Outdoor adventurers and off-road buffs are currently servicing their UTVs and trailer trucks to get ready for their next outing. After all, getting far away from the madding crowd is something we all need to do more often, especially when the destination awaits us with breathtaking natural scenery, peace, quiet, excellent places to camp, and thrilling SxS trails and parks. However, you are not ready to push the pedal yet, as there is still plenty of shopping and planning for you. While your top-rated mechanics install your new UTV harnesses and inspect your tires, you need to focus on suiting up. So let’s see what to consider as gear and apparel for your upcoming Side-by-Side adventure!
1. Head Protection: Certified Helmet
The helmet is the go-to gear piece you need for any outdoor adventure or sport, from cycling and skateboarding to skiing and UTV/ATV riding. Perhaps you have seen a bunch of “brave” riders not wearing helmets on the Moab, the Devil’s Bridge Trail, or other off-road destinations, but it should not be your case. Don’t you think you should get a new one? Think again! If yours has some scratches or it surpassed the warranty limit, change it.
When it comes to getting a new UTV helmet, proceed in the same manner you do when you get new SxS parts and accessories from a specialized aftermarket store: look for certifications! We know you do your homework right when you shop for OEM parts for your UTV but put the same effort into buying a helmet. Look for one with a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) certification or a SNELL label. It will ensure the product follows stringent safety standards.
Experts recommend you always wear a full-head helmet with an incorporated face shield. If you don’t find one to meet your taste or budget, make sure you get a pair of shatterproof goggles. Don’t forget your goggles should feature a foam seal to keep dirt and dust away from your eyes while preventing fogging.
2. Upper Body Protection: The Riding Jacket and Gloves
Seriously, now, what would bike riders be without their cool-looking, protection-rendering biker jackets? When you decide to go out there in the wilderness and test some of the most adrenaline-pumping OHV trails or races, it takes more than a new exhaust system, comfortable seats, and a four-point harness. Even if you don’t enter competitions but want to enjoy the landscape and the freedom of riding your SxS, you should not trade safety for style.
Therefore, your luggage should contain a couple of long-sleeved t-shirts and a biker-style jacket. You can go for the armored type, of course. At a minimum, your UTV riding upper body apparel should feature:
· Excellent articulation for free-range movements;
· Water-resistance qualities;
· Proper ventilation;
· Reinforced parts to protect vital organs and joints;
· A proper size to host layering underneath in case you ride in cold weather.
For upper body protection, you could also consider a reinforced vest to wear over long-sleeved shirts if you ride on milder terrains and low speeds. Always pack a different, light rain jacket because the weather is treacherous, especially high in the mountains.
Long-sleeved shirts are mandatory because they can protect you successfully against sunburns, dust, debris, tree branches, etc.
Don’t treat upper body gear and apparel lightly. Your clothes will offer you extra protection in case you tumble. A new roll cage for your UTV is always a good investment, but don’t neglect your clothes either.
Do you think you don’t need gloves? Think again about blisters and callouses after hours of holding tight on that steering wheel across difficult terrains, steep mountain slopes, or rocky canyons. At a minimum, your UTV riding gloves should feature:
· Padding and solid grips;
· Adjustable wrist straps;
· Light colors and ventilation for riding in hot weather;
· A waterproof material in case it rains and your UTV doesn’t have a rooftop.
If you prep for a ride in cold weather or high in the mountains, you should always have an extra pair of snowmobile gloves nearby.
3. Lower-Body Protection: Pants and Boots
Just as you don’t wear jeans to skiing, so you should not take your good ol’ pair of denim when you ride an ATV or UTV. Off-road adventuring requires more lower-body movement than you can imagine.
On the other hand, specialized riding pants offer you an extra cushion, extra comfort, reinforcements in all the right places, and plenty of comforts. Find some with integrated knee padding or at least ones that allow you to wear separate knee pads. You will be grateful to them when you take a knee in the mud or gravel.
The right pair of pants with the proper jacket will help you move comfortably and stay safe in case you slide or jostle around for endless miles or hours.
As footwear goes, you want some of these features:
· Over-the-ankle waterproof boots;
· Excellent tread on your boots to preserve your stability and traction inside and outside the vehicle;
· Insulated boots for cold weather rides;
· Comfortable, breathable socks for hot weather and thermal socks for cold seasons.
Hiking boots also work for leisure UTV riding, but for extremely difficult trails, races, or tricky weather conditions, you need extra safe footwear if you need to stand or walk for hours on challenging terrains.
While you wait for your favorite aftermarket parts store to deliver your new UTV accessories and the mechanics fix and prep your ride for your next outdoor adventure, make sure you pack (or buy) safety gear and apparel. No journey in the wilderness would be complete without them! Safe rides and thrilling adventures!