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Can an ATV Tow a Boat or Jet Ski? [Video]

Can an ATV Tow a Boat or Jet Ski? [Video]

Can an ATV tow a boat or jet ski?   This is a typical question of many powersport enthusiasts, and with good reason.

As some enthusiasts own more toys at the same time, it’s not uncommon to find an ATV in their garage beside a vessel.

If you have both, you probably want to know if an ATV can tow a boat or a jet ski or not.   It’s imperative to do your own research and understand the limits of your ATV, as towing too much weight can damage it in many ways, or in the worst case scenario, your ATV may end up in the water!

Can an ATV Tow a Jet Ski?

Can an ATV tow a jet ski? Yes, the bigger ATVs can tow jet skis without effort, but it always depends on the ATV’s weight, towing capacity and features. You also have to be careful, as towing the jet ski on a flat surface and launching it on a steep ramp are two completely different things!

Because of this, we need to discuss these issues separately.

Can an ATV Tow a Jet Ski?

If you just want to pull your jet ski with an ATV on a flat surface, it’s usually not a big issue with a bigger ATV.   Jet skis with trailers weigh around 800-1,500 pounds depending on the type of jet ski and the trailer.

To make sure your ATV can pull a jet ski, you have to check the ATV’s towing capacity. It can be found on a sticker, but these numbers are always clearly stated in the owner’s manual as well.  Be aware that not every ATV can pull jet skis, as you can find many smaller models with a towing capacity of 300-500 pounds, which is far beyond the necessary limit!

On the other hand, you can find many ATVs on the market with remarkable towing capacities. As an example, the Can-Am Outlander 650 has an outstanding 1,650 pounds of towing capacity.

Can an ATV tow a double jet ski trailer? It’s another common question, but the answer is, again, it depends on the ATV’s towing capacity. Two jet skis with a double trailer weigh around 1,100-2,800 pounds depending on the jet ski’s type.

Can an ATV tow a jet ski?

Can an ATV Pull a Jet Ski Out Of The Water?

Beyond towing, most of the owners would you like to know is it possible to launch a jet ski with an ATV as well or not.  First things first, it’s imperative to understand the difference between towing and launching.

Towing means you just pull around a jet ski on the land (generally on a flat surface), which is a much easier task for the ATV and the driver as well.

But when it comes to launching, you should know that it can be tricky with an ATV, and things can go wrong in many ways! What’s more, it’s against the manufacturer’s recommendations, as they highly recommend towing a trailer only on a flat surface.

This is because an ATV’s towing capacity can be utilized only on flat surfaces, and not on hills or ramps. What’s more, beyond the towing capacity, the tongue weight is also a huge concern. If your trailer is too heavy, it can damage the axel.

However, if the boat ramp is not so steep, it’s possible to launch a jet ski with an ATV (even if it’s not recommended), as you can see on many marinas and beaches.

So finally, can an ATV pull a jet ski out of the water? The answer is yes, it can, if it has the proper capacity, the ramp is flat enough and it has sufficient traction. However, it’s highly recommended to NOT launch jet skis with ATVs, as it’s against the manufacturer’s instructions and can result in damage or even an accident!

This is because if the ramp is too steep or slick, it makes it hard, or even impossible to pull the jet ski out of the water! In the worst case scenario, your ATV may end up in the water.  Keep in mind that ATVs are not designed for launching vessels, and they have much less power and weight compared to cars. This means you can overload and damage the ATV’s drive belt if the slope is too steep. Moreover, their brakes are much less efficient!

Can a Golf Cart or Lawn Tractor Tow a Jet Ski?

Just like ATVs, golf carts or lawn tractors can also tow a jet ski or a small boat easily. Just be sure you don’t exceed the vehicle’s towing and tongue limits. Be aware that these numbers vary widely depending on the make and the model.

When it comes to launching, this could be tricky with just ATVs, as these lightweight vehicles are not designed for launching vessels.   Maybe they can do the job on a shallow ramp, but it always depends on the golf cart/lawn tractor’s weight, engine performance, the jet ski’s weight and mainly the slope’s conditions. If it’s slippery or has any decent grade, a golf cart or lawn tractor probably will fail on it, which can lead to many problems  If you’re not sure about your vehicle’s towing capacity, it’s best if you check your vehicle’s manual for related instructions, or contact the dealer for further guidance.

Can an ATV Tow a Boat?

Unlike jet skis, a boat’s dimensions and weights vary widely. There are jon boats with small outboards which weigh even less than an average jet ski. On the other end of the spectrum, the sky’s the limit as you can find trailerable boats in the 8,000-10,000 pound weight range.

