Everything an ATV or UTV owner needs to get the most out of their machine

To the uninitiated, all you need to start riding an ATV or UTV is to go out and buy a vehicle. Technically speaking, it’s hard to argue with that logic. But in practice, there are a number of things we think every off-roader should have before ever going out for a rip – and an even longer list of things that would be very helpful (or at least nice) to have.

None of this is to say that you have to go out and spends thousands of dollars in accessories. But you surely want to at least have the proper safety gear before you or somebody you care about starts spinning the tires.

If you just bought your first ATV or are in the process of doing so, we’ve put together a list of everything you absolutely should have before you go on your first ride, along with some items that could get you out of a jam, help you fix a problem, or just make your time on your ATV or UTV a little bit more enjoyable.

Safety Gear

Yamaha Grizzly SE Action

There’s a motto of sorts that our friends at Motorcycle.com have long professed to their readers. “All of the gear, all of the time.”

The idea around this is that every time you ride, make sure you are wearing the recommended safety gear – even when you don’t think you have to (skip the shorts and sandals on those hot summer days!). We at ATV.com are of the mind that the “all the gear, all the time” credo makes just as much sense for ATV and UTV owners.

Let’s take a look at some essential (and recommended) safety gear you should invest in before hitting the trails.

Helmets

6D ATR-2

Simply put, a helmet is the single most critical piece of gear for any off-roader. You might think your UTV roll cage will protect you in the event of a crash, but we disagree. We can assure you that the metal roll cage is a good deal harder than your head and at the very least you will be hurting if you crack your noggin against it. Helmets save lives and you absolutely should wear on each and every time you go for a ride.

And while some helmets are definitely better than others, it’s a whole lot better for you to wear even the cheapest skid lid rather than nothing at all. Below are some helmets that range in price from most to least expensive.

Goggles

Oakley Airbrake Goggles

While your sunglasses can keep UV rays from damaging your eyes, protecting your peepers from things like mud, rocks, and sand requires a quality pair of ATV goggles. The good news is you can find goggles with tinted lenses that offer UV protection, but there are also goggles designed to fit over your glasses called OTG – or Over the Glasses. We like to keep at least two pairs of ATV goggles in our gear bag. One that we use when it’s bright outside and one we use when its overcast. Below are some great goggle options at a variety of price points, from most to least expensive.

Gloves

Fox Bomber

When looking at riding gear, don’t forget about your hands. While work gloves will work in a pinch, investing in proper ATV gloves can mean improved breathability or some added protection in the way of knuckle guards. But not matter what kind of gloves you use, they will all help provide better grip on the handlebars (or steering wheel) and offer at least some abrasion resistance in the event you take a tumble. You can find ATV gloves designed for everything from motocross racing to cold weather riding. Below are some of our favorites from most to least expensive.

Boots

Alpinestars Tech 10

The type of ATV boots you need really depends on the type of riding you do. If you own a Sport UTV, a pair of MX-style boots offers the most protection possible. But for your average ride on a Utility ATV or for driving around in a UTV, you can get away with a quality pair of over-the-ankle hiking boots. Below are some of the best boots we’ve had a chance to use over the years, listed from most to least expensive.

Pants

Fly Racing Kinetic Pants

A specific pair of ATV pants is not something we’d consider essential, but they do have some benefits you won’t get from a pair of jeans. First, proper ATV pants will offer improved abrasion resistance and will have armor is key areas like the knees and hips. Some ATV pants are also water resistant and others offer impressive breathability when the sun is out. Check out these pants below if you think it’s time to upgrade form your Levi’s.

Tools

Cheap Shop Tools

While actually purchasing your ATV or UTV is the biggest expense off-roaders will have to face, getting repairs or even regular maintenance done on your machine can also get pretty costly. The good news is you can do a lot of this by yourself. Things like repairing or replacing your tires, changing the oil, or installing accessories like light bars can all be done by the home mechanic. You just have to arm yourself with the right tools for the job.

Below are some tools we think are worth having on hand if you own an ATV or UTV.

Tire Changing/Repairing Tools

BeadBuster

Getting a flat tire on the trail can ruin your ride in a big hurry. But just because something poked a hole in your tire doesn’t mean it is necessarily a goner. Keeping a basic tire plug kit and an air compressor or pump on hand can save you hundreds of dollars in tire replacement costs. But if you do need to replace your tires, you can do that from the comfort of your garage with some tire levers or even the extremely handy BeadBuster, which we reviewed here.

Hand Tools

T-Handle Wrenches

Whether you have an ATV or not, you should have some basic hand tools in your garage for when things need fixing. Of course, those same tools will come in really handy when it comes to keeping your ATV or UTV in proper working order. Below are some hand tools we think every ATV owner should have.

Power-Drawing Tools

Drill

Sometimes you need tools that require a power source. From cordless drills to battery maintainers, these are worthy additions to any ATV owner’s garage.

