interchangeable layers under your outerwear. Like I mentioned in another post when I reviewed my Spyder jacket and bibs, this past winter when we left the camp it was a little below + 10 degrees Fahrenheit. We rode for about 40 minutes up into the windmill territory to see the beautiful views in the mountains, but what we didn’t plan for was the windchill factor and the dramatic drop in temperature at elevation. It had been an unusual winter thus far, with some days reaching 30 and 40 degrees causing the snow to melt. Never in our wildest dreams did we expect to be cold when we got about halfway up the summit of the nearby mountains! Unfortunately this poor planning, and lack of adequate layering, caused us to cut our trip a little bit short because our hands chest and face was a little too cold. It also ruined our ability to stop and take pictures of the majestic views, since removing our gloves to enjoy a frosty beverage up in the mountains was out of the questions. (getting warmed up again would have been a challenge)
This is a good example of why it’s so important to always plan for mother nature to change the weather on a moment’s notice. The secret to staying warm in these conditions is to have a wide variety of base layers and mid layers to choose from, especially if you’re not wearing at least 200 to 400 grams of thinsulate insulated snowmobiling jackets. Often times simply wearing a base layer, and a fairly thick mid-layer, is plenty to keep you extra hot, but at least you have the ability to shed the mid layer at any time you want to cool down. The other trick is to take a pack-able down jacket, and shove it in the back of your sled or in the back of your jacket cargo pocket. It might be a little bit bulky for some, but in the event that you do get cold, it’s easy to take off your outdoor gear and place the down jacket between your base or mid layer. This extra layer of insulation is a good back up to carry on any trip, even those extra warm days like we experienced this past winter.
What Kind Of Boots To Wear When Snowmobiling
Most people that try to wear traditional shoes or insulated boots snowmobiling end up with cold feet… but not always for the reasons you might think! You’d think it would just be cold while riding from the wind and freezing temperatures, but most all snowmobiles vent the exhaust heat down on to your feet through little channels at the front of the running boards and footrests. One of the ways your feet get cold is from melting snow that soaks through non waterproof regular boots, and once it starts soaking to your socks and feet, it’s very difficult to get dry without taking them off and drying them out over a fire. This melting process can be accelerated by having your boots warmed up by the exhaust heat, so it’s essential for you to use waterproof boots to keep your feet warm and dry.
I personally wear some huge clunky Sorel boots that I’ve been really happy with for years. There are some pros and cons to them which I’ll tell you about below, but my feet are never cold, and they’re rated down to – 40 below zero. Combined with the right socks which you can read about in the sock section, I never have to worry about having cold feet in any conditions.
Large Sorel Style Snow Boots Pros & Cons
- Plenty of insulation and usually knee high to keep deep snow out
- 100% rubber bottom to prevent melting ice and snow from seeping through the arch/toe area
- Normally rated down to – 40 below zero, which is more than regular snowmobile boots
- Work well for walking around in deep snow, snowmobiling, and most any outdoor winter activity
- Large and clunky, difficult to drive a car or truck in
- Less agility than the smaller sporty snowmobile boots
- Heavy and bulky to pack in your suitcase if traveling
- I’ve also been hearing many reports that Columbia bought them out, and the build quality of the soles has suffered… be sure to read the reviews about the model you buy, they may have changed a bit over the years since I bought mine
The Best Snowmobile Boots If You’re Looking To Buy A Pair And Some Tips
I’m sure you want to get something on sale, and that has good reviews like we all do. But if there are two things you don’t want cold out on the trail, it’s your hands and feet! If your female, you want to pay close attention when selecting your sled boots, because it’s a lot easier for a woman to get cold feet than men. That’s not a dig at women at all, and there’s a good reason for it: body weight, tossing sleds around in the corners generates more body heat than you’d think, often times sweating after an intense ride. For women, this is usually lessened in my experience, usually because if someone gets stuck it’s the men who jump in to dig them out. Point being… unless she’s a really experienced rider, and generally enjoys manhandling a sled riding at speed, normally there’s less body heat being generated for her. When you also consider normally her legs are shorter, the feet and toes don’t sit as far up under the footwells where they can get warmed up by the exhaust heat either. Just a couple things to keep in mind, no offense intended… I’ve gotten left in the dust by many a female rider before! lol
The Best Crossover Snowmobile Boots For A Variety Of Winter Activites
I don’t wear traditional snowmobile boots because I need them to be multi-purpose, and do other activities aside from just snowmobiling. I wear a large snow stompers made by Sorel, but I’ve heard reports that they have since been acquired by Columbia, and you have to be very careful when selecting the model you buy because the quality has gone down hill. If you read some of the reviews on Amazon, there’s plenty of complaints about the lace up style snow boots, along with people that have had tons of problems with the souls coming apart after just a few uses. That said there’s plenty of other manufacturers and snowmobile boot brands that are high quality and affordable. Of course the Klim boots are going to be top quality, and with a budget of a couple of hundred dollars, you’ve got quite a few models to choose from to keep your feet warm and dry. They also offer a lot more mobility than a typical large style snowboot, but would not be good for hiking and such. You should also take a look at the HJC and FXR brands of snowmobile boots, and even though I don’t have a pair of these they come very highly regarded and the reviews look very positive.
