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If you’ve been riding snowmobiles for a while, you know that a breakdown or unplanned stop can happen anytime, anywhere. Often times, it happens far from civilization and in the least opportune places. Being prepared for these stops can save your trip and your wallet. Having to get trailside help can often be expensive and sometimes you could be out of cell phone reception to even call for that assistance. Most riders know to have a survival kit, tool kit, extra spark plugs and belt, but there are a few other things that riders should carry with them to get back to civilization.
As the saying goes, “Cash is King.” Snowmobiling can take you to some pretty remote areas. Sometimes you could be lucky to even find a gas station on your trip. Here’s a scenario that I’ve personally gone through. Running on close-to-only fumes, I was glad to see a gas station a little ways up in the middle of nowhere. I pulled up to the pump only to see a handwritten sign that read “Cash Only.” Realizing that I only had that evil plastic card in my wallet, I had to look to my riding partners who were smart enough to have cash on them. Now, I always carry enough cash to pay for my trip’s worth of gas and enough to pay for a tow if all else fails.
I prefer to carry a good ratchet strap with me over tow ropes, para cord and other similar ropes. I feel that a ratchet strap can serve more purposes than anything else and has saved me on another one of my snowmobile mishaps out on the trail. After a hard day of hitting moguls and jumping driveway approaches, my radius rod snapped and the rear trailing arm bolt stripped out. I was left with a dangling ski out in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, my riding party had a ratchet strap with. We were able to use the strap to suck the ski up tight so it would not catch and turn sideways. With the ski strapped tight, I was able to lean and ride the sled on one ski until we found a safe place to park it and pick it up with the truck.
Another nifty use for a ratchet strap is to use it to start your snowmobile when your pull rope breaks. Instead of trying to do a trailside fix on your recoil (which is not fun), you can use your strap to fire up the sled. To do this, wrap the free end of the strap counter-clockwise around your snowmobile’s primary clutch, making sure that the strap will not get caught anything. When you pull on the strap, it will turn the engine over and (hopefully) start it.
A good ratchet strap can also be used to tow a broken down snowmobile. If your riding party has two straps, you can hook one to each ski loop so the sled pulls straight. Always remember to remove the belt when you tow a snowmobile.
Alternative Fire Starters
Most of us know to keep some sort of fire starter in their emergency kits, but what happens when your one fire starter fails? It’s not a bad idea to have some other method to start a fire with you when you go on a ride. Here are a couple of unique ideas that will give you a good chance at starting a lifesaving fire.
Steel wool and 9 volt battery- When the end of the battery comes in contact with the steel wool, the steel wool ignites because the iron in it oxidizes from the electrical charge and combines with the air to create heat and embers. Add dry kindling or gas and you will have yourself a nice fire.
Use a tampon to get gas from the sled’s tank- Because tampons are so absorbent and have a string on the end, they are perfect for dipping into the gas tank to get a fuel source for your fire. If you still need an ignition source, you can use the spark of your snowmobile. If you take out a spark plug and reconnect it to the plug cap and touch the electrode to metal, you will have an open spark when you turn over your engine.
This might seem like a non-sense item until you actually need it. There is a reason it has the nickname “mountain money” among many snowmobilers. You never know when nature will be calling and it never hurts to be prepared. The mountain money can also double as kindling for a fire if you need it. Your buddies might laugh at you for carrying this, that is, until they come to you in a panic because they need it.
Tell us about the items you like to carry on your snowmobile trips in the comments below!