I recently wrote about the importance of staying with your machine if you become lost or stranded.

In one case, a buddy who will remain nameless, made a torch out of his under britches after soaking them in gasoline. We found him because he had the presence of mind to utilize what he had and because he stayed put.

I once spent over 6 hours trying to get out of a creek and if it weren’t for a few items I had on my snowmobile, I might have froze to death.

Here are 6 items that you should always carry on a snowmobile, but it really applies to dirt bike, quad, or even a horse for that matter.

A fully charged cell phone

Many rescues come to a happy ending because the lost person(s) carried a cell phone with them. These days there is coverage almost anywhere and with the GPS systems on the new phones, getting coordinates is a snap. In extreme cases, the cell phone battery can easily be used to start an emergency fire. All you need is some steel wool or a gum wrapper. Place the phone in a waterproof bag.

First aid kit

A few years back, a buddy of mine almost bled to death after severely cutting an artery in his hand because nobody had a decent first aid kit (duct tape actually stopped the bleeding). You can purchase great outdoor kits at REI that have everything you need to treat wounds etc. Make sure you have items to make a splint if necessary. I always carry a well stocked first aid kit.

Fire Kit

Make darn sure you have a couple different sources of making fire. A lighter and a magnesium block with a ferro rod are two good options. Soak some cotton balls in Vaseline for tinder or get the store-bought tinder. When you’re wet and cold, making a fire is extremely difficult yet it can save your life. I carry a few lighters in different compartments and always have some wood matches in a waterproof container. Look under the canopy of trees for dry kindling (Squaw wood) and make a good tipi structure before you light your tinder. Good preparation will ensure that you get a fire going when you need it. Practice when you’re out so you know you’ll have success.


 A shovel is always at the top of my list because it has so many uses. You can drastically improve the time it takes to get un-stuck, especially in a bad spot. You can also build a snow cave pretty darn fast and shelter is always the first element in a survival situation. Your chances of surviving if you have a good shelter boost your odds a hundredfold. They make some really compact shovels that can easily be stowed in a pack or on your sled. In the unfortunate case someone gets buried by an avalanche, a shovel can literally save someones life. Note: I wouldn’t go anywhere without an avalanche transceiver and probe also but sufficient training is needed.


If you’ve ever looked at your snowmobile took kit, you’ll see that you definitely need a few more items. Bring a good size screwdriver (for prying), a pair of decent Channel Lock pliers, some needle nose pliers, an adjustable wrench, an assortment of nuts and bolts, some duct tape, a knife, some bungee cords, some rags, a length of good rope and a couple extra spark plugs. Oh, and don’t forget a spare belt!

Space blanket

These nifty little shiny blankets have been around forever and you’ll always see emergency personnel covering up people with them on the news. They pack down to a couple inches square and will keep you insulated. They are truly amazing. To add to that, I always carry an extra set of gloves, extra wool socks and  a wool hat.

Surprisingly, all of these items will pack down nicely and not take up too much room. Whether you store them in a pack, on your sled or both,  you’ll be glad you have them when you need them. And, once again, if you get stranded, stay with your machine.

Photo credit: Dreamstime