What To Look For In Snowmobile Socks
The best socks to wear snowmobiling really depend on the style of boots you’re wearing. For instance, if you’re wearing snowmobile specific boots, they’re not going to be as warm as the snow stompers that have much thicker insulation. But they’re a lot more ventilated however! The main reason I bring this up, is one of the biggest problems when riding snowmobiles, is keeping your feet dry. Most of this can be solved by not using 100% traditional wool socks because they can become very itchy and make your feet sweat. While wool is very very warm what by default, it is a non moisture wicking material, compared to most of the newer technology like the Spyder socks I wore last year.
In my opinion the best combination snowmobile socks, is to wear a compression fit moisture wicking pair as a base layer, and then add your smart wool or even if you want to use 100% traditional wool socks, add those on top. This will give you flexibility, and if your feet sweat you don’t have a slushy mess stuck inside your boot for hours at a time for the ride home.
What Kind Of Gloves To Wear Snowmobiling
Pick out gloves that have:
- Have liners
- Made with Goretex or comparable waterproofing material
- Are windproof and waterproof
- Use mittens for riding sleds without hand warmers
- Consider the amount of wind deflection from windshield and hand-guards on the sled you’ll be riding
The Best Snowmobile Gloves And Why You Probably Don’t Need Them
Really nice snowmobile gloves are great to have, but most people in the majority of riding conditions, do not need to spend the extra money. What you should look for, is any Gore-Tex windproof and waterproof gloves, that come with an additional liner insert. Because most snowmobiles in this day and age that you ride, will have electrically heated hand grips with a high and low setting, so any decent gloves with liners are typically more than adequate… In combination with the hand warmers on the sled, unless you’re riding in -20 below weather.
I’m still using some old Gore-Tex Cabela’s gloves, which are commonly mass produced under several different brand names. If you want the top-of-the-line snowmobile gloves, I would suggest you look into the Klim waterproof and windproof snowmobile gloves. But for most people there’s no reason to spend $100 – $150 dollars on a set of gloves you’re only going to use a few times a year, when you already have electric heat under the hand grips. A nice set of HJC gloves will only set you back less than $100, and there’s many other brands that will keep your hands warm and dry for less money. Here’s a few more on Amazon if you’re looking at several different brands.
What Snowmobile Helmet To Wear Snowmobiling?
Snowmobile Helmet Do’s And Don’ts
- Don’t wear or buy one that squeezes your head or fits too tight. we did this and I think it restricts blood flow to the head, which is bad if you start to get cold.
- Make sure there’s enough room to fit a balaclava under the helmet as well. You can even get a cheap $50 helmet from amazon shipped anywhere you’re traveling to for free.
What To Wear Under A Snowmobile Helmet
- Take sunglasses – the glare on snow can be brutal
- You must have either a neck warmer, balaclava, or headsock
- Unless you’re a year round rider, you’ll probably rent a helmet which makes the sunglasses all that much more important… alternatively something I looked at doing is just buying the $50 DOT approved helmet and having it shipped to wherever I’m flying to. It’s actually cheaper to pay for a new helmet than it is for an extra checked helmet bag in addition to your normal suitcase!! Go figure.
