Gear Bag Talk: Safety Vs. Necessity on the Trails



So you’ve got your ride planned and you’re heading out, do you have everything you need to be safe while out on your adventure? If you’ve ridden the Gold Rush Tour or The Abitibi Cnayon Loop and areas like Timmins, Cochrane & Sudbury just to name a few, you will know first-hand that often your riding consists of “middle of nowhere” trails, often no cell phone signal exists, and you can go hours on trails without seeing other people. This can make things particularly dangerous, but they don’t have to be if you plan accordingly and bring the gear that you need. 

“Where am I going to fit everything I need” one might ask. Snowmobile manufacturers have seem to taken a back seat when it comes to storage on most trail friendly sleds, so you often need to buy aftermarket pieces or settle for what limited storage modern day snowmobiles have to offer. It is difficult to pack in everything you need AND also consider the significant weight gains to your ride with all that extra swag. I’ve had some great luck with tunnel mounted bags and jerry cans, along with dash bags and some factory seat storage. Of course, you can always use a good old fashion pack sack too.  

Skidoo OEM Dash Bag smaller   Skidoo XM Seat Storage smaller

I want to share with you the tools and other items I bring with me when spending a day riding. That could be either on the trail or in the backcountry, same rules apply. Being prepared is the key to your survival. Please note not all pieces recommended are in my kit pictures. 

Tools

(Keep in mind some of these may already be in your factory tool kit)

  • Tow strap (long enough to pull another sled and also doubles as a pull start for your primary clutch if your pull cord assembly fails)
  • Vice grips (you wouldn’t believe the amount of times these come in handy!)
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Secondary belt adjustment tools
  • Spark plug removal tool and spare spark plugs
  • Suspension adjustment tools
  • Screwdriver with combination drives
  • Go through the common types of fasteners on your sled and make sure you have the drives necessary to take apart things/repair. Torx, Allen keys, etc.)
  • 1/4 “ or 3/8 “ ratchet with the sockets that are most common to your sled. 

Safety

  • Waterproof matches and a lighter
  • Electrical tape
  • Hot Paws warmers
  • First Aid Kit
  • Tie Wraps
  • Flashlight
  • Folding Saw
  • Knife
  • Compass

Miscellaneous

  • USB battery pack – this is great for re-charging your cell phone or camera
  • Spare oil depending on how far you’re riding and what options for oil you will have around you
  • Spares goggles, gloves, and socks
  • Water/Gatorade etc
  • Spare gas can (if a long trip)

I’m sure others have a more extensive list, but this is what I bring to get me out of a jam, and it usually works. I think these are the basics you require when heading out on your snowmobile, you can never be too prepared. 

OEM Tool Kit Plus Some smaller

Kit Contents Sampe smaller   Mountain Addictions Rear Bag smaller

When you look at some of the risks that winter brings, you quickly realize how being prepared and taking things seriously can increase your odds of survival. For example, when temperatures are below -20 Celsius and a wind-chill is a factor, frostbite can occur in less than 10 minutes. Hypothermia is also a large risk when falling through ice or even in extreme cold situations.

Bringing these items every trip out will ensure you have a greater chance of survival. It’s amazing how a quick fire to dry some clothes and bring up body temperature can change your mood and your outlook in desperate situations.

Crisis Averted

Last weekend while I was out riding the Wawa Backcountry I realized a sled failure that could have left me stranded. We were roughly 20 km down a power line, windy deep trails and steep hills, not exactly the place you want to have a problem. I went to start my sled after we had a break, and the pull cord rope snapped leaving just the handle in my hand.

Needless to say I was upset, but not worried because I was prepared. I had my tow strap and I knew I could wrap it around my primary clutch to start my sled to get me home. Also, I had the tools I would require to disassemble my recoil and put it back together, but at -30 Celsius temperatures I wanted to avoid that. This is a small example of how being prepared can get you back to the truck safely. Thanks for reading!

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