Riding Your UTV in the Winter Backcountry? Winter Safety Must-Haves for Tracked UTVs
There’s nothing quite as breathtaking as being deep in the backcountry with nothing but fresh powder as far as the eye can see. But as enchanting and exhilarating as backcountry tracking can be, it can also be exceedingly dangerous if you’re not prepared.
A winter wonderland can quickly spiral into a nightmare if you’re caught unprepared in frigid temps. And when it comes to taking your tracked UTV out in the winter, your equipment and supplies can quite literally be life-savers. So let’s dive into some winter backcountry must-haves for your UTV to keep you safe and comfortable even in the most rugged and frosty terrain.
UTV Snow Tracks
While your tires might be able to handle a light dusting of snow, if you have plans to head into the backcountry during the winter, a good set of UTV tracks is non-negotiable. With a bigger footprint and aggressive tread, tracks will be able to take you deep into the winter landscape in a much more safe and reliable way than tires ever could.
There are several excellent UTV track options available on the market, but our personal favorites are the Camso track systems and Apache Backcountry track systems. If you’re unfamiliar with tracks, here’s the difference between the two in a nutshell:
- Camso tracks are an excellent all-season track. With a bogie wheel design, these snow tracks can handle all-terrain riding if you plan to ride early or late season and know you’ll be traveling through mud, pavement, or dirt on your way to the deep powder.
- Apache Backcountry tracks are more of a specialized snow track, specifically geared for deep snow-only riding. With a hyfax design and a more aggressive tread pattern, these tracks are better for more avid snow-goers who want to stick to deep snow.
To learn more about these track systems and figure out which one is right for you, you can head over and read our article Camso Vs. Apache Tracks: Which One Is Right for Your UTV?.
Reliable UTV Track Mounting Brackets
Equally as important as a good set of tracks, is a good set of brackets to properly mount your tracks to your side-by-side. Factory mounting brackets are fine if you’re just plugging around the neighborhood. But if you’re heading out into the backcountry with steep climbs, unpredictable terrain, and subzero temperatures – you want equipment you can count on.
Our upgraded brackets are designed with safety and reliability in mind. And rigorously tested in some of the most rugged winter terrains in the country. To explore available models of upgraded UTV track mounting brackets, you can click right here.
A Windshield and A Windshield Wiper
Blasting through the snow without a windshield is going to be a cold wet ride. A windshield will help keep you and your cab dry and out of the wind. But all that snow and ice that gets churned up from your tracks is going to end up somewhere – and oftentimes, it ends up on your windshield and makes visibility a little challenging.
So a windshield wiper is a must if you don’t want to be hopping out every few minutes to clear the snow accumulating on your windshield.
A UTV Cab Enclosure
While you certainly can ride in the snow without a cab enclosure, fully enclosing your cab goes a long way in keeping your side-by-side toasty warm and shielding you from wind and spraying snow. There are a number of different types of cab enclosures to choose from – and choosing the right one really just comes down to personal preference.
UTV Cab Heater and Heated Seats
Okay, a cab heater and heated seats might not be a necessity, but they sure do make riding in the snow a lot more enjoyable. It feels pretty luxurious to hop back into your rig and have the heater blowing and a warm seat to cozy up on.
While having heated seats and a cab heater might not seem important to some, we disagree. We prefer to err on the side of safety and stay as warm as possible out on the mountain – considering frigid temps can swiftly become dangerous.
If you run into an issue and are stuck on the mountain for a little longer than planned or are traveling with children or those sensitive to the cold, having a toasty warm cab will give you peace of mind knowing your loved ones are safe and comfortable.
Plenty of Extra Fuel
While exploring the backwoods in the winter is certainly one of the most beautiful and magical experiences around, it’s also one of the most dangerous. The stakes are much higher when you’re dealing with freezing temperatures, deep snow, and tricky terrain. And the last thing you want to worry about is running out of fuel and being stranded miles away from help.
We recommended filling up 1 or 2 extra 5-10 gallon gas cans and strapping them onto your UTV every single time you go out – even if you’re planning a short ride. Winter riding is unpredictable and your safety can hinge on having enough fuel to keep your machine running to keep you warm and get you home.
A Winch and A Kinetic Recovery Rope
If you’re going to be riding your tracked UTV in the snow, sooner or later, you or someone you’re riding with is going to get stuck. It just comes with the territory. But if you’re prepared, you’ll be able to get out of a sticky situation in a snap.
Having a reliable and robust winch can be your lifeline when it comes to getting unstuck – so it’s worth every penny of the investment. We’ve also been pretty darn impressed by kinetic recovery ropes when it comes to giving friends a hand and pulling them out of a snow rut.
A Reliable Communication System
It’s always a good idea to ride with at least 1 other rig if you’re heading out into the backcountry. And considering you’ll likely be in and out of cell service, it’s crucial to have a reliable form of communication.
Rugged Radios has a line-up of UTV specific radio communication systems that mount seamlessly into your rig. What makes Rugged Radios communication system so great is you can:
- Easily talk to other passengers in your rig without having to yell over the engine sound
- Connect with and communicate with any other UTVs that have a comm system
- Answer phone calls and connect to your cell when you have service
- Stream music over your radio or headsets
If you’re looking for a reliable and versatile UTV specific comm system to install in your UTV, you can’t go wrong with Rugged Radios.
Even if you have a full cab enclosure, heated seats, and a cab heater – it’s never a good idea to head up into the mountains without plenty of warm clothes. Even if you just pack them in a waterproof bag, it’s best practice to ensure you have high-quality outdoor winter clothes to shield you against the cold.
An Emergency Kit
Having adequate survival gear can quite literally be the difference between life and death if you get stranded in the backcountry. In frigid wintry conditions having the means to stay warm is essential. A bare-bones winter emergency kit should include:
- Emergency blankets
- A fire-starting kit
- Extra water and food
- Some kind of signaling devices (like lights, whistles, etc)
- First-aid supplies
Take a peek at our emergency kits by clicking right here if you need some inspiration for throwing your own kit together.
Spare Parts and Tools
No matter how well you maintain your equipment or how carefully you drive, the truth is, sometimes things are going to break. And having the parts and tools on hand to make on-the-trail repairs can save you a ton of time, work, and headaches.
When it comes to running tracks, there are a few winter-specific repair items that are a good idea to bring along including:
- Extra bogie wheels (if you’re running a bogie wheel track system)
- Spare belts
- Extra electrical fuses
- Back-up Heim joints and bracket hardware
Being prepared with items to make quick on-the-go repairs can ensure you’re able to get safely off the mountain without damaging your machine.
Ready for Your Own Tracked UTV Adventure?
Tracking in the backcountry in your UTV is spectacular. But it can also be formidable, and even life-threatening. Adding in these winter must-haves into your safety arsenal is one of the best ways to ensure you're prepared for even the most menacing winter conditions.
If you’re new to tracking or looking to upgrade your rig for winter, we specialize in all things winter for side-by-sides. So if you have questions, feel free to shoot us a message by clicking right here. Or if you’re ready to get your own tracks, mounting brackets, or conversion kit – don’t forget that you can get 5% off your first purchase by clicking right here.
We’ll see you at the top!