Best Snowmobile Helmet (And full face VS modular helmets)
Of course all the major snowmobile manufacturers like Arctic Cat, Polaris, Yamaha, Skidoo, etc… all have their own make and model of snowmobile helmets, but there’s really only a few that really stand out from the crowd!
One of the big debates, is whether you should wear a full-face helmet while snowmobiling, or a modular helmet. I really like the design of the flip up face guard, since it gives you have access to your face and mouth if you want to take a drink or something while taking a break on the trail, all without having to take off your helmet strap or neck warmer. That said, I do believe it’s very important for everyone to wear a full-face helmet VS an open face helmet, just in case you get a little crazy out on the trails and your face comes into contact with the windshield or the handlebars… Not to mention a tree or two.
The best rated snowmobile helmet and the industry is by far the Skidoo BV2S modular snowmobile helmet with a breath box and heated shield. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve struggled with full face helmet visors clogging up on a long day of riding, and I’ve even had it happen with electric heated shields. That said, the breath box on the Ski-Doo bv2s modular helmet takes care of the moral majority of the problems with your lens fogging up, by both deflecting your breath downward and outward, and also filtering the air between your nose eyes and your visor.
The bvs2 doesn’t come cheap however, at almost $300 to $400 bucks, but you might find a good deal with one on sale or clearance, or possibly even a prime item with free shipping during the off season. If you read the reviews, even Polaris and Arctic Cat guys can be found riding with this Skidoo bv2s helmet, simply because not many other helmet designs compare.
As I mentioned before I wouldn’t really recommend open face helmets unless you’re an extremely experienced rider. There just isn’t enough protection for your face, and sometimes even going through the woods and losing a little bit of traction on your boots can cause your face to bump into the handlebars or windshield. With a modular helmet or closed face helmet, this is no big deal, but with an open face helmet you may smash the googles or your nose which would put an end to your beautiful day of riding.
What’s The Difference Between A Motorcycle Helmet And A Snowmobile Helmet?
On most entry level helmet brands, there’s not much difference between standard motorcycle DOT approved helmets, and snowmobile helmets. If you’re comparing a motorcycle helmet or an entry-level snowmobile helmet to something like the bv2s above, there are WORLDS apart!
The main difference between a snowmobile helmet and a motorcycle helmet is the double-layered shield visor, which most of the time come with an electric heated visor, more insulation, and on the high-end models a breath deflector to completely remove your breathing from causing further problems with fogging up your windscreen. Double layered shields are much better at reducing fogging, simply because they equalize the temperature difference between your body heat, and the outside temperature. Other than that most DOT approved motorcycle helmets work great, and my cousin even wears one that was $100 from Walmart and it’s plenty warm.
The added insulation in some snowmobile helmets can be a catch-22 if you’re wearing a balaclava. On one hand you don’t want your head to be cold, but on the other hand you don’t want your head to swell or an extra thick balaclava to cause the helmet to fit too tightly. If I had my choice, I would order a helmet a little bit extra large to allow for flexibility of neck warmers and balaclava combinations.
Of course a heated electric snowmobile shield on your helmet is the way to go to prevent fogging consistently, but sometimes you’re limited or riding a sled that doesn’t have a heat shield plug in.
Best Rated Snowmobile Helmet For People With Eye Glasses
The best snowmobile helmet for eyeglasses is going to be either a full face or modular style design, with a flip-down sun shade within the helmet visor so you don’t have to worry about switching out your glasses mid day. Most people haven’t seen this design before unless they’re really familiar with high-end snowmobiling equipment, but this can allow you to keep your regular glasses on underneath the helmet, and still have the glare protection … as if you were wearing sunglasses, all with the flip of a lever. This was one of the nicest features on one of the rented helmets are used last year, and really helped because I didn’t have to worry about my sunglasses fogging up inside the helmet anymore. If you never been riding before, wearing a set of polarized lenses can really help with the glare of the snow, and most people don’t realize how bright the sun reflects off of an all white background. After a day of riding this can really make a difference on long rides, and how fatigued you are if you’re doing multiple days of riding in a row.
