Polaris RZR 900 XC – A New Ride and A New Chapter in our Travels!

January 2019 – For the last two years we’ve been pondering the idea of getting a side-by-side UTV. When we were visitng Custer, South Dakota, it seemed that everybody got around town in their UTV, and we had a blast at a SXS Jamboree in southern Utah where we test drove several models from a few different manufacturers.

Buzzing around in a little off-road buggy seemed like such a fun thing to do!

What luck that on Christmas this year Santa loaded a pretty one onto his sleigh for us and delivered it to our friend’s house where we were staying.

Polaris RZR 900 EPS XC UTV with fifth wheel trailer RV-min

Wow! A fun new ride!

It is a 2017 Polaris 900 EPS XC edition, and it is as cute as a button.

Driving a Polaris RZR 900 EPS XC UTV-min

Yippee!

Ever since we got inspired by the idea of exploring remote back country roads with a Polaris RZR (“razor”) 18 months ago, we’ve both been exhilarated by the idea of getting out into nature further and deeper than we can on foot or on our bikes.

At the same time, we’ve also been a bit daunted by the prospect of replacing our ordinary fifth wheel trailer with a toy hauler!

Polaris RZR 900 EPS XC Edition lakeside-min

The Polaris RZR 900 XC Edition is a small and sporty two-seater side-by-side.

For the last year and a half we have researched toy haulers endlessly, studying each and every brand in depth online, making spreadsheets comparing the features, and traipsing through dozens of units all across the country. (if you’re currently searching for a new rig, I know you are smiling and nodding at this. It’s quite a process!).

I even had the good fortune of being assigned the task of writing an article about toy haulers for Trailer Life Magazine in which I discussed some of the things to look for and reviewed a few of the current offerings in the market (this lengthy article will appear in the March issue of Trailer Life).

And when we were in the RV capital of the world around Elkhart, Indiana, last fall, we visited several toy hauler manufacturing plants.

Keystone Raptor manufacturing plant outdoor lot-min

Raptor and Carbon toy haulers lined up at the Keystone manufacturing plant in Goshen, Indiana.

But we hadn’t pulled the trigger to trade in our fiver for a toy hauler yet because, well, we didn’t have a RZR yet!

We kinda had a chicken-and-egg problem on our hands.

What do you get first, the toy hauler or the toy? If you live in an RV full-time, how can you haul a toy without a toy hauler? But if you go all in and get both at once, what happens if, after all that, you then find out you’re not really into the whole RZR thing?

What if — gasp — the DOG doesn’t like riding in an off-road buggy?

Cool Polaris RZR 900 EPS XC Edition side by side UTV

All smiles now!

We were going through the familiar throes of simultaneously dreaming and doubting, an experience so many people go through as they plan a major change in their life — like taking the plunge to live and travel in an RV full-time.

There was a lot of expense involved in making such a change, and a lot of upheaval and a bit of risk too.

Off-road in a Polaris RZR 900 EPS XC-min

Mark looks pretty comfy and happy behind that wheel!

We dreamed of the fun times we’d have seeing scenery we just can’t reach any other way. Everywhere we’d traveled for the last 18 months we’d asked ourselves if we would have seen more with a side-by-side, and almost everywhere we went the answer was Yes.

In Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains we saw people driving off on dirt trails with their UTVs loaded down with gear, and they didn’t return for three days. Who knows what they saw out there, but the grins on their faces were ear to ear when they came back.

We dreamed that maybe a little backcountry buggy would take us to places in the hinterlands where we could pitch a tent and be set up in a fabulous spot to photograph the sunrise and sunset without having to trek in or out for a bunch of miles in the dark. It could be the gateway to little getaways!

Saguaro cacti in Arizona-min

The RZR takes us far into Arizona’s outback!

But we also worried about making the change to living in a toy hauler.

If we went to the trouble of setting up a new toy hauler the way we’d like it with solar power and vent-free propane heat and disc brakes, what would we do if after a year or so we we found we didn’t use the toy enough to warrant the big garage and smaller living space a toy hauler would squeeze us into?

On the other hand, a garage might open up some fabulous possibilities.

We might be able to get another porta-bote like we had with our sailboat and putt-putt across serene lakes and rivers. We’d be able to haul the bikes in the garage instead of hanging them precariously off the back of the trailer. And Mark might be able to have a small workbench rather than digging out his tools from the basement and laying them across the tailgate of the pickup for every project.

