This is one of the many popular outdoor activities across Canada during the winter months, along with down-hill skiing, cross-country skiing and ice-fishing - or just taking in the great winter weather with a brisk walk.
There are several different manufacturers who build snow machines for the North American market, some of which are named below.
Some of the most popular are
which is made by the Bombardier company of Quebec,
which are built in Minnesota,USA, and
which are also made in the USA.
To ride a snow machine on the
Trails (Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs), or anywhere off your own property, in the Province of Ontario, a driver's license and valid insurance is required by all riders, although a license is not required to be a passenger.
However, it is advisable that passengers receive some instruction from the driver before leaving home.
If a rider already has an Automobile License issued by the Government, then he may legally ride a sled with that license.
When a potential rider does not have a license, then one must be obtained by taking an authorized "Snowmobile Driver Training Course".
If a person's Driver's license has
been suspended or revoked for any reason, that person is not entitled to receive their Snow Machine Operator's license and is not permitted to drive a snow mobile.
Adults who do not have a license and children between the ages of 12 and 16, are eligible to take the Driver Training Course and obtain their license.
Proof of identity must be provided to the Instructor before taking the course.
Young students must be 12 years of age or older on the day of the Course, to be able to take the course and subsequent written exam.
Courses are comprised of 6 hours of in-class instruction.
FOR THOSE OF YOU SLEDDERS WHO CAN'T WAIT TO HIT THE TRAILS - HERE IS A SHORT "YOU TUBE" VIDEO FOR YOU - ENJOY!
Driver Training Courses are usually held throughout Ontario during November, December and early January.
A full list of up-coming Snowmobile Driver Training Courses can be found on the O.F.S.C. website.
It is important to dress correctly when you are out riding your sled.
When you consider that your machine can take you to places that are inaccessible by any other means of transport, it is vital that you make sure that you have the correct clothing, an up-to-date trail map, and enough fuel for your destination and to reach home safely.
Correct gear for this sport would be considered to be clothing in layers, with an undershirt closest to the skin.
Often, cotton Thermal Underwear is worn next to the skin, to absorb perspiration and "wick" the moisture away from your body.
The next layer should be a sweater and a pair of jeans, or track pants. Heavy socks and snowmobile boots should be worn, along with a good snow suit. There are many manufacturers out there and prices vary.
We always wear a balaclava underneath our helmets - the best ones are cotton and are very light, but they do help keep you warm and help your helmet to fit more comfortably.
My hubby always wears a "Floater Suit" which is recommended if the trails are going to take you over frozen lakes, rivers or any body of water.
The special insulating material in these suits floats upon hitting water and remains afloat as it does not saturate with water when submerged.
Subsequently, these floater suits will keep you afloat long enough to enable you to drag yourself onto the ice and will also protect you, to a limited degree, against Hypothermia.
Finally, care should be taken that an approved D.O.T. (Department of Transport) Snowmobile Helmet is worn, by both driver and passengers - a motorcycle helmet is not recommended for snow mobile riding.
Before we leave, I always make sure that I, and my passengers, have no exposed skin and that sleeves are tucked into our gloves and pants are tucked into our Snowmobile Boots .
Before leaving our starting point we have a checklist that we follow to ensure our safety. Weather conditions in Winter can change quickly, so you need to be prepared before you leave home.
* You should always make sure that you let someone know where you are going and approximately what time you will be returning.
* Make sure that you have an up-to-date trail map of the area where you will be riding.
* We like to make sure that both our machines are filled with fuel before we leave - you certainly don't want to run out of gas while you are out on the trail.
* Make sure that you have your paperwork with you - valid License, Insurance certificate and the Ownership Certificate for your machine, and, if you will be riding on OFSC trails - a current Trail Permit.
* Even if we think we are dressed warmly enough, we sometimes store an extra layer of clothing in the "trunk" of the snowmobile - just in case the weather turns colder than expected.
* A cell phone - please be aware that there are some areas of the Province of Ontario where cell phones will not work.