Temperatures are climbing and summer is nearly here. That means it’s time to enjoy the outdoors. What better way than to have fun in nature with an all-terrain vehicle or utility task vehicle? If you are hauling a UTV on a trailer for the first time so you can take a casual drive through the wilderness, or need to brush up on how to haul a quad for fun in the sun, we have tips for how to make the most of your summer outing.
Before you can go off-roading, you need to haul your ATV or UTV to the location, and that means dealing with a trailer. You’ll need to make sure your vehicle can tow the weight, meaning you’ll likely need an SUV or truck. You’ll want to choose the right trailer (preferably one made for ATVs). These have lower decks and often come with a foldaway ramp. Others have siding that folds down to become a ramp. If you are simply loading into the back of a truck (which we don’t recommend, as tipping over backwards is too easy), you will need a ramp rated at least for 1,000 lbs.
There’s two major areas where you should not skimp, or your ATV and trailer could suffer significant damage. First, the tires, where the trailer meets the road. We recommend Carlisle Radial Trail RH tires, perfect for the job of hauling ATVs faster than the average trailer tire. With the wrong tire, you could face a blow-out, doing damage to the trailer, the ATV, and possibly your main vehicle. Be sure to check the tire pressure, as under- or over-inflated tires will shred or wear out quickly.
The second piece of equipment where you want to spend for quality is straps. Use a minimum 2,000 lbs rated strap with adjustable ratchets to keep your ATV snug and secure. It should move with the trailer and have no give or play.
Loading and Unloading the ATV
First, whenever loading or unloading an ATV or UTV, wear a helmet. Start in the lowest gear, and when loading, engage four-wheel drive, if available.
Don’t open the throttle too much; the wheels could spin, or you will gain too much momentum. Go slow and steady both ways.
Follow the 60/40 weight rule, where 60 percent of the weight on the trailer is in the front, towards your vehicle.
Straps should be attached or wrapped around a sturdy part of the ATV or UTV. Do not attach hooks to the ATV’s suspension or axles; these will bend under the pressure of ratcheting. Instead, check the ATV’s manual for where you should attach straps.
Now that the ATV is loaded up, it’s time to find a spot to go off-roading. Dennis Kirk put together a fantastic list of websites for each state that will lead you to a trail, and some detail about which vehicles are allowed on each trail or recreation area. Other details include when the trail or area are open, how difficult the ride is, and local lodging if you plan on extending your stay. For another resource, the US Forest Service offers maps of all trails in the nation’s national forests.
Looking more for a bucket list of the all-time great ATV trails and parks? ATV Rider has you covered.
Is it your first time on a quad or UTV? Here’s some basic riding techniques and some safety tips to help your first ride go smoothly and introduce you to this exciting hobby. Looking to go off-roading in your truck or SUV, too? Here’s some basic tips.
Each step — from getting your ATV or UTV onto a trailer, to making sure the trailer is suitable to haul, and finally finding a good trail or recreation area — is important to getting the most out of your ride. Do each one properly, and you’ll be out flying down nature trails in no time.