ATVs can be used for so much more than recreational trail riding and the occasional hauling job. In this post, you will find loads of inspiration on how you can get the most out of your machine. I have listed every thinkable and some slightly unthinkable ways to use an ATV.
The most common ATV uses are:
- Sport and racing
- Recreational riding
- Logging and collecting firewood
- Law-enforcement and security
- Entrepreneurs (power companies, railroad companies, gas and oil companies, etc.)
Continue reading for more inspiration with 46 useful and creative ATV uses you might not have thought of.
Logging and collecting firewood
By hooking up a simple skidding arch, you can transform your ATV into an effective little skidder. You can haul some beefy 20″ inch logs one by one or gather 3-4 smaller 5inch logs when gathering firewood. The method is simple and effective.
Most skidding arches are made so that the log gets hoisted few inches up from the ground at the front. This makes for much cleaner transport. But if you plan on milling the log, it’s best to use a trailer. Sand and dirt in the bark of the log will ruin the saw blade in no time.
Chopping down small trees and brush
With a tool like the TreeChopper, you can cut down literally hundreds of trees per hour. Great for clearing fence lines, reclaiming rangeland, or making fire breaks. The contraption uses sharp blades that cut down the trees when you drive your ATV into them.
Not exclusively made for ATVs, but tow behind log splitter makes a great addition to your ATV. When hooked up to your quad, you get the added benefit of not having to split your firewood near a road. This is great news for refilling the wood storage at your remote cabin.
From time to time, you may want to transport objects that are too heavy to lift onto the trailer by hand. Having a crane on the ATV trailer will relieve you of those back-breaking lifts.
At an entry-level, you can get ATV trailers with a manually operated crane. These are great for the very occasional lifting job. But for a task like collecting firewood, you’ll soon get tired of hand cranking.
A good way to increase this type of crane’s performance is by replacing the hand crank winch with one that’s electric.
For those with deep pockets, you can get ATV trailers with fully hydraulic cranes intended for professional use.
These cranes use a separate motor to run the hydraulics and are strong enough to lift beefy logs.
When performing forest thinning, you want a lightweight machine, so you don’t damage the roots of the trees that are left standing. Also, you need high maneuverability, great off-road capabilities, and low operating costs.
You can get specially made thinning machines if you do this professionally. But an ATV with a hydraulic log trailer will likely be much less of an investment. Not to mention all of the free exercises you get from a day handling the chainsaw.
You can even get these trailers with Robson wheel drive for better traction, adjustable boogies, and a hinged drawbar that pivots for better maneuverability.
I think it’s a great setup for the average forest owner or for those that want to get into the thinning business without having to make making too big of an investment.
Don’t get me wrong. Those hydraulic ATV trailers are certainly not cheap. But compared to self-propelled forestry machines, they are not that bad.
By also getting a flatbed and a hydraulic bucket, you can use the rig for hauling gravel as
Field repair jobs
Let’s say you are a forestry worker, and your machine breaks down in the least accessible place, far away from any road. An ATV will make a short process of transporting tools, parts, and even a mechanic if needed.
You cannot expect a great crop at your hobby farm if you don’t do a good job with the preparations. Making a well-cultivated seedbed is crucial for a good result.
You can get a variety of cultivators and harrow drags that hook straight onto your ATVs trailer hitch. They may not be as effective as a full-size tractor, but the final result should be just as good.
When fall arrives, and all of the crops in your garden or hobby farm fields are harvested, it is time to start the preparations before the next growing season.
By hooking up a chisel plow or a disc plow attachment to the rear of your ATV, it will do a good job at plowing your fields.
There is almost no limit to what implements you can get for your ATV. This one is definitely one of the more unique.
If you’re a small-scale farmer, you may be interested in getting a small but effective ATV manure spreader!
Pasture topping is a useful method for maintaining a high yield, top-quality pasture. The tool for this job will be a so-called flail mower. This mower type is a bit more powerful than the regular lawnmower and can cope with heavier grass and scrub.