Accessories

2021 Polaris Sportsman 570 EPS Premium

Your ATV or UTV is perfectly capable of getting you pretty much anywhere you want to go, so we’d say that additional accessories are not exactly essential. Still, there are a few that we would consider very useful and some that can get you out of a bad spot.

Below we will have a look at some of our favorite ATV accessories that serve a variety of purposes

Winches

Warn AXON 45S

A winch is something we’d consider a get-out-of-jail-free card. While your ATV can climb up and over some nasty terrain, we’ve found that the majority of riders will at least occasionally bite off a bit more than they can chew. Having a winch installed on your machine can get you out of that mud hole that was a little deeper than expected or up and over that steep climb. Below we will showcase winches with a variety of different capacities designed for smaller ATVs up to multi-passenger UTVs. We typically use a 2500- or 3500-pound winch for ATVs and a 4500- or 5500-pound winch for UTVs.

Tow/Recovery Straps

Rhino Recovery Tow Strap

While a winch can pull out of some trouble, it is not designed for more extreme recovery situations or towing purposes. For this, you need to carry an simple tow strap or recovery strap. These are very affordable and extremely useful, as you can apply much more force than with a winch and tow somebody home that breaks down on the trail. Below are a variety of tow/recovery straps with different lengths and weight ratings.

Gas Cans

VP Racing Fuel Jug

Running out of gas on the trail is a sure fire way to ruin your day. Give yourself a little peace of mind by taking some extra fuel with you in a gas can designed for use on ATVs or UTVs. Strapping down an ATV gas can to your machine lets you extend your ride day without any range anxiety. Below are some of our favorites.

GPS

Magellan TRX7 CS GPS

Exploring new trails is a recipe for a great day, but not knowing where you are going (or how to get back to your truck) can be a little stressful. But it doesn’t have to be if you use an ATV GPS. Made to work with off-road vehicles, these devices offer mapped guidance of thousands of trails and let you chart your own path. We’ve had a chance to use a few different ATV GPS systems and they are very much worth investing in if you like to check out new trails.

Communication Systems

Unit

Talk to others, take a call, listen to music – it does it all.

We prefer to ride off-road with friends, including people who are newer to ATVs. Being able to keep in contact with everybody in your party means you will know where they are and if they need any help. The aftermarket is loaded with excellent helmet-to-helmet communication systems and handheld radios that make it easy to stay in contact. Check out these systems below to find what you need.

Towing/Trailering

Best UTV Trailers

Unless you live where you can ride directly to the trails, you are going to need to tow your ATV/UTV to a ride destination. Whether you have a trailer or plan to load your machine in the back of a pickup truck, you are going to need a few things – namely ramps, tie down straps, and covers.

ATV Ramps

Black Widow Wide Ride Arched UTV Loading Ramp

Depending on how you transport your ATV or UTV, you either need a set of longer ramps to reach up to the bed of your truck or shorter ramps to ride onto your trailer. Below we have a couple of different options and different load ratings so you can find exactly what you need.

Tie-Down Straps

Rhino Tie-Down Straps

Once you have your ATV or UTV on your ramp or in the bed of your truck, you need to secure it in place so it doesn’t go for a joy ride without you on the highway. The best way to do this is with a set of ratchet tie down straps. We like to keep a set in the truck for tying our rig down to our trailer and another set with our machine in case we need to tie something down to the ATV racks or in the bed of the UTV. Below are some of our favorite tie-down strap systems.

ATV Covers

ATV Cover

To protect our machine against damage while it’s being towed or against UV rays when it is sitting idle, a quality ATV cover is a must. You can find some really inexpensive covers out there, but covers that are trailerable (won’t flap around and tear in the wind) do cost a little more but are well worth investing in.

Tires

Best 25x8x12 ATV Tires

First off it should be noted that the stock tires on your ATV or UTV will work just fine for general trail riding. But you will eventually have to replace those tires once they start to wear out. And if you ever decided to focus on one style of terrain to ride (mud, sand, rocks, etc.) then you and your machine can benefit by installing a set of tires designed for that type of riding.

This will be as close to performance parts section in this article, but we can promise you that new ATV tires are will affect performance more than anything else you can do to your machine. They are, after all, the only things connecting your ATV to the ground. Lets look at some of the best ATV tires for different terrain types below.

All-Terrain ATV Tires

2021 Polaris Sportsman XP 1000

2021 Polaris Sportsman XP 1000

All-terrain ATV tires are probably what came stock on your machine. These are tires that perform reasonably well everywhere, but don’t excel in any one place. But if you like to explore all sorts of terrain types, these are the tires for you. Below are some of our favorites.

ATV Mud Tires

Best ATV Mud Tires

Many ATV owners like to play in the mud. And while your stock rubber will work in a lot of situations, when the mud gets deeper and nastier, you need tires designed to claw their way through it. Below are some of the best mud tires going – from moderate mud terrain to all-out mud killers.

