Legal Snowmobile Operating Age
BRP strongly recommends a Ski-Doo snowmobile operator be at least 16 years of age. The legal age to operate a snowmobile on trials varies by location. The majority of locations also require snowmobile operators to successfully complete an approved snowmobile safety course. Check with your local state or provincial authorities to ensure you have all the necessary credentials to operate a snowmobile.
Never operate a snowmobile under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Riding a snowmobile requires riders to be always attentive and alert. The use of drugs and/or alcohol reduces reaction time and impairs judgment creating dangerous and unnecessary risk for you and other riders.
Always ride within your limits. Understanding that changing conditions and your riding environment should dictate how you ride is key to being a responsible rider. Never ride beyond your own abilities and always stay aware of others on the snow.
Wear Proper Protective Snowmobile Gear
Proper snowmobile clothing should always be worn by every rider when you embark on a Ski-Doo adventure. Always check the weather before you go and dress for the coldest possible temps. Your riding gear should keep you warm, comfortable and allow you to move freely. Start with a moisture wicking base layer that fits close to the skin. Promoting the movement of moisture away from your body will keep you drier and warmer in winter conditions. Follow that with an insulating layer made of polyester or similar material. You want to avoid materials such as cotton that can hold moisture. It’s never a bad idea to pack an extra insulating layer in case temperatures drop during the day. Finish it off with a windproof, waterproof shell that will keep the elements out.
An approved helmet must be worn at all times. This will not only protect you, but also keep you warmer. Many riders also wear a thin balaclava under their helmet for added comfort and to protect their face and neck from the cold. Eye protection is essential, so a full-face helmet with a visor or a motocross-style helmet with goggles are both must-haves. Gloves or mitts should be worn to protect your hands from the elements. The style you choose is up to you, but make sure you have good dexterity with your thumb and fingers so you can operate all the controls on your Ski-Doo snowmobile freely. Your feet are your foundation when you ride. Good pair of rubber-soled boots is a must. Not only will this help with traction and confidence on your sled, but they’ll also keep your feet warm and protected during your ride.
Never wear long scarfs or loose apparel as it could get caught in moving parts and pose a safety risk.
Proper Snowmobile Safety Equipment
The following is a checklist of items every rider should carry on every ride. These are things that you may need in case of emergency or to make light mechanical repairs while out on the snow. In some cases, the hope is you never have to use them, but you'll be very happy you have them along should you ever need them.
- First aid kit
- Provided tool kit (the tools that come with your snowmobile for changing belts and suspension adjustments)
- Mobile phone
- Pocket knife
- Spare spark plugs
- Adhesive tape (such as duct tape)
- Spare drive belt
- Trail map or map of riding area if you’re exploring the backcountry
- Avalanche safety gear (Avalanche beacon, probe and shovel) if you’re riding terrain with avalanche risk - Snacks and water
Proper Snowmobile Riding Position and Etiquette
There are multiple riding positions you may use depending on the type of terrain you’re exploring or the conditions you’re riding in. Sitting or standing are the two most used by newer Ski-Doo riders. Sitting is the most common position new riders use. Both hands should be comfortably on the handlebars with a slight bend in the elbows. Feet should be on their respective side of the seat and firmly touching both running boards simultaneously with a bend in the knee. From this position, you should be able to easily turn the handlebars fully left and right.
When riding bumpy trails or rough terrain, you may find it more comfortable to stand. The same principles apply. Both hands on the handlebars with a slight elbow bend. Both feet should be firmly planted on the running boards.
If you’re riding with a passenger on a 2-up Ski-Doo snowmobile, your passenger’s feet must also be able to firmly reach the running board and hands must be able to comfortably grip the hand holds.
Get to Know Your Ski-Doo Snowmobile Controls
Before you head out on any Ski-Doo snowmobile adventure, familiarize yourself with the controls of the sleds. The throttle and brake levers are the two controls you’ll use constantly throughout the day. You also want to make sure you understand how to change the headlights from low to high beams, operate the handlebar and thumb warmer controls, and adjust your snowmobile’s dashboard display so you can see the desired information. Get familiar with things like the location of the fuel gauge, engine temp gauge, speedometer and tachometer location on the dash display. Each of these displays critical information that will probably influence how you ride and where you go on your Ski-Doo adventure.
Communicate Your Snowmobile Adventure Plans
Finally, always communicate your plans to someone who is not riding with you. Give them an idea of your planned route, any stops you’ll be making along the way and an approximate time of when they can expect you back. Let them know if you’ll be checking in throughout the day. This way, if something doesn’t go as planned, you’ll have someone who knows approximately where you might be in the unlikely event you need help.