And we’d have a back porch and possibly a side patio deck too! How totally cool would that be?!

Road Warrior toy hauler with side patio deck-min

Some toy haulers, like this Road Warrior, have side patio decks. Cool!

And then the doubts would set in again.

What would it be like to tow a gargantuan 42′ or 44′ toy hauler like so many of them are these days? Gosh, we struggle at gas stations as it is with a 36′ fifth wheel. Would we ever be able to fuel the truck when we were hitched up if we were towing such a beast?

It certainly didn’t help that every time we went to an RV dealer to look at a particular brand of toy hauler, we’d eventually wander over to the luxury fifth wheels and fall in love with one of those instead!

Cactus in a cactus-min

Trying to see the woods for the trees…

Round and round our conversations would go, from optimism to pessimism and back again as we weighed the pros and cons of turning our lives upside down to accommodate a little off-road vehicle we weren’t sure about!

We contemplated renting a UTV to try it out, but few places rent out the Polaris models we were interested in, and most have been used and abused and aren’t outfitted beyond bare bones. The price of a rental was usually around $350 a day in the most scenic places, so it wouldn’t take many rental days to take a big chunk out of the price of buying one!

Polaris RZR 900 EPS XC Edition UTV at the lake-min

Most of the rentals we found were pricey and not models we’d want to buy.

We felt immense empathy with our many readers who have contacted us over the years asking for input into their decisions related to going full-time.

I’ve always advised folks to tip-toe into the full-time RV lifestyle so they are confident and happy each step of the way: Get a cheap small rig, use it a lot, and talk to full-timers you meet while you’re out exploring in this little rig. And THEN take the plunge to commit to full-timing once you’ve gotten some real miles and adventures under your belt.

Truck Polaris RZR UTV and utility trailer-min

First trip to the trails.

And it was finally listening to this common sense advice that helped us begin to navigate our dilemma.

We realized that our first step was to figure out if a side-by-side would be fun or not and to find out how Buddy would react to it. He’d gone through a period of not wanting to get into the truck, and we didn’t want to make a huge investment of time, effort and money to move into a toy hauler if we couldn’t take him with us on our RZR outings.

So, with that in mind, we put the toy hauler decision on hold and focused on getting a RZR. We figured that even if we ended up selling it at a loss after a few months, it would be a far cheaper and better way to evaluate it than doing a series of rentals.

We found a barely used Polaris 900 XC on Craiglist that came with a small utility trailer, and we decided we’ll just triple tow it behind our current fifth wheel for a while and not travel long distances until we’ve made a final decision to get a toy hauler or stay with a regular fiver.

Polaris RZR 900 EPS XC UTV being loaded onto a utility trailer-min

It’s a tight squeeze back onto the utility trailer but Mark handles it like a pro.

There’s a ton of fabulous sounding forest roads and trails to explore with a UTV in the southwest, and if we tow just a little and stay in each spot for a while, we can get some hands-on experience and make an informed long term decision about what our next rig will be.

Happy camper in a Polaris RZR 900 EPS XC UTV-min

What a cool ride!

Our first trips have been a total blast! We have run around in the Arizona desert out by Wickenburg and Lake Pleasant, and we have loved every minute of it. The scenery is classic, pristine Sonoran desert scenery, and with each bend in the road the views of saguaro cacti and mountains get better.

Saguaro cactus in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona-min

Desert scenery far from paved roads.

Saguaro Cactus starburst-min

.

Lake Pleasant Sonoran Desert scenery-min

Desert meets water at Lake Pleasant.

Perhaps best of all, it turns out our little Buddy is a RZR Dog.

Puppy and Polaris RZR 900 EPS XC UTV-min

Buddy has chased down the RZR a few times!

He seems to really enjoy being out on the trails despite the noise and the bumpiness of the ride. He has even chased the RZR at a full gallop a few times when Mark was driving it around, and then he hopped in for a ride.

Polaris RZR 900 EPS XC UTV with puppy-min

He likes it!

Driving a Polaris RZR 900 EPS XC UTV

It’s a two-seater, but two in one seat is okay too.

So, with the start of 2019 we’re starting a new chapter in our travels. Who knows where it will lead, but it has been a thrill so far.

