First ride of the snowmobiling season—how to make it a success

Here are six pre-season tips to help you make the most of your first adventures

by Trish Drinkle

A mountain sledder carves fresh powder in the BC backcountry.
Kevan Drinkle of Creston, B.C., takes a turn in the fresh snow on his first ride of the season. Trish Drinkle photo

As the snowpack begins to load in the mountains, snowmobilers everywhere are celebrating! It is finally time to reawaken snowmobiles and snow bikes for adventures in the backcountry. 

Here are some early season reminders to help you make the most of your first adventures:

Transceivers

Does your transceiver have fresh batteries?  Hopefully you’ve stored your transceiver without batteries during the off season; if not, check to ensure there is no corrosion in the battery compartment. Replace batteries and test for performance. It is also wise to do a range test to make sure the internal antennae haven’t been compromised. This can happen over time, or if the transceiver has sustained impact. 

Avalanche airbag

Many dealerships offer a free pre-season fill to urge users to blow their bags off at the beginning of each season. It is imperative that your airbag be in top operating condition in the event you need to deploy it during an avalanche. Blowing it off ensures integrity and also gives the wearer familiarity with the effort needed to deploy the airbag. Make sure all zippers are functional and not damaged in any way.

Riding gear

Go through your gear and inspect for rips or tears. Boots may require a waterproofing spray, such as Nikwax, to ensure waterproofness and breathability. If you need to wash your outerwear, it is recommended to wash gear in warm water, with a performance type of detergent—such as the Nikwax tech wash to replenish the DWR outer waterproofness, then tumble dry on low. If you use a regular detergent, a second rinse is recommended. Do not use fabric softener, which will compromise the integrity of your gear. Goggles need to be inspected for scratched lenses and foam integrity.

Permits and memberships

Purchase the necessary club memberships, permits and trail passes ahead of time. Insurance and registration may need to be purchased or renewed. Although you may be itching to get out there and ride, make sure all your ducks are in a row before heading out for your first ride.

Communication devices

Make sure your batteries are charged and your devices are fully functional. Those with a GPS may have updated maps to download to indicate closures, or revisions to land use agreements. Test your devices for functionality before heading out.

First aid and survival

Restock and replenish survival and first aid kits, including emergency snack items. Many riders enjoy multi-season motorized recreation and poach items, such as saws, multi tools and survival kits, from their snowmobile packs. Be sure to replace such items.

Now that you are prepared to ride, you may also want to have a look at this snowmobile staging area checklist to ensure your first ride of the season is a success. 

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