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ORV owners unloading vehicles from a trailer

How to Properly Load and Haul Your UTV

The best part about owning a UTV is taking it out on those muddy backwoods trails, twisting sand dunes, and stair-stepped rock ledges. But for many of us who don’t live on a spacious countryside property, we don’t have the ability to just steer out of the garage and onto the trail – we’re inevitably spending a fair amount of time hauling our off-road toys to our destination. It takes time to get loaded up, but loading up properly will ensure you spend your time where it counts – having a blast at your favorite playground.

Here’s a general overview of some UTV hauling solutions: tips and techniques for safely and securely transporting your SxS to and from your destination.


How to Load Your UTV

The larger size of your average SxS as compared with an ATV generally means you’ll need to have a trailer to haul it around. The types of trailers available to transport your side by side varies. You can use either enclosed or open-air trailers. Enclosed trailers protect your UTV from the elements, including the airflow that can spell trouble for seats, roofs, and other potentially detachable features. However, some UTVs may be too large to fit into an enclosed trailer – the door might be too tight to sneak through, or you may not be able to get out of your SxS once you’ve pulled it into the trailer. This type of trailer also tends to run a little pricier than its open-air counterpart.

You’ll also want to use a trailer with adequate weight capacity and be sure it’s outfitted with the proper tires to be able to handle the load. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to follow the “60/40” rule when it comes to loading your trailer: Arrange things so roughly 60 percent of the weight is situated in the front half of the trailer.

Different trailers may have different built-in tie-down attachment points. If those aren’t exactly what you need, you can also install D-rings or other attachments to expand your options.

A standard utility trailer may or may not be wide enough to accommodate your UTV. A car trailer is often the better bet. However, the best trailer to haul your UTV is one specifically designed for the purpose. Such models often have features such as foldable rear ramps and drop decks. (You can’t go wrong with our Polaris aluminum trailers – they’re specially constructed to transport our wide range of work and play machines.)

If you’re planning on towing multiple side-by-sides, or perhaps a side-by-side as well as ATVs or dirt bikes, you might want to go with a double-axle trailer.

When considering the SxS trailer’s width, you want to think about more than just the dimensions of the UTV (and any other cargo) you’ll be hauling in it: You also want to think about the width of the roads you’ll be taking to reach your destination. Some can be tighter than others, so it’s worth considering when picking out your trailer.

Follow the instructions in your owner’s manual for a given UTV’s recommended loading protocol. When you’re driving onto a trailer, use a slow, steady speed to maintain control and stability at all times.


How to Tie Down Your Side by Side

However you’re transporting your UTV, the most important step is anchoring your machine so it’s not heaving around or taking a devastating spill.

These days, there are quite a few different tie-down/anchoring options for hauling SxSs, from old-fashioned chains and ropes to more designed clamping systems. A common option is to use webbing or straps to do the job. Wider straps will have more load-bearing strength—i.e., a higher working load limit. When you purchase straps, the packaging should tell you the straps’ load limit.

Always inspect your tie-downs before using them and make sure they’re in good working order; look for fraying in the webbing, deformed brackets or other metal components, stretched or warped chain links. Although these imperfections may not seem like a big deal, they do impact the integrity of the tie downs.

Some may use two straps to tie down their UTV, but it’s better to err on the side of safety and use four: one for each corner of the machine. You want equal and opposite pressure exerted by your tie-downs to fully stabilize the machine.

Your Polaris owner’s manual identifies the recommended tie-down attachment points on your vehicle. Generally speaking, you want to attach your tie-downs to the frame of the UTV. You should never attach them to the suspension or the axles. These components can be bent by a tightened strap, damaging your machine and compromising the short-term security of your load. Lower attachment points are better, as they result in a shallower angle between the load-bearing segment of the tie-down to the trailer and a more secure arrangement.

Some people prefer to leave their suspension free, or uncompressed, while hauling their UTV. One way to do that is to tie the machine down by its tires using ratchet-style wheel bonnets.


How to Unload Your UTV Correctly

When unloading your UTV, rolling down the ramp should require even less throttle than the amount you used to get into the trailer. Gravity is your friend. Just make sure you cover the brake should you be dealing with a steep decline.

Remember, when it comes to hauling your UTV, safety’s your first and foremost consideration—just as it is when you’re operating your side by side. Always abide by the instructions in your owner’s manual, and make sure all components of your transport system—from the trailer’s tires and lights to the ratchets on your straps—are in good condition before each and every use. Then it’s time to hit the road…so you can hit the trail!