There are going to be two types of people reading this. There are those of you that have your ATV parked neatly in the garage, and those of you with your ATV parked haphazardly in a swamp. For your sake, we hope you are not the latter. Regardless, you are wondering what to do when you get your ATV stuck in the mud. You are in luck. We’ve buried our ATV nice and deep plenty of times. (We’ll pretend it was field research, in the name of science.) But, now, our pains can be your gains. We’d be happy to share what we know.
There are seemingly infinite scenarios for a stuck ATV and covering them all would be impossible. To keep things simple, we are dividing it into two categories. We’ll make a section for those of you with an ATV winch, and those without.
Here are a couple things to try or think about before anything else. Will they always help? Absolutely not. But, they are easy enough to do that it’s probably worth at least considering.
Did You Try To Stop?: Did you stop in the middle of the mud intentionally? If you did, take your free hand and use it to slap yourself. Stopping was a mistake. Momentum was your best friend, you should have never let it go. That slap was for them.
Put On Your Thinking Cap: If you’re stuck, it’s time to catch your breath and put on your proverbial thinking cap. Assess the situation. Is there a feasible path out of this spot? Will a change in weight or leverage help? Are there any anchor points nearby to use for a winch? Do I have anyone with me that can help? Hopefully your answer to at least one of these questions is yes.
A Good Old-Fashioned Rock Around: Depending on the depth and consistency of the mud or snow that you are in, sometimes all you need is to throw your weight around. You can throw your shoulders side to side to take a chance at traction, or you can rock it back and forth. Put your ATV in reverse, gently back up as far as you can, and then stop yourself while as far back as possible. Then put your ATV back in first and try to go forward gently. Keep following this pattern and expand the opening around your tires. By doing this, you can build up a rocking momentum, which might be just enough to get you out. Keep in mind that this will only work in certain conditions, and if it isn’t helping, it’s probably making it worse. If you don’t see progress, just cut your losses and move on to the next strategy.
Tips For Getting Your ATV Unstuck Without a Winch:
The section for those of you without a winch was listed first intentionally. We put this first because you are most likely the people with your ATV in a swamp and you’re more likely to be desperate for a way out. We’ll cover a couple of your best options.
Get By With A Little Help From Your Friends: If you are riding with a friend or in a group, have another member of the group give you a tow! They could use their winch, or just a strap.
Grab A Shovel: It might seem a bit obvious. But, for some of you, this might not be such a bad option, especially if it’s your only option. As long as the mud or snow isn’t too runny or too deep, a little bit of shovel work might be all you need.
A Poor Man’s Winch: If you won’t be carrying a winch, you should carry a come-along. They are cheap, relatively small, and incredibly handy in situations like these. Suction is keeping you from moving your ATV by hand, but with the help of a come-along, you should have all the muscle you’ll need at a fraction of the cost of a winch. For this to work, you’ll need the come-along, possibly a heavy duty strap to extend your reach, and a strong and sturdy anchor to attach to. This is a great option for a lot of you, and is the best way to go into your next ride prepared for the worst.
Tips For Getting Your ATV Unstuck With A Winch:
If you have a winch, then you’re one of the lucky ones! Winches are the easiest way to get yourself out of a sticky situation. But, improperly using your winch can be ineffective and downright dangerous. We’ll dig into some of the good and the bad practices that you should be aware of.
Grab Some Gloves: if your winch is running a metal cable, you are going to want some gloves before you handle it. The cables will form little burrs from time and use, and if you handle it with your bare hands you are just begging for a sliver.
Find An Anchor Point: Now that you have your gloves on, you’re ready to handle your winch. But first, you need to find something to hook up to. You see that nice tree behind you? It’s useless. You need a clear path between your winch and your anchor. In order to actually use your winch, you need to be able to pull almost perfectly straight forward. The more of an angle you pull at, the more likely your winch is to coil itself incorrectly and make a mess of things. So, now, you’ve settled on a tree in front of you. It was a little far, but luckily you brought a spare strap to give you a little extra distance.
Make An Anchor Point: If you don’t see this tree we are talking about, you had better buy an anchor point. Land Anchors are drilled deep into the ground so that you have something to pull against. Make sure it is dug in deep.
Line Damper: So, you are ready to start winching, right? Well, you could. But we wouldn’t. If that cable breaks while you are winching, you could get a serious injury. You need a line damper to slow it down in the instance of a snap, so that the recoil will be less violent. If you don’t want to buy one, even just draping a strap or sweatshirt over it is better than nothing.
Time To Winch: We recommend going slow and steady. There is a lot of pressure on that winch, don’t be afraid to give it a second to cool down.
Battery Life: Winches are a fantastic way to drain your battery. If you will be using your winch a lot, you had better have a great battery to go with it.
Snatch Block: If you doubt your winch’s abilities, double down with a snatch block. It can increase your winch’s pulling capacity.
Easy On The Trees, Man: Wrapping your metal cable around a tree is hard on the tree, and wrapping your synthetic cable around a tree is hard on your cable. Grab a wide strap to attach around the tree instead, mother nature will thank you.
Well, there you have it. By this point, your ATV should be running wild again, free as a bird. If it’s not? You might have to leave it behind, leave it ALL behind… Get out of town, change your name. Buy a cottage in a fishing village, maybe somewhere in Nova Scotia. Pay with cash. Then, start working on the docks. It might not be much, but it’s yours, and no one will make fun of you for completely burying your ATV out there. Good luck.
Maybe we are being dramatic. After all, when you are riding your ATV, the important thing is that you have fun. Or, had fun, til you got stuck. We hope our tips were of some use, and we hope you got out nice and easy. Do you have any questions? Maybe your own tips or tricks for getting your ATV loose? Leave them in the comments below.