It wasn’t many years ago that working or recreating in remote country meant packing things out on our back or, if lucky, working a team of horses to do the grunt work. Introduction of the first all-terrain vehicles (ATV) opened up a whole new world and allowed workers and sportsmen to access areas that once seemed impossible to reach. The advent of affordable ATVs allowed for greater mobility and expansion of our work area and outdoor playground.
The Honda Big Red was one of the first motorized vehicles to really open opportunities, decrease workloads and increase recreation. The Argo also took ATVs to a new level and helped create a push for more safety, strength and durability. Looking back, the early models of ATVs were incredible and offered ranchers and sportsmen a window to explore new frontiers.
We’ve come a long way in just 20 years. Quads and other four-wheeled drive ATVs have become common tools for sportsmen and the outdoor working community. The machines continue to get bigger and better with stronger components and reliable performance. Of course, with the increase in popularity of ATVs, a market for gear, gadgets and accessories has grown.
Front and back racks were once considered “accessories.” Most are standard equipment nowadays, with the list of new accessories bigger than most can imagine. ATV accessories have become so popular and well defined that you can spend as much on outfitting your new ATV as you do on the machine itself.
One of the biggest changes an ATV owner can make to increase mobility and to access tough country is to replace the tires most machines come with. The factory tires are equipped with raised studs to grip in mud, snow or varying conditions. However, the after market tires offer extreme grips and traction with aggressive tread patterns that can allow you to get extreme with the same machine. Options can vary in price and it is worth shopping around to get the right traction to meet your needs. Find what is best in snow, mud, muskeg or other terrain and conditions that you experience.
Another quick option for increased traction is a set of tire chains. A set of chains specially designed for ATV tires can increase traction in snow, on ice and even in the mud and other conditions. They are an inexpensive option to help increase your overall traction and mobility.
One of the newest options to hit the market are attachable tracks. They are the most expensive option but are said to provide benefits that will allow you to travel through the worst mud, snow and challenging terrain that you can find.
A winch comes standard on most machines and should be considered a necessity. A portable winch can be advantageous for pulling in any direction when you do get stuck.
Racks, gun boots and storage boxes have been around for years and drastically improve the ability to hold, haul and store additional gear. The newest options in storage incorporate seating, handholds, foot pegs, latches and tie down spots that have pushed inventors to the next level. The competitive market of accessorizing your ATV has made all companies more creative, offering more options and unique ideas to entice buyers.
Hunters have had gun boots and protective cases available for many years but there are now options to hold your bow and protective covers to keep it safe and clean. Fishing rod cases keep your rods and reels tucked away safely while riding and easy to access once you’ve arrived at your secret destination.
OTHER USEFUL ADD-ONS
Portable GPS units have become very popular among travelers and commuters, but ATV enthusiasts were the catalyst for the new inventions. Bolt-on GPS holders were invented to hold a basic handheld GPS on the handlebars of any ATV. The power adapters allow you to plug the units directly into your machine’s power supply and map your travel route for a safe return. Electronics are becoming standard accessories and can even include satellite radio.
Whether you’re a farm hand, recreational driver, hunter or angler looking for new adventure the attachments that bolt onto the racks of most ATVs will now securely hold your favorite chainsaw to help clear trail or work on a remote stretch of fence. There are specialty attachments for axes, five gallon pails, shovels and even ice augers. If you have a tool or piece of equipment that you’d like to travel with, there is a custom made gadget to help you do it securely and safely.
With handle grip warmers and covers, driving in the cold is much more comfortable. Snowplows are a great add on for any ATV to reduce shoveling in the winter and help users find another reason to get outdoors and utilize their investment.
WHERE TO SHOP
ATV dealers are the obvious place to start looking for interesting products to further your use and enjoyment of your favorite workhorse. The Internet is another good way to check out accessories and prices. Most of the major manufacturers, including Honda, Polaris, Suzuki and Yamaha, have their own accessories and packages but companies such as Kolpin, Sterns and Mad Dog have unique products that are customized for specific uses. Big catalogue outlets such as Bass Pro and Cabela’s also offer an incredible line of products and accessories for your ATV.
If you’re still using bungee cords to hold your axe and tool box to the rack of your ATV, it’s time to look at accessories to make it easier. You will protect your tools and equipment and increase your safety while hauling the specialized gear to make your next outing more enjoyable.
Don’t forget your helmet, safety goggles and gloves as standard equipment on any trip. Some may consider them accessories but responsible motorists refer to them as essential riding gear.
If you really want to get carried away try one of the new custom wraps that can turn your ATV into a race car or camo-clad hunting machine. They are the newest technology that will give your ATV a unique color and design.
Brad Fenson is a well-known freelance hunting and fishing writer and outdoor enthusiast who lives in Edmonton.