Are Side-by-Sides Good in Snow?
Are you looking for an all-terrain vehicle that you can use all year? Some people in the United States only have to worry about cool temperatures during winter, while others have to worry about freezing temperatures, ice, and snowstorms.
We have the perfect solution if you are part of the population that faces harsh winters and don’t want to park your vehicle in the shed 4-months out of the year. Take a ride with us as we talk about what makes Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) the best choice for your next purchase, even in the snow.
What is a UTV?
UTVs are synonymous with side-by-sides. These vehicles come with either two-seat or four-seat options so that you can bring your friends and family along on your next outdoor adventure. They come in either a 4×4 or 6×6 configuration to give you power and control on the trail. Whatever your destination is, you can rest easy knowing your UTV will get you there.
Some UTVs are built with speed and performance in mind. Those models have rugged suspensions and lift kits to make them great for racing around with your friends on the weekend. Other models are built with hard work in mind. Those models have more storage available and come with a truck-style bed in the back to carry whatever you want with ease.
UTVs come with many different options when it comes to windshields. You can choose not to have one, or you could have a half-fitted, full-fitted, or lifted windshield. The windshield is just as simple to put on as it is to take off, making it easy to customize the UTV to fit your needs. All windshields will offer some level of heat retention in the winter. Still, the fully-fitted windshield will maximize comfort, especially when used in conjunction with a fully enclosed cab.
If you are using your UTV in snowy conditions, you’ll likely need windshield wipers to go along with your windshield in order to maintain visibility. While some models come with windshield wipers already installed, others do not. If you purchase a UTV that does not have wipers already installed, there are plenty of aftermarket kits available that can be quickly installed.
Most, if not all, UTVs will come with doors. The doors provide a small level of protection from accidentally falling out of the vehicle. Some options include a full door that goes from the floor to the roof, which, when used in combination with a fully-fitted windshield, creates a fully enclosed cab. You also have the choice to add a half-door that goes from the floor halfway up the frame. If you choose the half-door option, you can purchase a canvas kit that goes from the roof to the top of the door creating the enclosed cab with a fully-fitted windshield. The fully enclosed cab protects you from the elements, like snow in winter, while keeping in the heat.
Many UTVs in the United States come with climate control options. The AC will keep you cool in the summer, while the heater keeps your windows from fogging up and you from freezing in the winter. If you purchase a UTV that doesn’t have a climate control feature, many aftermarket accessories are available that are simple to install. This feature ensures a comfortable ride even in the coldest months of the year.
Just like on your personal vehicle, tires play an essential role in driving your UTV safely. There are many tire options available to ensure excellent handling in the winter months.
Winter or snow tires are made of a softer rubber material that makes it easier for the tire to conform to the road. The specific tread patterns also provide traction in slick driving conditions.
All-terrain tires are another UTV tire choice. The aggressive tread pattern creates the traction needed to drive on slippery roads safely, and the thick sidewalls prevent unwanted punctures.
Winter tires are specifically designed for use in the cold, snowy months and will require you to change them for a different set once the weather becomes consistently warmer. All-terrain tires don’t need you to change them depending on the season, but they do not have the same soft rubber as the winter tires; however, either tire option will keep your UTV driveable in the snow.
If you really want to have fun in the snow on your UTV, then look into purchasing tracks. The tank-like tracks replace all four tires on your vehicle. The triangular design disperses the vehicle’s weight, allowing you to float on top of the snow instead of sinking down. Tracks are not only valuable for the snow, but they also make driving through mud or sand easy. Installing tracks on a UTV is more expensive compared to changing tires, but the tracks provide unmatched performance in some of the harshest terrain.
UTV winter activities
Now that you have all you need to make your UTV ready for the snow let’s talk about a few activities you can do with it.
- Snowplowing. If you have a really long driveway or want to start a snow removal business, a UTV is a great tool to have. There are two different styles of UTV snowplow attachments, v-shaped and straight. Both types have pros and cons, but turning your UTV into a snowplow makes it so the vehicle can pay for itself in no time.
- Ice fishing. You can take your UTV with you to carry your gear for a relaxing day of ice fishing. You could even place an ice fishing tent on a sled and use your UTV to tow it to the next spot on the lake. Before taking your UTV out onto a frozen lake or pond, you need to check the ice thickness. If the ice is less than 5-inches thick, you risk your UTV falling through.
- Hunting. Many people think there are only four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter; however, many people in the United States know about a fifth one, hunting season. You can use your UTV to transport you to your favorite treestand, blind, or backcountry spot. The truck-style bed makes getting the meat home a breeze if you harvest an animal.
- Snow towing. If you have access to an open field or pasture, tie a rope to the back of your UTV and pull your friends and family around on their favorite snow tube, skis, or snowboard.
Tips for staying safe in the snow
Taking your UTV out in the snow is a blast; however, it is essential to keep safety in mind, so tragedy doesn’t interrupt the fun. Some tips will be more applicable to backcountry adventures, while others will be useful no matter what.
- Tell someone you plan. Before you leave on your next adventure, tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back. This way, you’ll have a better chance of getting help if you become stuck in an area without cellphone service.
- Dress appropriately. While your UTV may have everything you need to stay warm inside, make sure you have the proper clothing to keep warm in the event of an emergency.
- Wear a helmet. Even though UTVs have safety features like roll cages, seatbelts, and doors, they do not have airbags to protect your head from hitting something in a crash.
- Bring a shovel. Shovels are valuable tools to have in case your UTV becomes stuck in the snow.
- First aid kit. Keeping a first aid kit with your UTV is vital. You can buy a preassembled option or build your own. Carrying a first aid kit will help you treat minor injuries to stay on the trail longer without having to go back for medical care.
- Food and Water. Even if you are going on a day trip, bring more food and water than you think you need. Depending on how far away you are, it may take help a couple of days to rescue you.
- Firestarter. If you get stuck in the cold, have a plan to stay warm that doesn’t involve leaving your UTV running. Sitting in your UTV while it is stuck could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Instead, bring tools to start a fire if you need to keep warm.
Just because there is snow on the ground doesn’t mean you have to put your UTV away for the season. The enclosed cab and windshield protect you from the elements while retaining heat. The climate control keeps you comfortably warm on even the coldest days. Whether you choose winter tires, all-terrain tires, or tracks, your UTV will conquer snow and ice with ease. There are plenty of activities to ensure you and your family’s next winter is full of excitement and adventure.
If you are looking to purchase your next all-year, all-terrain vehicle, it’s time to buy a UTV because UTVs, also called side-by-sides, aren’t just good in the snow; they are great.