Are you in the market for a hunting side-by-side this season? The world of utility vehicles is larger than it once was, and there are numerous ATVs and UTVs on the market that are suitable for hunters.
Hunters often prefer UTVs as they offer superior off-road performance, ease of use, and versatility.
The best UTVs for hunting will be very well built, be versatile on different terrains, have ample storage space, and be easy to use. Our favorite picks for the best hunting side-by-sides in 2022 include:
- Polaris Ranger XP 1000
- Yamaha Wolverine X2
- Can-Am Defender HD5
- Honda Pioneer 500
- Volcon Stag
Here is our list of the best hunting UTVs on the market based on convenience, pricing, and performance.
5 Best Hunting Side by Sides
There are a variety of UTVs on the market that you can use for hunting trips. The list below recommends vehicles that are affordable, versatile, and powerful.
1. Polaris Ranger XP 1000
- Payload Capacity: 1,500 pounds
- Towing Rating: 2,500 pounds
- MSRP: $18,799
The Polaris Ranger is a workhorse of a vehicle that has been a favorite of hunters and outdoorsmen for years. This vehicle is versatile and is ideal for traversing trails close to home or going on a faraway off-road adventure. Thus, this UTV is a solid option for many hunters, from casual to experienced.
The Polaris Ranger is equipped with several features that make it an attractive choice. The Ranger has twin-stroke engines with a 2,500-pound towing rating and a 1,5000-pound payload capacity. The massive cargo bed provides ample room for carrying equipment, tools, and game.
The Polaris Ranger comes with a dual A-Arm suspension, which easily maneuvers over bumps and ruts. The power steering and all-terrain tires make it ideal for traversing over rugged landscapes.
Further, Polaris offers various accessories that make it one of the best hunting UTVs. For example, hunters can purchase the Vandemore accessory collection, which comes with extra storage racks and mud tires.
A 2022 Polaris Ranger XP 1000 costs $18,799 for a base model, making it a moderately-price UTV.
2. Yamaha Wolverine X2 850 XT-R
- Towing Capacity: 2,000 pounds
- Bed Capacity: 600 pounds
- MSRP: $16,499
The Yamaha Wolverine is an excellent option if you regularly hunt in remote areas with rough terrain. The UTV is equipped with a liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine that keeps it from overheating, even in the hottest weather conditions.
The Wolverine can tow up to 2,000 pounds, but the bed capacity can only carry loads up to 600 pounds. If you plan to carry heavy game such as elk, the Wolverine may not be the best choice.
The Yamaha Wolverine is equipped with 26-inch Maxxis tires, making it capable of quickly traversing over rough terrain. These tires with great suspension make for a smooth ride for all passengers, even when maneuvering over rutted or rocky roads.
The Yamaha Wolverine is an excellent option for hunters looking for an all-terrain, technologically advanced vehicle. All models come with an Adventure Pro feature, which includes a high-powered GPS unit.
The Adventure Pro also comes with a color monitor that can be pre-loaded with maps to ensure you never get lost on hunting trips. WiFi, Bluetooth, and social media network connectivity are also included with the Adventure Pro so you can stay connected to friends and family from the field.
A 2022 Yamaha Wolverine X2 based model costs $16,499, placing it among other moderately-priced UTVs.
3. Can-Am Defender
- Payload Capacity: 1,500 pounds
- Towing Capacity: 2,500 pounds
- MSRP: $11,699
The Can-Am Defender has the smallest engine of any vehicle on this list, but it is also one of the most affordable. The 2022 base model with a 650cc engine costs $11,699, making it a good option for casual hunters or those on a budget. But there are pricier models too. The decked out Defender Limited for hunting is priced at a whopping $27,299.
Even the 650cc base model can tow up to 2,500 and has a payload maximum of 1,500 pounds, which is not bad at all. It can handle carrying heavy equipment and moderate-sized game.
The Defender also comes with plenty of extra storage space, making it a convenient option for those who carry lots of gear. Overall, this UTV is a solid choice.
4. Honda Pioneer 500
- Towing Capacity: 1,000 pounds
- Bed Capacity: 450 pounds
- MSRP: $8,599
The Honda Pioneer 500 has long been a favorite among hunters and outdoors people. While the Pioneer has an older truck-style, 5-speed transmission that some may find rough, it can maneuver over the most uneven terrain.
The transmission is automatic, but can be operated manually as well with paddle shifters.
