Snow Plow Buyer's Guide

Tools for Taming Mother Nature's Worst
Written By: 
John Arens

vendor.2013.can-am.alpine-flex-plow.plowing-snow.jpgDespite the tremendous personal effort it often requires, snow removal is never going to be an Olympic sport.  The faster you can get through the task, the better, and the most you can look forward to are admiring, appreciative glances from your significant other.  Other than a move to a warmer climate, you’ve got one other sure-fire way to beat back Mother Nature’s worst - and the best tool for the job is already in your garage.  Remember your all-terrain hunting and trail buddy?  By simply adding a plow, you now have a formidable snow removal tool ready to deliver a beat down to Old Man Winter.  We’ve put together a quick guide to help you find a great plow for the job.

Size Matters

With snow surely on the way, it’s time to get your snow removal plan in high gear.  Plows should be selected based on your ATV or UTV.  Most UTVs are approximately 60 inches wide and will require a blade in the 60 to 72 inch range.  ATVs are no wider than 50 inches and for machines under 450cc, we generally recommend a 50 inch blade, while larger displacement machines can usually push a 60 inch blade with no problem.  The second factor to consider is blade height and most blades range from 16 to 24 inches high.  Short blades push easier thanks to less surface area, but larger machines can handle the extra load and higher capacity of taller blades. 

Tire size and tread also play a factor in plowing, but as long as your tires are in good shape and you have enough traction, most stock tires will get the job done.  A more aggressive tread pattern won’t hurt you, but never go overboard on tire size or with a super aggressive tread which can pop CV joints.  For the ultimate plowing machine, tracks really complete the package, but plow manufacturers will be happy to recommend a plow that will work great on your machine.

Extreme Metal Produtcs - The Snow Pros

Living with a Cleveland, Ohio zip code isn’t easy when Mother Nature brings snow down from Canada by the truckload.  Rick Ott and his crew at Extreme Metal Products know everything there is about building great products, but they also know everything about moving snow.    

vendor.2013.extreme-metal-produtcs.snow-plow.close-up.jpg

 EMP makes all kinds of products for ATVs and UTVs including a plow that follows the contour of the terrain which helps the blade do a complete job but also reduces blade wear.  EMP takes great pride in building all their products in-house at their Cleveland plant, and the pride in workmanship shows.  All components are built from tough, American made steel and the mounting structure and frame they use is almost twice as thick as many other plows.  Because of the plow’s ability to swivel and adapt to the terrain, it can pivot in nearly any direction and roll snow to either side.  Wear blades are replaceable and cut from tough, A36 steel for maximum life, but the average owner will never wear them out.  Mounts are specific to each machine, but EMP also gives their plow a unique mounting and push frame structure.  Rather than relying solely on bent square tubing, they use a boxed-in weldment of interlocking laser cut parts for extra strength.  All blades can be pivoted either manually or an accessory power pivot lets the operator swivel the plow from the cab.  As with most other plows, an accessory winch raises the blade.    

EMP Plow Quick Featureskit cost beginning at: $849.00

  • Surface following pivot mount is standard
  • Blade – Steel - Straight – 72 inches
  • Optional Electric/Hydraulic Power Angle  
  • Frame is made from 1/4" thick A36 American Steel. 
  • Powder Coated for superior corrosion protection. 
  • Dual Trip Springs. 
  • Mounting system specific to each model Side x Side 
  • Winch mount is included with system – Winch not included

www.extrememetalproducts.com         phone: 800-262-2768vendor.2013.boss-plow.snow-plow.on-john-deere.jpg

BOSS

The BOSS plow system lives up to its name: it’s big, tough, and it doesn’t mess around.  The Boss Company is one of the leading makers of plows for trucks and they do it extremely well.  In fact, it’s all they do and they’ve introduced the same features and technology that has made them so successful with truck plows into their UTV plow lineup.  The result is the heaviest, most durable, and most advanced plow ever built for UTVs.