Raking and windrowing
Like full-scale rakes, ATV rakes will help you create nice windrows of your freshly cut grass. This is necessary if you plan on baling your grass later. They are also good for dethatching lawns.
The rake does not require a motor as the tine wheels are being rotated by friction when they touch the ground.
This one is a farmer’s absolute favorite. Fence building in hard-to-reach areas without having an ATV involves a lot of heavy carrying. And rolls, fence wire, and fence poles are heavy!
Back at my home farm, our only other viable option was to haul the materials in wintertime with a snowmobile. The fencing job then had to wait until summer.
With an ATV, you can haul all the tools and materials you need.
Install a wire un-roller or fence roller on the ATV, and you are free from the hassle of unrolling and then battling the wire by hand. These come both as manual and motorized systems.
Hook a wire stretcher to your winch, and you are set for some serious fence building!
Hauling and feeding grain feed
Getting grain feed all the way from your storage and out into the field to feed your free-range sheep, pigs, or chickens can be quite a tedious job. First, the feed needs to be filled in bags.
Next, the bags have to be lifted onto the ATV or whatever means of transport you’re using. Finally, the grain has to be poured out of the bags into the feeding trays.
You can probably feel your back hurt just from reading about it. Luckily there is a great solution to this problem.
Attach a hopper-style feeder to your ATV, and use a simple auger to load the grain into the feeder tank. Depending on what model you get, the tank can probably store more grain than you would be able to stack onto the ATV in bags.
With the hopper, you simply unload the proper amount of feed into each tray with the push of a button.
Hauling grass or hay bales
You can get special-made bale trailers that can handle full-size round bales. Maybe this is something to look into for feeding the horses efficiently?
Tilling is almost like plowing and harrowing but in one combined operation. Motorized tillers that need to be pushed by hand are the standard for small-scale farms and garden work.
But by upgrading to a tiller that attaches to your ATV, you make this job a lot less tiresome.
Planting grain seed
With a row planter, you’ll be able to plant a variety of seeds in rows. These are great for crops like corn and beans. You can get planters that plant anything from 2-4 rows.
Depending on what you are planting, you can also consider getting a grain drill. These work by the same principles, but the rows are closer together and higher in numbers with the grain drill.
These will work with any type of seed that is planted in rows:
- Cereal Grains ++
For the smaller fields or, the rougher pastures, an ATV sprayer may be a good option to maintain control of the weed situation. You can get models on wheels that hook up to the trailer hitch, but also as a practical model that just straps onto the bike’s cargo racks.
What do you mean by “mounting”? Well, by installing a three-point hitch attachment to the rear of your ATV, you can mount almost any type of implement to your machine. This also gives you the possibility to lift the implement, which opens up a whole new range of applications.
Many ATVs come with a standardized mount at the front of the bike. Use this mount to hook up snow plows, sweepers, snow blowers, lift forks, and a lot of other cool tools!
Making pathways and trails
When building narrow trails out in the woods or maybe a small pathway through a park, you’ll find that ATVs are ideal for the job.
Dump trucks or even tractors with trailers are too big and too heavy for these kinds of jobs.
You do not want to damage the surrounding terrain, so the machine you use must be narrow. And it’s not always flat, so you want good off-road performance. Adequate transport speed and high maneuverability will make you a lot more effective.
You’ll get all of this in an ATV hooked up to a good ATV trailer. Install hydraulic or winch-powered tilt to the trailer, and you should be set for a job well done.
Hauling gravel and dirt
Standard ATV trailers are fine for the occasional hauling job. For the bigger jobs, consider getting a heavy-duty dump trailer with hydraulic tipping.
Grading gravel roads and trails
Any type of gravel road will eventually become full of potholes. If you have an ATV, you can use a lot of effective attachments to make the road smooth again.
My personal preference is box scrapers. These have small teeth that loosen the top surface, and the box does a good job of taking gravel off any bumps and moving it down into the holes.
Blade graders are also a good option, but I find them less effective on hard surfaces. Some blade graders come with the advantage that they can be used as trail groomers in the winter.
Smoothening and leveling land before seeding grass
When seeding grass for lawns, golf courses, or parks, it’s essential to prepare the soil by making it as smooth as possible.
