Side By Sides Are Just Land Boats, Prove Me Wrong

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Photo: Bradley Brownell

I’ve never been much of a SxS guy until I got a chance to take a couple of them out for a day of off-roading. But I get it now. In my review of the Can Am Defender, I equated it to a better way to go overlanding without ruining your daily driver for the street. But it’s more than that. Today, while driving the Polaris RZR Pro R and RZR Turbo R in the desert south of Las Vegas, I had an epiphany. Side-by-sides are boats, but made for the ground.


Hear me out…

Boats are a great hobby for some people. I used to spend countless hours on the lake when I was a youngster. My parents had a used Malibu with a big GM V8, and it whipped all kinds of ass. I was a kneeboarder who graduated to wakeboarding and wakeskating, and had a blast doing it. Those were awesome weekends spent doing really fun things. My parents were happy that I was happy, and likely enjoyed the boating a bit themselves. We had a little cottage on a lake in central Michigan, and it made a ton of sense to have a boat, as we also had a dock and a lift. We didn’t have to trailer it out every time we wanted to have a day on the lake.

I think side-by-sides are a similar proposition. They make a ton of sense if you have thirty acres of desert or forest land to rip around on. If you have to trailer it to an ORV park somewhere, it’s probably a bit more of a pain in the ass, but that kind of experience can’t be replicated anywhere else.

If your whole goal is to go wakeboarding, the only way to really do that is to haul a boat to a lake and go for it. Similarly, if you want to rip around off-road somewhere, you probably want a UTV. There is no experience like this in the world, and it certainly can’t be replicated with a Jeep. The fastest UTVs are race-ready machines that don’t have a four-wheeled equal anywhere. A basically off-the-assembly-line UTV can be as fast or faster than some of the trophy trucks running at Baja.

Just like boats, I’m not about to drop thirty grand on a UTV, but for the people who do, I just want to say, I kinda get it.

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