The Honda Pioneer 500 has a solid build quality and performs well in remote, rough terrain. It can also drive into smaller areas because of its more compact body size. The smaller body of the vehicle also makes it easy to maneuver compared to bigger, bulkier UTVs.
With a base model price of $8,599, the Honda Pioneer 500 is the most affordable options among our picks for the best hunting side by sides. While it lacks the versatility of other top UTVs, it is a great starter model.
5. Volcon Stag
- Range: 100 miles
- Power: 80 kW
- MSRP: $14,995
Of all the UTVs on this list, the Volcon Stag is the most exciting to me. It is one of the only all-electric UTVs (or maybe simply THE only), and it’s undoubtedly going to be among the best hunting side by sides. This model is new to the market in 2022 and it’s an exciting addition to other gas-powered off-road sporting vehicles.
This is an excellent option for environmentally conscious hunters looking for an alternative to traditional UTVs from big OHV makers like Kawasaki, Polaris, and Yamaha.
The Volcon Stag is equipped with state-of-the-art features, including EV technologies and innovative wiring features that make operating a breeze. The Stag is available in two-seater and four-seater models and comes with two-wheel and four-wheel drive options.
Equipped with an 80 kilowatt engine, the Volcon Stag is more than powerful enough to maneuver across rugged terrain easily. This electric UTV has a maximum range of 100 miles, which is suitable even for extended hunting trips.
One big bonus of an electric UTV for hunting is silence. Without the racket of a combustion engine, the Volcon Stag will be way more stealthy than any other option on this list. Your fellow hunters in the area will appreciate it too!
The 2021 base model costs $14,995, making it one of the most affordable options on this list. And because it’s all electric with way fewer moving parts and potential points of failure, the maintenance costs will be far cheaper than the gassers.
I think it’s gonna be hard to find a side by side that will cost less money over its lifetime than an EV like the Stag.
What to Look for in a UTV for Hunting
After you decide you need a UTV for hunting, how do you choose the right model? With so many styles available, it is essential to do your research.
Here is a UTV buying guide that highlights four things to consider in your next hunting vehicle:
1. Build Quality for Performance
The best hunting side by sides are built to last when traveling across rugged terrain. Whether navigating through rocky roads or thick forests, a UTV built with high-quality materials can transport you into prime hunting country.
For the best hunting UTVs, choose a vehicle that has high suspension travel and high ground clearance. These features make it easier to travel over all types of terrain.
2. Versatility and Storage Space
Some UTVs also have room for game if you plan to bring an animal back with you at the end of the day. UTVs with heavy-duty beds can carry cargo weighing up to 1,000 pounds, which is sufficient to carry game and gear. The best hunting UTV has a payload capacity of 1,500 pounds or more.
For instance, many UTVs are strong enough to transport 1,700 pounds in the bed safely, and they can have a towing capacity of more than 3,000.
3. Ease of Use
Choose a UTV that is easy to use. One of the essential features to look for is passenger-carrying capacity. Unless you are a solo hunter, you need a vehicle that can carry at least two people. However, many people hunt in groups and need a vehicle that can comfortably transport three or four passengers.
For example, the Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000 can safely transport between four and six passengers. This is an excellent choice if you plan to take family or friends along on hunting trips. Polaris vehicles also have plenty of room for tools and equipment, making them an excellent option for serious hunters.
4. Type of User
Choose a UTV that suits your personality and hunting style.
Do you like to travel solo on hunting trips? A smaller vehicle may be sufficient.
Do you plan to travel off-road over rugged terrain? You should choose an option with all-wheel drive and all-terrain tires.
ATV vs. UTV for Hunting
ATV is short for all-terrain vehicles, and these units are commonly referred to as quads or four-wheelers. Single riders typically use an ATV on camping trips and solo outdoor activities.
UTV is short for utility task vehicles, and these units are often referred to as side by sides.
Many hunters wonder if an ATV or a UTV is best for hunting. While ATVs are smaller and more affordable than UTVs, UTVs offer some real advantages for hunters.
ATVs are only suitable for single riders, and there is limited storage. Your ability to pack equipment or game is extremely limited on an ATV.
On the other hand, UTVs allow hunting partners to ride side-by-side in comfort. UTVs also comes with ample storage space and can handle many trail and off-road conditions. A UTV is likely the best option if you take regular hunting trips, so long as you’ve got the extra money to spare.
An ATV is a good option for hunting scouting trips, but it is usualy not big enough to actually transport an entire big game animal and equipment.
Perhaps it is a good idea to have both an ATV and a UTV if you are an avid hunter?!