I took my son, Jacob, snowmobiling and he has grown to love it. It was a serene experience, bonding with my son and teaching him about something I’m passionate about.
He’s seven and barely crossed the recommended age for riding as a passenger so I was very careful to learn and take all necessary precautions. Thankfully, we did not have any problems and my sons ended up really enjoying it!
Snowmobiling with kids is a fun activity and your child gets to experience the thrill of the mountains at a young age. You, of course, need to take extra steps (and some more) to ensure comfort and the utmost safety.
You don’t want to just be safe, you want your child to be comfortable so they can enjoy the ride and appreciate the experience, otherwise, they’ll just dread their next winter trip.
I have listed the most important things you need to keep in mind when going on snowmobile rides with your kids.
How to Go Snowmobiling with Kids
1. Comfort and Safety
When snowmobiling with kids, you should take shorter rides and ensure they have a full stomach and are hydrated. Keep checking if they are warm, comfortable, and secure.
You need to be more perceptive to their needs on the snow as they might be unable to know what they need and when they should rest. Be sure to check the child yourself every time you stop.
The proper outfit for the activity- sweaters, jackets, gloves, and essential gear, is necessary and will provide them with warmth and safety on the snow.
Take all the essential things with you in your snowmobile backpack while going snowmobiling. Think of the medical needs of your child, the type and amount of snacks they could need, etc.
2. Age Limit
It is recommended that a child riding even only in the passenger seat should be 6 or above. A toddler below the age won’t be able to handle the insecurities and the rough terrain.
Of course, there are variables to this rule too. In the case of a smaller or weaker child, they might be unable to hold on even at that age.
3. Legal Age to Drive
There are various rules and regulations in multiple states about the legal age. In most cases, the child should be 16 years and above to drive the snowmobile.
Children less than the age of 16 years are unable to drive and control the snowmobile safely and adequately. Added to this is their excitement which could potentially lead them to do things beyond their ability and expertise on the snowmobile.
4. Staying Warm in the Back
It is wise to carry an extra layer of insulation with you as your child can grow cold fast. Their bodies are less immune to cold and they might not even know when they are freezing.
You can check out some helpful tools like heated handlebars that can act as an extra source of warmth and grip for your child. It is never a waste to pay extra attention to the passenger seat and check them often. Extra care should be given while preparing the passenger seat.
Be aware of the time you have been out in the snow. Keep your snowmobiling with kids short and sweet as pushing their limits is different from that of yours.
5. Kids in the Upfront
Mostly an illegal position, i.e., snowmobiling with a child in front of an experienced operator, thinking that the child will be safe eventually, can actually be dangerous for the child.
When you are snowmobiling with kids, if you still want your child sitting in front, make sure he doesn’t touch the controls. They have a tendency to be curious and push any and every button. Make sure they understand the importance of holding on properly for the duration of the ride.
This is a tougher decision as you are able to give your kid extra protection with your arms and feel closer to each other but in case of accidents or small crashes, they are in more danger than if they were sitting at the back.
6. Kids on the Passenger Seat
If your toddler has enough grip strength, the front position can be given to them. There are special seat extensions with safety rails for snowmobiles to help your child.
You should make sure that the toddler has the proper safety gear. You can either have a stock 2-up sled or can add a single seat or even a caboose.
Ensure the child moves behind you and doesn’t do anything alone. It can get unsafe and uncomfortable for both you and your child if they keep moving around and messing around.
7. Try Footrests
While snowmobiling with kids, the size of the seat is crucial to how safe they are and how comfortable they feel. Pay attention to how they fit and how your child feels about them. It is an added bonus if these are heated.
You don’t want your legs hanging around as it is uncomfortable and gets tiring after some time, assume the same for your toddler. Though they may not be able to voice their discomfort, the absence of a proper board or footrest will tire them out and just feel generally uncomfortable. Removable wooden blocks are another option you can attach on top of the running boards to help the child’s feet reach them from the passenger seat easily.
8. Change in the Suspension
You may like to pull the suspension as per the size of the child on the back. This will help you compensate for the added weight at the Back.
You can think of this as the level of comfort for both you and your child. With the added weight, the amount of spring and shock absorbance changes. Tweak with the cam setting on the rear springs until the feeling of the added weight feels similar to when you were riding alone.
The lesser your child weighs, the fewer adjustments needed, and vice versa.
9. Hanging on Tight
The child will take about a year or two to develop the ability and confidence to ride the snowmobile alone.
Choosing easy trails that are combed and without obstacles is your way to introduce them to snowmobiling. This will come with a smoother ride and allow for the weaker gripping power of your kid.
Invest in easy and safe gear before they are unable to fully rely on their grip strength to hold on. The market is flooded with extensions and safety gear for your child to safely snowmobile.
10. Plan for Future
You can involve the kids by planning the trip ahead. Make sure to plan the ride and have appropriate safety gear for everyone. Do your research on snowmobiling with family and on trails that are family-friendly.
I wanted to take my 4-year-old toddler too but after learning about the age limits and safety for snowmobiling with kids, the family has decided to wait some years but as soon as he is ready, we can have a family snowmobiling trip too.
Snowmobiling with a baby or a toddler is a monumental task but the most rewarding too. Ensure to invest in high-quality safety gear and winter clothes. Better safe than sorry.
To ensure that your kid is safe and comfortable while on a snowmobile ride, always be aware of your surroundings and other external forces that could act as a threat to your toddler and take preventive measures accordingly.
When you have decided to go snowmobiling with kids, another thing that you must take with you is a GPS unit that contains all the snowmobile trails.
Along with these tips, I also suggest reading my other article about 15 safety tips for snowmobiling in winter. Having additional knowledge of safety in your arsenal would not hurt.
I hope this article helps you go snowmobiling with kids without worry!