How to Choose Your Apparel for Snowmobiling!
The right clothing and gear can make or break your fun on the snow. Believe me, I know from 20 years of riding experience. There are a wide variety of brands, models, and features available in jackets, pants, helmets, boots, gloves, base and mid layering. They range from bargain basement specials to top of the line high tech offerings and everything in between, so how does an adult snowmobiler choose what to wear and how to dress?
Let’s start the discussion with the premise that the smart choice is clothing and gear purpose-made for snowmobiling. While there are many other kinds of seasonal wear such as that made for everyday winter use, skiing and other outdoor activities, snowmobile clothing and gear is the only type specifically designed for riding a moving sled in various weather conditions and over varying terrain for long periods of time. What’s more, each piece of riding gear has an integrated function within your entire sledding ensemble. So my recommendation is to stick with clothing and gear that is made specifically for snowmobiling.
Next, there’s a range of quality levels in snowmobile clothing and snowmobiling gear, even within the same brand. I’ve tried many different items over the years and talked with lots of snowmobilers about what they wear and how they like it. It’s safe to say that the old adage “you get what you pay for” applies to snowmobiling – maybe more so than usual. That’s in part because once you’re committed to your purchase; you’ve got to live with it on long, cold rides, in extremes that can go from balmy to sub-arctic, and you expect your gear to last for many years of use. Remember, once you’re on the snow far away from home, you’ve got to grin (or should I say, shiver) and bear it until the ride’s over. In my experience, going cheap with snowmobile clothing and ride gear means freezing your tail off and is one of the quickest ways to make you forget how much fun snowmobiling is! You don’t have to break the bank when shopping for snowmobiling gear. As with anything else, the latest and greatest normally sells at a premium, but every brand has models that are tried and true, with many desirable features…and more affordably priced.
Typically, there are deals to be had early in the fall on non-current stock, but do your research beforehand on what you need and don’t be lured into buying an inappropriate item just because it’s on sale. No matter how much (or little) you spend, if it’s the wrong size or fit then it just won’t do its intended job and you won’t be happy. You should always try on snowmobile clothing and gear before purchasing and do it while wearing everything that’s going to be underneath it (e.g. – under layers and TekVest for snowmobile jackets; under layers and boots for pants; balaclava, No Fog Mask, sunglasses for helmet). The size you normally wear for everyday clothing can only be your starting guideline with riding gear because of what needs to be worn underneath. You may find it necessary to upsize certain parts of your gear to be sure that you can move freely and without restriction while riding your snowmobile. You’re more likely to feel cold in snowmobile clothing and gear that’s overly snug or too tight, and unless you’re one of the lucky few who never puts on any weight, you may also want to allow a little extra room for growth. It’s worth mentioning that, wherever possible, you should purchase gender specific clothing because it’s designed to accommodate the size and shape variations between men and women.
One final note…shopping for the right snowmobile clothing and gear shouldn’t be about making a fashion statement. Sure, there are lots of flashy colors, many opportunities to coordinate with your sled or significant other, or just to look chic and suave, but none of that will matter if you’re always freezing off some part of your anatomy for the sake of fashion over function.
I recommend that you select the absolute best quality, features and benefits you can afford, and only then worry about it being available in the perfect color or about how it looks in the mirror. That said, I recommend bright, colorful jackets and helmets with reflective markings to help make you highly visible to others, especially at road crossings, in snow dust and after dark.
Over the years I’ve also learned many tips about selecting the proper snowmobile jackets, pants, helmets, boots, gloves and under layers. So please come in and see me, Troy Van Hooren, or one of my Staff Members at Fox Powersports so we can help you select the right clothing and gear that will make sure that you’ll have the best riding experience while staying as warm and safe as possible!
So what do I wear?
I update my clothing every year due to the fact I work in the Industry. Currently I wear a layering system, so let me start by explaining my base layer…
My base layer is made up of the Klim Aggressor shirt 1.0 short or long sleeve (depending on temperatures). On bottom I wear the Klim 1.0 Aggressor Pant along with the Klim Inferno or Transition pant. One major piece of advice I can give you regarding your base layer is to NEVER EVER wear anything cotton. It holds moisture and you WILL be wet and cold at the end of the day. I recommend a Spandex/Polyester blend ONLY so you’ll stay dry and comfortable during your ride.
My mid layer is generally my EVS Ballistics Vest. When temps are negative I wear a packable down coat that stays in my tunnel pack. I also wear the Skidoo touring thermal base layer as a mid-layer. You will find different combinations out there for base layers, but again the only recommendation I can give you is stay away from COTTON. We have many different brands of base and mid layers at Fox Powersports, so come down and check them out!
I wear the Ski-Doo Helium 30 Jacket, which is a non-insulate jacket and requires layering. The jacket is wind and waterproof and is designed for the active rider, not someone who sits on the seat all day. If you’re a cruiser guy a fully insulated jacket with layering is more geared for you. We have a full line of coats at Fox Powersports, so stop in and see us.
I wear the matching Ski-Doo Helium 30 Highpant. This pant has the same structure as the Helium 30 Jacket, but we have a full line of insulated Snow Pants to choose from as well.
There are 2 different styles of Helmets to choose from. First is the traditional full face or MOD helmet, and the second is a snow cross style open face helmet that requires goggles and a balaclava. I wear both styles depending on the current weather conditions. In most conditions except in negative temps I usually wear the snow cross style helmet. This style of helmet is very light and range of view is awesome. Some things to remember when purchasing this style of helmet are fitment of the right goggle and head sock to prevent getting cold and frost bite. A common myth is that this type of helmet isn’t as warm as a full faced helmet. With the right head sock/balaclava it can be just as warm as a full face helmet while being lighter and providing better visibility. We have several lines of helmets at Fox Powersports come down and we will find the right fitment and style for you.
When looking for boots the first thing I recommend is finding a waterproof boot and rated to -30 degrees. I wear the Klim Boa boot and have worn this style of boot for 3 years. The best thing about a Boa verses lace boot is there are no laces to tie. We all know the last thing we do before walking out the cabin door is stop and tie those laces…and while doing so we start to sweat. The BOA system consists of small dials that tension the laces when turned – a quick process that takes about 30 seconds to properly tie your boots. We carry all the leading brands of boots so please stop in and check them out at Fox Powersports.
Hands are generally the spot for most that get cold. Most new sleds have great hand warmers, but they only keep the riders palms warm, leaving the top of the hand to get cold as it is exposed to the elements. The warmest gloves I’ve found are the Klim Caribou Mittens and the heated Fly Racing glove. You should look for a glove with 100/200+ grams of insulate on the top side of the glove. Gloves are like pants and coats – you can find them with anywhere from no insulation to heavily insulated. Personally, my hands always seem to feel warm, so I wear a glove with 100grams of insulate on top or less. I currently use the Klim PowerXcross glove. This glove has Gor-tex and gore grip technology along with a full leather palm, and it’s guaranteed to keep your hands warm and dry all day. Stop in and check out all the leading glove brands here at Fox Powersports.
Fox Powersports strives to offer the latest and best apparel that is available, so stop in and see us today. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article, I hope you found it beneficial in your search for the re right gear!
Troy Van Hooren