GREAT OUTDOORS

ATV or UTV? That is the question

I have this love/hate relationship with Craigslist.

I love that it offers up a plethora of used (and sometimes new) goods with a few strokes of the keyboard.

And I hate that it offers up a plethora of used (and sometimes new) goods with a few strokes of the keyboard.

I wasn’t really in the market for another ATV. Then I saw my buddy’s new Kawasaki Mule UTV and, suddenly, I wanted one. Well, I think I do anyway. Or maybe I don’t.

Here’s the situation: I have an early 2000s Honda Rancher 350 ES. I got the machine for a steal through a Craigslist ad (where else?) and it has been much more than I expected.

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I have no idea how I got things done before owning an ATV.

It’s made checking trail cameras much quicker and less intrusive, hanging treestands is much less of a chore.

I’ve hauled out many winters’ worth of firewood with it, and plowed way more snow from my driveway than I care to remember.

It is a tool in every sense of the word. That said, it has its limitations.

For starters, carrying a passenger is not the easiest of tasks and, technically, frowned upon by the folks who wrote those annoying safety manuals. Having my wife on the seat behind me? Kind of fun.

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Having my buddy Freeman sitting behind me with his arms wrapped around my waist? Kind of weird.

A side-by-side UTV offers the very real advantage of an extra seat (or more depending on model).

Hauling wood has also proven to be somewhat problematic. My ATV has a hitch and I have an old sheet-metal trailer that I’ve fitted with higher sides to increase is payload capacity. The ATV hauls it just fine but years of bouncing along have taken their toll. My little trailer that could probably can’t for much longer.

Contrast that to a UTV which includes a dump bed. I can haul a lot more firewood in my ugly mini-trailer, true enough. But the UTV’s bed will do the job more effectively and with less hassle.

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In fact, there are many instances in which I’ve cursed the limited storage capacity of my ATV. Hauling treestand and climbing sticks being one of those times. I have a drop-basket rack and it does help. But it’s simply not big enough.

The UTV’s bed can carry more and is deep enough to prevent things from bouncing out all the time.

But. . . the UTV simply can’t fit into the tight spaces my ATV can. When trying to navigate through a woodlot that’s a very real consideration.
Here’s another consideration: Trailer size.

I have a 4-foot by 8-foot utility trailer that does an excellent job of toting my ATV around wherever I need it to go. If I get a UTV, I’ll also need a bigger trailer.

Of course, that bigger trailer is required because the UTV is a bigger vehicle – which is part of the attraction of the machine.

So, yeah, I’m torn.

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Even more so by this one final factor: Price.

UTVs cost more than ATVs. Yes, I’m sure there are exceptions but, for the most part, you’ll pay more for a brand new UTV than you will a new ATV. The same goes on the used market. Folks seem to love their UTVs because the inventory of used machines is pretty limited compared to the number of used ATVs available. And the prices are higher.

So, what to do?

Well, like most decisions worth making, I plan to think on it a bit more. To weigh all the pros and cons.

And, in the meantime, I best stop looking at Craigslist.