As I write this guide, nearly half a foot of snow has fallen outside and they’re not calling for a break for several days. Some people see this as an excuse to hibernate until spring, others a great opportunity to get dressed up to go skiing and others still, time to try and get the snow blower up and running.
We here at ATV Connection fall into the camp here fresh powder simply means an opportunity to shred on our ATVs. Snowmobiles certainly have their purpose but, with a little technique and patience, quads can make the winter months a whole lot more enjoyable. Here’s our guide for getting you out into the accumulation and, perhaps more importantly, back home again for hot chocolate and a whole lot of good memories.
Tip 1) Tire Status
It’s very easy to get into trouble with tires that are either too mild (as in closely spaced tread, designed to ride on grass without tearing up the ground) or too worn. Such tires can be pressed into service in the summer and maybe even in rain-slicked conditions but with snow, the more aggressive the tread, the better. We’ve actually heard of some riders running dedicated sand paddles to displace maximum powder. If the snow is particularly wet or packy, chains may be on the agenda.
Tip 2) Winch
Sure it seems obvious, but outside of hardcore mudding, nowhere is a winch more valuable than winter wonderland ATV touring. Having the winch is one thing, knowing when and how to use it is quite another. We always recommend brushing up on proper winching technique before getting out there.
Tip 3) Rock ‘n Roll
The most common form of “stuck” when it comes to snow riding happens when the machine’s frame comes to rest on packed snow, effectively suspending the wheels off the ground. When this happens, factors like tire tread and how many drive wheels your quad has become irrelevant.
Assuming you ignored our second tip, standing to put all of your weight on the pegs and rocking back and forth (side to side) while applying steady application of the throttle is your best bet to break free.
Tip 4) Clothing Considerations
Okay so reminding you to dress warm is pretty self-explanatory but simply slipping on the ol snowsuit is a good way to get yourself overheated. While this sounds like a good thing on a cold winter’s day, the fact of the matter is sweating when it’s cold out is a major no-no. The key is to dress in layers, and don’t forget to wear a backpack to carry layers that you shed.
The outer layer should be the most wind resistant of your wear and vented ski gear makes for solid under-layers because it whisks away body moisture.
Remember that most helmets have switches on their vents so as to minimalize airflow during cold temps. Consider a scarf or ski-mask to prevent a numb mouth/ runny nose but never at the expense of wearing a helmet. Finally treat your goggle lenses or visor with anti-fog spray.
Tip 5) Warm Hands = Warm Heart
The first thing to go numb will likely be your fingers and the fact that ATV handlebars are exposed to moving air only accelerates this process. Warm gloves are essential but even still expect additional heating on really cold rides. Taking a chapter from our snowmobile brethren, many aftermarket companies (and lately a few OEMs) offer heated grips. If you’re on a budget, we’ve had success picking up a few chemical heat packs (about $1 per pair) and stuffing them into our gloves & boots prior to the ride.