It can get hot out there when you’re riding an ATV through the trails or even on a track. Even a bearable 75 degrees seems so much hotter when you’re on a quad. It’s generally the combination of the sun, heat from your engine, and your body heat generated from riding. Whatever it is, in the summer months, I get overheated sometimes.
When on the trails, there are usually plenty of trees to provide shade. But when it’s 90 degrees and your engines heating up, you will feel the heat. Getting overheated or getting heat stroke is definitely something to be concerned about. And having your engine stall from overheating isn’t any fun either. Here are some tips I’ve been able to gather over the years that have helped me and my four wheeler stay cool on the trail.
Keep Yourself Cool
It’s important to keep yourself cool while riding. It just makes the whole experience better, and will keep you on the trail longer. It’s totally worth it to prepare a little bit to make your day of riding more enjoyable. Here are some tips to keep yourself cool on the trail.
Stay hydrated, that’s a given. You will sweat a lot, which is good. But, you need to replace the water your body sweats out. If you stop sweating because of dehydration, your body will overheat, and you could be in real trouble. There are a few ways to keep yourself hydrated while on the trail.
Get a hydration pack, like this Insulated Hydration Pack found here on Amazon. I like this one because it has other small pockets to keep stuff in that I want with me on the trail, and it’s insulated to keep the water cool for hours. What I like to do is fill the bladder about half way the night before and freeze it. Then in the morning before we leave, I fill the rest with water. That way my water stays colder for longer. Just position it so that the suction tube doesn’t freeze full of water.
If you don’t want to bring a hydration pack, at least try to bring a cooler, or a few bottles of water. If we bring a cooler, I put frozen bottles of water in it instead of ice. That way the food stays cold without all the ice melting into water in the cooler. And then we have extra bottles of cold water if we need it.
You can also hydrate with sports drinks that have electrolytes in them. Water won’t replace these, so if you’re not bringing lunch, try bringing sports drinks. Avoid coffee, energy drinks, and other diuretics, they can dehydrate you even further.
It’s a good idea to set time limits where you will pull over and take breaks while riding for long periods of time. If you start feeling drained or overheated, take a break right away. Usually every hour or so we stop to rest a bit and drink some water.
Take off your gear like your boots, helmet, and chest protector to help you cool off. It makes a huge difference to allow the air in, and any moisture in your clothing will evaporate which cools you down even more. A quick 10-15 minute break will keep you feeling fresh throughout the ride.
Taking a break is a great time to check out any nearby water sources. If there are any streams, rivers, or lakes nearby, go for a swim.
On hot days, I’ll usually bring a cooling vest. I don’t normally wear it from the start of the riding trip because once it heats up to my body temperature, it seems to do more harm than good. Instead I keep it chilled in a cooler and wear it when we take breaks. If you don’t bring a cooler, just soak it with water and wear it when you take breaks. Here’s a great cooling vest at a good price, it’s called the Evaporative Cooling Vest (link to Amazon). It’s cheap and will do the job.
If you want a top of the line cooling vest that you can wear all day, check out this Ice Water Cooling System Vest (link to Amazon). It’s a cooling vest with a bladder you can fill with water and freeze. It will circulate the water through the vest keeping you the perfect temperature. It has great reviews, but costs a little too much for my taste. But if you want the best, there you have it.
Make sure the gear you wear is well vented. If you buy a bunch of cheap discount gear, you’re gonna feel it in the summer. To check out some of the gear I use and thoroughly tested myself, check out the Recommended Gear section of this site. I like to stay cool on hot days of trail riding, so I get the gear that helps me do that.
Keep Your ATV Cool
Once you’ve taken the steps to make sure you stay cool while riding, you should make sure your ATV won’t overheat either. If your machine overheats and breaks down, you could have a long walk ahead of you. Here are some tips to keep your quad at a good running temperature while riding.
Keep your radiator clean and serviced. You’ll find the radiator attached to your engine, usually in the front. It’s the main component used to keep your engine running at a good temperature on hot days. The radiator has coolant pumping through it and aluminum fins that help cool the fluid as it passes through the radiator. Some ATVs or UTVs have a fan the spins to cool down the radiator even better.
Keep the aluminum fins clear of mud and debris. Sometimes even riding in tall grass can clog up the radiator fins with plants and grass. Mud is major culprit when it comes to the radiator fins. The mud will cling to the fins, and your radiator will cool down the coolant less and less.
Use fresh coolant in your radiator. Some riders keep a log of their coolant and change it after a certain number of hours. If your expecting a long hot days ride and it’s been a while since you changed it, you should consider getting some fresh coolant into your radiator.
The coolant is easy to overlook, out of sight out of mind. Check the fluid levels here and there and also check the condition of the fluid from time to time. I recommend you check your coolant when the engine is cold, simply remove the radiator cap to access it. You can test your antifreeze or coolant easily with this simple Coolant Tester Hydrometer found here on Amazon.
It’s not typical that you will need to replace the coolant completely. The only times I’ve seen the need for a complete replacement of the radiator fluid is if you ride hard in constant muddy terrain, or carry heavy loads all the time with your machine. It’s probably best to have a professional shop replace the fluid if you need it, but it’s definitely helpful for you to at least know of the fluids condition.
Ice Your Gas
This is not something you need to do for a day of trail riding, I just thought it was cool that people do this. People mostly do this in a racing scenario, like at a track on a hot day or on a big hours long trail race. They will take the gas tank of the quad, still filled with gas, and put it on ice. Doing this prevent the gas from boiling or evaporating which can be dangerous if your gas tank overheats.
Keeping yourself and your ATV cool and running properly will keep you on the trail longer and make the day more enjoyable. Follow these tips and I’m sure you’ll be fine. Stay cool and happy riding.