Landscaping rakes and finishing drags great ATV tools for these kinds of tasks.
Spreading seeds and fertilizer
When you’re done leveling the soil, it’s time to spread the grass seeds. With a spreader attached to the rear rack of your ATV, you should have the job done in no time.
And when it’s time to fertilize the lawn, you can use the same tool. You just need to make some small adjustments to account for a difference in grain size.
Spreader attachments also come as pull-behind units that use a ground-driven gearbox to rotate the spreader as you drive. The gearbox can be disengaged for easy transport.
Rolling a lawn
After sowing grass, it is important to use a lawn roller to ensure proper germination. The roller pushes down the seeds so that they are in good contact with the soil. It is also good practice to use a lawn roller when installing sod. This helps remove any air pockets and make sure the grassroots are in good contact with the soil underneath.
For the average size lawn, you can use the push type roller. But for the slightly bigger jobs, it is a good option to get a roller that hooks up to an ATV.
Packing sown seeds
It’s not only when sowing grass for lawns that it’s a good idea to use a roller. The same principle applies to any type of sowing at the farm.
While lawn rollers have a smooth surface, the rollers for farming, so-called culti-packers, usually have many one-inch spikes. The roller helps to break up clumps of soil and prepares the soil for planting. The spikes help to push some of the seed deeper into the ground for better growth.
Grooming horse corrals
By attaching a cheap and simple Landscape rake to your ATV, you have a perfect setup to groom your horse corrals, 60 inches at a time.
All year property maintenance
Snow plowing is one of the more common ways of putting an ATV to some practical use. Snowplows for ATVs are relatively cheap and do a great job as long as the snow conditions are not too bad.
They are perfect for narrow places like sidewalks or maneuvering between buildings or other objects.
If the snow in your area is very deep or wet, you*ll find that snowplows are not actually that effective.
In situations like these, snow blowers are better suited. But why push it by hand when you can hook it up to your ATV instead?
Each spring, it’s time to start the tedious job of sweeping sand and other debris of sidewalks, pathways, and driveways.
With a motorized sweeper hooked up to your ATV, you should have the job finished in no time.
This tool may be a great addition to expand the business for those that plow with their ATVs professionally. The working-width is about the same, so many of your plowing customers may also need to hire a narrow and maneuverable machine to get the sweeping done.
Spreading salt and sand
Another cool way to expand your snow plowing business is to get a sand and salt spreader for those icy days. These spreaders can even be used for spreading fertilizer in summer.
There are compact models that mount onto the bike’s rear cargo rack, or you can choose a tow-behind model for increased capacity.
Mowing the lawn
You’ll find a wide variety of lawnmowers that you can attach to your ATV. For bigger lawns, especially those where the terrain may be a bit challenging, an ATV-mounted lawnmower may be a good solution for you.
When a lawn gets used and stamped on, the soil eventually gets compacted. That’s not good for growth because water and nutrition won’t reach the root system.
This can be improved by “fluffing” up the soil and putting air back into it. By hooking up a spike aerator to your ATV, you should have the job done in no time. The tool should work well even with larger lawns like golf courses or sports arenas.
Dethatching a lawn
A lawn full of thatch will suffocate if not dethatched from time to time. This can be done very efficiently by attaching a dethatcher behind your powerful utility ATV.
A brush grabber will make you able to remove shallow-rooted trees and brush up to 8″ in diameter. The tool attaches to your winch and makes for a sturdy anchoring point that grips the brush quickly and effectively with its aggressive teeth.
Sport and recreation
Winches are indisputably one of the most popular accessory one can get for an ATV. And for a good reason. This powerful tool gives you self-recovery ability when you or a buddy get stuck in even the worst kinds of mud.
This alone should be more than enough to justify getting one. As a bonus, there are many other cool ways you can make use of it.
In fact, there are so many that I had to dedicate a whole post only on the subject of things you can use your ATV winch for.
With a heavy-duty trail cutter, you can efficiently cut through stems up to 3 inches in diameter. This is implement makes clearing out your overgrown areas or new trail paths quick and easy.
