(Photo: The Palmer/iStock)

Make Tracks by Learning to Snowmobile

By Matthew Guy

If your plans include hitting well-groomed trails with a riding buddy, try a touring sled like the 2021 Yamaha Venture. Such luxury features as an electric starter, heated handgrips and ample storage make touring sleds a great choice. The Venture’s passenger seat has an adjustable backrest that allows two to ride in comfort. 

If you’re looking for speed, wide-eyed performance machines, such as the Ski-Doo 2021 MXZ, offer sharp handling and more horsepower than some cars. Their hair-trigger throttles deliver bursts of speed and put a priority on flattening corners rather than bumps. While they have fewer creature comforts, they’re a lot of fun. 

In between these two extremes are crossover sleds like the Polaris Switchback. They combine much of the power found in a performance machine with many of the luxuries found in a touring model. This adds weight but also provides greater day-to-day livability. You’ll find storage, wind-deflecting shields and a go-anywhere versatility to tackle most trails. 

A properly fitting helmet is key. A lid that’s too big or small will be uncomfortable and won’t provide adequate protection. Full-face helmets are popular thanks to their ability to deflect frigid winter air. Consider an anti-fog visor for convenience. And while expensive, auto-darkening (or photochromic) visors make riding in sunny weather a treat. 

Proper clothing immensely improves the experience. Single-piece snowsuits are great for sealing out the cold but can be a hassle to remove when you stop for lunch. As with other outdoor winter activities, dress in layers and invest in a good pair of boots. 

Embrace winter and snowy conditions with adventurous activities off the slopes

Regulations vary by province, but in general, a snowmobile needs to be registered and insured just like the family SUV if you plan to take it on public trails. In Alberta, mandatory third-party liability coverage is required. 

Operators of snowmobiles under the age of 14 must be supervised by an adult. Also, be sure your machine is legal. Snowmobiles must be registered and must have a licence plate. Also, your machine’s headlights and taillights must be in working order.

Wondering where to go snowmobiling? A great place to start is with the Alberta Snowmobile Association. It has a trail guide to help you discover amazing places to go sledding across the province.

Anyone who operates a snowmobile on public land in Alberta is legally required to carry liability insurance. Snowmobile Liability Insurance offers protection in the event you unintentionally injure someone and/or damage someone’s property. You also have the option of adding coverage for damage to your snowmobile. CAA Insurance offers coverage for snowmobiles, trailers, motorhomes and campers. Call 1-800-615-5897 or click here to learn more and get a quote.