Getting around in an Argo amphibious ATV is easy, but navigating when you can go almost anywhere can be hard. How can you keep track of where you’re going? How is route planning different with an Argo XTV compared to a traditional off-road vehicle? Do you need a GPS, or can you get away with using your smartphone for navigation? Here’s what you need to know to answer these questions and get around safely on your next excursion.
What Should I Look for When Choosing Navigation Aids?
There isn’t one single device that does it all, and it never hurts to have a backup. The best solution is to cover your bases with as many options as possible.
Paper maps are reliable, lightweight, don’t need electricity, and give you a wide view of the area you’re in. They’re also marked with information you may not get from a GPS or smartphone, including gates and trail rules.
Why should you have a GPS when you already own a smartphone? The battery lasts longer, and ruggedized versions have no problem being knocked around or getting wet. Any GPS used for off-roading needs to have a track mode. This function records the exact path you take when driving, making it easy to backtrack to your campsite or parking spot. Some devices let you download other people’s tracks, giving you a real-world representation of trails.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) isn’t the only way a navigation device can find your location. There’s also Russia’s GLONASS system, which is functionally identical to GPS. By getting a navigation system that does both, your navigation device has a better chance of staying connected.
Your smartphone might not be rugged, but the flexibility of apps and storage makes it one of the most useful tools in your arsenal. It’s hard to make recommendations for individual apps because different apps will work better in different areas. No matter what you chose, make sure your apps are off-line capable. Even if you’re riding near a town, trees and other natural obstructions can block cell signals.
When shopping around for apps and maps, see what type of file format they can use. KML files used by most on-road navigation apps only have two-dimensional information, while GMX also includes elevation, so they can be used to make topographical maps.
Useful apps go past simple navigation. Park and wilderness area-specific apps can provide real-time information about trail closings and weather. Your smartphone also has a magnetometer that works even if you don’t have a cell or GPS connection. This lets a compass app act as a backup in case you lose or break a physical compass.
Preparing Your Vehicle
The terrain you’ll cover will determine your tire pressure. On soft surfaces like sand, you may want to run tires with as little as 1.5 PSI, while rocky surfaces work best at pressures up to 6 PSI. Crossing water? Airing up your tires gives your vehicle more buoyancy.
Positioning cargo also affects how your vehicle handles. If you’re going to cross water, you may need to shift some weight to the back to get your XTV to float level in the water. Plan on climbing some hills? Pack your heaviest items as low as possible to add stability.
If you don’t know what’s at the crest of the hill, walk to the top on foot. You don’t want to drive your Argo to the top, only to find a cliff face. Always try to drive straight up hills. Your XTV is far more likely to flip if it’s tilted side-to-side, and it can easily climb slopes that are too steep for other off-road vehicles.
Water depth isn’t much of a concern when your vehicle can float. However, your amphibious ATV isn’t invincible. Fast-moving water will carry your vehicle away, and there’s always a chance that there’s a rock or branch reach to snag on the undercarriage. Your best bet is to stick to crossing streams in designated areas.
Track vehicles are limited to water that reaches the top of the hull. Any higher, and your amphibious ATV will float. If you need to cross deep water with tracks, install an outboard motor.
The flat bottom of the hull is hard to high center, especially if your vehicle has a skid plate. However, you should still use a spotter to help you keep from tipping your vehicle.
We Can Help You Get Ready for Your Next Excursion
Shank’s Argo has everything you need to get the most from your amphibious ATV. Our experienced sales staff can help you find the vehicle and accessories that best fit your needs, whether you want an Argo for fun or work. We also offer parts and repairs to keep your machine running. Visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA, or check out our current stock at our website, www.shanksargo.com. Need parts and accessories in the field? When you buy from our website, we can ship your order to any address in the USA or Canada.