Polaris RZR 900 EPS XC Edition UTV

Adventure beckons

With any luck we’ll be brining you lots of beautiful images from remote spots down some special trails. And someday we’ll be trading our Hitchhiker for a new rig, possibly a toy hauler!

Happy campers in a Polaris RZR 900 EPS XC Edition UTV

A happy trio in our new ride.

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36 thoughts on “Polaris RZR 900 XC – A New Ride and A New Chapter in our Travels!

  1. Fun! You got the RZR and now we get to enjoy your next chapter as we ride along the roads less traveled. I look forward to seeing and hearing all about the new trials and trails. For me, walking up to these new possibilities is such an adventure. I know all three of you know how to enjoy a good adventure! Heck, y’all are professional adventurers! I look forward to watching things unfold with great anticipation! Jeff

  2. The RZR looks like a blast!
    Buddy tested and approved…i get the feeling he’s not going to mind a toy hauler!?
    Whatever you decide to do I’m sure it will be well thought out and researched….they say it’s not the destination but the journey.
    Both of you are such an inspiration!
    Can’t wait to see what you decide ….best of luck and as always safe travels!!

    • Thank you, Curtis! It is definitely all about the journey and finding that happy balance between pressing forward with a plan and letting the adventures come our way, whatever they might be. The research is ongoing and we’ll be sharing the tidbits we learn. We went to bed last night thinking “toy hauler!” and woke up this morning thinking “fifth wheel!” so we’ve still got quite a ways to go. What luxury — it’s all great fun!

  3. Be sure to get the Polaris Ride Control app. It has atv and utv trails and you can download to the phone for back country travels. Study the map legend, it has trails for only 55″ wheel based atv’s, you don’t want that……… Of course Amazon and Rocky Mountain ATV has all the custom parts for you! Welcome to your next adventure!

    • All great tips, Smitty. Thank you! Fortunately, the RZR we purchased has Ride Command right on the dashboard screen! It’s really fun to see the breadcrumb trail and the lay of the land, and it kept us heading the right way yesterday when we came to a fork in the trail. Rocky Mountain ATV has already delivered a few goodies along with Amazon ( OMG, the after market upgrade list is endless!), so I think we’re on the right track.

  4. Very cool. Let the adventures begin! We’ve been on the “hunt” for the right toy hauler. I think our final choice will be the Momentum 351m. If you go with the toy hauler, I’ll look forward to how you guys make the final decision. Can’t wait to see all your “adventure” pics from the razor.

    • The toy hauler market is an interesting one, and we haven’t found one that really makes our hearts sing just yet. The biggest problem is that many of the floorplans and brands we see online can’t be found in person without driving at least 1,000 miles. We’ve been on the hunt for several models for a year now but they’ve all been at dealers on the other side of the country from us, no matter which side we’ve been on, even when we were standing in the manufacturers’ lots in Indiana!! The Momentum 351 is a beauty and we’ve got full-timing friends that are interested in one of those too. Enjoy!

  5. How exciting and great news! Even better that Buddy loves the new ride.

    We know the struggle of going from a 5th wheel to a toy hauler, we did it in 2016. We traded a our 40′ 5th wheel for a dual axle toy hauler with 11′ garage and 28′ living space. Cyclone 3611JS (double slide in living area) and we love it! We carry our Honda Pioneer side by side in the garage. We started off with a Honda Goldwing and got hooked like you on the side by side.
    So looking forward to following your adventures in offroading as our plans are to winter in Arizona in 2020.
    Safe travels!

    • It’s that move from 40′ of living space (or 36′ in our case) to 28′ of living space that keeps tripping us up, Susan. Yikes! It’s great to know that you’ve been through it and are happy with your choice. How fun that you went from a Goldwing to a side-by-side. Both Mark and I had motorcycles in previous lives, and one thing I love about the RZR is that it sounds just like a motorcycle when it starts up! Arizona seems to have endless trails, and we’ll be bringing them to life right here for you. Have fun with your Pioneer!!

  6. Em,
    Glad you and Mark found a new toy for buzzing around the hills, and that our pal Puppy Chow has warmed up to it. But if your rig continues to grow, you will need to hire a few trucks to escort you, as is the case with mobile homes transportation. And you might (gulp!) be forced to travel down only the Road More Traveled. 😉
    Bob

    • No, Never!! Who knows how it will turn out, Bob. We’ve also talked about a truck camper since we’ve got this nifty little utility trailer now, and that would be going in the opposite direction! But if we get a huge rig and need a few truck escorts, maybe you can come with us!

