Riding An ATV For Work – 8 Lessons Learned

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Nine months out of the year, I am riding an ATV for work. I’ve done things on quads many will never (and maybe should never) have to do on a four-wheeler. Things like submersion, bear encounters, and being left stranded are real things when you ride in Canada’s Boreal Forest. Here are a few things I’ve learned.

#1 If you are in lots of mud, have a good winch.
Without one, being high centered in the middle of a swamp can change from a 5 minute inconvenience into a 2 hour struggle. Do yourself a favor and upgrade to a synthetic cable, they don’t rust or cut your hands like frayed steel line. I use is the Warn Synthetic Winch line. Retail price: $85.49

atv
#2 Snatch blocks are magic, always have one.
There is a box on the back of most sport utility quads under the rack. That should contain a small factory-issue tool tube. You should add a snatch block that your winch cable can fit through to that box. The bigger, the better as it gives a greater mechanical advantage than a straight pull, which is handy when you’re buried up to your fenders in muck. I use a Heavy-Duty 20,000 Lb ATV Winch Snatch Block 20000. Retail price: $57.56

#3 Gear Up
Get the right stuff, make sure it fits you. An MX helmet and goggles go a long way to keep mud, swamp water, rocks and plant debris out of your eyes and off of your face. Sturdy boots with grippy soles help when things get slick, and armor always helps with unplanned get-offs.

Honda TRX420FM
2013 Honda TRX420FM

#4 Have an Emergency Kit.
Remember Wes Siler’s motorcycle survival kit story? Take one of those with you. If you’re spending time in bear country (like me), pack a bear kit. My favorite includes a huge can of bear spray. Supplement that with a full sized air horn, as it’s much easier to scare a bear than to have to resort to alternatives.

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  • Lee Scuppers

    You should explain a sn*tch block.

    It isn’t when your drunk friend interferes in a promising conversation, if anybody is confused.

  • metric_G

    3 questions:
    1. What is your job?
    2. How can i get a job like that?
    3. Are you carrying a gun just in case the bear shrugs off the bear spray?

    • http://Rideapart.com/ Curtis

      Broadly speaking, if you were to work for a state (provincial) or national forest service, that would be one way. Another would be to seek employment in surveying, wildfire fighting, or in the energy sector in Northwestern Canada.
      My work regulations prohibit firearms, so I have to rely on being alert and having good kit easily accessible. I’ve also been trained in bear awareness and have had extensive expert advice on the matter. Avoiding the encounters is what I aim for.

      • metric_G

        Thanks, one more, how is the mosquito situation around summer?

        • http://Rideapart.com/ Curtis

          Mosquitos, black flies, horse flies, bot flies. All after your blood. All very aggressive, all very, very big.

          • metric_G

            aaaaand I’m out… :)

      • Lee Scuppers

        Have you had to try the air horn?

        The few times I’ve been in the woods in bear country, I was hoping for avoidance. Really, really hoping.

        • http://Rideapart.com/ Curtis

          More often than I would like!

  • http://Rideapart.com/ Curtis

    You nailed it. Not sure how I missed this. I’ll blame tin-cans-and-string internet.

  • runnermatt

    I carry a SOG Hand Axe in my pack. It is currently listed on their website for $50, but I bought mine for around $30 a while back.
    http://www.sogknives.com/outdoor/gear/hand-axe.html