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Snow Safety

Whether you are conquering the backcountry or taking in the scenery on a trail, Arctic Cat® endorses and encourages the safe use of all vehicles. Wherever you are riding, you should be prepared to ride safely. This includes the use of the below non-negotiable safety equipment that every rider should have:

  • Warm and protective base layers
  • Wind and waterproof outer layers
  • Safety accessories: gloves, chest protector, helmet and goggles
  • First Aid Kit

Being prepared to ride safely also includes having a plan, an understanding of the weather and snow conditions, and making sure your equipment is maintained. Remember to leave the fancy riding to the pros; they’ve practiced for years and train very hard to make it look easy. Never attempt to replicate these maneuvers or encourage others to do so. It’s easy to be blinded by the thrill and fun of hitting the snow on an Arctic Cat, but taking the extra time to be prepared to ride can sometimes make all the difference. So, get out, have fun, and enjoy a safe ride!


Backcountry Safety

Riding snowmobiles in the backcountry is like a match made in heaven. Sleds today can take you and your crew into the deepest reaches of the ranges, delivering an experience like none other. With that freedom, comes the responsibility to manage the safe return for everyone in your group. 

Avalanches pose a specific risk to mountain riders. Here is a list of required gear that EVERYONE in your group needs to have before entering avalanche terrain:

  • Beacon
  • Probe
  • Shovel

In many cases, the routes we follow to get to our favorite zones pass through avalanche terrain. The powder fields and tree lines are often surrounded by overhanging avalanche danger, too. Having the proper gear is one thing, but having the training and education to recognize avalanche terrain and manage your routes through the mountains is required to ensure that your adventure does not end in disaster.

On average, 27 people are killed by avalanches in North America each year with 10 or more of those deaths on a snowmobile or snow bike (CAIC stats page). That’s why Arctic Cat has made AIARE, the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education, our official avalanche safety partner. Arctic Cat believes that avalanche safety is a top priority and that everyone should be educated before riding in the mountains.

Zones

Match your outing/ride/play zone to the abilities and experience of the group.

Zones
  • Consider your group and the conditions. Start with matching the trip plan to your group's abilities and experience and the conditions forecasted for the day. 
  • Avalanche terrain is commonly any slope over 30°, often described as anywhere a slide can start, run, or stop. Avoid parking in avalanche path runouts, and ride one at a time, with eyes on your partners, whenever you ride around avalanche terrain.

Snow Conditions

Figure out where there’s unstable snow.

Snow Conditions
  • Find your nearest avalanche advisory at avalanche.org or avalanche.ca. Check the weather and the avalanche forecast.
  • Make sure your zones and your groups are a good match for the conditions. When in doubt, choose another zone or give yourself a generous margin for error by putting a wide buffer between your group and anywhere there is avalanche terrain.
  • Anticipate conditions and agree on margins that match the conditions. Some types of avalanche problems, notably persistent avalanche problems, require larger margins and avoiding all avalanche terrain.

Gear

Make sure you carry the proper gear with you.

Carry Gear for Emergencies
  • Everyone in the group needs a beacon, shovel, and probe for avalanche rescue
  • Learn how to use and practice using all your equipment in case of an avalanche emergency
  • Complete a trailhead departure check every time you go out.
  • Make sure everyone is on the same page with the plan.
  • Check radios to ensure you have good communications
  • Check that your transceivers are on, have good batteries, and can search and send. 

Training

Explore the training options available through AIARE to ensure you are riding safe.

Training
  • AIARE students gain skills to identify avalanche terrain and apply their plan to avoid avalanche accidents. 
  • AIARE Instructors are members of the American Avalanche Association, the industry’s professional organization, and have years of experience and training as avalanche professionals and outdoor educators. They work to inspire students with the passion to learn about snow, mountain weather, and a lifetime of thrilling adventures. 
  • AIARE develops and disseminates research-based avalanche curriculum to over 100 providers in the US, South America, Europe, and Asia.
  • To learn more or to sign up for an AIARE course, click here.