An off-road family adventure in your new UTV is the best choice you can think of this year. Chances are you will discover scenery that not many mortals had the luck to experience, get plenty of thrills, and have an overall fantastic time while respecting social distancing rules. Whether you got the latest Polaris RZR 4-seater or a fierce Can-Am Defender 6-seater, a UTV vacation is one of a kind, especially when you spend it with your loved ones. But are you ready to take that trip? Have you covered all the safety and comfort checklists? We are here today to help you make sure you’ll get an unspoiled, fun vacation!
First Things First: Avoid Public Roads
Whether you are a beginner or seasoned UTV rider, by now, you know you cannot ride your beast on public roads unless you make the due diligence (and investments) to make the UTV legal for the streets. Manufacturers build side-by-side vehicles for off-road and challenging terrains, so it is best to avoid anything with asphalt or pavement. Besides breaking the law, you risk accidents that might prove catastrophic.
So how do you get your family to that secluded UTV trail you want so much to explore? With the help of your trailer, obviously. Ensure it is in perfect shape before your departure, and check twice if you tied your UTV onto it safely!
Prepping a solo backpacking trip abroad is quite different from getting ready to spend a few days on unbeaten forest paths, hillsides, mountaintops, canyons, and so on. We don’t say you don’t have to pack all the traveling essentials, but you also need to consider other items and rules. So let’s see how to approach a future UTV off-road adventure with the family!
1. Safety Gear is a Must
When we discuss safety gear, we mean three categories:
- Safety apparel for you and your passengers. You all need helmets (try getting SNELL-approved ones), long pants, long-sleeved shirts, even armored jackets, goggles and gloves, motocross boots, and knee guards. If you take the kids for a UTV adventure, armor them up from head to toe. Side-by-side vehicles are safe, but you cannot risk anything.
- Toolboxes and UTV accessories. Safety means being able to fix a tire on the road. Try covering as many scenarios as possible and bring along the following: tire pressure gauge and tire plug kit, a Swiss army knife and duct tape, an UTV-specific toolbox (containing all the necessary screwdrivers and wrenches), flashlight, a first-aid kit with all the trimmings, GPS, map, etc.
Experts recommend upgrading your UTV with extra parts, tools, and accessories when you plan trips and vacations. Among the most popular and necessary RZR accessories, for instance, are 4-point harnesses, better seats, quick release fire extinguisher mounts, side and rear mirrors, and more. It is one thing to take your UTV on a farm to haul hay and rely on factory settings, and a whole lot another to strap the kids in the back and give the MOAB a run for its money.
2. Stay on the Path
It is a reason why you can ride your UTV only on dedicated trails, parks, and public/private areas. Before you hit the road, take time to read and understand the local rules of the area you visit. However, whatever UTV trail or destination you choose for your family adventure, follow the etiquette to a tee.
- Ride only on authorized trails;
- Do not “test” uncharted territory, especially with your kids in the back of the vehicle;
- If some UTV malfunction or accident occurs, stop immediately and try fixing it, provided you know how to operate. If you don’t, ask for help;
- Don’t hassle or “race” other UTV riders to show the kids how cool you are;
- If you need special seasonal permits for some trails, get them on time.
Always follow the rules and regulations of the area you explore. It goes without saying for all off-road enthusiasts, but UTV adventuring comes with precautions, and abiding by the law should always be your top priority.
3. Ride Safely
Should we tell you to refrain from any alcohol consumption while riding your UTV? You already know that this rule is available for all drivers, so we won’t insist on it. What we will emphasize, however, are two other rules beginner UTV riders might forget.
- Make sure passengers keep their hands inside the vehicle. Granted, UTVs are extremely fun, and kids might fling their hands outside the vehicle. It is a recipe for disaster, as the tires can spread rocks, dirt, or debris and injure them. Even if you upgraded your SXS with side doors, you still need to keep your limbs inside the cabin.
- Don’t let anyone stand while riding a UTV. The absence of a roof might compel passengers to recreate some convertible-riding movie scene, but on UTV trails, it is downright dangerous. Upgrade your UTV with harnesses. Seriously.
- Don’t even think about doing donuts with your UTV. It is not the Fast and the Furious franchise; it is a family vacation! Doing donuts puts you at high risk of tipping on your side or even rolling over if you are not careful. Even if you don’t tip over, you risk sending out flying everything you have in the back. We don’t even want to think about what donuts could do to your kids.
When you head out for the first time with your new UTV to explore the world, make sure you have all the comfort and protection you need. Wear proper gear, tune your vehicle with even more safety accessories, never break the rules, stay on the path, and drive responsibly. A UTV family vacation is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but only if it ends in laughter and fantastic memories.
Have you ever rode a UTV? How about planning and spending a UTV family vacation? We’d love to hear about your experiences on the trail!