All the best gear you need for plunging into the mud
Few people appreciate spring like ATV and UTV owners who like to play in the mud, but is your ride ready to take on the murky muddy trails? We’re here to help with our mud riding buyers guide.
April showers might be a downer for most people, but for ATV and UTV enthusiasts, it means the mud is here and it’s time to play. From tall tires, strong winches, beefy axles, and even heart pounding stereo systems, there are endless accessories to help customize your favorite mud machine. To help you prepare for this year’s Mudpocalypse we’ve put together one of the best mud riding buyers guides you can find to get the job done.
Table of Contents
1. Editor's Choice: Recovery / Tow Straps
One of, if not the most important, pieces of mud riding gear you can have on your ATV or UTV is a good quality KINETIC recovery rope /or tow rope. Yes, there is a significant difference between the two. A kinetic recovery rope is constructed in a way that when you’re pulling or being pulled out of the muck, it stretches to reduce the amount of shock the two machines it is connected to. The Miolle 1/2″ x 20′ Kinetic Recovery & Tow Rope is a great option as it comes in a handy bundle that includes:
- 1/2″ x 20′ double braid high-tenacity nylon and Spectra fiber Recovery Rope w/ 7,700 min. break strength.
- (2) 5/16″ Soft Shackles
- Convenient carrying bag
While kinetic recovery ropes really are the tool of choice, using a good tow strap is still a great option to help get you out of a sticky situation. The downfall of these is that they’re primarily designed for towing so they’re not going to have the give you’ll find in a kinetic recovery rope. They are perfect for light-duty recovery efforts and perfect for towing a busted machine back to camp, because that never happens right?
The NEIKO HD Tow Strap is a perfect example of the strap we’re talking about. This strap has built in tow hooks and is capable of pulling up to 10,000 lbs. of mud splashing machinery.
While we’ve highlighted two great options, there are a number of other kinetic recovery ropes or tow straps for you to choose from that come with ropes alone or as complete recovery kits. Just do your research to make sure you’re getting what you want and need for your next mud adventure.
2. Most Important Upgrade: Mud Tires
Regardless of the terrain you ride on, changing the tires is probably one of the best upgrades that you can do to your ATV or UTV. If you ride in muddy trails, the stock tires are great for dealing with surface mud, but when you decide to go a little deeper they may not provide the traction you need and can clog up with muddy clay leaving you with a tire that resembles a drag slick. Good mud tires have aggressive lugs that are widely spaced to provide clawing action for the loose terrain and have the ability to self clean so you always have good bite. If you’re not doing crazy mud riding, the ITP Mud Lite II is a great tire that is available in a wide variety of sizes and provides excellent traction in muddy conditions but still rides comfortable on the trail. Would we use these tires to take on a bounty hole? No, but we’d use them to have fun on the muddy trails leading to it.
Now if you’ve got a big bore, high HP, mud slinging monster of an ATV you likely want an extremely aggressive tire for your mud riding adventures. These are the tires that have massive scooping tread patterns that not only claw away at mud but almost act as a paddle in the murky muddy water. The Super ATV Assassinator Mud Tire is the perfect example of this. The massive 3″ tread is designed to scoop away at the mud for traction and if you’ve ever seen these tire in action, it’s impressive. They’re available in a wide variety of sizes as well, but be warned that you need big power to turn these tires.
Take note that when if you want to upgrade to larger tires for mud riding, you also may have to consider adding a lift kit to your ATV or UTV for clearance. Additionally, mud tires provide exceptional bite in harsh terrain which can put parts like axles and differentials under extreme pressure that can lead to premature failure, so you may want to consider upgrading parts like that as well.
3. Most Valuable Recovery Tool: Winch w/ Synthetic Rope
One of the best valuable pieces of recovery equipment you can have for mud riding is a reliable winch. A winch can help you get unstuck if you’re out and about alone, or it can allow you to help another stuck rider get free from the the suction like grasp of some nasty mud holes. WARN is one of the most well known companies in the industry when it comes to winches and their newest WARN AXON winches takes their products to another level. This line of winches houses the motor and contactor all in one unit that they call a Motactor. By housing everything in one unit, install time is reduced by up to 50% and you don’t have to worry about finding someplace to mount the contactor. They’re available in load capacities from 3,500 -5,500 lb with either steel cable or synthetic rope. If you want the best of the best, look no further but expect to pay a premium.
If this winch is out of your budget, fear not. There are plenty of other options from a wide variety of manufactures at plenty of price points. While they might not feature all of the conveniences, bells and whistles of the more expensive units, they can still server their purpose.
4. Best Eye Protection: Roll-Off Equipped Goggles
Remember the pain of getting mud in your eye as a kid when you’d have mud fights with your friends? Well, it’s not any less painful getting mud in your eye as an adult. In fact when you’re mud riding, there’s a lot more floating around in that murky water like rocks, leaves, oil, belt material from ATVs, and a whole mess of other nasty stuff that can get into your eyes if not properly protected. That is why we recommend wearing a good set of goggles like the Oakley Airbrake Roll-Off System. While these goggles come at a premium price, they also come loaded with premium features and may be the last pair of goggles that you’ll ever have to buy. The best thing we like about the Oakley Airbrake goggles is that they are 100% rebuildable, where most goggles have to be discarded if the face foam wears out, straps stretch, or frames warp, every single piece of the Airbrakes can be purchased separately and replaced if worn making these, like we said, quite possibly the last goggles you’ll ever have to buy.
