• Steven E. Overmyer

Gearing Up for Cold Weather Off-roading

Summer is coming to an end, and colder weather is right around the corner - but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your trail riding days have to end, too. Whether you’re used to being out in the snow or you’re shivering when the temperature drops below 60, you don’t have to sacrifice your ATV rides out of fear of the cold. In fact, a little adaptation and preparation can make your offroading trip safe and fun in almost any weather.

Personal garb and gear

As the temperatures drop, you’ll obviously want to dress warmer to combat the wind and cold. An easy hack to prepare for any weather is layering your clothes. Start with thermal underwear, preferably made of wool or a synthetic material; cotton will retain moisture, and if you’re in really cold weather, this can lead to hypothermia. Your second layer can be light cotton clothing, followed by fleece or wool. Your fourth and final layer will be a jacket, or a rain suit if you’re anticipating wet weather. As the day goes on and the sun comes out, you can strip layers down to whatever is most comfortable. If the weather isn’t freezing, you can opt for normal, warm clothes paired with a riding jacket and protective underpants instead of all of the layers.

It’s important to remember that your extremities lose the most heat, meaning you’ll want to take extra precautions for you head, legs, feet, arms, and hands. Warm, thick socks and tall, insulated boots will keep your feet warm, and a balaclava will add the additional protection against the cold that your helmet lacks. If you want to invest in hand guards, your fingers will definitely thank you; otherwise, cold weather gloves are pretty easy to find. You can also attach handlebar gauntlets for another layer of protection.

ATV preparation

Preparing your ATV for winter’s weather is just as important as preparing yourself. Performing normal maintenance is necessary, but a few extra tricks will help your quad brace against the cooler weather. Start by replacing your spark plugs, and if necessary, your oil too. Clean and lubricate your electrical connections, chassis, and control cables. Investing in thumb warmers and heated grips is a luxury you’ll be thankful for in freezing temperatures, and if you’re anticipating snow or ice, tire chains will help with traction. Check your engine coolant before starting up the vehicle, making sure that it isn’t frozen.

Riding safely

If Jack Frost is visiting, you’ll want to be sure that no harm befalls you or your favorite toy mid-ride. Bring a partner along in case of a breakdown; there’s not much worse than being stranded in freezing temperatures. Engage your brakes here and there to prevent them from freezing, and carry extra gas as snow and ice typically hinder fuel economy. If you experience a lot of snow, the safest thing you can do is stick to the trails - you never know what’s hidden under that thick white blanket.

Additional items to pack

You probably aren’t anticipating any accidents or breakdowns, but it’s best to be prepared just in case. Bring along a winch; let’s face it, you’re probably going to get stuck once or twice. Some additional warm clothing may come in handy if yours gets wet or damaged, and snacks and water are always a good idea. Also, be sure to pack your cell phone, flashlight, and first aid kit.

So there you have it - you don’t have to park your quad in storage just because Old Man Winter is coming to visit. A little preparation and proper maintenance can keep you from shivering on those long trail rides. Have your ATV serviced before the cold months hit at Outdoor Powersports’ service department, located in Gainesville, TX - also proudly serving the Denton and Dallas area.

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