It wasn't that long ago that a woman's choice for snowmobile apparel was whatever her husband had in his closet that might fit her.
Over the past several years, snowmobile apparel manufacturers started to realize there was a need to provide apparel that would not only fit women, but appeal to their sense of style. Not that men don't have a sense of style, but face it, it isn't always a high priority to most men whether or not what they are wearing looks good or matches as long as it is functional.
What was once a male-dominated sport has become a winter activity in which more and more women are participating. As most men who snowmobile (or anything else for that matter) with their female counterparts know, if she's not happy, he's not happy. And what makes women happy is generally not the same as what makes men happy. As the title of this article implies, women do tend to care how they look.
I learned years ago that snowmobiling is definitely not a "glamorous" sport. Ask any woman about "helmet hair" and she'll know exactly what I'm referring to. However, times have changed and definitely for the better.
Over the past few months I have had the opportunity to test four different brands of women's snowmobile apparel from Klim, Mustang Survival, Arctiva and Scott. There are other lines out there, but for the sake of my personal study, I worked with these four.
I interviewed several "sister-snowmobilers" to get a good idea of what they looked for in riding apparel. And what we look for is style, fit, comfort, warmth, ease of mobility, how the clothing held up to a good washing, affordability and last, but not least, the ease of answering nature's call. I was pleasantly surprised in what these women's snowmobile outfits had to offer to riders of various skill levels and in various price ranges.
With today's modern technology being used in fabrics, no longer do we have to dress like the Michelin Man to stay warm. The thinner fabrics provide warmth as well as water and wind resistance without the bulk. I find that just wearing a good quality base layer underneath these riding suits is all it takes to get the warmth we want without the bulk we hate.
Klim. I was familiar with the Klim line since I had been wearing their Sundance line for the past two years. This year, I was happy to see them come out with a new line called Allure that came with pink accents (shown in photo). It is also available in black, red and royal blue.
(Klim USA is a sponsor of the Pink Ribbon Riders, a group of snowmobile enthusiasts creating awareness for breast cancer throughout the motorsports industry. Visit www.pinkribbonriders.com for more information.)
Klim has done a great job of implementing the latest in superior technology in moisture management, technical patterning, high performing fabrics and ergonomic ventilation. The outcome is an extremely comfortable and warm snowmobile outfit. The Gore-Tex fabric is guaranteed to keep you dry and the Thinsulate lining provides the warmth you want. The reflective piping accents are not only a safety feature, but look great, too. The bibs and parka are fully seam-sealed and the lining is thin yet offers superior warmth. The parka has a great snow dust powder skirt and a fleece-lined collar. And the built-in hand gators are not only comfortable, they eliminate the dreaded "bunch" of the inside liner in the arms. It also has an inside waistline adjustor. The bibs have spandex side panels under the arms which make them extremely comfortable. The full zip side seams make it easy to put them on without removing your boots. And they have designed an easy-open zipped flap across the backside that allows for easy access when using the facilities. The fabric strips attached to all zipper ties adds to the ease of use, even when wearing gloves.
Klim's line of women's snowmobile apparel is ideal for aggressive riders who require durability, extreme mobility and who ride in deep snow and extremely cold temperatures. The parka retails for $289.99 and the bibs retail for $299.99. This is a top-of-the-line snowmobile suit and is worth the extra money to someone who puts great demands on herself when riding and who wants quality, style and durability all wrapped up in one suit. Both the jacket and bibs are available in sizes XS through XXL.
For more information about Klim's apparel line, or to find a dealer near your, contact www.klimusa.com.
Mustang Survival. This company, based out of Canada, was unfamiliar to me prior to this project. I am happy to report that I have now discovered a provider of women's snowmobile apparel that is definitely hitting the bull's-eye when it comes to the aggressive female rider.
The Ice Rider parka and bib is great for ice or trail riding. And those who ride over frozen waters will love its unique AirSoft foam liner. It provides thermal insulation in icy cold water, protecting you against the onset of hypothermia and floats you horizontally so you can easily pull yourself back onto the ice. Once out of water, the clothing's unique mesh design quickly drains water away from your body while the foam continues to provide insulation from the cold.
The parka's hip-length hem and dropped back design eliminates drafts. It, too, has an adjustable waist, venting zips, fleece-lined pockets and reflective piping. The colors are black/silver, cobalt blue/black and lime green/black (shown in photo). I got a lot of compliments when wearing this gear. And I was actually wearing this suit while riding in a blizzard and not once did I get even slightly chilled. I was impressed.
