When winter arrives, many ATV owners feel the temptation to go for a ride on the first snow, to take pictures and videos of icy landscapes, to breathe the refreshingly cold air. It seems a wonderful idea — but please make sure you take sufficient safety measures. Below, you can find five useful tips on how to enjoy riding an ATV in winter to the max.
Always ride with the company of friends
First, together you'll have more fun. Second, riding in winter is much more hazardous than in summer. Your ATV might break down because of low temperatures or because you didn't notice an obstacle covered with a thick layer of ice and snow. Repairs will take much longer because your multi-layered winter outfit will limit your freedom of movement. It gets dark early, and at night, the temperatures drop even lower. When you are trapped alone in the middle of nowhere in the blistering cold, such a situation might pose a threat to your health and life.
If you have no choice but to ride alone in winter, make sure to carry a fully charged smartphone with you and an external charger. Don't take photos or videos with your phone because it will quickly drain its accumulator — when it's cold, devices might run out of battery twice as fast as in summer. Instead, take an additional camera with you.
Use three lays of protective clothing
Start with thermal underwear that won't let your perspire. On top of it, put on a polyester fleece pullover that will protect you from the outside cold by retaining your natural body heat. The third layer should consist of an insulated parka that will shield you from rain and wind. No matter how advanced the sewing technologies have become, there is no such fabric or item of clothing that will keep you warm and dry enough all by itself. You can rely only on the synergy effect of the three layers of your outfit.
Never level the trail
As it was briefly mentioned above, diverse obstacles might hide under a thick layer of snow off the trail. You might accidentally crash against a tree trunk or a hidden boulder. Getting stuck in the middle of a snowfield would be a nightmare.
Check it in advance how many trails there are in your area and on which conditions you can use them. For instance, there might be snowmobiling trails where ATVs are allowed. Mind it that ATVs are slower than snowmobiles so it might be reasonable to yield to the latter — also, this will serve as a measure of good trail etiquette. Please be particularly cautious in long straightaways and blind corners. Respect all the stop signs and speed limits.
Avoid venturing out on frozen rivers. It's relatively safe to ride on ice only if it is at least 6 inches thick, which is not always the case with rivers. Lakes are slightly safer in this aspect.
Always carry your gear with you
Before the winter season starts, purchase a good storage box for ATV and attach it to your transport. There are dozens of varieties of storage boxes on sale at an affordable price, so you can easily select the one that fits your tastes and budget. Storage boxes look sleek, and they can accommodate all the gear that you should carry with you daily:
Tools for on-trial repairs
Spare parts for your ATV
Portable traction pads
Jerrycan with fuel
You'll need traction pads if you get stuck on ice. A collapsible shovel will help you get out of a snowbank. With the help of an electric winch, you'll get your ATV unstuck in the snow. Mind it that the winch cable needs to be free of ice. If it freezes, it will be difficult to unspool it. To save this problem, spray some oil on the cable.
Low temperatures pose threats to the starting battery of your vehicle. Make sure the battery is fully charged before you depart because in winter it might drain too quickly. If you stop to have a rest in a camp or a hostel, remove the battery and take it inside the house with you — like this, it will keep the charge longer.
Learn to recognize frostbite and prevent it
Unfortunately, in extreme colds, people might be prone to frostbite even if they wear warm clothing. In moderate frost, this problem most likely occurs with toes, fingers, noses, or ears. It affects not just the outer thin layer of the skin but the adjacent soft tissues as well. Your blood vessels narrow, all the blood rushes to your core, and there is not enough blood flow in your limbs.
Here are the first symptoms that should make you worry:
Toes and finger become numb
Blisters appear on your skin
Joints and muscles become stiff
Skin loses its natural color and becomes white, blue, grey, red, or yellow
Skin gets hard because its tissue is dying
As soon as you discover one of these symptoms, please hurry to a warm shelter. Otherwise, frostbite might lead to harsh joint stiffness, severe blistering, and even death of the frozen tissue.
To prevent frostbite, it's a wise idea to use warmers — electronic devices that warm your body. You can attach one on your seat and buy additional ones for your hands. You can even buy a separate small warmer for your thumb because this finger freezes the most during a long ride. To protect yourself from wind and precipitation, you can install windshields and handlebar covers for your ATV.
Hopefully, the above-mentioned recommendations will come in handy for you and you'll be able to enjoy a safe and comfortable ATV ride in winter. Never economize on your outfits and gear: when you purchase them, you invest in your health and safety. Inspect your means of transport regularly to minimize possible risks, and try to set off on a journey in the company of good friends.
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