Can an ATV Float?

At some point while riding your ATV, you may ask yourself, "Can an ATV float?" It would be awesome, wouldn't it? The answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no, so read this post to learn more.

Which ATVs Will Float and Which ATVs Won’t Float

atv riding in water.jpg

Yes, you read that header correctly. Some ATVs will float and some won't. All ATVs will require some additions to both float and be ridable.

The Foreman is a well-known floater. With some flotation added and some waterproofing, you can ride this ATV in the water.

Some ATVs, like the Mojave 250, won't even float with flotation devices and without a rider on board.

Unfortunately, there isn't a list of ATVs that do and don't float. You'll have to research your existing ATV model or one you are thinking of buying and learn more about the experiences other riders are having and how waterproof your ATV is. The ATV's rated wading depth will be a good starting point to discover how waterproof your ATV is. The higher the depth, the better the chances that you'll be able to make your ATV float safely.

Of course, weight is a factor. ATVs under 750 lbs can float, but they can't hold a rider at the same time. This means it will help you if your ATV ends up in the water, say if you're ice fishing and the ice cracks. You can more easily recover your ATV, but you won't be able to ride it in the water.

Children's ATVs may or may not be able to float depending on their materials, model, and weight.

ATVs over 750 lbs may float, but you'll need to add appropriate flotation assistance.

The weight impacts the ability of the ATV to stay high in the water, not to withstand being in the water. You'll have to waterproof your ATV to float it safely.

What it means for an ATV to not float

An ATV that can't float can mean one that literally won't stay upright or high in the water. It also includes ATVs that technically do float but get damaged by water because they aren't protected. You will then have a difficult time making your ATV drivable again, and you might have damage to repair.

Off-road waders will keep you dry and safe in water and mud
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Extra Flotation Devices for an ATV

atv float.jpg

Flotation tires

Yes, that's a thing. It's an easy addition too. Flotation tires are wider and contain a larger volume of air so they can displace water around your ATV and increase buoyancy. Flotation tires with paddles help you more easily steer your ATV in the water.

Flotation attachments

Expect to add an average of 5 cubic feet of flotation to your ATV. Your individual model may need a little less or a little more, but that's a good number to aim for.

Flotation attachments may be added to the front, back, or the sides of the machine.

You can use many things to float your ATV, but styrofoam is the best flotation material.

You attach the styrofoam to your ATV by using either a pre-filled nylon case with styrofoam inside or making flotation boxes for your ATV and putting styrofoam inside yourself.

You can also purchase flotation cylinders that you attach to your ATV or make yourself by sculpting styrofoam into cylinders.

There are emergency flotation devices on the market that you attach to your ATV and activate in an emergency. They aren't for riding your ATV in the water but keeping it from sinking so your ATV can be retrieved from deep water.

Attaching flotation devices

Always use hardware of some kind to attach flotation devices to your ATV. Bolts, metal brackets, or chains are good choices. It seems like you could just strap your flotation devices on, but they could easily get worked loose or fall off and cause you to lose your flotation mid-float.

ATV flotation boat

This is a whole different animal, but if you want to take your ATV on the water without getting it in the water, it is possible to build yourself a "boat" that can even be maneuvered by attaching the wheels to axles that turn waterwheels. It has been done. It would probably be wise to still waterproof your ATV so it is protected in case something goes wrong.

Off-road waders will keep you dry and safe in water and mud
Find out the best look for you

Tips to Keep Your ATV Alive When Riding in Deep Water

atv in deep water.jpg

Before you take your ATV in the water:

  • grease every single moving part
  • put high-electrolyte grease on all electrical connections
  • check the stator gasket to see that it is sound and add silicone to it
  • protect wires that go through cases by covering the entrances with silicone
  • secure boots with zip-ties
  • put a snorkel kit on your ATV

Riding your ATV in the water:

  • rethink your center of balance, it may be more towards the middle
  • when using the throttle, pull on the handle and lean back to raise the front of the ATV and improve steering
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