ATV Night Riding – Is It A Good Idea?

In ATV Setups by Kevin

ATV riding has always been known as something everybody can do at any time and in any conditions without a hassle. riding on mud? check. riding while raining? no problem. kids riding quads…  however, there is something that many riders aren’t so sure about, especially if we are talking about trail riding, and that is using quads at night. some folks think that it’s not a good idea, and there are some others that are fine with it as long as there are some safety precautions in place.

And the truth is somewhere in between. riding at night is definitely doable, but you are going to have to get a few things to make your riding safer and have some things in mind to ensure that nothing bad happens. the most important thing you must have is adequate lighting to ride trails at night. ideally, your quad is going to have headlights, but if not, you are going to have to get yourself a flashlight that is bright enough to provide good visibility of the road ahead. other important stuff includes a jacket and maybe bug repellant depending on the zone that you live in.

Safety Concerns

The first problem with riding after 7 PM is the fact that it’s really hard to see where the quad is going when moving forward. I’m talking about any ditches or holes that might be close to the tires. if you are ready to take the bump then its no problem but unknowingly taking them might take you by surprise and might be scary, let alone dangerous. the best thing to do to avoid this is to wear a helmet mounted flashlight or similar so that you can actually see where you are going. and if not, just get a normal flashlight.

There is also the risk of encountering a wild animal when riding, especially if you are riding deep in the woods. if you do encounter an animal, it’s likely going to be a caribou or deer. because of the risk of being hit by the deer’s antlers, it’s important to be wearing at least a helmet and some chest protection to avoid hurting yourself in case something happens. there might also be a lot of bugs flying around at night too, which is why I recommend the bug repellant.  Other safety concerns include being struck by a tree branch or a tree in general. as long as you have a good flashlight, then this shouldn’t be a problem.

Things To Keep In Mind When Riding At Night

Make sure you are riding as slow as possible. riding way too fast is a recipe for disaster, especially after sunset, so riding conservatively is the best way to arrive at your destination safe and sound, especially if you do not have much light available. if your quad has a throttle limiter, then I would recommend limiting the speed as much as possible if it’s really dark.

Something else is that it can get very chilly after 6 PM. if this is the case where you live, then try to be well covered from feet to head to avoid catching a cold. this can definitely be one of the great things about riding at night: you don’t sweat and the feeling of the cool breeze in your face is fantastic, unlike riding in the day where it can get super hot and sticky.

try not to ride alone after night time. this is because of several reasons, the first one is that you will be able to help each other in case of something happening, like for example a quad getting stuck. it definitely is much harder to get help at night, because of visibility issues and because you probably won’t be able to get help nearby because of the time, and that’s why it’s always wise to get a riding partner when riding at night, somebody that has a winch preferably, which brings me to my next point.

Get Yourself A Winch

I always carry a winch when offroading, and you should also be carrying one, especially at night time. it’s much easier to bog yourself down at night because it’s harder to take the ideal route because of visibility issues. this is in my opinion mandatory for anybody that is going trail riding. a winch is a device that allows you to attach a rope to your quad and pull it out of any sticky situation in case the ATV gets stuck in the mud or in the dirt.

What You Should Have When Riding At Night

Now that you know that riding ATVs at night requires special precautions, you are also going to need to carry or have some extra stuff with you. some of these are pretty obvious, like a flashlight, but others not so much. and even though this safety gear means that you are going to have to spend some extra dollars, it’s definitely well worth it, especially if the gear helps you avoid an accident. You should at the very least get a flashlight and maybe some chest protection if you are going to be riding after sunset. I personally wouldn’t ride unless I have at least those.

Flashlight: Sondiko CREE-XHP70.2

If you are going to ride at night, then a flashlight is a must.

The number 1 thing that you definitely must have if riding at night is a decent flashlight, period. if you are going to be riding on a trail, then it’s going to be really hard to know where to move the quad. you might not see bumps on the ground or incoming trees and branches, which can be really dangerous at night. the ideal thing to do is to get a helmet mounted flashlight similar to those used in industrial sites so that you can grab the handlebar with both hands, but if you can’t get one of those, then a normal flashlight is fine. when it comes to the potency of the flashlight, that is measured in lumens, and the higher the lumen rating, the brighter will the flashlight be. to avoid complicating stuff, anything over 30 lumens will be enough power in pitch black conditions. just make sure you get something that is reliable though. you definitely don’t want to have a flashlight giving you problems in the middle of the night in a dark trail.

If you have the budget for it, then it would be advisable to get a helmet mounted flashlight, so that you can avoid the hassle of grabbing the flashlight with one hand and the quad with the other. this one HG Headlamp, Brightest Headlight with 4 Lighting Models, can also be worn without a helmet on. 

Jackets

It’s also wise to get yourself a jacket because of one reason that you probably already know: it ets really cold at night. chilly winds might feel really comfortable at first, but if you are going to be riding for more than 15 minutes, you are going to start shivering really quickly. so if this is your case, a windbreaker will be your best friend. if you do not have a jacket or if you feel that the one that you have is too bulky for the situation, then a long-sleeved shirt might also do. while the flashy graphics of an MX jersey will be of use to make yourself as visible as possible in dark settings, they do not really provide much cold insulation and so they aren’t well suited for night riding. I would advise to just get a normal jersey with bright colors.

Gloves

Like I said at the top, it gets quite cold at night, so depending on the temperature outdoors, then wearing gloves will be needed to ride comfortably. I would recommend that you get leather gloves but if not, you can always make do with normal ATV gloves. I personally do not ride often at night but when I do, I just wear the gloves that use in the daytime

Bug Repellant Something else that you must know about riding at night: there are bugs everywhere! not only are you going to hear a lot of crickets, but you may or may not feel them in your arms and legs when riding. anyways, to avoid mosquito and bug bites, carrying a bug repellent with you might be wise.

Winch

Last but not least, I would recommend carrying a winch with you when trail riding, especially at night. Getting bogged down in the dirt can be a dire situation at that time, so unless the trail isn’t very hard to travel and is dry, then this is pretty much mandatory. The winch that I’m using right now is called the Superwinch Terra 35, and it hasn’t given me any problems so far, so if you are looking for something reliable that will last you a long time, I would advise that you take a look at that one. I talk a little bit more about winches in this article

Bug Repellant

Something else that you must know about riding at night: there are bugs everywhere! not only are you going to hear a lot of crickets, but you may or may not feel all sorts of mosquitos in your arms and legs when riding. anyways, to avoid bug bites, you are going to have to use bug repellent or some sort of cream if you want to leave the trail without a scratch