How to Double on a Snowmobile in the Mountains – Riding Tips
It may look funny, but the ability to double effectively on a snowmobile can be crucial in several mountain riding situations. The most likely of these is that you might have to shuttle a friend out of the mountains if their sled breaks down and it has to be flown out, or left overnight. However, it can also be used to double your partner around for the day. Or you might be using your sled to access ski and snowboard lines. In any case, here’s a few tips on different methods of how to double on a snowmobile in the mountains.
If you want to skip the jibber-jabber and go straight to the video, just scroll down!
* Please note, these techniques are a suggestion for more controlled riding in mountainous terrain in particular, where steep hills make sit-down riding more unstable. They are not meant to supersede safe trail riding techniques recommended elsewhere.
How to Double on a Snowmobile in the Mountains – Video Riding Tip
1. Riding the Trail
The easiest way to double for the long trail ride into the mountain zone is to sit down, one behind the other—like riding a motorcycle. This can be more difficult that it sounds however, because—if you’re riding mountains—you’ll each be wearing a backpack or airbag with your avalanche rescue gear inside (or you should be anyway!). Those take up a lot of space, and when you consider that most mountain sleds these days have just a tiny seat designed for one person, that doesn’t leave much or any room for a passenger.
The best way to solve this problem is to strap the driver’s backpack to the tunnel, so the passenger can snuggle up tight behind. Just beware dangling straps which will be torn to shreds if they get caught up in the tunnel with a spinning track. If you use this method for riding the trail, you MUST remember to stop before the first bit of avalanche terrain and put your pack back on your body for safety’s sake!
If you don’t have a tunnel rack or any way to strap a pack down, the next best trick is for the driver to wear the pack backwards. This comes with it’s own set of drawbacks. The most crucial of these is that the driver must take care to not let the pack interfere with the operation of the throttle, especially when turning right, because it is all too easy to accidentally hammer the throttle with the pack in front. Also, the pack can get in the way of a full face helmet and make it difficult for the driver to look down to check the gauge display of the sled.
Tandem (apparently known better in the United States as “Riding Canadian”) is the most efficient way to double around in the mountains. This style offers the absolutely best combination of balance, forward weight (to keep the skis down) and ability to manoeuvre in packed snow, powder and every kind of crud in between. This is your go-to way to double a friend out of a deep hole, down a big descent or anything else the mountains can throw at you. It takes a little getting used to, but with the wide, strong running boards on today’s sleds, tandeming on a sled is getting a little easier each year. Check out the video for a demonstration on this riding style.
3. Princess aka Squirrel aka Little Timmy
This one works pretty well for getting around as well, but it really only works well when the passenger is small in stature. In this case, the passenger will sit on the seat, and the driver will stand behind and operate the sled.
There are a few pros and cons to riding Princess style:
Pro – A rider who is lacking confidence or skill can be shuttled around or past a tough spot without having to contribute to the operation of the sled.
Pro – For the driver, it’s a little bit more like riding solo, because they have one foot on both running boards and can shift weight fairly easily.
Con – Bubba ain’t gonna fit there.
Con – Princess style puts the weight farther back on the sled, which causes the skis to lift and makes it harder to hold a line while climbing hard.
Con – The rider’s life is 100% in the hands of the driver…they are pretty much just holding on for dear life! There is also an increased risk of a face-to-handlebar impact. Always wear a full-face helmet!
So hopefully that will help you and your partner get out of trouble, spend a day together enjoying the mountains or nail some big mountain ski/snowboard lines more effectively and safely. Thanks for watching our “how to double on a snowmobile” video. Happy tandeming!