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Best Practices for a Safe Ride
Part IV: Off Road


Polaris is passionate about helping people experience the outdoors. Whether using a RANGER to complete a task or taking a sunset cruise on a Bennington Pontoon, the highest priority should always be safety. As a part of Motorsports Awareness Month, we want to take the opportunity to review a few of the fundamentals of safe and responsible riding across every terrain.


For our final installment of safer and responsible riding across terrains we head off road, taking a closer look at the fundamentals of riding off-road vehicles.

Before the Ride

Hunters preparing to ride a Polaris RANGER
Safety Instructions for a young Polaris ATV rider
  • Inspect your Off-Road Vehicle: No matter how seasoned of a rider you are, always thoroughly assess your vehicle before starting the ignition. Pre-ride inspections can reveal malfunctioning or damaged vehicle components, low fluids, and other issues that could get in the way of your day on the trails. Refer to the owner’s manual for a full pre-ride checklist to conduct before every ride.

    For detailed instructions on pre-ride inspections for your specific model we encourage you to visit the appropriate Help Center and search your model name:
  • Gather the Proper Protective Gear: There are some essential pieces of safety equipment riders should always wear, including: 
    • Certified Helmet. Check out our buying guide to find the correct style and fit for you.
    • Eye Protection. Always wear eye protection to keep dust and flying debris out of your eyes.
    • Long Sleeve Shirt, Long Pants and Gloves. Offer protection from the elements.
    • Over-the-ankle Boots. Provide stable support and protection. Never ride with bare feet or sandals.

Click here for additional tips on what to wear for comfortable riding.


With more than 1,000,000 miles of mapped trails, Polaris RIDE COMMAND is an industry-exclusive technology that allows users to plan ride routes, track rides, and rate and share routes with other users. RIDE COMMAND is available online, as a mobile app, and accessible in the console of many Polaris vehicles, making it a great solution to discover new rides or coordinate group rides with friends or family.

Two young riders preparing to ride a RZR 200 EFI while their parents watch

During the Ride

  • Wear Protective Gear: Just a reminder to always gear up – from helmet and gloves to water and a first aid kit, it is important to be prepared.

  • Obey Local Laws & Regulations: Always review and follow the off-road vehicle rules and regulations of your given location. The local laws are in place to protect you, other users and the environment.

  • Understand the Terrain: By its very nature, off-roading involves understanding different kinds of terrain. Keep in mind that using the wrong setup for the riding a specific terrain can hinder your vehicle’s performance.

    As for technique, different landscapes call for different kinds of riding. You’ll want to achieve base-level off-roading competence before tackling difficult-rated off-road trails or specialized terrain such as mud pits or dunes. Riders should always ride within their ability.

  • Mind your Posture: Understanding how to sit, when to stand or how and when to shift your body weight to help negotiate turns and challenging terrains is all part of being a safer rider. Couple items to keep in mind:
    • Avoid locking your elbows while on an ATV to prevent painful, potentially damaging stress to your joints and your hands.
    • While sitting comfortably make sure you’re able to reach all controls without straining.
    • Passengers should also be able to comfortable hold onto the hand hold in a relaxed driving position without locking their elbows.

  • Practice Caution: Ride to your level. Avoid excessive speeds or driving beyond your skillset; drive at comfortable speeds to allow you and your group to enjoy the experience.

    Additionally, it is good practice to pack essentials along with basic emergency supplies such as extra food and water, blankets, fire-starting materials, backup communication tools, and a first-aid kit.
A pair of riders inside a Polaris General

Beyond the Ride

  • Transporting your Vehicle: A favorite part of off-roading is the ability to take your ATV or SXS to different locations be it the backwoods trails or the sand dunes. Check out our tips for transporting your vehicle.

  • Maintaining your Vehicle: Properly storing and maintaining your off-road vehicle when not riding or during the off season will help keep it in good condition and lead to a more enjoyable, safer riding experience in the future.

    Helpful Resources:
A group of friends taking a break after riding a Polaris RZR
A person washing his Polaris General


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