  7. Congrats on the Rzr! We live fulltime in our 2016 Grand Design Momentum 43′ toyhauler and debated for most of the two years we have been on the road on what kind of toy to put in our 10′ garage. We ran the gamut of small four-wheelers, dirt bikes, CanAm Spyder, and of course a Rzr. Just a couple months ago we decided that the SxS would not get used enough to justify hauling it around, so we bought a 2012 Honda Goldwing from a friend in Alabama. We flew from AZ to AL to pick it up and Steve rode it cross-country back to Camp Verde AZ (I flew back). It is now our sight-seeing ride which is much more fun than sight-seeing in a dually pickup! We are currently in the desert in Quartzsite and see lots of toys running around. But we will be heading to New England for the summer and not much option of riding off-road there (in our opinion). Good luck with making your decision – we KNOW the struggle!

    • What an interesting story, Connie & Steve. It’s a tricky business fulfilling our dreams, and getting a rig with a garage so something something very special could go in it is a neat approach. I’m sure you had fun shopping as you tried out all the different ideas! A Honda Goldwing will be a wonderful way to see New England. It’s tough to get around in a dually, but a zippy yet comfy motorcycle will get you to lots of fabulous places with ease. Have fun in Quartzsite and thanks for sharing your story!

  8. Okay, Em, we’ve watched your travels and adventures for long enough, without much comment – even though we look forward to each progressive adventure, and the neat photos, included with each story….

    Frankly, the reader’s comments are very valuable from their perspective, too!

    Like you, we have debated getting a side by side(UTM) for a number of years ; but have hit the same snags. Yep, two canine kids, Dually truck, 34 foot Montana 5ver…great living quarters, for sure. Sound similar? Although we live (our home base, next to the Aqua Fria River) about 30 minutes from Lake Pleasant, we’ve been fortunate to have friends with Jeeps, and Side by sides (UTM’s), whom we’ve been lucky enough to beg or borrow rides from, throughout our 15 years in Aryzona.

    Like you and Mark, our high frustration level grows, every time we, and our lonnnng, clumsy outfit is parked near miles and miles of inviting, endless roads, begging for a look-see, and exploration!

    But then, like you folks, we love our luxury, roomy quarters, especially out in the “boonies”, and have not found the right combo…yet…..so Bette & I will follow your saga, as it unfolds; along with your valuable reader’s comments.

    By the way, congratulations on your work and pictures in our Escapee’s Magazine, and welcome back to Aryzona – which you seem to be drawn to, every Winter, for many years….Bette & Glen Horsmann

    P.S. Our friends have a 28 ft 5ver, and trailer their Can-Am, which provides pretty neat living quarters, and the ability to detach their UTM/Trailer, when or if necessary. But, this is another compromise, too….no perfect solution, as you have found out.

    So Em & M, see you folks down the trail, and good luck with your search and adventures. Just wondering – When are you going to get a brother or sister for Buddy?

    • As I’ve told many high level people at the various RV manufacturing companies, I think there is a serious market among full-timers for good quality and comfortable toy haulers because they offer a lot of options besides just hauling a toy. Unfortunately, they have all raised their eyebrows at this crazy idea, and kinda laughed a bit with skepticism, because in their world the only toy hauler buyers are younger folks who want a flashy traveling sports bar with a man cave for weekends and vacations.

      I wish the toy hauler options were more varied, but it is what it is. I’ve come up with a fabulous floorplan that would work really well for us and would likely work for many other couples like us, but the RV industry is a strange animal and it turns out that even if we go custom we won’t necessarily get what we want because even custom builders have limits on what they are wiling to build.

      In the meantime, though, there’s lots of opportunity to have a blast with the rig we already own along with a large dose of caution on the highway towing our new little buggy. We love Arizona and have a long history here with lots of friends and family to visit each winter, and even today Mark is out showing off our new ride to his best friend while I spend the day with family.

