If you are a big camping fan, then an ATV can be the perfect addition to your nature exploring gear. If you want to know what the best four-wheeler for camping is, keep on reading for my full guide on ATV camping.
The best ATV for camping is a quad with generous cargo space, large fuel capacity, and enough power to conquer difficult trails with ease. When comparing ATVs for camping, take a look at the front and back racks capacities, as well as the total payload capacity of the vehicle. Since campers require enough space to haul equipment, this is the main specification to keep in mind when browsing. From this perspective, the best four-wheeler for camping is the Can-Am Outlander Max XT 570, with a total payload capacity of 1300 lbs. Other ATVs with large cargo capacity ideal for camping are the Polaris Sportsman 850, Yamaha Kodiak 700 EPS SE, Arctic Cat Alterra 700 EPS SE, Honda Foreman Rubicon DCT EPS.
While storage capacity is the first specification I look at when choosing an ATV for camping, there are other factors to take into account such as engine power, fuel capacity, comfort of riding, and more. Let’s take a closer look at my top 5 picks for camping ATVs and their best features.
Top 5 Best ATVs for Camping
As a fellow outdoors enthusiast, I have taken my ATV on quite a few camping trips. During these experiences, I easily realized that cargo space is highly important, especially when you go out in the woods for a week or more. While you can invest in a trailer to haul all of your gear, strapping it to your quad will make it much easier to explore tight or rocky trails.
Moving past cargo capacity, another factor I take into account is how much fuel my quad will consume on the camping trip. As a general rule, big bores will consume more fuel which is why they are not my first choice for an ATV bought especially for camping. Since you will be spending a lot of time away from a gas station, ideally you will opt for a medium-sized quad that has a low MPG (miles per gallon) average. Large fuel capacity is always a plus when thinking about fuel usage.
These are my top two considerations when looking at the best ATV for camping. However, there are other specs that will always be important for a new quad owner such as engine capacity, transmission type, suspensions, ground clearance, and of course, price.
I will go over all of these details in the following list of top 5 camping ATVs. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the first model on the list, the 2021 Can-Am Outlander Max XT 570.
#1 2021 Can-Am Outlander Max XT 570
The first four-wheeler you should take into consideration is Can-Am’s mid-range utility ATV, equipped with an adjustable rear rack. This 240 lbs rack can easily be switched to a cargo bed, providing more space for large equipment such as a tent or a cooler. The front rack is quite spacious too, with a capacity of up to 120 lbs.
The payload capacity of the ATV is 1300 lbs, but this can be a deceiving specification if you are not properly informed. This value takes into account the complete weight that the ATV can carry, including the rider and possible passengers.
Subtract your weight and the capacities of the racks to determine how much more cargo you can strap to the sides of the quad. I recommend steering clear of the maximum capacity, since your four-wheeler might have a difficult time riding at full power with a heavy load.
Aside from its impressive cargo capacity, the Outlander Max XT 570 is equipped with a Rotax V-twin engine that produces 48 horsepower. Even though this is a mid-sized quad, Can-Am has a knack for delivering powerful machines that can handle all types of terrain. The fuel capacity on this four-wheeler is 5.4 gal.
While I do not think EPS is necessary for a good camping experience, having some help with steering when hauling cargo is a plus. Can-Am equipped this ATV with their well-known Tri-Mode Dynamic Power Steering system, CVT transmission, as well as selectable 2WD/4WD drive train.
The ride comfort on the Outlander is another selling point, with Double A-Arm front suspension and Torsional Trailing Arm Independent rear suspension. Ground clearance for this trail beast is 10.5 inches, more than enough to avoid stumps and rocks on your way to the campsite.
The only downside to this ATV is that it is an expensive purchase, priced at $12,299. Can-Am is well known for being one of the priciest ATV and UTV brands on the market, and this can steer a new buyer away. Having said that, if your budget allows it, the package of features on this quad are well worth it in my opinion.
#2 2022 Polaris Sportsman 850
The Polaris Sportsman 850 comes in second place in terms of cargo space, with a similar rack weight distribution: 120 lbs in the front rack and 240 lbs in the back. The big difference stems in the total payload capacity, that is only 575, compared to 1300 lbs on the Can-Am. That being said, the Sportsman comes with an advantageous extendable rack system out of factory, with 6 rack extenders included in the price.
This ATV has the highest engine capacity on today’s list, showcasing an 850cc ProStar Twin Cylinder engine that produces 78 horsepower. Out of the ATVs I am reviewing today; this is the only quad without electronic power steering. Therefore, the Sportsman 850 is a powerful beast that needs to be controlled.
If you are a fan of Polaris but want a mid-sized quad from them, the Sportsman 450 and 570 still come with large cargo space. The payload capacity on these ATVs is of 485 lbs, so the difference is not that big compared to their larger engine counterpart.
In case you are planning to get a Polaris ATV, you might want to check out this article I wrote where I highlight the top 6 Can-Am ATV problems and the best ways to fix them.
Still, I am a fan of this well-rounded vehicle, equipped with CVT transmission, Straight Dual A-Arm suspension, and a remarkable ground clearance of 11.5 inches. The 2022 Polaris Sportsman 850 is priced at around $9,999.
#3 2021 Yamaha Kodiak 700 EPS SE
Next on my list is the Kodiak 700, a classic machine that Yamaha fans love. The 2021 version comes with Electronic Power Steering and a few other upgrades, making the riding experience more comfortable for camping.
