Your child may be eager to get out and ride on their new ATV, but their safety depends the outfitting them in proper ATV riding gear.
One of the hardest questions you can deal with as a parent of a child starting out riding is what ATV riding gear your kid really needs. I’ve heard this from a few parents who are concerned that they are being fed a line from an eager salesman at a dealership who is trying to talk them into buying the latest set of riding gear, at a nice markup, of course. Honestly, knowing most dealerships, that isn’t the case. They don’t make a ton of money off riding gear, but truly do want you and your kids safe. Repeat customers are better than statistics. But still, parents often question what ATV riding gear is needed, especially after shelling out the cash for a machine. Let’s go through everything, and you can decide for yourself what works best for you, your child and your budget.
Starting at the Top
Don’t even think of letting your child ride an ATV of any kind without a helmet. It is the number one, most-important piece of ATV riding gear they absolutely must have. This goes for riding in the passenger seats of your UTVs, too. I know that may come as a shock to some, but it’s true. Where I live, you don’t need to legally wear a helmet when in a UTV as long as you have a roll cage and a seat belt. I’ll throw this at you – just because you have those things doesn’t mean you don’t need a helmet. Where we drive off road gets us into places and situations that are not like riding in a car. Just because you are in a UTV with a roll cage and a seat belt, that doesn’t mean you, or your child won’t hit your head on the cage, on the ground, or on something else coming into the machine. And if your child is on an ATV, it’s simply a must. Things can happen and happen so fast, you just can’t put it to risk.
Picking out a helmet is easy. We’ve talked about it quite a bit lately, too. Check out our picks for best youth helmets and see for yourself. The main thing is to get one that fits right and is comfortable, so your child gets into the habit of wearing it. One thing we need to add is eye protection. A pair of goggles is a must have as well. It’ll keep dust and dirt out of the child’s eyes, and make it so they have clear, unobstructed vision while riding. Much like wearing a helmet, it’ll become second nature to your child, especially if they see mom and dad doing it too. If they have good-looking goggles that fit right and are stylish, they’re going to want to use them. Trust me, I speak from experience.
Moving Down to the Feet
Don’t forget about footwear when looking at ATV riding gear for your child. I saw a kid riding around his yard on a small ATV, going as fast as he could go. He was wearing a helmet, so I give him props for that, but he had on flip-flops! Sandals, flips flops and yes, even sneakers just don’t cut it for footwear when your kid is on an ATV. Let’s discuss the minimums for footwear. You and your child, when riding an ATV, need to have stiff boots of some kind that go over the ankle. I’m not going to come right out and say that your child needs to have full-blown riding boots. But it helps. It does help.
When I was 17 years old, I was riding my ATV down a trail. I had on the full set of Fox Racing gear, with a Bell Helmet and a pair of HiPoint MX GP riding boots. They sadly don’t make them anymore, but they were made by Alpinestars, and you can get those amazing boots right here. I hit a bump and my foot came off the peg and out past the nerf bars I had on. The tire edge caught my boot and pulled me off the machine. Judging from the marks across the back of the boot, my foot went under the tires as I went for a hasty face-to-dirt introduction to the ground. If I’d been wearing tennis shoes, I’d have broken my foot for sure. Without the helmet, well, you’ve heard that story before.
Today’s ATVs are safer than they’ve ever been, but there is still an inherit risk. That is why your child needs riding gear that will protect him/her. Even a pair of hiking boots is better than nothing. My entire family will at least wear hikers when in a UTV, too.
Gloves are also an important bit of ATV riding gear. They help your child hold on to the machine better, for better control. Gloves should fit snuggly, so like other pieces of safety gear, don’t buy a bigger size so your child “grows into it.” That actually reduces the control they’ll have, and adds to the risk of blisters. My son spent hours doing laps around the yard on a Honda TRX 90, and he eventually worked up some blisters, but he was happy about it. Which reminds me, he took a growth spurt again. Looks like Santa is bring some new gloves to my house this year!
Shirts and Pants
I’m not going to say that your child must have on a pair of riding pants or a jersey. But long pants and a long-sleeve shirt are a must. Jerseys are nice, though, because they are designed for airflow, yet offer the protection your child needs while riding. Long sleeved shirts just help add a layer to keep your child from cuts and scratches that can occur. Jerseys don’t cost much at all and look good, too, so it helps keep your child enthusiastic about wearing them.
Pants are the same thing. When I was a kid, I wore jeans to ride often, but noticed as I got older and spent more time riding, that I was sweating a lot, and chaffing. That ain’t fun! Riding pants help with that, and add some padding in the hips and tailbone areas. They vent in all the right places, too.
As parents, we want what’s best for our kids, and getting them on an ATV and out enjoying the sport is a great experience for both them and us. We also want them safe and protected. That’s why when you ask the question, what ATV riding gear do my kids need? The answer is fairly simple. They need to be covered from head-to-toe in some level of protection. Some of it doesn’t have to be riding gear specifically, but you have to do enough to meet the minimum. And one last thing – lead by example. If you wear it, so will they. Be safe and enjoy the time you have with them.