If that doesn’t work well for you, a moto style full face helmet and prescription goggles would be the next best thing. You won’t have any issues with your glasses fogging up, and you’ll still be able to see very well, you’ll just have to wear a full face balaclava to protect the rest of your face. For other opinions from other riders, see below:
I switched to an open face 2 years ago and would never go back. I’m comfortable with it and the skidoo mountain balaclava until about -25, then it starts getting cold and I throw on the original modular helmet I have.
The open face is the primary helmet due to lack of fogging, better visibility, and it is much easier to breath. The breath box inside the modular I have is very very restrictive, the open face I feel as though I can breath perfectly fine all day with any level of effort. – src: dootalk.com
Balaclavas And Neck Warmers To Keep Your Chin And Neck Warm (even when wearing a helmet)
There’s many different styles of balaclava and neck warmer combinations, but the best cold weather face mask really depends on the style of helmet that you’re wearing. In my riding experience, the best face cover protection for really cold weather is a combination of a half balaclava, and a fleece neck warmer.
I’ve always worn a fleece neck warmer to protect my neck and bottom of my chin from rubbing on my snowmobile jacket collar, or getting extra wind seeping through that was deflected off the bottom of the helmet. There are many styles of balaclavas that mimic the snowmobile respirator style masks like you’d find on a Ski Doo bvs2 style modular helmet. The trouble with some of them is, if you’re not wearing a breath deflector, balaclavas generally don’t deflect your nose and mouth breath in a downward fashion, and cause extra visor issues with your lens fogging up. The higher end balaclavas have helmet breath deflectors built-in to keep this from happening. If you’re not wearing a no fog heat shield on your helmet, on super cold days you may still run into fogging issues in extreme cold weather.
I did see a few face masks on Amazon that look like the technology has been improved dramatically since I last bought mine. The Fog Evader and Cold Avenger look like much improved extreme cold weather face masks compared to what I’ve been using. Even though they’re not actually respirator masks built into the helmet, they’re using the same technology for breath deflection, and probably function as a much better breath guard then the old styles we’re used to.
The Best Place To Buy Your Snowmobile Gear In My Experience
Originally I was looking for discount snowmobile gear, or at least clearance items on sale. But after seeing the prices on amazon, coupled with free shipping, sold me every time! I also had a bad experience ordering from a mom and pop vendor, which is still unresolved to this day… Makes me love Amazon even more. Check out these snowmobile gear items on sale.
Other Popular brands that are well known for making high quality snowmobile gear
If for some reason you don’t care for the Spyder or Klim gear, here are a few other reputable brands known for making good quality snowmobile gear.
The Secret Electric Heated Motorcycle / Snowmobile Gear That Hardly Anyone Talks About That Will Keep You Warm Below Zero
For us Florida people, there’s a couple tricks we can use to stay warm since our blood isn’t quite acclimated to -10 below zero. 😉 I don’t personally have any of this stuff, but if you hate the cold or are traveling with your girlfriend or wife, I’d imagine the women that despise the cold would jump all over this stuff in a heartbeat.
There are two companies that make heated snowmobile gear that I know of, and they are First Gear and Tour Master. I’m not sure how practical this is if you rent snowmobiles like I do normally, but I wanted to include it anyway so you know about these options. (I don’t see how there’s any way you could possibly be cold with this stuff!)
You’ll have to make sure the snowmobile you’re going to be riding a snowmobile that has a plug for heated accessories (normally called a visor heat shield plug, since most people run a heated shields on their helmets to prevent them from fogging up, so this is normally a common plug outlet on the dashboard of newer sleds).
I don’t personally have any experience with this heated electric gear, as I’ve never really needed it. ( I’ve been happy with my Spyder Jacket so far) But it could be a really good option for women who get cold easily I would think.
Even though most sleds have hand warmers that work really well these days, there are some heated gloves that look really cool for those extra frigid days. I think these are mostly intended for motorcycles, but I’d imagine you’d never have tingly fingers again with these bad boys.
What To Bring On Your Snowmobile Rides ( And why everyone should carry a tampon… even you, boys.)
You probably already have a few things in mind to pack for your snowmobile rides, but in case you don’t here are a few things I take with me:
- Trail map
- Phone (usually doesn’t work)
- Flashlight (this 600 lumens one specifically)
- I would say water, but it normally freezes on me (I just eat the snow 😉
Snacks are always a good idea, just nothing too moist or it’ll freeze if it’s not stored in pockets next to your body. I personally like Lara Bars, but Cliff Bars or whatever you like will work just fine.
