How Much Snow Can an ATV Handle?

All-terrain vehicles (ATV’s) are specifically designed for all types of terrain from mud, to rocks, the plains, and even snow. Snow is by far the most difficult for all vehicles because of the freezing temperatures that coincide with the white stuff. Not only do you have to worry about the sheer amount of snow, which you can get stuck in, but you also have to take into account the freezing temperature that can affect both you and your machine, and make slipping a big issue.

How much snow can an ATV handle? How much snow an ATV can handle depends on the traction you can get.  With the right modifications, your ATV should be able to easily tackle upwards of 2 feet of snow in your ATV with the right modifications.

The modifications you will want if you are riding in a lot of snow aim to improve:

  • Traction
  • Power
  • Plowing

The more traction you have, the greater the amount of snow you can traverse in your ATV. The same can be said for power and plowing ability. If you are able to push more snow out of your way, it will make it easier for you to traverse the terrain. 

This article will explore what modifications can be made to your ATV that will coincide with the aspects of your ATV as mentioned above. Even if you do not plan to use your ATV for heavy snow terrain, this article will give helpful advice on items or things you should think about when riding your ATV in all types of conditions. 

Improving the Snow Capabilities of Your ATV

All-terrain vehicles are extremely customizable. You can make your ATV perfectly suited for the type of terrain you will be experiencing when you ride by simply changing out a few parts. 

You should always refer back to your owner’s manual to see the lowest temperature at which your ATV can operate. Most owner’s manuals will have outlined ways you can reduce the temperature that your ATV can operate in. Some small, easy steps or additions you can add to your ATV that can help it run at lower temperatures include:

  • Freeze resistant fluid (We like Engine Ice, but there are lots of options).
  • An Electronic Fuel Injector (EFI) 

These parts and accessories ensure that your ATV can start in freezing temperatures. The hardest part about cold weather, as any vehicle owner can surely attest to, is getting your vehicle to start up in the below freezing temperatures. Once you get your ATV started, the heat from the engine keeps everything warm and powered so you can go on your adventure.


By far the most important part of your ATV to consider when determining what terrain you will be facing, ATV tires directly relate to how much traction you will be getting from your ATV. Tires are the part of your ATV that will be in constant contact with the ground and determine whether your ATV will make it in the snow.

Special ATV tires are made for all kinds of terrains. Most tire manufacturers make cheap tires that can be used for “all terrain,” which is a shaky statement at best. In order to get the best performance from your ATV on the type of terrain you will be facing, it is vital that you get the tires made specifically for that terrain. 

For snow terrain, you want tires that meet the following categories:

  • Rigid tires
  • Large radial paddle
  • Raised ribs
  • Wide 

The ridges on the tires are known as tread blocks. They are the raised pattern that fully encompass your tire. The more these ridges protrude outwards from your tire base, the deeper  snow your ATV can travel through. The rigid tires dig into the snow and allow you to gain more traction than if you had smooth tires. 

Radial paddles are exactly what they sound like. Radial paddles are raised sections on the tire that can span the entire width of the tire. They give the tire the look as if it is the paddle of a paddle boat and function in much the same way as large ridges. Radial paddles are more important than ridges when you are traveling through deep snow as they are able to push you through soft terrain. 

The raised ribs on snow tires are a combination of both the rigid tread blocks and radial paddles. Raised ribs will be located on tread blocks and look much like the radial paddles. Raised ribs are specially made for moderately deep snow to little amounts of snow so that you can maintain great traction while still having the smoothest ride as possible. 

The next aspect of the tire you have to take into account when determining how much snow your ATV will be able to traverse is the width of your tire. You want a wider tire when dealing with deeper snow to spread out the weight of your ATV over a larger area. The more spread out the weight is, the less likely your ATV will sink in the snow and get stuck. The wider the tires means a greater distribution of the weight of your ATV over a larger area. 

If you want our recommendation on an excellent snow tire, check out the Maxxis Snow Tires.

Are there Adjustments to Help in Deeper Snow?

Yes! There are many adjustments you can make to customize your ATV to make it be able to function and excel in all types of terrain, especially snow. These adjustments can be made to different places of the ATV. You can add accessories to your ATV or add additions to already modified parts on your ATV. 

ATV Tracks

ATV Tracks are the most obvious choice, but they are expensive and limit your riding to only snow.  However, if you are riding in deep snow and not on roads or dirt or anything else, replacing your wheels with tracks are your best option to avoid getting stuck.

Tire Accessories

With tires being the most important part of your ATV when it comes to traversing over snow, you can further customize them to ensure that you have the best traction possible. 

There are two ways you can add traction to your tires through the addition of accessories: chains and ice spikes. Tires chains are the most common way to add traction to your tires in snowy or icy conditions. The downside of having tire chains on your ATV is that you cannot go full speed since the chains could break sending metal chunks flying in all directions. 

These chains are our favorite, but they do come with a hefty price tag-

Ice spikes or studs are rubber spikes on the tire that are cone shaped. The shape allows the tire to be able to grip icy surfaces by poking holes in the ice and gaining traction through that method. These studs are tailored towards travel across ice instead of snow. 

-You can find a lot of different options here on Amazon-


Even if you customize your ATV with everything to make it a beast when it comes to traveling through snowy terrain, there is always a possibility that you will get stuck along your journey. When you do get stuck, it could take hours for you to dig your heavy ATV out of the snow. You have to work it back and forth till you get the ATV free which requires a ton of effort. 

You can save a lot of time and energy by installing a winch on your ATV. The winch allows you to be able to pull your ATV out of snow drift very easily. All you have to do is find a sturdy tree or rock to tie the winch around and turn it on. The winch will do all the hard work of dragging your ATV out of the deep snow. 

Check out our Recommended Gear for our Winch recommendations.


If all else fails and you find yourself completely stuck and unable to get out while on a trail or you are riding your ATV in weather conditions that limit sight range, you need to have plenty of lights on your ATV in order to be seen. The ability to be seen by others is vital for your safety when driving any ATV. 

We use the sweet lights from Gorilla Whips, which we reviewed not long ago.


ATV riding in the snow is a ton of fun! If you haven’t done it yet, you need to give it a try. There are some things you can do to make your ride more fun and hit the deeper snow. Just make sure to be careful!

One safety tool I like to have on me when riding in snow or other places I may get stuck is some recovery boards. They are a life saver at getting traction when you need it.

Brent Huntley

Brent Huntley is the owner of ATV Man and is responsible for almost all the material on the website. He also runs and loves to travel and ride ATVs with his family. When he isn't playing, his day job consists of owning Huntley Law.

Recent Posts