The Boy Scout motto of "Be Prepared" is the best advice ATV riders should heed before heading out on a day trip, a weekend excursion or a hunting or fishing outing.
Those who don't follow those well-chosen words often find themselves nursing a broken-down quad, lost in a wilderness or lacking necessary food, water and supplies.
A well-thought out and organized packing list is the best way to ensure your trip goes off without a hitch.
Once the list is compiled, the next step in preparing for your outdoor escapade is to outfit your quad with a combination of good quality cargo bags, saddle bags, nets and magnum boxes that will handle all your gear.
Varieties are available at Cabelas, Wal-Mart, online and at most local ATV dealers, including Four Seasons Motor Sports in Rye and Rim Country Power Sports in Star Valley.
Once, you've selected bags or boxes you're satisfied with, attach them to the luggage racks, according to the manufacturer's directions.
Then choose the equipment and gear that will guarantee your upcoming adventures will yield trouble-free, long-lasting memories.
On my quad, a Yamaha Big Bear, I've chosen rear cargo bags that are always well stocked with camping and traveling essentials.
My gear includes bungee cords, gloves, a first aid kit, emergency tool kit, zip ties, duct tape, axe, knife, folding shovel, air pump and compressor, flat repair kit, flares, rain gear, eye protection, flashlight, rags, waterproof match case, a small mess kit and of course the ATV registration and proof of insurance.
I've found it's best, even when riding off road, to be sure your ATV is street legal.
If the quad is not and you are stopped on a highway, county road or Forest Road, you can be cited, depending on the mood of the law officer. He can also request you immediately park your ATV and wait for truck or trailer transport.
Those situations can turn ugly and ruin a ride.
I also usually keep a few basic food items in the cargo bags, including ramen noodles, nutrition bars, trail mix and individual cans of pasta and meats.
A few years ago, my son-in-law -- a U.S. Army veteran -- gave me several MRE (Meals Ready-to-Eat) rations to carry on my quad.
He assured me that the MRE was much improved over the old military C Rations.
Weeks later, on a quail hunting trip near Wickenburg, I decided one would be ideal for lunch. Its menu was meat loaf with brown gravy, which sounded good after a morning of chasing elusive Gambel birds. The MRE came with a variety of condiments, a flameless ration heater and an apple cider beverage.
After only a few bites of MRE, I decided the names I'd heard U.S. Forest Service Hot Shots call the rations were appropriate -- "Meals Rejected by Everyone" and "Meals Rejected by Ethiopians."
The MRE might meet the Surgeon General's nutritional requirements for war fighters, but I'd much rather curb my hunger on a daylong ATV ride with a warmed can of beanie weenies.
When I first purchased my quad in 2002, I took advantage of a dealer's promotion by purchasing a Warn winch with a roller fairlead that I attached to the front grab bar/brush guard of the Big Bear.
Over the years, the purchase has proven to be a good investment. I've wrenched myself out of a few tight spots, usually after high centering the machine or sinking all four wheels in heavy mud or snow.
I've also used the winch to tow others who were stuck or broken down and to drag large firewood logs into camp.
If you're going to use your ATV for any type of hunting, you'll also want to outfit it with rifle/shotgun carrier mounts or the scabbards of your choice.
In recent years, I've come across riders who have equipped their ATV's with high tech, state-of-the-art GPS devices.
Usually they are attached to the handlebars, but some are hand held.
Some have told me that the devices contain online maps for tracking anywhere in the United States and they make it easy to find remote areas and then turn around and find your way home again.
One rider I came across on a Rim Country trail was sitting atop a new Polaris Sportsman 800 equipped with a GPS.
While I looked over his ride, wondering if a retired schoolteacher like myself could ever afford such a high-dollar ATV, he spewed the advantages of the GPS, saying it featured a remote disabling switch, geofencing and a crash sensor.
Now, I've crashed my Yamaha a few times and I'm certain I don't need a sensor to know when a collision occurs.
Instead of buying an expensive GPS, I've found that easy-to-follow maps, usually from the USFS, are a sure-fire way to avoid getting lost.
Among the most important items an ATV must be equipped with is water. Survival schools teach us we can go two weeks without food, but only three days without water.
Among the best ways to carry the water is the innovative jugs that mount directly to the racks of most any ATV. They come in two sizes, 3.25 or 1.25 gallons and provide the water you'll need for most any camping trip or ride.
Some riders also use bladders with a hose, so they can drink on the fly.
The bladders and jugs can be found at most sports/outdoor stores.
Once your ATV is well equipped and you're prepared for about any emergency, it's time to enjoy the great outdoors.
If you are relatively new to the sport, riding in a group is a great way to learn. It allows you to see what others do and you can always asked more experienced riders how to maneuver through rough terrain.
The adventures you'll revel in are endless, but remember to ride responsibly, wear a helmet, stay on designated trails and respect the environment.
Some fun quad rides to try
For local ATV-owners, one of the most popular spots to ride is the Hayfield Draw/Bryant Park OHV area located eight miles west of Camp Verde and south of Highway 260.
The 80-acre open area is limited to ATVs and trail bikes, and there is access to more than 100 miles of designated routes.
An exciting ride to enjoy during the cooler temperatures of fall and winter is the Rolls OHV area located east of the Beeline Highway and south of the Four Peaks Road in the Tonto National Forest.
The 27,000-acre area features trails that that can be enjoyed year-round, but vehicle travel is allowed only on existing routes.
To the south, near Roosevelt Lake, there are many forest roads to explore, including FR 49 and FR 1080 that take you on a circular loop around Deer Hill and into Cottonwood Canyon. Along the route, riders will find pleasure in grandiose views of Four Peaks, the Mazatzal and Sierra Ancha wilderness areas and of Roosevelt Lake.
Along the trail, foliage includes towering cottonwood trees, saguaro, cholla, jojoba and oak.
Among the daylong rides that offer an exciting adventure into some of the state's most scenic areas is a 100-plus mile loop journey that begins in Mayer. The jaunt heads west on Pine Flats Road to the Senator Highway and on to Prescott. There, riders can lunch at one of the city's many fine restaurants.
After lunch, ride south past Crown King and on to Cleator. Past Cleator, you'll find a road north to Mayer and the starting line.
Other rides adventurers might want to explore include the Gila Monster ATV jamboree, to be held March 27, 2008 in the Burro Mountain Range of the Gila National Forest.
Also, there is a Cold Springs Station Cool Down ride held each fall near Fallon, Nev., an annual San Juan ATV Safari in the Blanding/Monticello area of Utah and the Rocky Mountain ATV Jamboree in Richfield, Utah.