The BOSS system is unique in that it has a self-contained hydraulic system to operate all plow control functions from a push button, cab mounted joy stick.  Like everything else about the Boss plows, the joystick is extremely well made.  Plow hookups are super easy, and everything about the BOSS plow is heavy duty, from the mounting hardware to the push frame. Plows are available in either a Power-V design, or with a standard straight blade, and there is even a Poly blade model.  There is nothing standard about the quality and engineering behind the BOSS plow system, however.  Every detail is considered from curb guides, to a zinc primer base and baked on finish coat for extreme corrosion resistance.  They’re professional all the way.     

BOSS Plow Quick Features

           
  6’6” Power-V XT   6’-0” Poly Straight    
Blade Width 78”   72"    
Blade Width - Vee 66-3⁄4"   N/A    
Blade Material 14 Gauge Steel   1⁄4" Poly    
Plow Lifting & Angle Hydraulic   Hydraulic    
Control SmartTouch 2   SmartTouch 2    
Hydraulic Package  High Performance & comes off with the plow   High Performance & comes off with the plow    
Warranty 2-Year Limited   2-Year Limited    

www.bossplow.comPhone: (800) 286-4155

Warn

As a company, Warn has an excellent reputation for building quality products, but it’s also their policy to continually improve existing products and to introduce new ones.  Their ATV and Side x Side plow systems are no different.

vendor.2013.warn.snow-plow.close-up.jpg

The PROVANTAGE plow system by WARN is designed to be versatile, durable, and offer excellent snow moving capability.  They’re built from quality, heavy duty components and are easy to mount on your ATV or UTV.  The Warn plow mounting system uses quick release pins for fast hookup and when in use, the Warn blades can be lifted with either a winch or a redesigned plow lift actuator on ATVs.  Since any blade for a UTV plow is heavier, though, a winch is required to carry the extra load.  

All Warn ATV plows feature a durable steel blade and an oversized Power Pivot bushing system to angle the blade, which can be changed from the seat.  The advantage of the oversized pivot bushing is more wear resistance.  The Warn UTV plows rely on a different pivot instead due to their increased loads.  We especially like how all the Warn plows and plow lifts are professionally designed to work as a package.  Part quality is excellent as well and you won’t go wrong with Warn.  

Warn Provantage Plow Quick Features

  • Blade Width – from 50 to 72 inches
  • Blade Design – tapered or straight
  • ATV Blade Material:  12 Gauge Steel
  • UTV Blade Material:  11 Gauge Steel
  • ATV Lifting Mechanism:  Optional Linear Actuator or Winch
  • UTV Lifting Mechanism:  Optional Winch
  • Frame mounting system with quick release pins
  • No ground clearance loss when plow removed
  • All parts powder coated for corrosion protection 

www.warn.com    phone: 800-543-9276

Swisher

The best thing about Swisher plows is there are plenty of places to get one.  The plow we installed was purchased at Cabelas but getting one home is the easy part.  

Instructions on the box said the plow was universal and designed to fit nearly any ATV, which immediately raises the hair on the back of our neck.  Rather than bolting to the frame, Swisher calls for bolting the mounting brackets to the lower A-Arms, effectively preventing any suspension pivot movement.  We find it primitive at best and it’s a little like cutting the gas pedal out of your truck so it uses less fuel.   

Thankfully, Swisher’s UTV plow relies on a 2” front receiver and their Universal Mount Kit.  If your UTV does not come equipped with a front 2” receiver, Swisher offers a “universal” front 2” receiver that bolts to the UTV and mates with their Universal Mount kit.  Again, we find the generic kits too vague and we cannot recommend them.vendor.2013.polaris.glacial-snow-plow.on-sportsman.jpg

Overall price of the Swisher plows is usually less than competing models, but when you add in the cost of the required mounting kits, the final price is about the same.  We’re not impressed and we hope they try harder on future designs. 

