For most adventurers, side-by-sides haven’t been part of the typical outdoor quiver. But that’s changing. Thanks to new models that are more nimble, capable, and family-friendly than ever, these vehicles are quickly becoming key pieces of outdoor gear that facilitate everything from mountain biking to skiing to overlanding. Don’t believe us? Read on to see a few of the many adventure hats a side-by-side can wear.
The Ultimate Access Vehicle
If you’re a mountain biker, rock climber, or hunter, you know a thing or two about slogging up endless dirt roads to get to the goods. Enter the Can-Am Defender MAX: with seating for six people, four-wheel drive, and tons of ground clearance, the last leg into the backcountry is a whole lot faster, easier, and more enjoyable.
“We’re seeing a progression of people who’ve discovered how easy it is to use vehicles like the Can-Am Defender MAX to access their favorite adventure spots,” says Philip Henderson, Can-Am’s global content lead. Case in point: mountain bikers can throw bikes in the Can-Am Defender MAX's bed or add a hitch to transform it into a next-level fuel-efficient shuttle vehicle.
The Fast-and-Light Overland Rig
Anyone who’s researched upgrading a stock truck or SUV for overlanding knows that costs can get out of hand quickly. Another option is a vehicle like Can-Am’s Defender Pro XT HD 10, which rolls off the showroom floor with a locking front differential, nearly 11 inches of suspension travel, 13 inches of ground clearance, full skid plates, and a 4,500-pound winch. With an MSRP of $20,799, the Defender Pro XT isn’t cheap—but it is a compelling and affordable alternative when you consider the performance-to-cost ratio. In other words, the price of the upgrades needed to get similar capabilities into a pickup or SUV could quickly exceed that of a stock Defender Pro XT.
“We’re really proud that models like the Defender Pro can be taken from the dealer lot up to most rugged places on the planet,” Henderson says. And the Defender Pro’s six-foot bed and 1,700-pound weight capacity mean it can haul several days’ worth of camping and adventure gear into the backcountry, just like a traditional overlanding rig. Or, opt for the Can-Am Defender Max, one of their many four-seater models, and you'll have plenty of room for the family and everything you need for a few nights under the stars.
The Personal Snowcat
Backcountry skiers and riders have long embraced snowmobiles as tools to reach the best terrain. But there’s a major downside: everyone needs his or her own sled. The Can-Am Defender, when equipped with Can-Am’s Apache Backcountry LT Track System, morphs into your own personal snowcat. Easier to drive than a snowmobile and designed to fit more people, a Defender with the Apache system becomes a quick and efficient way to push into the backcountry.
While the Defender is a tool that enables adventure, Can-Am’s Maverick X3 is an adventure. With up to 195 horsepower, a whopping 22 inches of wheel travel on a trophy-truck-inspired suspension, and 30-inch tires, the Maverick X3 permits the kind of safe but high-speed desert and alpine driving you’ve seen on TV. But while the Maverick X3 has the chops to peg the fun-meter at any major desert racing spot—from the Glamis Dunes in California to the trails outside Moab, Utah—you don't need to be a pro to drive one. And, even better, because the Maverick X3 comes in multiple four-seater options, everyone in the family can enjoy the exhilarating ride.
How to Get Started
It might be daunting to jump into the side-by-side world but Can-Am makes it easy. Its vehicles can be rented for test drives at locations across the country, and the company also offers guided side-by-side adventures through its Uncharted Society program. “We want everyone to have access to the kinds of adventures that these vehicles facilitate, even if they’re not ready to buy,” Henderson says.
Ultimately, Can-Am hopes its vehicles are a means to an end, and that end is adventure and community. If the vehicles can help people experience the world, and come together in the process, then they’re doing their intended jobs. “All of us need to be able to get away from what consumes us day to day and get outside to have meaningful experiences with our families and friends,” says Henderson.
Can-Am is a BRP brand. BRP is a global leader in the world of powersports vehicles, propulsion systems, and boats. The Can-Am Off-Road vehicle lineup includes side-by-side vehicles and ATVs designed to outperform, no matter the task, from hardworking utility needs to exploring the world in a purpose-built-for-anything high-performance machine.