OUTDOORSMAN: Changin’ Times, Changin’ Needs

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When we started in ATV publishing biz 13 years ago, it forever changed the way I enjoy the outdoors. Up until then I had spent a lot of time on and around ATVs, but I’d never owned my own ATV or felt a strong desire to purchase one.

In those early years we piled loads of miles on the latest and sometimes not the greatest ATVs the industry had to offer. The big debate of the 90’s was the emergence of Polaris’ belt driven CVT vs. the time tested standard synchromesh gear transmission and for the most part there was no talk of purpose-built 2-uppers or side-x-sides.

Manufacturers soon recognized the changing needs of their target market and it wasnÂ’t long before we saw Bombardier introduce the 2-up Traxter Max. John Deere had the Gator and Kawasaki had it’s Mule, but Polaris set the bar to new heights with the introduction of the Polaris Ranger 4WD.

Each year I am privileged to a long list of press units on loan to us for evaluating, but I have personally laid down my own money for three: a 2-stroke 400 Polaris Explorer, a Can-Am 400 Outlander and I now own a 400 Polaris Ranger.

The Explorer and the Outlander were absolutely stellar ATVs meeting – for the most part – all my needs as an outdoorsman, but after filming the “Camp Life” segment for Dirt Trax Television last summer I realized the versatility of the Ranger was unmatched for doing what I love.

I enjoy bass fishing the backcountry lakes in my area and I can throw my 14-foot Sportspal on the boat rack secured to the Ranger, load the tackle and cooler in the box and fasten my electric trolling motor on the tailgate. All this and have a fishing buddy sit next to me to chitchat while we ride out to the boat launch.

I certainly have taken my share of good-natured ribbing about being too old for ATVs, but the funny thing is my Ranger seems to be everyone’s favorite when we plan a fishing adventure and I am more often than not relegated to the passenger seat.

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