We might be melting from heat right now, but the cold will blow in before you know it, and then snowmobiling season will be upon us. Before riders can head out on their sleds, they have to have the proper apparel to keep them both warm and protected.
Monosuits vs. Jackets and Pants
Thirty years ago, monosuits were very common in snowmobiling. They were large leather suits, and underneath riders wore long underwear and other thermals. Luckily, apparel materials have come a long way. The major pro of a monosuit is that it keeps snow from getting inside your clothes when you’re getting off the sled or going down the trail. There’s also a lot of heat regulation, allowing you to remain comfortable without getting wet. Synthetic fibers allow for today’s monosuits to be waterproof, windproof and breathable, and the addition of waterproof zippers is a major plus.
Those advantages aside, a monosuit may not be a customer’s style, so the other option is a snow jacket paired with pants or a bib. Layering is critical, because riders will be out in temperatures that flux by region and time of day, so they need to be able to adjust how much they’re wearing while out on the trail. While many riders often used to wear a simple T-shirt or a long-sleeved shirt and then put on a coat, today’s jackets are specialized for any snow-going experience. Like monosuits, the synthetic materials are waterproof and breathable, and they come with insulation and waterproof zippers, so you can layer up and still be lightweight without looking like the Michelin Man.
However, these jackets can include other handy features tailored for the snow. For instance, the Joe Rocket Men’s Flame Snow Jacket features a tether D-ring, a goggle-cleaning cloth in its tether pocket, an adjustable powder skirt, an extended back hem, as well as a storm flap behind the main front zipper. It also has front and rear zipper vents to regulate temperature as well as adjustable wrist closures and interior gaiter cuffs with thumb holes to mitigate powder blowing up into the sleeves.
Boots and Gloves
While a monosuit or jacket will cover most of one’s limbs, the outer extremities still need to be accounted for in terms of boots and gloves.
Related: Apparel Pro: Snowmobile Helmets
Encourage customers to invest in some nicer snowmobiling boots, since they are purpose-built for this activity. They feature ankle and toe protection, regulate heat and are oftentimes waterproof. The weatherproofing feature is a major plus in certain climates, such as in the West during spring, when it will often rain as you’re driving down the mountain.
Gloves are also breathable and waterproof as well as insulated. They often feature adjustable wrist straps to prevent snow getting inside as well as pre-curved finger designs suitable for gripping a snowmobile or snow bike. Some even come with a zipper pocket for venting or inserting a heat pack. Also, look for gloves with conductive fingertips useable on touchscreens.
Finally, while all snow-goers should wear backpacks to carry food and water, if your customer is riding in the mountains, especially out West, they will want avalanche backpacks specifically. An avalanche backpack contains an airbag that inflates using either carbon dioxide or a fan to protect your head, neck and back and provide you with some floatation. The idea is to bring you to the top of an avalanche instead of getting buried in it. At minimum, if you are stuck inside the snow, it will give you some breathing room if it can deflate. In those instances, the fan-inflated ones are particularly useful, because they will inflate and deflate a couple times.
Naturally, the backpack also allows you to carry critical items for use in case of an avalanche, such as a transceiver that can both send out and receive a signal, a shovel that can dig through hardpack snow and a strong probe of the proper length that you can assemble and poke through the snow.
While the prices of these items may send some customers into sticker shock, remind them that riders are, unfortunately, lost to avalanches every year. They are a real threat in the mountains, and so many people regard wearing these backpacks as a necessity.
When it comes to snowmobiling, the more comfortable you are and the better prepared you are, the more fun you’ll be ready to have, so suit up appropriately.