The next best thing to rolling off the lot in your new side-by-side or ATV is having the right truck to haul it around with. A good truck with a nice long bed can make your trips easier and your ride prep dead simple. Just roll up on the back of your truck, secure your machine to your tie down points with some beefy ratchet straps, and head to the trail. No trailers required.
That doesn’t mean any old pickup truck will make a good toy hauler though. Putting a Ranger Crew in the back of a Chevy S-10 is a no go (you might have more luck putting the S-10 on the Ranger), but a new F-150 will get the job done… if you have the right bed.
Let’s look at the different bed options for the most popular trucks so you can make sure you’ve got the right bed for the right side-by-side.
First thing’s first—if your side-by-side is over 60 inches wide, it won’t fit in your truck bed. That means no RZR Turbo, no Maverick X3, no Ranger 1000, and no Honda Talon just to name a few. If you’ve got a machine that’s too wide, you’ll need a trailer or truck rack to get it to the trail.
But there are still plenty of machines out there that you can fit. Any trail model will work as well as most machines with a model year before 2016. Any RZR S 1000 will also fit just fine. And if you’re hauling an ATV, stock width isn’t a concern.
So before you worry about if your bed is long enough, make sure your UTV is skinny enough to fit.
Your bed length will determine what side-by-sides you can fit. Generally, you get three bed choices on any new truck: standard, short, and long. While those lengths vary from model to model, they fall into a pretty predictable range.
A short bed is usually 67 to 70 inches long, a standard bed is 76 to 79 inches, and a long bed is around 90 inches. Add in the 20 inches or so your tailgate gives you and you’ve got an approximate bed length range between 87 and 110 inches.
While many UTVs will need every bit of 110 inches to properly load and haul, you can still get by with shorter for a lot of side-by-sides.
There’s a lot more variety in side-by-side length than there is in truck bed length. Most single row UTVs (two-seaters and three-seaters) are around 120 inches from front to rear like the Maverick Sport. However, compact vehicles like the RZR 570 and RZR S 1000 are less than 110 inches.
ATV length is much more consistent. They tend to be around 83 to 85 inches long. Although if you have a 6×6, it’s considerably longer.
But the overall length isn’t what matters. You really need to know the distance from the very front of your machine to the rear wheel. The cool thing about UTVs and ATVs is that the front of their front tires are usually almost perfectly lined up with the front of the machine.
If you take your wheelbase and add about 20 inches, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what size bed you need.
The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 short bed length measures 70 inches while the short bed on the Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram 1500 both measure in at 67 inches. We’re gonna keep things simple and define the short bed as 70 inches with a 22-inch tailgate (like the Silverado). That gives us a total of 92 inches to work with, which isn’t really enough.
With just 92 inches of space, even the shortest UTVs will be an incredibly tight fit if you can get them on at all. If you want to haul your UTV, a short bed is not a good way to do it.
Here’s what you might be able to cram on a short bed:
And that’s about it. Can-Am, Honda, and Yamaha models are all either too long or too wide. With a short bed, you’re incredibly limited.
We’re going to define our standard bed as 79 inches plus the 22 inch tailgate for 101 inches of total space. This matches the Silverado 1500 and Ford F-150 measurements. The Dodge Ram 1500 comes in shorter at 76 inches plus the tailgate.
You can fit everything on the short bed list plus the following vehicles:
We’ll define our long bed as 98 inches plus a 22-inch tailgate for 120 inches of usable space. This matches both the Chevy Silverado 1500 and the Ford F-150. The Dodge Ram long bed measures 96 inches.
You can fit everything from the standard and short bed lists plus the following vehicles:
ATV’s are much simpler and easier to fit in the back of a truck. For the most part, they’re short, and unless you’ve installed a long travel kit, they’re also skinny.
Typically, a standard ATV is about 83 to 85 inches long with a 51-inch wheelbase. So if you’re wondering what ATV will fit in a truck bed, the answer is pretty much all of them. With a short bed, you might be able to even fit a 6×6 ATV, although that would be pushing it.
Turns out the best truck bed for hauling ATVs is the one you have. Just load it up, tie it down, and you’re good to go.
Before you load up, you’ll need to invest in a good set of ramps to make loading and unloading easy. And be careful when you’re rolling into the bed. Falling off of the ramps can destroy your tailgate, and it’s easy to shatter the rear windshield on your truck if you come in too hot. Some people even go as far as to put a spare tire in the bed to stop them from going too far, although that does take up some of that valuable bed space.
If you’re going to be putting a lot of leverage on your tailgate because your ATV or UTV sits right on the end, you can invest in support bars to reinforce it. Alternatively, some people put metal panels or sheets of plywood in their bed to help spread the weight out and keep it off the tailgate. It also makes loading your UTV or ATV into your truck bed a lot safer.
You can’t fit everything under the sun in the bed of your truck, but you can fit a good number of vehicles. Loading up a smaller vehicle also leaves you room to haul a trailer so you can put your longer or wider side-by-side on. Either way, the convenience of loading up on the bed of a truck can’t be beat. It’s the easiest way to get out and see the off-road world from behind the wheel.