By Jon Crowley, UTVGuide.net
Living close to the Sierra Nevada mountains in northern California, we typically get decent amount of snow. Riding UTVs in the snow is always something that interests me and we have been up a few times in year’s past. What I have found is UTVs with normal tires can only handle a certain level of snow, then they get stuck. Getting a UTV unstuck that has snow up to the skid plate takes some serious shoveling and can turn a fun ride in the snow into a lot of work.
The other issue you have is access to riding areas. Some riding areas are open to tracked vehicles only to limit resource damage. These are primarily geared to snowmobiles and showing up in a UTV with tires is not only illegal, but also messes up the snow for snowmobiles.
Snowmobiles are the best solution, but I really didn’t to get into another sport when I already have too much to do with UTVs. The only other solution is to get a set of tracks for your UTV.
I knew that adding tracks to a UTV would take decent power, so I focused on the Polaris RZR XP 1000. The 2015 XP1000 has 110 horsepower I really wanted to add them onto the build I called the “Instigator“. This XP100o was built by TMW Off-Road and features Cognito Motorsports long travel, FOX IBP shocks and a killer SSV Works audio system.
I had planned to add tracks to our Long Travel RZR XP 1000, but the tracks are designed for OEM arms
I studied up on different track options. Polaris has tracks available through dealers for some models, but not the RZR XP 1000. Camoplast, Mattracks and TJD were others I investigated. One thing for sure is they are NOT cheap. You can expect to pay $4,000 to $5,000 for a set of tracks. At that price, you may be better off buying a used snowmobile, but I had a different agenda were making sense doesn’t always prevail.
After searching the internet for info and reading through threads on RZRForums.net, I settled in on Camoplast. In addition to tracks for snowmobiles, ATVs and UTVs, they manufacture tires and wheels for material handling, construction, agriculture, powersports, and defense industries. They are a large company base in Canada with a manufacturing plant in the United States, plus they have been in business for a long time.
I ordered the set before Christmas, and they finally arrived in late January. We were all set to install them on our long travel XP1000 when an issue surfaced that I should have thought of. Camoplast makes specific kits for many models. These kits contain vehicle specific brackets. The tracks mount to the normal wheel studs, but the brackets are used to adjust angle of attack and also steering limiters. What I had failed to grasp in thinking that I could install on the long travel car was these brackets are designed for a car with stock suspension and OEM arms. Crap!
Camoplast T4S Tracks on the Rear of our RZR XP 1000
The saving grace is I had a new FOX Edition XP 1000 demo unit that was going to land at my dealer in mid-February, so I was able to salvage my track plans for this season. Once the new XP 1000 arrived, we got going on the install before we had even taking it for its first ride. The install was a bit more complicated that I would have imagined, but we were impressed with the quality of the product and the instructions. Overall, it took about 4-5 hours to complete with no need for any special tools. We drove it around the asphalt/concrete to ensure everything worked right, then rechecked adjustments and fasteners for torque.
With the install complete, the next problem arose. Where do we find snow? Northern California is in the middle of a drought and the storms we have seen have had high snow levels. There was no snow below 8000 feet, so we asked around and finally decided on Tahoe Meadows near Lake Tahoe. Tahoe Meadows is about one miles west of Mt. Rose Summit on Highway 431 and is in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.
My son and I loaded up the RZR and headed to Tahoe Meadows at 6AM on Sunday of President’s Weekend. We arrived about 8:30 AM and there was only one other trailer there. We unloaded and the other couple gave us a low down on the area. The area north of the highway contains a 1,000-acre riding area that has an access trail that leads to open riding with lots of hill climbs. Relay Peak and Tamarack Peak are both with the area, and there are some fabulous views of Lake Tahoe below (Tahoe Meadows riding map).
We jumped in the RZR and headed up a decent hill where we hit the access trail. The tracks lower your drive ratio so the speedometer reads quite a bit more that actual speed. I could feel that the tracks gave us a bunch of floatation across the snow, and the tracks had great traction climbing the hill. We powered right up without a problem.
Climbing the hill from the parking lot to the access road with Lake Tahoe in the background.
Once up on the access road, I could not believe that it was whooped out?! The last snow was about a week before and the snow was melting fast. With limited snow in the area this season, Tahoe Meadows has seen extra use and that translated to whoops. I never would have imagined whoops in the snow, but there they were.
We jumped off the trail and explored the area. We climbed up a steep hill so we could get a view of Lake Tahoe, and the RZR climbed right up. This was packed snow with not much powder, but the hill was quite steep and it just powered right up.
Once at the top we were rewarded with a spectacular view of Lake Tahoe. We wanted to get some quad copter shots from there, but the wind was too gusty. We explored the area a bit more and tested the tracks out in different circumstances. For the most part, we used low range. On the flats, the RZR could pull in high range no problem. Camoplast states in their instructions that the track system is made for slower speeds, so don’t expect to rip up a hill like a snowmobile.
View of Lake Tahoe from Tahoe Meadows Riding Area
Overall, I was impressed with how the tracks performed. The Camoplast tracks while quite expensive are a quality product. While the tracks don’t perform anywhere near a snowmobile, they have great floatation and traction which allows a powerful UTV like the RZR XP 1000 to get almost anywhere. Top speed is much slower that with normal tires and fuel consumption is high.
I enjoy adding another use to my fleet of versatile UTVs and am hoping for a better snowpack out west next winter. In the meantime, I will be looking into doing some adventure rides with others that have tracks on their UTVs. I can imagine a run into a winter cabin…..
Steep Climb wasn’t a Problem for our New FOX Edition RZR XP 1000
We were off by ourselves on this ride, but I don’t think that is very smart. I always like to travel with a friend. And in this type situation, I would recommend bringing a shovel and maybe even an axe. A winch is not a bad idea either. Camoplast advises bringing spare parts and tools as well. And I read one review where they suggested bringing snow shoes. Not that I would want to walk out, but without them, it could be a tough trek back to the parking lot. Best advice is to be prepared and have fun!