ATVs can be used for much more than recreational trail riding and occasional hauling. In this post, you will find loads of inspiration on how to get the most out of your machine. I have listed every thinkable and a few 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 practical and creative ATV uses you might not have considered.
Logging and Collecting Firewood
You can transform your ATV into an effective little skidder by hooking up a simple skidding arch. You can haul beefy 20-inch logs individually or gather 3-4 smaller 5-inch logs when gathering firewood. The method is simple and effective.
Most skidding arches are made to hoist the logs a few inches up from the ground at the front. This makes for much cleaner transport. But if you plan on milling the log, a trailer is best. Sand and dirt in the log’s bark will ruin the saw blade in no time.
Chopping Down Small Trees and Brush
With a tool like the TreeChopper, you can cut down hundreds of trees per hour. It is excellent for clearing fence lines, reclaiming rangeland, or making fire breaks. The mechanism has sharp blades that cut down the trees when you drive your ATV into them.
Not exclusively made for ATVs, but a 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 excellent 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. A crane on the ATV trailer will relieve you of those back-breaking lifts.
Entry-level ATV logging trailers come with a manually operated crane. These are great for the very occasional lifting job. But you’ll soon get tired of hand cranking for a task like collecting firewood.
An excellent 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 benefit from high maneuverability, potent 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 less of an investment. Not to mention all the free exercises you get from a day of 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 an excellent setup for the average forest owner or those wanting to get into the thinning business without 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
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.
Cultivating & Harrowing
Without proper making the proper preparations, you cannot expect a great crop at your hobby farm. 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 ATV’s trailer hitch. They may not be as effective as a full-size tractor, but the final result should be as good.
When fall arrives and all 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 decent job plowing your fields.
There is almost no limit to what implements you can get for your ATV. This one is 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 valuable 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 more powerful than the regular lawnmower and can cope with heavier grass and scrub.
Raking & Windrowing
ATV rakes will help you create nice windrows of your freshly cut grass. This is necessary if you plan on baling your hay later. They are also suitable for dethatching lawns.
The rake does not require a motor as the tine wheels rotate by friction against the field.
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.
You can haul all the tools and materials you need with your ATV.
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 & Feeding Grain Feed
Moving grain feed from your storage and out into the field to feed your free-range sheep, pigs, or chickens can be tedious. First, the feed needs to be put in bags.
Next, the bags must be lifted onto the ATV or whatever means of transport you use. Finally, the grain must be poured from the bags into the feeding trays.
You can probably feel your back hurt just from reading about it. Luckily there is an excellent solution to this problem.
Attach a hopper-style feeder to your ATV, and use a basic auger to load the grain into the feeder tank. Depending on what model you get, the tank can probably store more grain than you could stack onto the ATV in bags.
With the hopper, you simply unload the desired 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 by hand is exhausting, but upgrading to a tiller that attaches to your ATV makes this job much less tiresome.
Planting Grain Seed
With a row planter, you can plant various seeds in rows. These are great for crops like corn and beans. You can get planters that plant anything from 2-4 rows.
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 seed that is planted in rows:
- Cereal Grains ++
An ATV sprayer may be a good option for weed control in smaller fields or rougher pastures. You can get models on wheels that hook up to the trailer hitch and practical models that straps onto the bike’s cargo racks.
What do I mean by “mounting”? 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 allows you 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 other nifty tools!
Making Pathways & Trails
You’ll find that ATVs are ideal for the job when building narrow trails out in the woods or maybe a pathway through a park.
Dump trucks or even tractors with trailers are too big and heavy for these jobs.
You do not want to damage the surrounding terrain, so your machine 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 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 & Dirt
Standard ATV trailers are OK for the occasional hauling job. Consider getting a heavy-duty dump trailer with hydraulic tipping for the bigger jobs.
Grading Gravel Roads & Trails
Any gravel road will eventually become full of potholes. If you have an ATV, you can use a lot of practical 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 an excellent job of taking gravel off any bumps and moving it down into the holes.
Blade graders are also a good option but are less effective on hard surfaces. Some blade graders can be used as trail groomers in the winter.
Smoothening & 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 & 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 minor 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 vital to use a lawn roller to ensure proper germination. The roller pushes the seeds to make good contact with the soil. It is also good practice to use a lawn roller when installing sod. This helps remove air pockets and ensures the grassroots are in good contact with the soil underneath.
For the average size lawn, you can use the push-type roller. But getting a roller that hooks up to an ATV is a good option for slightly bigger jobs.
Packing Sown Seeds
It’s not only when sowing grass for lawns that using a roller is a good idea. The same principle applies to any 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
Attaching a cheap and basic landscape rake to your ATV gives you 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 off sidewalks, pathways, and driveways.
A motorized sweeper hooked up to your ATV will make a short process of the job.
This tool may be a great addition to expand the business for those plowing professionally with their ATVs. The working width is about the same, so many plowing customers may also need a narrow and maneuverable machine to sweep their sidewalks.
Spreading Salt & Sand
Another terrific 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.
Some compact models 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 to attach to your ATV. For more extensive 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 is used and stamped on, the soil eventually compacts. That isn’t 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 the Lawn
A lawn full of thatch will suffocate if not dethatched occasionally. This can be done efficiently by attaching a dethatcher behind your powerful utility ATV.
A brush grabber will allow you 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 & Recreation
Winches are one of the most popular accessories for ATVs. 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.
A heavy-duty trail cutter can efficiently cut through stems up to 3 inches in diameter. This 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 best uses for an ATV.
For shorter distances on “clean” surfaces, you can pull the animal behind the ATV with a tow strap.
For longer distances or muddy ground, it’s best to use a trailer. Adding a winch to the trailer’s front will make you look 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 be (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 & Preparing Ski Tracks
Add tracks to your ATV, and you instantly get a potent trail grooming machine. Besides the tracks, all you need is a good trail groomer that hooks up on the trailer hitch.
Consider a reasonably priced, fully manual groomer if you’re on a budget. These are awesome for preparing a smooth trail up to your cabin and setting some ski tracks when you arrive.
But if you plan on using the groomer for commercial use, you might want to move to a more expensive model with automatic lowering and lifting of the scraper blades and track setting unit.
Related: Are Tracks Worth It? Pros and Cons
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 a mean mudding machine. If you want to take it further, check out this article on 26 essential mudding mods for transforming your ATV into the ultimate mudding machine!
Transporting Goods & 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 fun, it’s also nice to load up all the gear you want and go for a long trail ride on the ATV. The loading capacity on the cargo racks alone is about 200 pounds or more.
For the avid explorers, 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 is best to avoid breakdowns altogether.
Public Safety Agencies
An effective way to battle wildfires is by building firelines to prevent the fire from spreading. The firefighter must transport himself and his gear 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.
Search & Rescue
The combination of excellent off-road capabilities, high maneuverability, speed, and power makes ATVs ideal for search and rescue operations. They can get to places where no other vehicles can go. And they can get there fast.
The police, firefighters, red cross, and national and state park personnel use ATVs to search 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 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 missions, and even has 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 an accident inside 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 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 four people at a time.