Are you wondering what size can be moved with an ATV?

Can an ATV tow a boat? Yes, many ATVs can tow boats but only within their towing capacities. An ATV’s towing rates are typically between 300 pounds to 1,700 pounds, which means they can only tow lightweight boats like jon boats or other lightweight boats.

As we’ve discussed above, “towing” with an ATV generally means moving the trailer on a flat surface, so even if an ATV can tow a boat on the land, it doesn’t mean that it can pull it out of the water!

Can an ATV Pull a Boat Out of the Water?

Can an ATV pull a boat out of the water? Although an ATV can pull smaller boats out of the water, it is not recommended to use it for this purpose. It’s not just against the manufacturer’s recommendations, but can damage the ATV in many ways, as they’re not designed to tow trailers on ramps.

As we’ve discussed earlier, the ATV’s towing limits are for towing a trailer on a flat surface, which is clearly stated in many ATV’s owner’s manuals.  Boat ramps can be steep, which means you can overload the ATV in many ways. They have smaller tires and weaker brakes, which can be critical on ramps as the water and algae make them slippery.  Even if it’s not recommended, why can we see some owners who launch their boats with ATVs?

The reasons are probably the overlooked owner’s manual and ignoring danger. Although improper towing can damage the ATV in many ways, such as burning the drive belt or damaging the clutch, the main risk is always that the boat pulls the ATV into the water.  Doing a quick search on YouTube, you can find videos with stuck or even submerged cars and trucks on boat ramps.

As you can see, even heavier vehicles can get in trouble on a slippery ramp. Because of this, it’s not recommended to launch a boat with an ATV, especially not on a steep boat ramp!

How Much Weight Can an ATV Pull?

If you want to tow a jet ski or a boat with an ATV, you probably want to know which models are the most suitable for this purpose. Let’s see which of the most suitable models are on the market right now.

Which ATV has the most towing capacity? As a rule of thumb, the biggest 4×4 utility ATVs have the highest towing capacity. These ATVs are usually powered with 600-700cc, four-stroke engines, and have a towing capacity of 1,200–1,700 pounds depending on the make and model.

For your convenience, we’ve made a list of some of the top utility ATVs with the highest towing capacities:2020 Can-Am Outlander 650; Towing Capacity: 1,650 lbs2020 Suzuki Kingquad 750 AXI; Towing Capacity: 1,322 lbs2020 Yamaha Kodiak 700; Towing Capacity: 1,322 lbs2020 Honda Fourtrax Foreman Rubicon 4X4 EP; Towing Capacity: 1,322 lbs2020 Kawasaki Brute Force 750; Towing Capacity: 1,250 lbs2020 Arctic Cat Alterra TRV 700; Towing Capacity: 1,030 lbs2020 Honda Fourtrax Foreman 4×4; Towing Capacity: 860 lbs


Just like smaller cars, ATVs, lawn tractors and golf carts can tow jet skis or even smaller boats easily on a flat surface. Just make sure the total weight is within your tow vehicle’s capacities. Don’t forget to check the tongue weight as well!  Also don’t confuse towing and launching, as these are two completely different tasks.

These small vehicles, like ATVs and golf carts, are not designed to launch jet skis and boats. They’re lightweight, have smaller tires, and weaker brakes which all could be critical on a slippery boat ramp. What’s more, ATV manufacturers don’t recommend towing trailers on ramps and hills as it can damage the vehicle in many ways.

Although it’s not recommended and involves many risks, it’s possible to launch a boat or jet ski with an ATV, but the final result always depends on many factors like the ATV’s specifications, the weight of the vessel and mainly the ramp’s condition.

If you want to launch a smaller jet ski or a lightweight jon boat with a big 4×4 utility ATV on a shallow ramp, this can usually succeed.   But if you want to tow something bigger, if the slope has any decent grade, you can get in trouble easily.

Be aware that bigger jet skis can weigh abound 1,200-1,500 pounds with the trailer, which may exceed the capacity of many ATVs.

As you see, ATVs and golf carts are not the safest tow vehicles when it comes to launching vessels. What’s more, paying $8-10k for a utility ATV for launching a jet ski or a boat is doesn’t seem like the best idea. What you should use instead?

The best practice to buy a car or truck with the appropriate towing capacity. But if you are looking for a second vehicle just for launching, you can’t go wrong with buying a cheap old 4×4 truck or even a smaller aged farm tractor.

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