Quad ATVs are highly versatile work or play vehicles, and a natural addition to the avid outdoorsman’s arsenal of get-it done gear. It should be no surprise that their adrenaline pumping, year round, go, anywhere attitude has them growing in popularity with ice Anglers.
The right set of ATV tire chains gives ice anglers an edge to easily and safely haul themselves and their gear to and from a favorite ice fishing hot spot, in the harshest conditions, an icy winter lake can throw at them.
With all the different tire chains on the market, choosing which type best suits your ATV can be challenging. For a review of the five top ATV tire chains on the market in 2021, and for a buyer’s guide to help choose the right tire chains for your ATV the first time, continue reading.
IN A HURRY? HERE’S OUR TOP PICKS
- The 5 best ATV Tire Chains of 2021
- 1) Most Aggressive – Tirechain.com’s Diamond Pattern Studded ATV Tire Chains
- 2) Best 2-Link Ladder Type ATV Tire Chains – Trac V-Bar ATV Tire Traction Chain
- 3) Grizzlar GTN-728 ATV Diamond Studded Tire Chains
- 4) The Heaviest 2-link, V-Bar Ladder Type tire chains – Arctic Cat TRV 550 LE 25×10-12 Rear ATV Tire Chains
- 5) Good value, casual use tire chains – Kolpin V-Bar ATV Tire Chains.
- Buyer’s Guide: What to Look for When Buying ATV Tire Chains
- The Final Verdict and Wrap Up.
The 5 best ATV Tire Chains of 2021
1) Most Aggressive – Tirechain.com’s Diamond Pattern Studded ATV Tire Chains
- ATV UTV Alloy Studded Tire Chains. Aggressive Studded Links.
- Fits: 24x11-8 25x11-8 24x11-9 24x13-9 25x12-9 25x13-9 24x11-10 24x11.5-10 25x10-10 25x11-10 25x12-10 25x10-12 26x8-12 26x9-2 26x9.5-12 270/60-12...
- Smoother ride vs ladder style tire chains. Diamond pattern for lateral grip on hills.
These studded Diamond pattern ATV tire chains from Tirechain’s.com are the top performing ATV tire chains for ice fishing. Their highly aggressive design means these chains are strictly for off-road use and they will pull your ATV through all conditions encountered.
These chains are for serious off-roaders and perfect for ice anglers because of the exceptional ice gripping abilities of the studded, diamond-shaped,V-bar.
Built from the heaviest gauge, non-corrosive, Manganese-Boron alloy available. They are a V-Bar design, and each cross-link in the diamond pattern has two studs welded on for maximum traction and stopping power on the ice, and hard-packed snow, so common in ice fishing.
Also, the diamond pattern V-Bar chain keeps more chain links in contact with the driving surface at all times for a smoother ride. While V-link sidebars make for easier steering.
On the downside, according to user reviews, they are a little difficult to attach to your tires. Also, their high end performance comes at an equally high end cost.
What we like
- Because they’re manufactured from the heaviest gauge Manganese-boron alloy on the market, these chains are lightweight, strong, and corrosion-resistant.
- The V-bar design provides high traction, increases durability, as well as the chain’s life expectancy.
- Availability in multiple sizes makes fitment easier.
- Two studs welded to each V-bar maximize already impressive traction.
- The Diamond pattern keeps more chains in contact with the driving surface, increasing traction and smoothing out the ride by minimizing bumps.
- V-side links make for easier steering in turns.
What we don’t like
- The chains could be easier to install.
- The cost is high for casual users.
2) Best 2-Link Ladder Type ATV Tire Chains – Trac V-Bar ATV Tire Traction Chain
- Provides aggressive traction for your ATV
- Zinc plated chains for extra durability
- 2-link chain spacing provides superior traction
Security Chain companies’ Trac V-bar ATV tire traction chain is a high-performing Ladder type V-bar tire chain that will get where you want to go, on any frozen lake. This two-link model has twice the V-bar cross-links as entry-level 4-link chains do.
