All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and the related Utility Task Vehicles (UTVs) don’t necessarily need to be purely recreational vehicles. They can be quite functional and are useful for a number of purposes. One of the best tools you get with an ATV or UTV is its hauling capacity, but not every model has the same hauling capabilities. If you’re going to be hauling regularly, then you’ll want a vehicle that can keep up. So, which ATV or UTV should you choose?
Which UTVs and ATVs have the highest hauling capacity? The Can-Am Outlander, Polaris Sportsman, and Intimidator GC1K have some of the highest hauling capacities of any UTVs or ATVs available. These vehicles can haul heavier loads than anything else out there.
If you are getting an ATV or UTV for hauling, you may want to check out this article from us designed to help decide what is best for use on a farm or ranch, as it hits other considerations as well.
We’ll break down each of the above vehicles later in this article. First, it’s crucial for you to understand what the term “hauling capacity” really means. We’ll discuss the conditions that affect how much you can haul and how you can overcome less than ideal conditions in the following sections.
Understanding Hauling Capacity
It is important to realize that the hauling capacity listed by the manufacturer is a rolling capacity under idealized conditions. Well, you probably won’t be hauling under ideal conditions, or you wouldn’t be using an ATV or a UTV. You need to understand what the ideal conditions are and how the actual conditions you will be operating in will affect how much hauling capacity you will actually have with any given vehicle.
What is Rolling Capacity
The hauling capacity listed by the manufacturer lists the rolling capacity. This means that the load you are hauling needs to be supported by freely turning wheels without scraping on the ground. If you are dragging the load, you’re hauling on the ground behind the vehicle; this will add friction, which will significantly decrease the hauling capacity.
Be sure to use a trailer or logging arch to keep your load up off the ground. Exceeding the hauling capacity or having too much weight dragging behind the vehicle can put a strain on the frame or suspension of the vehicle, increasing the chances of an accident.
It Matter what Surface You are Hauling on
The listed hauling capacity assumes that you are hauling on a hard, even surface. The perfect surface would be a paved road, but dirt or grass should be nearly as good as long as the surface is firm enough to support the full weight. If the wheels are sinking into the ground or you’re trying to haul through mud, sand, wetness or anything else, you won’t be able to handle as much weight as the hauling capacity lists.
Going Uphill Reduces Hauling Capacity
Unsurprisingly, a flat surface is the easiest surface to haul across. The hauling capacity listed by manufacturers assumes that you are riding across a flat surface. In real life, you are likely going to need to haul up and down hills or inclines and go over bumps and ditches from time to time. Be aware that this will put a greater strain on the vehicle and will lower the towing capacity.
If you are trying to move uphill at a greater angle than the vehicle can handle, you can use a winch to pull the vehicle and its load up the worst parts. Going down is trickier. If you don’t already have a winch, check out our guide here.
Most ATVs or UTVs are capable of hauling more weight behind them than they themselves actually weigh. This is fine on an even surface or even on an uphill climb, but going downhill, it could be impossible for your vehicle to slow down or stop. This can be extremely dangerous, and you’ll need to plan your route accordingly so you don’t end up underneath the load you are hauling.
The Can-Am Outlander is our Recommended ATV if Hauling is Your Top Priority
The Can-Am Outlander has a massive 1650-lb hauling capacity, among the highest of all major ATVs. Beyond simple hauling capacity, the Outlander is designed to haul big loads, and with a 2-inch hitch receiver, you can easily connect your trailer to take advantage of it.
The Outlander is available in 91-hp, 78-hp, and 62-hp models. All of these are listed as having the same hauling capacity, but you can expect that speed and acceleration will be affected more drastically on the lower horsepower models. If you are interested in increasing horsepower and torque on your ATV, look at this handy guide.
The most expensive of the Outlander models, the 1000R, also uses a throttle by wire, which allows for drive modes. These modes are standard, sport, and work. If you’re hauling heavy loads, you’ll enjoy the extra benefits you get using the work mode. The work mode will dial out the throttle response with a lighter thumb press to reduce unexpected jerks and jumps as you hit bumps in the road. You’ll have more control and will be less likely to damage your cargo, your vehicle or yourself.
With the addition of a large front sway bar as part of the suspension system, the Can-Am Outlander does an incredible job of keeping all four wheels firmly planted on the ground even with heavy loads. You won’t need to use a lot of lean to keep the vehicle on the ground even when you’re going fast around corners or when you’re hauling a heavy load. The machine does the work for you, keeping you smooth and stable through the corners.
The Can-Am Outlander is built for power and utility. It isn’t the most comfortable or sporty machine out there. If those things are more important than hauling, we suggest the Polaris Sportsman, but if hauling is your main goal and you need max capacity out of an ATV, you won’t beat the Can-Am Outlander.
The Polaris Sportsman is going to give you the best Hauling Capacity in a well-rounded ATV
The Polaris Sportsman is an impressive ATV for any rider. If you’re looking to use the vehicle for speed and utility while also riding in comfort, the Sportsman is a great option. The Sportsman comes in four models, with the highest two, the 850 and the 1000 having a hauling capacity of 1500 pounds.
While it falls just short of the hauling capacity of the Can-Am Outlander, we think you will enjoy the Polaris Sportsman more. Considering its size and power, the Polaris Sportsman is incredibly comfortable. You get a nice roomy saddle so that even larger riders will have room to stretch their legs and extend their arms while riding. The seat, however, is nice and narrow, allowing you to sit without feeling like your legs are being splayed out.
The option for Electronic Power Steering (EPS) makes the vehicle easy to control, even when hauling a heavy load. That, combined with an impressive suspension system and a responsive braking system, make riding the machine a smooth and enjoyable experience. The Polaris Sportsman can go fast and haul heavy loads, all in comfort and style.
If you want an ATV that is good for work, can haul a heavy load, and is still fun to play with on the weekends, take a look at the Sportsman.
The Intimidator GC1K is our top choice for a UTV with great hauling capacity
Generally speaking, UTVs have greater hauling capacity than ATVs and for good reason. UTVs are intended as workhorses with less recreational value (although that is quickly changing with the more sporty models flooding the industry).
It isn’t hard to find a UTV that will surpass both of the ATVs we listed here in hauling capacity. That being said, the Intimidator GC1K is a monster even within the UTV classification. With a massive, 2500-lb hauling capacity, the Intimidator can keep up with whatever you throw at it.
The intimidator GC1K also includes a cargo space at the back with collapsible sides, allowing for conversion to a true flatbed. This bed allows for an electric dump assist for help unloading, which is a nice added benefit.
Depending on what you’re hauling, you may not even need a trailer. If you can fit what you need right into the vehicle, things will be that much easier for you.
This vehicle is built to last and to overcome any obstacle. The machine has an impressive suspension system, a large rear-wheel differential, and extremely plush and comfortable bench seating. The undercarriage even comes equipped with a metal skid plate to prevent damage from beneath.
The Intimidator is built to be a comfortable ride, no matter how hard you push it. While it may have come as a surprise that something from Honda, Yamaha or one of the other mega brands didn’t top our list, but this UTV is superior for hauling heavy loads and being a workhorse in our opinions.
The Intimidator GC1K is a mule, designed to haul heavy and work hard. While it can reach speeds of up to 65 miles per hour, it isn’t what you want if recreational riding is your thing. If you aree looking for a practical machine that can handle some basic trail riding, this is your machine.
Hopefully we helped you understand a little more about towing capacity and what you should be looking for. The three machines above got our top recommendation, but there are plenty of other great rides with high towing capacities. The numbers we gave you for these machines should be a good anchor point for you compare different models and find the right one for you.