What Size ATV Do I Need for Hunting?

There are two broad categories of sizes for ATVs, youth ATVs that are quite small and full-sized ATVs. The most popular brands also sell ATVs that are in a range of different engine sizes. Today, I will explain what size ATV you need to go hunting?

In general, anything with an engine size of about 500cc will give you the power to haul anything apart from moose. For hunting moose or similar-sized animals, you should go with any of the popular brands that have an engine size over 800cc, ideally more otherwise you will need to make multiple trips.

Below, I will show a table that breaks down the load capacity of the most popular ATV brands and the different models they sell, as well as, compare that to the average weight of hunting gear, the equipment you’ll need, as well as, the all-important meat or whole carcass.

ATV driver on the quad Yamaha Grizzly 660

How Much Weight Can Different Sized ATVs Carry

I’ve compiled a table that shows the different weight capacities for the popular ATV brands and models. This data is the total weight including the driver. So, I’ve also made a table to show how much weight they can carry minus hunting gear, and the weight of you – driver. Here’s the total weight each of the popular ATV models can safely transport:

Make, Model, and YearWeight Capacity (All sources, including the driver, equipment, etc.)
Polaris Sportsman 450 to 570, 2021485 lbs (220 kg)
Polaris Sportsman 850, 2021575 lbs (261 kg)
Polaris Sportsman XP 1000, 2021575 lbs (261 kg)
Yamaha Grizzly 550, 2021485 lb (220 kg)
Yamaha Grizzly 660, 2021485 lb (220 kg)
Yamaha Grizzly 700, 2021530 lb (240 kg)
Yamaha Kodiak 450, 2021530 lb (240 kg)
Yamaha Kodiak 700, 2021530 lb (240 kg)
Can-am Outlander 650/850/1000, 2021517 lb (235 kg)
Can-am Outlander 450/570, 2021517 lb (235 kg)
Can-am Outlander T-Series 450/570, 2021517 lb (235 kg)

As you can see from the table, interestingly there is very little weight capacity difference between some of the models based on the engine size. For example, the Can-am Outlander has the same weight capacity regardless of whether the engine size is 450cc or 1000cc.

However, with the Polaris ATV models, there is a difference of 88 lb (40kg) from smaller sized engines to larger sized engines. This is a considerable chunk of meat.

To make it easy to see how much you can carry on each of the different ATVs, I’ve taken the maximum weight capacity and subtracted the average body weight of a male. Which is 197 lbs (90kg). I’ve provided this info in the table below. It shows how the weight capacity left over after you subtract your body weight.

This is how much weight you have for hunting gear such as bow and arrows, rifles, knives for cleaning a kill, and the meat your remove, or a whole animal carcass

Make, Model, and Year Weight Capacity for equipment and an animal carcass or meat
Polaris Sportsman 450 to 570, 2021288 lb (130 kg)
Polaris Sportsman 850, 2021378 lb (171 kg)
Polaris Sportsman XP 1000, 2021378 lb (171 kg)
Yamaha Grizzly 550, 2021288 lb (130 kg)
Yamaha Grizzly 660, 2021288 lb (130 kg)
Yamaha Grizzly 700, 2021333 lb (150 kg)
Yamaha Kodiak 450, 2021333 lb (150 kg)
Yamaha Kodiak 700, 2021333 lb (150 kg)
Can-am Outlander 650/850/1000, 2021320 lb (145 kg)
Can-am Outlander 450/570, 2021320 lb (145 kg)
Can-am Outlander T-Series 450/570, 2021320 lb (145 kg)
Yellow ATV in the forest

An average hunting rifle weighs about 8 lbs (3.6 kg), and 100 bullets weigh on average 2 to 5 pounds (0.90 kg to 2.30 kg). Therefore, the total weight of the hunting rifle and bullets only accounts for about 3% of the total remaining weight capacity of the popular ATV brands. All the rest is weight that is free for camping gear, and the carcass or meat of the animal.

But, some animals are far too large no matter what ATV you get. For example, an average moose yields about 950 lbs (400 kg) of meat. This would require 3 back and forth trips to transport all of the meat. Whereas, a good-sized dear yields only about 60 lbs (27 kg) of meat. An ATV has more than enough weight capacity to accommodate that. Whereas, an Elk will almost reach the weight capacity of an ATV. A bull elk will yield about 200 pounds (90 kg) of meat.

Here’s a table that summarizes this info:

Type of Animal HuntedWeight Capacity of ATV Used (Meat only, no carcass)
Moose300% (3 trips or more)
Elk, adult male (bull)60%
Bear15% to 30%

How Would a Person Use a Quad for Hunting?

So, an ATV can easily carry most big game that you hunt. But, how specifically would a person use an ATV for hunting?

They would use it to arrive at a hunting spot and to transport the meat or carcass. Certain types of animals can be spooked by the sound of an engine such as deer, and moose. Whereas, black bears are quite oblivious to people so you don’t need to wait as long after arriving, or be as cautious.

Most animals will know you’re there, however, some animals will be more vigilant and begin to go in the opposite direction when they hear you approach. Therefore, you typically will need to wait at the spot where you arrived for a day or two, or travel a fair distance to try and spot some prey.

For example, animals typically use tracks over and over again. So, you can camp out when you see their tracks for when they come back through. Other times you can spot them from very far away, and need to approach them incredibly slowly to get in range of a shot. Otherwise, they will spook and begin walking away from you.

You may also be wondering whether an ATV is good for going fishing. I summarized this by comparing them to 4 wheel drive trucks, SUVs, and hiking in this article about using an ATV for fishing.

ATV on the beach

Are Quads/ATVs Good for Hunting?

Hunting is typically done on foot and from a stationary position. To get the location to begin hunting either requires you to walk on foot, or to go in a vehicle. Here’s whether ATVs/quads are good for hunting.

ATVs/quads are very good for hunting. They have a weight capacity that allows you to transport most big game, except for moose in one trip. They also have ample room for heavy-duty storage boxes to keep the meat/carcass and your hunting equipment and use far less fuel than a full-sized vehicle.

The rifle and ammo, or a bow and arrow are incredibly light compared to the weight capacity of an ATV. Therefore, you can even take a few rifles on an ATV without any issues. They can also navigate through terrain that a larger-sized vehicle can’t get through such as heavily wooded areas, or that have low-hanging branches.

Additionally, they will get you to a hunting spot far quicker and with less effort than hiking/trekking.


I’m Rob, the owner of RX Riders Place. My family and I have a long history of riding dirt bikes and ATVs and want to share what we have learned.

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