Now onto the roll-off system. Most goggles, even the Airbrakes, can utilize a tear-off system to protect the lens from mud that gets flung up. In most situations this is adequate to keep your eyes protected and clear vision, but in muddy situations water can get between the lens and tear-off film or even in between the different layers of tear-offs that totally blurs your vision. With the roll-off system, the roll-off film lays directly on the lens and has an extra piece that gets applied over the top of the film to the lens that prevents water from seeping down in between. Additionally when mud gets slung onto the lens of your goggles, you don’t need to search for a flapping tear-off but only need to pull a draw cord to roll a fresh, clear piece of film over the goggles for clear vision. These goggles are also great to keep the dust out of your eyes on those dry days as well.
If this fancy way of keeping your eyes mud free isn’t your forte, there are still plenty of options to keep your eyes protected for much less of an investment. The 100% Strata 2 Motocross goggles are a great option for a fraction of the price. They’re available in a variety of colors with or without mirrored lenses and won’t break the bank.
5. Personal Waterproofing: Waders
While mud riding is fun, it’s not always enjoyable being soaked to the bone when temperatures start to drop. This is why having a good set of waders can make a good day of mud riding even better. One set of waders we found that could be perfect for all of you mud riders are from TIDWE. The TIDWE chest waders have an integrated boot foot, which you definitely want, are available in a wide variety of sizes for both men and women, and also come in two different colors.
If you like riding at night when the temps drop and the water can get a little frigid, you may want to invest in a second set of waders that are insulated to keep you warm. Just be warned not to get in over your chest with these, because they’ll trap water in as well as they keep it out.
6. Trail Tunes: Waterproof Sound Systems
Mud riding is all about having fun, and listening to your favorite music while on the trail or during a break makes it even better. With a variety of ATV and UTV specific sound systems on the market, not all of them are suited for playing in the mud and water. That is why you need to find a system that used marine grade components like the Pyle Marine ATV Powered Speaker System. This setup features 800w of power to a set of (2) 6.5″ poly injection cone speakers and 1″ tweeters that provide good bass, as well as crisp mid and hi range sound to enjoy every kind of music.
Playing your favorite music is as simple as connecting your phone or media player to the integrated Bluetooth system, while power is supplied to the unit by either hard wiring or using the supplied cigarette lighter. When the sun goes down this speaker system only gets better with the built-in multicolored LED lights that dance to the beat of the music.
While this is just one example of a waterproof sounds system for your ATV or UTV, there are still plenty of options for you to choose from. Whether you purchase a custom sound bar or component system, you’ll be able to keep the party pumping with your jams.
7. Post Ride Cleanup: Pressure Washers
While riding in the mud is a blast, you need to give your machine a good blast to get all of the caked up mud off and clean out your radiator. To clean out every nook and cranny that you can see on your ATV, and even the ones you can’t, a good pressure washer can be critical to getting the job done right. A unit like the Simpson PowerShot Gas Pressure Washer is the perfect unit since it provides 3300 PSI of pressure with a flow rate of 2.5 GPM, you’re guaranteed to blast off mud that might have even been hiding since your last muddy adventure. This pressure washer also comes with 25′ of MorFlex hose that is both kink and abrasion resistant, and multiple nozzles for more or less concentrated water spray.
If you want a pressure washer that is a little more budget friendly and potentially not as powerful, you can always opt for some of the less expensive, but still capable electric pressure washers. A popular pressure washer is the Sun Joe SPX3000 Electric Pressure Washer, that delivers 2030 PSI of water pressure with a flow rate of 1.76 GPM. This unit also comes with five different spray tips for various pressure needs and is lightweight and compact.
While pressure washers can be a great help in cleaning your ATV or UTV, you need to be careful when spraying sealed areas such as differentials, a-arm and swing arm pivot areas, and especially electrical components. Getting water into these areas can really get them clean, but also blow lubricants like grease out and cause premature rusting and failure.
When it comes to pressure washers, aside from pressure differences are there benefits of gas vs. electric?
Definitely. If you’re camping at your favorite mud riding destination, chances are you don’t have an electrical hook-up to power an electric pressure washer, but you likely do have gas. While gas units are more expensive, they are more convenient when you’re in a remote area. The biggest concern when using a gas pressure washer is a clogged carburetor from fuel that has been left sitting inside it, so just be sure to drain it when you’re done.
I’m looking at winches but can’t decide between synthetic or steel cable. Which is better?
They both have their pro’s and con’s. While a steel winch rope is a little easier on the winch itself, modern winches are better built to handle that stress. That’s why we prefer a synthetic rope. Going synthetic means you won’t get steel slivers in your hands when you handle it and it won’t ever kink or rust. They are also safer, as a broken steel winch line under load can be a nasty weapon.
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