Colour Makes Snowmobiling Safer…

Wearing bright colours is avoiding black snowmobile gear

Photo by Al Fletcher

Related: Reduce Snowmobiling Risks


I ponder many things while trail riding. One is why more riders aren’t avoiding black snowmobile gear. I mean, why does anyone still wear black?

You’d hope that my mind would occupy itself with more momentous issues. Like what’s for lunch. Or where’s the next gas. Or are we going to make our destination before dark?

Problems With Black

Photo courtesy of Ski-Doo

But every time I see a black-garbed snowmobiler I give my head a shake. Sure, I know there was a time when most snowmobile suits were all or mostly black. Or quickly became stained black when almost every ride involved a do-it-yourself repair of some kind. Simply put, black snowmobile suits helped hide the stains. And how often do you have to throw a black snowmobile suit into the washing machine?

Furthermore, I know that there’s a certain cool factor still associated in some riders’ minds with looking like a sledding Darth Vader. I’m sure others gravitate to black because in fashion, it’s supposed to be the most slimming look. But this ain’t the Oscars. And besides, can anyone really pull off looking trim in a snowmobile suit?

In fact, I haven’t heard any contemporary reasons for choosing black that outweigh opting for actual colours. Especially with your snowmobile jacket and helmet. So maybe it’s time for avoiding black snowmobile gear from the waist up!

Good Reasons For Avoiding Black Snowmobile Gear

Risk To Following Riders

Avoiding black snowmobile gear means wearing colour on the back of your jacket

Which jacket & helmet would you rather follow? Photo by Al Fletcher

Start with the fact that anyone wearing a black jacket and/or black helmet simply disappears for other riders. Those following can’t see a black-clad rider ahead properly or at all. In daylight, no amount of reflective piping helps black become visible enough. And at night, black simply merges with the darkness. If you don’t believe me, drive your automobile around town on a dark night. Discover how hard dark-dressed pedestrians are to see. Black makes anyone walking, bicycling or riding a motor cycle at night disappear. It’s no different while snowmobiling.

Now consider this. Certainly you want a warm snowmobile jacket. But after you’re wearing one, you can’t see it anymore. So shouldn’t your jacket colour be more about being seen by other riders? And about what keeps you as safe as possible?

In my book, wearing black is dangerous for your fellow riders. It puts them at unnecessary risk. So much so that I simply refuse to ride behind anyone all dressed in black.

Risk To Rider Wearing Black

Is that a rider or a tree? To search & rescue it would be hard to differentiate. Photo by Craig NIcholson.

But black can also be risky for the wearer. First, those following can’t see you properly. So, their ability to react and stop without hitting you decreases dramatically. Next, imagine getting lost, injured or stranded. It’s a fact that potential rescuers will have more difficulty spotting you in black than in a bright colour. Dressed in black, you look like just another stump or rock. But a bright colour makes you stand out in an otherwise monochromatic terrain.

And much as we don’t want to think about it, what if you crash through the ice wearing black? How much more difficult will it be to find you in dark, murky waters and haul you out before it’s too late?

Public Perception

Bright colours are more hospitable looking than plain black. Photo © by Craig Nicholson

Safety concerns aside, how do you think the non-snowmobiling public reacts to impersonal riders – faceless behind visors and foreboding in black? There’s nothing friendly, welcoming or uplifting about vaguely threatening people dressed in black. Maybe we could significantly improve public perceptions about snowmobiling with a simple change of colour.

Black Sucks In Photos

Start avoiding black snowmobile gear to get better photos

The coloured helmets stand out best. Photo © by Craig Nicholson

There’s one more good reason for avoiding black snowmobile gear. It sucks in photos. I know many of you won’t care much about this one. But I have to take photos constantly to support my magazine articles and social media posts. So, I can attest that bright colours can make or break a photo.

That’s why you’ll rarely if ever see a black-clad snowmobiler in either my photo shoots or images. Which is one reason why I had to search high and low for photos to go with this post! And judging from your reaction to my pictures, black isn’t high on your list either when it comes to images that catch your eye.

Options For Avoiding Black Snowmobile Gear

Snowmobile Jackets

Brightly coloured jackets pop in photos and on the trails. Photo by Al Fletcher.

I could understand wearing black if it was the only choice. Or less expensive. Or if it looked way better, was more functional or safer to wear. But every sled manufacturer and after market snowmobile clothing company, like FXR, offers a cornucopia of colour choices. So, there’s no excuse left to go all black.

Whatever your choice of these other colour options, there are key considerations. These include being colourful from the chest and shoulder blades up on your snowmobile jacket. That’s right, both front and back. This enables both oncoming and following riders to spot you more easily. Also, make sure there’s plenty of reflective material that will light up when caught in headlights at night.

Snowmobile Helmets

Coloured jackets, helmets & sleds are more visible to others. Photo © by Craig Nicholson

What’s more, I see many riders with colourful snowmobile jackets, but all black helmets. In my experienced opinion, it’s actually most important to wear a brightly coloured helmet. This means one with visible colour at the back. Plus, an integrated light, like the BV2S and Oxygen helmets, is even better. Failing that, stick a fancy piece of bright reflective material to the back of your black helmet.

Why? Because a helmet displays your highest spot of colour. As such, following snowmobilers see it first through snow dust, glare or shadows. Too often, your sled’s rear light is covered in snow, so don’t count on it for being seen.

Similarly, a bright helmet is the next thing oncoming riders see after your headlight. And that colourful lid becomes even more important if your headlight malfunctions during a ride.

Final Word

Avoiding black snowmobile gear makes a rider highly visible & safer in all situations.

Now there’s a rider fully avoiding black snowmobile gear! Photo © by Craig Nicholson

Besides, snowmobiling’s supposed to a happy, vibrant, exhilarating and fun-filled activity. So why are some of us riding around looking like depressed sad sacks? Time for avoiding black snowmobile gear and switching to bright colours, folks! Now, don’t get me started on why to avoid all black snowmobiles…

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The tips and advice in this blog are the opinions of the author, may not work in every situation and are intended only for the convenience and interest of the reader, who has the personal responsibility to confirm the validity, accuracy and relevancy of this information prior to putting it to their own use.