      Buddy is destined to be an only dog, but he sure isn’t a lonely or bored one. Our little threesome works well and we’ve followed Cesar Milan’s sage advice that happiness in a dog comes from three things in this order: Exercise, Discipline and Affection. Sometimes in life 3 is a crowd, but for us in our trailer three works really well but four would be a crowd!!

      Thank you for following our adventures all these years, Bette & Glen, and have fun in your travels and on the trails.

  9. Congratulations on your new toy! Weve been following your site for years, and wondered when you might delve in off road riding! We have been down the same path with choices of SxS, quads, and toy haulers. It is super fun to explore! Currently in a 40′ Sandsport, (too big), and Ranger. Time to downsize. We are in the process of selling this toy hauler, and the time-consunming task of researching the next one. Very excited to share your journey, and see how your decision pans out! Good luck, see you on the trails! Scott n Gigi

    • There sure are a lot of possibilities out there, and size has such a big impact on so many aspects of both RVing and off-roading, whether the setup turns out to be “too big” or “too small.” It’s really interesting to hear that you want to downsize. Thank you for following our travels and good luck with your research. Most of all, have fun shopping — it’s all good!!

  10. Hey Emily & Mark – perhaps time to consider a Class-A…? 😉 With your UTV registered & street-legal all scenarios are covered! We have our 2 motorcycles in a cargo trailer behind our motorhome, and we’re only compromised when it’s snowing/raining. On those occasions we simply drive the motorhome to the grocery or restaurant if we need to.
    Love your stories and great photos!

    • All options are on the table, Pete, but I’m not sure the Class A idea towing a cargo trailer will win. Our big beautiful truck gives us a lot of options as a daily driver that our little UTV wouldn’t. The cargo trailer is great for hauling the UTV or motorcycles, though, because it keeps the road grime off of them. We shall see!!!

  11. well in most states you can pull up to 55 feet so you should be able to pull the trailer and still enjoy the your current trailer. When my husband and I start full time we plan on doing that same thing except we have 2 4×4 to use or possibility of two Honda scooters. we need pictures please and thank you for both of yours advice on full time RVing. Loven your pictures as well thank you so much

    • Some states have a limit of 65 feet and one or two go to 70 and a few don’t allow it at all, especially on the interstates, so we’ll see as we go. Our current rig is 52′ without the utility trailer so we’ll be right around 65′ with all three pieces hooked together. Of course, the new fivers we’ve liked are all 40 to 41 feet long, so triple towing with one of those would put us over the limit… so many decisions!

  12. Congratulations! How exciting for the three of you! We too have thought of a two seater. Even though we aren’t full timers, there are adjustments and things to learn on the towing part. We boondock often in the Sawtooth area which would be perfect for it. Glad to hear that Buddy likes it too. What a great dog he turned out to be!

    • Gosh, we LOVE the Sawtooths (Sawteeth? lol), Renee, and really look forward to exploring the back country there. We’ll share whatever we happen to learn about the towing part. Just getting set up so the utility trailer can be at the right height when towed by the truck and also at the right height when towed by the fifth wheel is a little learning curve! Enjoy your ride!

  13. WOW…a new toy – and possibly a “toyhauler” !! All vehicles new to me, so look forward to more descriptions…and photos ! Will Buddy soon be sporting a protective helmet to ride in the RZR ?????

  14. Okay, you have probably already heard this, but here goes anyway… Now that you have a back-country exploration machine you will have the tool necessary to visit some really neat places, such as the Shafer Trail in Canyonlands N.P., the Burr Trial meandering eastward off SR 12 @ Boulder, UT, and the infamous Moki Dugway (aka SR 261 [oh, the views!!]) essentially between Mexican Hat and Natural Bridges N.P. also in UT. Each of these roads can be somewhat challenging to an inexperienced four wheeler, so get some training (if you need it), take it easy, and have fun!

    Hmmm… I’m not sure that an unlicensed vehicle is permitted on any of these recommended roads.

    Don Neilson
    San Diego, CA

    • Thanks for the tips, Don. Our Polaris is street legal, so those roads would be fine as far as that goes. We’ve done the Burr Trail and Moki Dugway (when visiting Goosenecks State Park) with our truck, but didn’t explore the little offshoots. The National Parks don’t allow UTVs on their trails, so I’m not sure about the Shafer Trail. Ironically, it was the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands that first got me excited about getting a side-by-side, but we can’t take it on that road!!

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