Cargo capacity is surprising for a seemingly sports-oriented ATV, with a 110 lbs front rack and a 198 lbs rear rack. On top of that, Yamaha equipped this four-wheeler with an on-board storage compartment, that can keep your electronics safe from the weather.
Just like the Polaris Sportsman 850, the Yamaha Kodiak 700 EPS SE can be considered a big bore ATV. The 2021 model features a 686cc 4-stroke engine, on-command 4WD system, and Ultramatic V-belt transmission.
Fuel capacity is of 4.76 gal, making it almost necessary to bring an additional fuel can with you on the road. Nonetheless, I recommend taking a jerry can with you regardless of the ATV you choose, just in case you have some unexpected trail adventure while camping.
The new ergonomic design and added features make this powerful quad an easy to maneuver vehicle that can tackle tight curbs with ease. Ground clearance is of 10.8 inches – plenty of space to avoid obstacles on the trail.
As for suspension, we can notice an Independent double-wishbone system both in the front and rear, with an additional anti-sway bar in the back. If you are considering buying the Yamaha Kodiak 700 EPS SE, then know that the starting price for this ATV is $10,199.
#4 2021 Arctic Cat Alterra 700 EPS SE
Arctic Cat is a well-established ATV brand, known mainly for their Alterra line. While you might see this manufacturer on other top lists for performance and affordability, today they are in the spotlight for impressive cargo space.
Namely, their Arctic Cat Alterra 700 EPS SE comes with a front rack capable of carrying 100 lbs, and a rear rack with up to 200 lbs of cargo capacity. You will easily be able to tow all of your camping gear with this ATV, which has a total payload capacity of 515 lbs.
The 2021 Alterra 700 comes with EPS and a 695cc four-stroke engine capable of producing 41 horsepower. Fuel capacity on this camping ATV is of 5.7 gal.
For comfort while riding and adaptability to any type of terrain, Arctic Cat equips their new quad with Double A-Arm front and rear suspension, as well as a design that allows 11 inches of ground clearance. As for value, you are looking at a price starting at $11,789.
#5 2022 Honda Foreman Rubicon DCT EPS
Considered one of the most reliable ATV brands out there and a serial manufacturer of utility ATVs, there is little surprise that Honda made the cut for my top 5 best ATVs for camping. The only surprising fact is that it is last on the list, but that it is taking into consideration strictly front and rear rack capacity. As for towing, this quad takes the cake out of every option in this article, with up to 1,322lbs.
Even so, since not everyone wants to invest in a trailer or a new rack, I still want to look at the standard rack capacity. The Honda Foreman Rubicon DCT EPS is equipped with the largest cargo capacity out of Honda’s 2021 models, with a 99 lbs front rack and a 187 lbs rear rack.
If easy steering is high on your list of priorities, you will be pleased to know that this four-wheeler comes with automatic dual clutch transmission and electronic power steering. The engine on the Foreman Rubicon is a 518cc single-cylinder four-stroke motor producing 27 horsepower.
This ATV is equipped with double wishbone suspension on the front, and an Independent Dual-Arm suspension in the rear. Since this is a utility quad, it is not surprising to see that it comes with the lowest ground clearance on our list at 9.4 inches. Still, this is enough to arrive safely at a campsite in the woods or by the lake.
Fuel capacity is of only 3.9 gal, but Honda equips this ATV with a reserve for an additional 1.3 gal on the road. The newest Honda Foreman Rubicon with DCT and EPS available has a starting price of $9,999.
Must-Have ATV Camping Gear
Camping can be a load of fun, but quite tricky if you forget an important item. This is why I recommend you put together a list of all the gear you will need on your trip. Personally, I love camping with friends and have gotten quite used to packing for a nature expedition. I have a list of the best ATV and dirt bike gear that you should consider checking out. I go over the pros and cons of my favorite boots, chest harnesses, gloves, and helmets!
Aside from essentials such as a tent, sleeping bag, change of clothes, cooking utensils, and enough groceries for the trip, I like to make sure I am prepared to face any ATV problem I might face on the road.
Since you will be spending at least a few days away from civilization, it is always a good idea to pack an ATV emergency kit. I like to include a tire repair kit, because this is the most common issue you can face when trail riding. This includes a marker, a tire scuffer, rubber cement, a few tire patches, and a buffer tool.
If you want to know how I use these tools to easily fix a busted tire, check out my easy guide on patching ATV tires like a pro.
Other tools that have come in handy on the trail in my years of riding are: an air compressor, wrench, screw driver, pliers, duct tape, a Swiss knife, and a flashlight. These are always in my go-to bag, just in case me or one of my friends get into trouble. Other tools that are helpful to have with you are: jumper booster cables, zip ties, electric wires, and tow rope for when an emergency repair is not possible. Do not forget to take a jerry can with fuel for the road back from your campsite!
ATVs are versatile vehicles that can be your adventure partner in all types of situations. If you are purchasing a four-wheeler especially for camping, then you need to pay close attention to the cargo space and payload capacity of your future vehicle. In case you are buying a used ATV, then make sure to ask the previous owner about average fuel consumption. While all the quads I shared with you today are strong contenders for the best ATV for camping title, I believe the Can-Am Outlander Max XT 570 has everything that it takes to make your next outdoors experience successful!