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Snowmobiles have long been the vehicle of choice for adventure junkies looking to get around during the winter. What you may not realize is that a well-equipped ATV can also provide plenty of thrills in the snow. So, which vehicle is right for you? Keep reading to learn how snowmobiles and ATVs compare, and how you can prepare your four-wheeler for epic trips in the snow.

Can You Ride An ATV in the Winter?

They’re called all-terrain vehicles for a reason! ATVs are completely functional in the snow. However, riding on this type of terrain will require a bit more preparation and caution. You will benefit from attaching your ATV with the right equipment, like snow-compatible track kits and wind protection equipment.

How Does It Compare to a Snowmobile?

Snowmobiles are structurally different from ATVs, and are designed for a different purpose. While ATVs are built with four wheels for general outdoor use, snowmobiles are designed specifically for snow or ice. Instead of wheels, they have 2 skis that are steered with a handlebar, and a track in the back. These components are designed to rip through snow while maintaining the vehicle’s weight distribution.

Which is Better – Snowmobile or ATV?

There is no consensus on which one you should use. Both vehicles have pros and cons, and you should consider these to determine what would give you the better experience.

Pros and Cons Of Snowmobiles In the Winter

Since snowmobiles are designed specifically for use on snow, you may find that it feels more natural to use one during the winter. Snowmobile riders will also find better luck locating trails that are reserved specifically for their vehicle. However, snowmobiles typically require more maintenance and more fuel than ATVs.

Pros and Cons of ATVs in the Winter

Four-wheelers are able to do more with less fuel, and they require less maintenance than snowmobiles. However, you may find trouble locating trails in the winter that legally permit the use of ATVs.

While ATVs might not be the most obvious choice for a vehicle to take to the snow, you can add accessories to your quad to make it perfect for snow riding.

How to Best Equip Your ATV For Winter Riding

Invest In a Track Kit

Are you interested in taking your ATV to the snow, but not sure if a vehicle with wheels is the right choice? A winter track kit provides the perfect solution: instead of slippery wheels, a rubber track can crunch the snow more effectively.

The downside is that rubber tracks move more slowly than wheels, and you may have trouble controlling a tracked vehicle at slow speeds. Still, the right track kit can give you a smoother ride with improved traction.


Have The Right Gear

To ensure that your rides in the winter are enjoyable, safe, and free from disruptions, always make sure to bring the right equipment.

You should be clothed with proper face and head protection, and be wearing a helmet and goggles at all times while riding. It’s important to wear warm, layered clothing as well, including insulated boots and gloves.

Don’t forget your safety supplies as well: a complete set of first aid supplies, a flashlight, and snow tires for emergencies. The harshness of winter can accelerate any injuries you sustain, so you should be particularly cautious about what you bring.

Wind Protection

Windshield or wind protection tools can help you concentrate on the trail. A wind deflector, for example, can be placed on your vehicle to ensure that wind and debris go over your head and around you, rather than in your face.

Heated Grips and Seats

What many riders don’t realize is that physical hazards are not the only danger that riders face. Effects from extreme weather should be considered, too. They can lead to hypothermia and frostbite. Thus, heated grips and seats aren’t just a luxury accessory for the sake of your comfort: they can protect your safety and allow you to concentrate.

A Plow

Did you know that you can add a snow plow to your ATV? This attachable item can make clearing snow from your driveway a breeze. While you likely won’t be plowing snow on your snow top adventures, this accessory is still a worthwhile addition to your gear collection. Of course, make sure that your plow – and all other ATV gear – is compatible with your quad.

READ MORE: How To Maintain Your ATV Track Kit Throughout The Winter

There are plenty of thrilling ways to shred snow, and the vehicle you choose can affect the experience you have. If you choose to take a four-wheeler rather than the traditional snowmobile, make sure you are equipped with the right gear. Also, always check local trail laws before bringing a quad onto a snow hill, and never drive a quad through a path specifically set aside for snowmobilers.