ATV Sand Tires

STI Sand Drifter Tires

Carving up dunes on your ATV is some of the best fun you can have on four wheels. Regular all-terrain tires can survive in the dunes and offer a pretty comfortable ride, but if you strive to climb the biggest hills and have the best acceleration, sand-specific tires are on the menu. Here are some of the best options available today.

Rock Crawling ATV Tires

STI Roctane Tires and HD Alloy Wheels

ATV and UTV owners who like to put themselves to the test in the rocks require tires that are up to the task. Finding traction on slick rock faces is no easy feat, but there are a couple of ATV tires designed for just that.

Storage

The Helmet Storage Rear Trunk from Moose Utility Division is built to hold two helmets or other large items.

The more you use your ATV or UTV and go on longer adventures, the more you realize that storage space is at a premium. Yes, ATVs have front and rear racks you can tie stuff down to and UTVs have a big bed in back, but having more space and better organized space is extremely helpful.

Below we will look at some ways you can carry more of the stuff you need on your next off-road adventure.

Cargo Carriers

Kolpin ATV Front Rack Gear Basket

If you just don’t have enough room on your ATV to carry what you need, we found a number of cargo carriers and baskets that will give you some extra real estate. Some of these attach to your ATV’s racks and others connect to your hitch, but all of them are bound to come in very handy.

Cargo Boxes

While the cargo baskets above are great, they will not protect your stuff from the elements (or prying eyes). Fortunately, the aftermarket is loaded with locking cargo boxes that do a great job of keeping the weather outside and your stuff safe.

Kolpin Rhino Grips

Kolpin Rhino Grips XL

For things that don’t fit neatly into cargo boxes, there are some other ATV and UTV storage solutions worth looking into. Namely, the outstanding Kolpin family of Rhino Grips. These act as an extra set of hands that can hold onto things like fishing rods, rifles, shovels, etc. We’ve used Rhino Grips on a variety of different machines and they have proven exceptionally useful.

Lighting

Polaris Ranger Light Bar Feature

If you like to work or play before the sun comes up and after it goes down, you may find that your stock lighting doesn’t quite cut it. Yes, it will help guide you home, but you don’t want to miss that rock in the trail or that sudden turn you didn’t know about.

As you might expect, the aftermarket offers a wide array of lightning solutions for ATVs and UTVs. Below we will look at some light bars and light pods to help brighten up the trail in front of you.

LED Light Bars

Rigid E-Series Light Bar

A quality LED light bar will dwarf the amount of light provided by your stock headlights. Sizes range from 10 inches out to 50 inches, though a 20- or 30-inch bar works great for most ATV applications. Look for light bars with a combination of spot and flood lights, which will provide great lighting both close up and at a distance.

Pod Lights

KC HiLites Light Pod

Pod lights really come in handy when you are working outside your vehicle or if you want a little extra lighting that compliments your stock headlights. These won’t flood the entire area in light like a light bar will, but it’s an affordable way to get a better view of where you are going.

Work Implements/Accessories

2017 Polaris Sportsman 6x6 Big Boss 570 Plow Front

As much fun as it is taking your ATV or UTV out to explore the trails, these machines are also designed to work. Even stock, they can help you haul stuff around your property – not to mention people. But with the right accessories, they can do so much more.

From clearing snow to maintaining a food plot, there are implements and attachments available that will turn your ATV into an absolute workaholic

ATV Hitch

To take advantage of many of the work-specific implements for ATVs, you will need to make sure you have a hitch installed in your machine’s receiver. The good news is these are pretty inexpensive and simple to set up. We’ve included links to several options below.

ATV Plow Blades

Great for clearing snow from a driveway or spreading out things like soil and gravel, an ATV plow is one of the most useful implements you can add to your machine. Find the right one for your needs and budget below. Keep in mind you may need to get some plow mounting hardware and a winch to complete our plow package.

ATV Mowers

Mower

Your ATV or UTV can also be used to help you with mowing duties. With a tow-behind mower, you can clear your land of long grass and have it looking good in no time.

ATV Spreaders

Moultrie ATV Spreader

An ATV spreader allows you to use your vehicle to distribute media like seed, fertilizer or salt quickly and easily. Spreaders easily attach to the back of your ATV, the bed of your UTV, or can be towed behind. These are reasonably affordable implements that can make your like a whole lot easier.

ATV Sprayers

Ironton ATV Spot Sprayer

Strapping a sprayer to the back of your ATV or UTV (or towing one behind) lets you easily spray down fertilizer or pesticide wherever you need it. And there are all sorts of sprayer styles and sizes designed for ATVs, so you should have no trouble finding the right one for you.

Other Food Plot/Gardening Implements

There are many other tow-behind implements worth investing in if you are trying to maintain a hunting food plot or even a large garden. Below we will include links to things like garden rakes, drag harrows, cultivators, and more.

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