ATVs are off-road vehicles, designed to allow access to trails and other hard-to-reach areas. The earliest designs from the 1970s were three-wheeled. Today, four-wheeled models (called “quads”) are most popular.
Because these vehicles are meant to be used on unpaved areas, there are risks involved, thus certain pieces of gear are required if you want to ride safely. Depending on where you plan to go, you may be able to rent a lot of items from local outfitters—especially in tourist areas. Considering that a brand new ATV can run anywhere from $3,000 to over $12,000, giving the sport a “test drive” by renting is just smart.
Here’s the essential gear needed for riding ATVs:
Head and neck injuries account for 29 percent of ATV-related injuries. Don’t be a hot shot—always, always wear a helmet.
Not only will they make it easier to see where you’re going, they’ll save your eyeballs from unexpected encounters with rocks, dust, and branches.
This means long pants and shirtsleeves, boots that go over the ankle, gloves, and a chest protector. Remember that you’re riding in areas where anything and everything can be kicked up by your vehicle, so don’t take any chances of being the target of some random projectile. Also, you can get seriously nasty burns if you fall off. The right clothing can minimize any injuries.
A fully-charged cell phone in case you get lost or someone gets seriously hurt.
Pack a few basic items like a Swiss Army knife, duct tape, and a vise grip. Experienced riders also swear by those plastic zip ties—you’d be surprised at how many uses they have.
A flat tire or slow leak can ruin your ride.
When your riding partner has gotten their vehicle stuck in a crazy place, this could make the difference in getting it back on the trail—or not.
You never know when you and your riding partner may need to patch up a few cuts and scrapes. And while most cell phones have a GPS feature, batteries don’t last forever. Take a map of the area (if available) and compass with you in case you have to navigate the old-fashioned way.
It’s easy to lose track of your fuel when you’re having fun. Pack extra.
You’d be surprised at how fast you can get dehydrated when riding, especially in the warm summer months. Dehydration can make you feel faint, so drinking enough water won’t just make your ride more comfortable, it’s a good safety tip.
So before climbing aboard, take the time to outfit all members of your “ATV team” with the right gear. It will make your ride much more fun—not to mention, safe.
*Note: Age restrictions, special licenses, and other requirements for off highway vehicles vary from state to state. Before heading out on your OHV, please consult your local regulations.