Tips for Riding Your ATV in the Snow

ATV: All-Terrain Vehicle

They are designed for all types of terrain, from rocks and mud to sand and snow.

With snow being the most challenging element to ride in because it also involves protecting yourself from the colder temperatures, here are a few tips and strategies for how to ride during the winter months, what products you should bring along, and how to dress to make your winter trail ride a memorable one.

When winter trail riding, your first rule of thumb should be to never ride alone. Getting stranded in normal conditions is one thing, getting lost out in the cold can be deadly! It is also important to make sure it’s legal to ride your ATV on trails during the winter months, not all ATV trails are open year-round. Although you could ride off the trail because of the snow, stay on the trail and respect all trail traffic signs. Ignoring these and making improper tire tracks demonstrates a disrespect for the caretakers of the trail.

Riding in the snow is similar to riding in the mud in the fact that you can’t always see what’s beneath the surface. If you are on a state maintained trail chances are good that the path is safe and that the snow is packed down enough. If you are legally cutting a trail through uncharted snow, beware of fallen trees, hidden obstructions and unexpected drop-offs. Though is not recommended, please use caution when riding on frozen bodies of water. A good rule of thumb is to only ride on rivers, lakes and ponds that have at least 6 inches of solid ice frozen over them. Follow the leader carefully (remember you aren’t travelling alone)! Because of the icy conditions and common white-outs, it is better to follow at a greater distance than usual.

What to Wear:

The proven way to dress for winter riding is by dressing in layers. This method will allow you to add and remove clothing as temperatures change throughout the day. Along with additional items that will improve your experience, there are some key terms to keep in mind when it comes to winter sports clothing: moisture wicking, breath-ability and waterproof.

    • Layer #1: This first layer should fit tight to your skin and should be something that is designed for warmth and moisture absorption. This could be something like Under Armour gear, performance long underwear, or other tight-fitting article of clothing.
    • Layer #2: Your second layer, though not as tight-fitting, should not be loose-fitting or bulky. This layer should be a bit warmer and thicker but it is recommended that it not be fleece. It should also be something that is moisture wicking.
  • Layer #3: This layer is going to be any jacket or pant that is both breathable and waterproof. Jackets with areas to unzip for ventilation are perfect for when you get too warm and need a quick cool down.

In addition to the above recommended layers, there are also a few other items that are essential for a comfortable ATV winter ride. These items include:

    • Gloves with a waterproof design but aren’t too bulky that they bunch up and interfere with your ability to control your vehicle.
    • Boots that are made for cold weather and have an insulating material. Above all else, make sure these boots are waterproof and pair them with a good pair of wool socks for warmth.
    • Helmet that is made for snowboarding or a regular helmet that is customized to work in the snow and cold.
  • Goggles with a dual-pane to ensure the lenses won’t fog over.

The only thing different between riding in the snow and riding in the summer months is the level in which you have to be prepared for the unexpected. Here are a few necessary items to always remember when going for a winter trail ride:

    1. A Winch: You are sure to get stuck in the snow at least once. Having a winch makes getting out a little less stressful on both you and your ATV.
    1. Extra Layers: These extra layers can include gloves, long underwear, socks and blankets. Staying warm and dry is crucial when being outside during the cold, snowy weather.
    1. Water and Snacks: Even if you think your trip will be short, always pack water and some edibles in case you do get stuck. It is better to be prepared for the unexpected than to be expectantly unprepared.
    1. First Aid Kit: ALWAYS have a first aid kit in case someone in your trail riding group gets injured.
    1. Light: Since winter months house the shortest days of the year, your day trip can become a night trip sooner than you think. Always have a flashlight with you!
  1. Storage: Since winter ATV trips require you to be a bit more prepared than those warm weather mud-bogging days, you will need a place to store all those extras. The ATV Top-Shelf Rack can carry anything to anywhere. With all of its accessories, you can go anywhere, do anything and bring everything along with you!

Incorporating all of these tips into your next cold weather ATV trail ride, you will no longer feel unprepared! Please, explore the beauty of winter but do it carefully. Your ATV was meant for this, it’s your job to be responsible while doing it!