I would say to take your GoPro, but that didn’t work out so well for me last year. lol (see my GoPro Session review here) No really, you should take a GoPro and at least another camera or your phone as a backup. You will want photos of you and your family when you stop in the majestic areas to hang out and enjoy the scenery.
A beanie and thin mittens or gloves are a good idea to stuff in your jacket pocket for these break times as well. They will make it much easier for you to grab stuff with your hands instead of your big gloves (like eating a snack and stuff), but you won’t have to feel the cold on your bare hands and head.
If you’re worried about breaking down or unusually intolerant to the cold, you could always pick up one of these winter snow survival kits to throw in the back of your sled or pack. I don’t personally ride with one of these, but I have thought about it now after picking up a guy and his son who was stranded half way up a mountain this past year. Getting stuck out on the trails and spending the night in the woods is no fun. These guys would’ve been pretty cold if we hadn’t come along and towed them home. (they were about an hour ride away from anything)
We ended up not being the only snowmobilers that showed up that day, but these two guys hauled ass when we waved them over to ask for help on the way back down, even though they were headed in the direction the stranded riders needed to go in. We gave these guys a ride home, and then hopped in the car to take them to a nearby service station in town so a relative could pick them up. No biggie, I was happy to help… Just a little leery at first because the guy seemed a little off. (he later mentioned he’d been drinking which explains why I thought he was on pills or something) A little bit of a reality check for me when thinking about what to pack for my snowmobile trips. We found the son walking down the trail a few miles away, and towed them home as it was getting dark… But imagine if that were you stranded out there, and we never came along. What would you need?
Last but not least, a tampon or two is an ole wise man’s trick for getting gas out of your snowmobile tank to start a quick fire, just in case you need to warm up or cook something. The one time we were out on a trip years ago and one snow machine was running out of gas, we were able to sneak into an old nearby cabin that was vacant and use a gallon or two of fuel to make it home. (leave some cash under the gas can if you have to you do this!!) If that hadn’t worked out, or was a slightly different situation and we were without help, an easy fire-starter would’ve come in handy real fast! After picking up the guy and his son, the Survival Spark and tampons are now on my gear list in case we ever get stranded.
Mountain Riding: What To Bring Back Country Snowmobiling (especially out west in steep bowls)
Backcountry riding is a little different than the marked trail riding I mostly do in Maine. (example trail maps I ride on: ATSC, MSA, etc…) If you’re going to be doing any riding in the back country, or any solo riding in the mountains on unmarked trails, it’s a good idea to get educated on what an avalanche pack is (if you’re riding out West) and how to use a distress beacon should you encounter any life threatening trouble alone. Most snowmobilers won’t do this type of riding, but if you are venturing out, you should be aware of the safety options available to you. Sometimes a seemingly innocent run could turn into sleeping in the snow if you get stuck bad enough where you can’t dig your sled out alone. Not to mention potentially having to spend the night in the woods, cutting firewood, and starting a fire! (might want to pack a tomahawk too!)
There are plenty of peeps that I will defer to here that have a hell of a lot more experience riding in the backcountry than I, and are much more qualified to advise you based on individual experiences since this isn’t my forte’. Still Stoked, Back Country Access, SnoWest, Snowmobile.com, ZacsTracs, and Snoriders.
Traditional Mountaineering also has a unique perspective on why emergency kits can give you a false sense of security, and other things to consider when preparing for extremely remote adventures in the back-country.
link up pics of avalanche pack and beacon here
If you go with a snowmobile guide service like Burandt’s Backcountry Adventure you won’t have to worry about most of that, and they train you, provide packs for everyone, and you’re with a team of expert riders at all times. (this is something I want to go on myself!!!)
Any Questions About Your Snowmobile Gear Or Trip? (or tips for me??)
That pretty much concludes our gear guide for snowmobiling. Hopefully that will help you stay warm and comfortable on your next snowmobile trip! If you have any questions about gear, riding, or setups let me know in the comments below and I’ll help you out the best I can… If there are any old timers out there, or any experienced snowmobilers that have any tips, please let me know in the comments below!