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Trail Riding Close to Home – Tips for Weekend Trips

While most of us would like to get in our Argos and skip the daily grind for weeks of outdoor adventuring, we’re usually limited to the occasional short trip most of the year. Even if you only plan a day or two in the outdoors, there are plenty of things that can go south on your trip. These tips will help you plan your next trip and make sure you get through it safely.

Making a Trip Plan

Do you have the right permits? Both Pennsylvania and Maryland require off-road vehicles to be registered with state agencies, even if you don’t live in that state. Other states require a vehicle registry or a park pass. You can usually get these registrations and passes online or by mail before your trip. Your amphibious ATV will usually be categorized as a UTV or ORV due to its width and weight.

Do you have the right equipment? Some trails may require you to carry items like jacks or a fire extinguisher.

How will you stay in touch with the outside world? It’s always good to have a backup for your phone in case you’re out of cellular range, or you break your phone.

Does someone know where you’re going, and when you’re expected back? If you are lost or injured, they can notify the park or off-road area.

Who is traveling with you, and how? You should never go out alone, no matter how skilled you are or how good your equipment is. If they’re traveling in the same vehicle, make sure you have safety equipment for them.

Vehicle Maintenance

– Check the tire pressure. Remember that the tire pressure should match the type of terrain you’ll be on: low for soft surfaces and high for hard surfaces and amphibious use.

– Have you looked at the drive chains lately? Even if you have an automatic oiler, your Argo’s chains need to be cleaned periodically.

– How old is the gas in your XTV’s tank? Even fuel-injected engines can have trouble using gas that is over three months old. That includes fuel treated with a stabilizer. Add some fresh fuel to the tank, and any fuel cans you carry with you.

– Take a look inside the air box. Air filters are a frequent target of rodents, and the bits of foam and paper they leave behind can clog your intake.

– While you can check the ground under most vehicles for oil, any leaks from your XTV’s engine or transmission will land on the inside of the hull. Be sure to check for wetness below these components.

– Do a general check of the engine. Is there enough oil in the crankcase? If you have a Kohler engine, does it have plenty of coolant? Is the battery holding a charge?

– If your vehicle has a winch, make sure it’s working and the rope is spooled correctly.

Putting Together Your Equipment

– Everyone on your trip needs their own helmet and life jacket. Look over these items for damage, and make sure they fit correctly.

– Have a bailing bucket and an oar on board for crossing water. While you may not need these items, they can get you out of a jam if you need to make a quick maneuver, or you splash water into the cab.

– Check your electronic devices. Are they fully charged and updated? Do you have charging cables and adapters that will work with your vehicle? If you need to use a navigation system, do you have a backup?

– If you have a winch, you need gloves to operate it safely. Even a new rope can split, and the broken strands can do serious damage. Likewise, it’s a good idea to have a damper on hand that you can use to keep the rope from whipping back if it breaks.

– Bring more food and water than you think you’ll need. On a short excursion, an extra day of supplies can make being stranded an inconvenience instead of a dangerous problem.

Getting Your Vehicle Ready to Tow

It’s a good idea to pack your XTV to make sure everything fits securely. However, you should unload your Argo before putting it on your trailer. This lowers the weight your vehicle has to tow, and lets you store your supplies somewhere where they will be protected.

Windshields and convertible tops are not designed to handle highway speeds. Lower both before you drive off.

We Can Help You Keep Your Argo Ready for Your Next Trip

Shank’s Argo is a major Argo dealer with the support you need to get the most out of your amphibious ATV. We have a massive warehouse full of OEM parts and accessories, and our service department can handle repairs and upgrades you don’t want to tackle yourself. Looking to get an XTV? We carry the full range of models, from inexpensive 6x6s to loaded commercial vehicles. Visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA, or online at


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