Snowmobiling is a fun, adventurous hobby and a passion for many outdoor enthusiasts during the winter season. Still, it comes with certain risks, as with any outdoor activity. Of these risks, the most obvious is the danger of hypothermia.
In this article, the guys from Composit give useful guidelines for dressing in cold weather specifically aimed at snowmobile enthusiasts.
Snowmobile Clothing Recommendations for StayingWarm
Most of us have an intuitive understanding of staying warm: more layers of clothing mean more warmth and protection from the elements, but not everything is always as simple as it seems on the surface.
Here, you’ll find 7 vital recommendations for how to dress when you go out snowmobiling to ensure both comfort and safety.
1. Dress in Layered Clothing
For a proper understanding of laying clothing for warmth, the first thing you need to know is the different types of cold weather gear layers and the functions of each:
- Base Layer (or underlayer): The main function of this first layer is to keep you dry by wicking the sweat off of your skin. Clothing made from polypropylene and polyester is ideal for this purpose.
- Middle layer (or insulating layer): This layer’s main purpose is to prevent heat loss by keeping in warm air. Polyester fleece garments and synthetic-insulated jackets are your primary options.
- Outer layer (or shell layer): This serves as an outer shell between you and the elements, such as wind, snow, and rain. Different materials for your outer layer will affect the degree of breathability and waterproofing. From most to least expensive: waterproof/breathable, water-resistant/breathable, non-waterproof/breathable, and waterproof/non-breathable shells.
For added warmth, you can stack multiple insulating layers for extremely cold weather. Even if weather forecasts are favorable, it is always a good practice to wear more layers of protective gear than you expect you’ll need. You can peel off the extra protection during warm weather, but you won’t be able to add layers you haven’t got with you.
2. Don’t Wear Cotton
Cotton absorbs moisture very well but has difficulty releasing it in cold weather. Using cotton gear in winter will lead to you trapping your sweat in the cotton fabric of your layers, saturating them with sweat, and chilling yourself.
3. Find a Good Snowmobile Suit
Snowmobile suits are your ideal outerwear choice, comprising a specially designed pair of pants and jacket. Snowmobile suits are often constructed out of waterproof materials like Goretex, Sympatex, or acrylic.
Consider investing in a high-quality snowmobile suit as higher quality, more expensive snowmobile suits made from more advanced materials will have better levels of water- and wind-proofing, as well as breathability.
4. Wear A Warm Pair of Gripping Gloves
A good pair of warm, gripping gloves is almost as essential to safe snowmobiling as proper layering. You direct your snowmobile primarily with your hands, and cold temperatures adversely affect your ability to control your hands. You want gloves designed specifically for snowmobiling made with wool or fleece to prevent as much heat loss as possible.
But, a warm pair of gloves is no good for snowmobiling if it makes it more difficult for you to grip the handlebars of your snowmobile. So, when shopping for a pair of gloves for snowmobiling, avoid mittens as these decrease the level of control you can exert over your snowmobile.
5. Protect Your Face With a Mask or Balaclava
The sharp sting of cold air on the bare skin of your face is a uniquely uncomfortable experience, much more so when you factor in riding weather conditions such as cold wind and snow. For this reason, it’s highly advised you wear a face mask or balaclava to keep your lips and nose from freezing.
Breathability is key when considering face-covering fabrics. Waterproofing is your secondary consideration as it is much more difficult to breathe through moisture, not to mention the chilling effect it will have on your face. Fleece and polyester are ideal for riding as they provide high levels of breathability.
6. Wear a Snowmobile Helmet
While a helmet’s main function is to protect your head from impacts, when snowmobile riding, they provide the further benefits of additional insulation and eye protection against intense glare from the sun and snow reflections. Snowmobile helmets are also designed to be breathable, so your head doesn’t end up soaked in your sweat.
To ensure you are receiving the full protection of your helmet, make sure to get a helmet with a comfortable fit and wear it properly with the straps on. In terms of protection against high-speed impacts, only use riding helmets with DOT or ANSI approval.
7. Layer Warm Socks and Wear Waterproof Boots
Wool, silk, fleece, and many other synthetic materials are your best bet for socks that will keep your feet warm and dry; avoid cotton. Follow the general layering guidelines above when layering socks; start with a water-wicking base layer, followed by one or several insulating middle layers.
The outer layer of your footwear should consist of waterproof boots. Along with keeping moisture out, a good pair of snowmobile boots will keep your feet warm and protect them from high-speed impacts. Look for breathable boots, so you don’t soak your feet in sweat.
Snowmobile riding is an amazing pastime that allows us to appreciate the majestic beauty of nature’s vistas. But, this beauty can quickly turn savage for the unprepared and ill-equipped. By following these 7 tips, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from unpredictable changing weather as you enjoy your next scenic snowmobile adventure.