Retrieving big game
Words cannot describe the joy and relief of not having to pull a 550-pound moose by hand. Especially if you are hunting in terrain like where I hunt
If you’re a hunter, this is potentially one of the very best uses you will find for an ATV.
For shorter distances on “clean” surfaces, you can pull the prey by just hooking it up behind the ATV with a tow strap.
For longer distances or if the ground is muddy, it’s best to use a trailer. By adding a winch to the trailer’s front, you will be looking forward to the loading process. Even the hand-cranked types of winches will work fine for these jobs.
- Be aware that this method for retrieving game is illegal in some places. Always check which rules apply where you hunt.
- Never, ever chase wildlife with your ATV…
- … and never shoot from your bike. Most hunters will agree that it’s unethical and irresponsible. It’s illegal in most places as well.
While Quad racing may not be as popular as it used to (according to google trends), it’s still a fun and action-filled sport. The riders use powerful rear-wheel-drive special-made quad racers or modded 4×4 sports quads.
Trail grooming and preparing ski tracks
Add tracks to your ATV, and you instantly get yourself a very potent trail grooming machine. All you need in addition to the tracks is a good trail groomer that hooks up on the trailer hitch.
At one end of the scale, you find the reasonably prized fully manual groomers. These are awesome for preparing a smooth trail up to your cabin and then setting some ski tracks when you get there.
But if you’re planning on using the groomer for commercial use, you might want to step up to a more expensive model with automatic lowering and lifting of the scraper blades and track setting unit.
Without further ado, here is a list of cool accessories you can add to your ATV to create your ultimate ATV ice fishing rig!
Slap on a set of aggressive 32-inch tires and a snorkel kit, and you have yourself a mean mudding machine. If you want to take it even further, check out this article on 26 essential mudding mods for transforming your ATV into the ultimate mudding machine!
Transporting goods and supplies
ATVs are great for transporting supplies like food, gas, or building materials to remote locations. Many cabins would not exist without the help of an ATV.
This one is a personal favorite of mine. While traditional backpacking trips are cool, it’s also quite nice to just load up all the gear you want and go for a long trail ride on the ATV. The leading capacity on the cargo racks alone is about 200 pounds or more.
For the real explorers out there, you can fit all the gear you need for several days and even week-long trips if you hook up a small trailer to your rig.
Get a high-quality one with a long-travel suspension. Although you can get by with some MacGyver-style repairs, it best to avoid breakdowns altogether.
An effective way to battle wildfires is by building firelines to prevent the fire from spreading. The firefighter needs to transport himself and his gear out to remote locations as quickly as possible. An ATV will be the perfect companion.
They are also great for transporting heavy equipment such as water pumps and hoses. Some have even installed equipment for efficiently putting down a foam blanket where the firetrucks cannot reach.
The combination of great off-road capabilities, high maneuverability, speed, and power makes ATVs ideal for search and rescue operations. They can get places where no other vehicles can go. And they can get there fast.
The police, firefighters, red cross, and national and state park personnel all use ATVs as their go-to vehicle when searching for persons missing in the wild. They are also used for evacuating people affected by disasters where helicopters cannot land.
Other times there might be a need to deliver emergency medical care in places far away from any roads.
During operations like these, local ATV owners will often bring their bikes to assist the emergency services in their search. An ATV rider with detailed knowledge of the local area is a great resource that may be of invaluable help.
The army uses ATVs as off-road personnel carriers, performing effective recon mission and even have set them up with advanced weapon systems.
The robust and well-proven off-road vehicle makes a cheap and versatile platform that anyone can learn to ride with little previous riding skills.
Railroad emergency vehicle
Railroad work in tunnels requires the workers to get in and out in a hurry. The same applies if there were to happen some sort of accident inside of the tunnel. A quick emergency response may prevent the situation from escalating.
ATVs fitted with retractable railroad wheels can get on and off the tracks in a matter of seconds; this makes them great for transporting tools and people on jobs like these. Crew cab UTVs are even more suited as they can transport 4 people at the time.