Both the parka and bib are water and windproof. The bibs have full side zip seams for easy on and off while wearing boots, reinforced padded knees and stitching, adjustable shoulder straps and a very easy-to-use drop seat.
The retail price for the parka is $472.60 and the bibs retail for $277.90. They are both available in sizes 8 through 16.
This is definitely a first quality item and worth the price for the woman who wants it all.
Check out www.mustangsurvival.comfor further information.
Scott USA. This was my first exposure to Scott USA's riding apparel and I must say I was definitely impressed. Since they were somewhat less expensive than other riding suits I had worn, I assumed they wouldn't be as good. I was wrong. I tested their Bombshell parka and the Honcho bib. I was quite pleased with the results.
Scott, USA provides highly technical, backcountry-inspired outerwear engineered for adverse weather conditions, deep snow and extended days on the hill. Its gear features advance moisture management engineering and state-of-the-art lightweight, breathable and waterproof fabric. It also has an ultra-clean backcountry oriented style with thermally bonded hard shells as well as articulated elbows and knees, adjustable powder skirts and ventilation chambers. The removable liner is great when things start to warm up. And the color combinations are really sharp. The red/white/black color combination (shown in the photo) seems to be a winning match. Everyone on the trails thought they were really eye-catching. It is also available in a silver/white/black combination. The coat has a belted waist which is nice to try and show that some of us do have a waistline. The bibs, made of Gore-Tex, were padded in the knees and the ease of the drop panel was great. Even with gloves on, the two-way zippers were easy to maneuver.
The retail on the parka is $239.99 and the bibs retail for $299.99. This is definitely a great product at a great price. I rode in single-digit temperatures in deep snow and during a snow storm and never once did I get cold. I think this suit offers the best of both worlds when it comes to looking good and staying within a budget. The parka and bibs are both available in sizes XS through XXL.
Check out www.scottusa.com to see their entire line of women's apparel.
Arctiva. The Snow Angel model was really interesting. I had seen advertisements for Arctiva in magazines and was surprised by its low cost in comparison to other suits I have priced. But Arctiva has done a good job at offering good quality snowmobile apparel at a reasonable price. And if you are one of those ladies who likes a little "bling" with your suit, this one is for you. The outfit comes in pink, light blue, red (pictured), brown and black. And matching gloves for each color are available to put the finishing touch on your ensemble.
The belted waist on the parka has gold accents on the buckle and the bibs have three rows of gold buckles on the outside pant leg. They were great accent pieces, although aggressive sidehillers might want to be careful of those buckles on the leg exterior. Both pieces have durable rip-stop nylon chassis and multiple cooling vents to regulate temperature. The parka's rolled fleece collar adds a level of comfort that you don't always appreciate until you've had a helmet strap chafe your neck. The fleece-lined pocket and its durable rip stop waterproof, breathable, seam-sealed fabric just add to its lists of things we might take for granted until we need them. It has an adjustable powder skirt and vent zips in all the right places. The reflective patch on the upper back assures you will be seen after dark.
The bibs have full zip side zippers for easy on/off with your snow boots on. They also have adjustable inseam length and boot gators to keep the snow out. The shoulder straps are adjustable to assure a fit that's right for you. The full drop seat, along with double layered seat and knees for maximum waterproof integrity, is definitely a plus.
This suit reminded me of something you could wear snowmobiling during the day and look great in at the lodge afterwards. If you are a trail rider who likes to express your feminine side, you'll love this suit. At a retail price of $200 for the parka, $200 for the bibs and $55 for the matching gloves, it's a great suit to fit your budget.
There are more options and styles by Arctiva for you to choose from by visiting their website at www.parts-unlimited.com and choosing the Arctiva link.
When it came to the laundry test for all four of the suits in my study, every one of them faired great when I machine washed them in cold water and line dried. There was no bunching anywhere nor was there any indication that they had ever even been through the wash. The zippers all worked smoothly after washing and the overlaps on all zippers stayed flat. I had no complaints about any of them.
It is a good feeling to know that we have choices out there when it comes to our riding gear. There are functional and stylish suits out there for everyone's budget and for various levels of riding skills. The wide choices of colors, from primary to pastels, make it possible to find something for everyone's taste.
Now, if someone out there can come up with a way to prevent "helmet hair," we'd be set.