There’s something special about riding your ATV during the Canadian winter season. Snow creates a wonderland of beauty, and the fresh air invigorates your body, mind, and soul. Plus, you can observe dozens of different animals and birds as you explore. But before you head outdoors to play this winter, implement these ATV safety precautions to protect yourself.
Select a Trail
Dozens of trails across Canada support winter riding. Choose from several options, including:
- Algoma Country Trail Network
- Haliburton Forest
- Lake of Bays
- Trans-Quebec #63 trail
Take a Test Run
Before the season’s first snowfall, take your ATV for a spin. Ensure it runs properly and that all the mechanical parts are in good working order.
Dress in Layers
Riding in winter elements is going to be cold, so wear layers of protective clothing. Start with a thermal base layer that wicks sweat away from your skin. Next, wear a polyester insulating layer that helps your legs and torso retain heat. Finally, choose a weatherproof outer shell that repels water and insulates you from cold wind.
Choose Weatherproof Footwear
High-top boots protect your feet and ankles from cold temperatures and winter precipitation. Select boots rated for up to -70c. And remember to wear moisture-wicking wool socks that help to keep your feet warm.
Wear a Helmet
Always wear a helmet designed for winter weather conditions. Ideally, select a snowmobile helmet with a full-face and double-layer visor that protects your skin and reduces fogging. You can even choose an option with a heated visor for greater comfort and improved visibility.
Add Durable Gloves
A sturdy pair of gloves improve your handlebar grip and protects your fingers from freezing temperatures. Consider ski or snowmobile gloves, if possible. You can also install grip and thumb warmers on the handlebars for additional warmth and safety.
Install Studded Tires
Improve your ATV’s grip on any surface with studded tires. Choose a type for the trail conditions and a model designed for your specific machine.
Stock a Toolkit
Bring essential tools if you need minor repairs as you travel. Recommendations include spare parts, a battery power pack, starter fluid, jumper cables, extra tow straps, a collapsible shovel, and traction pads.
Charge the Battery
Cold temperatures can quickly drain a battery’s charge, which could leave you stranded on the trail. So, charge the battery before your adventure. You can also remove the battery and store it indoors during overnight winter camping trips.
Thaw Your Winch
Practice ATV safety on the trail with an electric winch with at least 15 meters of durable wire cable and 1361 kilograms of pulling capacity. Before your next adventure, ensure the winch is free of ice. Apply a protective coat of spray-on oil when you return to keep the winch ice-free between rides.
Carry a Phone
Carry a fully charged cell phone and an external charger to call for help. Your phone’s battery will drain faster in cold temperatures and when you use the camera or record video.
Ride With a Friend
Always take a buddy along on your winter ATVing adventures and keep each other in view as you ride. The extra support could save your life in an emergency and makes winter rides more enjoyable.
Use a Low Gear
During winter rides, stay in low gear to allow your ATV to move slowly but with power through snow, mud, and ice. The added torque also supports your momentum and gives you more control as you ride.
Avoid Thin Ice
Ice as thick as thirteen centimetres can support your heavy ATV. However, consider riding only on well-travelled tested and staked trails, such as Ontario’s OFSC trails. Avoid riding on slushy or soft surfaces where you can get stuck and increase the risk of your ATV freezing to the ice.
Follow Posted Signs
Safety signs are in place to keep everyone safe. So, always obey posted speed limits, yield, stop, and other signs. Stay on designated trails, too, as you protect nature and avoid obstacles like rough terrain and hidden rocks or drop-offs.
Share the Trail
Be aware of your surroundings and share the trail with other ATV riders. Remain extra vigilant when approaching blind corners or riding in windy or snowy conditions. Also, give faster snowmobilers the right-of-way.
Enjoy Safe Winter ATVing
As you hit the trails this winter, stay safe as you ride your ATV. Know your equipment and follow safe riding protocols. We invite you to contact us to learn more about ATV insurance and additional winter riding tips.