How do you shop for the sledhead who has everything? Last year we recommended spotting and replacing worn-out pieces of gear: Still a great idea. You can also stock up on disposables you know your favorite snowrider will use, like duct tape and food. We polled shopkeepers to find out what else is hot this season, and here’s what they said. Prices are subject to change, and your odds of finding the same products at multiple dealers are pretty good.
If your favorite sledhead already has everything on this list, how about a GoPro? Many of your favorite sled dealers are Go Pro dealers too, including Hatcher Pass Polaris of Willow and Anchorage Yamaha. Even if your rider already has a GoPro, you can trick that little camera out with a variety of body and sled mounts, chargers, cases, and BacPac LCD screens.
Having an extra sled means you can bring a buddy along, so if it’s in your budget, consider two of the year’s hottest models. SnowGoer magazine named the Polaris 800 Pro-RMK 155 (left) its 2013 snowmobile of the year (MSRP $12,199), and at Performance Yamaha of Wasilla, they have Yamaha FX Nytro sleds (above) that can be supercharged without voiding the factory warranty. Budget around $18,000 for a supercharged ride, less dealer incentives and Yamaha discounts.
If you’re buying for someone who already has a sled and a full gear closet, you can always trick out their ride. Randy Bedard of Team CC recommends LinQ accessories for Ski-Doo’s new XM platform. This line of storage bags, fuel caddies, boxes and such attach quickly and securely to the chassis; Bedard describes the tool-free attachments as “super clean, super durable, super easy to use.” Prices will vary; plan around $125 for bags and jerrycans (right).
Fill in the Blanks
If you’re shopping for a beginner, all you have to do is spot the empty place in their gear closet and fill it in. RJ Barenz, parts and accessories manager for Alaska Cycle Center, recommends a high-visibility Polaris Fly Racing Helmet ($290). The hi-vis orange is impossible to miss, but still has “a fantastic graphic.”
Don’t ride without eye protection:
Lori Price of Marita Sea & Ski says military-grade anti-fog goggles are going fast ($109 to $160), and out at Wasilla Arctic Cat, they finally have the wildly popular Scott 83X Safari facemask goggles in stock again.
More advanced riders may be interested in the Cycle Center’s MotorFist boots ($220), which actually let you feel the running boards beneath your feet. “You can jump back and forth and feel what’s going on,” Barenz explains, as opposed to clunky “moon-boot” footwear. These mountainstyle boots are also waterproof and flexible, and have traction on the bottom.
Don’t Ride Naked
Sledheads get mighty attached to their favorite gear, but there’s always room for something new on the high-end range of things. Lori Price with Marita Sea & Ski says this year’s hot commodity in gear is waterproof, windproof, breathable Klim gear. Made for men, women and children, it suits everybody from the everyday rider to hardcore mountain riders.
With prices up to $450 or $500 for a jacket or bibs, Price acknowledges that Klim can be a little spendy — but says it’s well worth the price because it’s a lifetime product. It doesn’t hurt that Klim actually looks good while you’re out there, too (right), and you can get smaller items like a ballcap or boxers starting around $19 or $20.
MotorFist’s gear is a little less expensive (think $220 and up for jackets, $300 and up for bibs, left) but still waterproof/windproof/breathable with a lifetime guarantee. We also got one mention for FXR’s winter clothing line, which is made of waterproof Cordura fabric that’s more breathable than Gore-Tex. Most MotorFist gear is good down to 40 below.
Avalanches aren’t accidents. They’re the intersection of a series of risk factors that you can avoid or manage — as long as you know what you’re looking for — so a course in avalanche hazard evaluation and avalanche rescue could save your life, or those of your buddies. Sure, it might feel lame to be the one who says “let’s go back” or “let’s go the easy way,” but staying alive feels even better (and lasts a lot longer if you do it right). Even if you’re not up for a full-on avalanche course (and you really should be), at least pick up the new edition of Snow Sense: A Guide to Evaluating Snow Avalanche Hazard by Jill Fredston and Doug Fesler.
Your brain will always be your most important piece of safety gear but, once you’ve got the brain trained up, you might need a little gear to go with it. Anchorage Yamaha has the easy-touse BCA Tracker 2 beacon ($299), and the folks at Wasilla Arctic Cat recommend BCA avalanche air bags ($674), which can be reloaded for additional deployments after the first use.