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Transcript for Gearing Up to Ride

The person behind the camera whistles to Haley to get her attention and waves. They are in a snowmobile supply shop.

Haley: What? You? You’re into snowmobiling, too? Hey, Rob, look who’s here.

Rob: Nice, another adventure lover. So, you snowmobile?

The person behind the camera gives the hand signal for so-so.

Rob: Oh, you’re just getting started. That’s cool. Well, where we’re heading, it’s going to be more than just cool. It’s going to be downright freezing.

Haley: Which is why we’re getting the right gear to keep us warm. And we’re actually just getting started if you want to join us. All right. Let’s go get some layers going.

Rob: All right, ask any penguin what the secret to staying warm is, and they’ll tell you. Unfortunately, we don’t have a talking penguin, so I’ll tell you. The secret is three layers. Here’s the deal.

Dressing for the Elements

Rob: To avoid the dangers of hypothermia and frostbite in a frigid environment, we start with the inner layer against our skin. The secret here is that it needs to be a breathable layer that wicks moisture away from our skin so that it can pass to an outer layer.

Haley: If that inner layer gets wet, you are going to be cold, miserable, or worse. That is why no snowmobiler wears cotton against their skin. Just remember the old trapper’s saying, “If it’s cold outside, wet cotton kills.” But no worries, because there are always other options, like polypro.

Rob: After our breathable layer comes the insulating layer. Choose something loose fitting that has some loft—you know, like small pockets of air that are going to help trap body heat. Wool is great for dry conditions, and synthetic and fleece are great for when it’s damp. And you can always add more than one insulating layer.

A protective outer layer completes our three layers. You want one that’s insulated that also shields our inner layers from wind and water. If you happen to find yourself in lake country, having a suit that drains easily and will float is a plus. For mountain country, find one that’s wind resistant.

Haley: Let’s complete your outfit with mittens or gloves—ones that prevent air from blowing up your sleeves. Again, a multi-layer design works best. Passengers or kids keep warmer wearing mittens. Scarves are a no-no. It’s too easy to get them caught in the track. Instead, stick to a balaclava to keep your head and neck warm.

Hmm, are we forgetting anything? That’s right. Any time we ride as an operator or a passenger, we always wear head protection. Your helmet is the most important personal piece of safety equipment you can wear. And wearing it means that your safety strap is securely fastened.

Rob: You want a snug fit and safety-approved, and that means a safety label like this.

Rob points to the safety label on the back of his helmet.

Haley: There are three main types of helmets.

Open Face, Full Face, and Modular

Haley: We prefer full-face helmets because they give us the most crash protection. Modular helmets offer the most in warmth, comfort, and wind protection, and there’s also the option where the entire front flips up for easier communication. And you need to protect your eyes and face. Even if it’s just goggles, you’ve got to protect your eyes from branches, snow, and trail debris. Those beach sunglasses won’t work. Use the real deal.

Rob: All right. Always start with a new helmet that fits your head. And that’s the same for kids. too. And remember, helmets get brittle over time, so replace it every five years—or immediately, if it’s ever been dropped or involved in a crash.

Haley: And don’t forget these. You’re going to want an over-the-ankle, multi-layer boot that’s going to give you some ankle protection and has a waterproof exterior. Some boots come with a removable insulation for easy drying. Perfect. Now you’re outfitted for warmth and safety.

Rob: Let’s pick the right machine for you right over here.

Haley: Yeah, what exactly are you looking for?

Rob: Oh, you’re not sure yet. All right, first, let’s start with common sense.

Matching the Rider to the Ride

Rob: As you can see, they come in many sizes and styles. So we need to match the operator to the machine and how they intend to use it. First, consider age and size. Younger and smaller operators should ride smaller and lighter machines so that they can safely handle them.

Haley: Next, consider the operator’s experience. Beginners should really learn how to ride and handle a machine well before opting for a more powerful machine that’s faster.

Rob: So the bottom line is that it’s best to get professional help in selecting the right sled for you and how you’re going to use it. That’s where a pro will help sort out whether you need a single-rider machine, a two-person touring sled with a longer frame, or a mountain-style sled with an extended track.

Haley: No matter what snowmobile you end up getting, it’s a smart idea to become familiar with your snowmobile by reading your Owner’s Manual.

Rob: OK. Let’s get the rest of your gear on and hit the trails.

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