Swisher Plow and Universal Quickmount Kit

  • 50" multi-purpose steel plow for ATVs. 62” for UTVs
  • Reversible and replaceable cutting edge
  • Can be used with winch, or optional manual lift 

All of the OEMS offer a plow system as well.  While they are often built a little lighter and at times less technically advanced than the aftermarket ones listed above, the advantage is they are designed by the same people that built the rest of the vehicle.  Fit is usually very good, and your dealer can easily install one for you. 

Polaris Glacier Plow 

The Polaris Glacier plow we installed on a Sportsman XP 550 fit perfectly!  The ATV was prewired for the winch to control blade height, all necessary electrical connections were ready to go, the mounting brackets bolted on easily, and the plow can be installed or removed in seconds!    Polaris likes to make it easy for you and models prewired for accessories definitely help.  Overall quality of the Polaris Glacier plow and hardware is excellent and whether in snow or dirt, the plow did a great job.  They’ll get the job done.www.polarisind.comvendor.2013.can-am.alpine-flex.snow-plow.studio.jpg

Can-Am's Alpine Flex Plow

The Can-Am ALPINE FLEX plow is by far the best looking plow on the market.  It looks very much like those used on ski slopes and snowmobile trails.  The new plow is made from a flexible yet tough UHMW plastic which allows the plow to absorb impacts and then return to its original shape while eliminating any transfer of impacts to the driver.  The FLEX plow uses a push system that is super easy to hook up and features a swivel mechanism that doesn’t require you to bend over to make any change.  It’s a great system.    

If steel blades are your preference, Can-Am also offers a traditional straight blade, or the arced “State” plow designed to throw the white fluff well into the neighbor’s yard.  A rubber flap at the top helps deflect flying snow away from the rider.  Mounting systems bolt to the bottom of the chassis and look very much like an accessory skid plate.  No drilling or cutting is required for installation and once in place, Quick-release pins attach and detach the plow blade and base assembly in a matter of minutes.        http://store.can-am.brp.com/vendor.2013.arctic-cat.snow-plow.studio.jpg

Arctic Cat

We’ve been to Thief River Falls in the winter.  The Arctic Cat people know a thing or two about removing snow.  Once again, the ability to integrate vehicle and accessory engineering results in an excellent product that fits perfectly. 

Arctic Cat offers 3 different plow designs: a one way tapered blade, a two way tapered blade, and a straight blade.  Mounting brackets attach to the ATV’s frame for optimum strength, and both tapered blade styles offer a heavy duty, high strength steel blade with 3” wear bars and adjustable skids.  The straight blade plow is made from a super tough, high density polyethylene over a steel structure, and all models of Arctic Cat plows require a standard push frame.  All plows are raised and lowered by an accessory winch.     www.arcticcat.com

 

Winter Wrapup

Plowing out the drive is never going to be terribly exciting and nobody is ever going to hand you a checkered flag when you’re done.  The best you can hope for is a warm mug.  At least by using your all-weather, all-terrain loving buddy in the barn, it can be a lot easier.  You’ll be amazed at what the two of you can do!  

Plowing Tips

1:   When adjusting or working with the plow, NEVER GRAB THE CABLE, and NEVER PUT ANYTHING YOU VALUE IN PINCH POINTS like between the frame and mount!  Blood never looks good on snow!  

2:   DON’T DRIVE TOO FAST.  We plowed at about 4mph and it worked very well.  Hitting anything hidden in the snow while driving too fast could harm your plow, your ATV, and you.  

3:   PLOW IN LOW.  Your CVT belt will last much longer if you operate in LOW while towing or pushing a heavy load.  

4:   KNOW WHERE THE DANGERS ARE.  You don’t want to hit anything buried.

5:   LOOK BEHIND WHEN BACKING UP.  You don’t need to hit anything or anybody that snuck in behind you.

 

Facebook icon
Pinterest icon