It wasn’t many years ago that working or recreating in remote, hard-to-reach country, meant packing things out on our back or, if lucky, working a team of horses to do the grunt work. The 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 Honda Big Red was one of the first motorized vehicles to really open opportunities, decrease work loads 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 and quads and other four-wheeled-drive ATVs have become common amongst 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 from everyone that uses the mechanical workhorses for a variety of work and recreation.
One of the biggest changes an ATV owner can make to increase mobility, and 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. The options can vary in price and it is worth shopping around to get the right traction to meet your needs. That is, 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. Specially designed for ATV tires, a set of chains 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 that can drastically change the traction of your basic ATV. 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.
TOOL AND TOY ACCESSORIES
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 and 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.
Portable GPS units have become very popular amongst travellers and commuters and 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 favourite 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.
ATVs are all-season machines and with handle grip warmers, protective and warm handlebar covers the machines are being used in the extreme cold. Snowplows are a great add-on for any ATV to reduce shovelling in the winter and help users find another reason to get outdoors and utilize their investment.
ATV dealers are the obvious place to start looking for interesting products to further your use and enjoyment of your favourite workhorse. The Internet is a great place to check out accessories and prices. Most of the major manufacturers like Honda, Polaris, Suzuki and Yamaha have their own accessories and packages but other companies like Kolpin, Sterns and Mad Dog have unique products that are customized for specific uses. Big catalogue outlets like 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. 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 shrink wraps that can turn your ATV into a race car or camoclad hunting machine. They are the newest technology that will give your ATV a unique colour and design.
Brad Fenson is a well-known freelance hunting and fishing writer and outdoor enthusiast who lives in Edmonton.