Intended for serious ice fishers and radical off-roaders. They’ll take you through ice, mud or snow, but aren’t suitable for concrete or asphalt surfaces. The aggressive V-bar design will push through the roughest ice and snow and get you to wherever the fish are biting.
The two-link V-Bar design means more ice gripping chains on the ice for better traction and a smoother ride. One con on these chains is the straight side link design, which, as with all ladder type chains, makes steering in turns more difficult.
What we like
- The aggressive V-Bar design digs deep in icy surfaces and shortens stopping distances.
- Two-link design puts more chains on the driving surface, making for a smoother ride.
- Availability in four sizes makes finding the right size easier.
- Zinc-plated chains improve corrosion resistance and increase durability.
What we don’t like
- Straight in-line side links make steering difficult.
3) Grizzlar GTN-728 ATV Diamond Studded Tire Chains
- Diamond style chain for excellent coverage.
- Studded links for superb traction. Tensioner included in package. Sold in pairs.
- Especially suitable for tires with very aggressive tread.
The diamond pattern and studs welded to each link on these tire chains from Grizzlar will give ice anglers good traction on icy lakes and heavy snowfall. Made from durable, hardened steel and includes a chain tensioner to make a close fit easier when installing.
Grizzlar’s GTN-728 ATV Diamond Studded Tire Chains fit the OEM tires of many popular Polaris-built ATVs and are available in many sizes, making them compatible with other ATV brands.
The diamond shape of the cross chains puts more chain into the driving surface than 2 or 4 link ladder-style chains. A pair of studs welded into every other link increases traction on icy lake surfaces. These tire chains complement ATV tires with aggressive tread patterns.
Unlike the unforgiving in-line side links that make steering through turns difficult with ladder type chains, the V-Bar design of side links in these chains makes stopping, and steering easier, because of better traction in turns.
While the Hardened steel is durable, it is also heavy, and prone to rust. Building these chains from a Manganese alloy would make them lighter, stronger, and rust-resistant.
What we like
- Studded, diamond pattern cross-links make for better traction
- Available in multiple sizes for an easy fit.
- Chain tensioner included.
- Made from durable hardened steel.
What we don’t like
- They are not zinc coated and will rust if not properly maintained.
Another winning set of tire chains from Tirechains.com. Made from the heaviest zinc plated steel available. Cross chains, V-Bars and studs are made from 0.234 gauge steel and the side links are.278 inches thick. These tire chains are perfect for radical off-roading and ice fishing.
Built for the rear tires of the arctic cat TRV 550-LE, but fit other brands with tires up to 25×10-12. If used on smaller tires, I recommend a tensioner for a secure fit.
2-link design means twice as many cross chains as rougher riding 4-link chains. The deep biting V-Bar design is enhanced by the addition of two studs to a link giving maximum traction to ice anglers on icy lakes or in hard-packed snow.
Because they fit various brands and sizes, expect to do minor modifications to the chains for proper fit. Because of their aggressive studded V-Bar design, these chains may not be street legal.
What we like
- The arctic cat TRV 550-LE chains use heavy gauge zinc plated steel for maximum strength, durability, and corrosion resistance.
- The 2-link ladder design puts more chains on the driving surface for extreme traction in the harshest conditions.
- Because of their 2-link design, the TRV 550-LE gives a smoother ride.
- Heavy gauge V-Bar links and studs made from 0.234 gauge zinc plated steel.
What we don’t like
- You should expect to make minor modifications to get a proper fit.
5) Good value, casual use tire chains – Kolpin V-Bar ATV Tire Chains.
- Designed with V-Bars attached to the 9" cross chains for great penetration and ultimate traction
- Durable steel construction and long lasting zinc plating
- "B" size chains fit most ATV/UTV models with 22x11-10 or 22x10-12 or 25x8-12 tires
The Kolpin 50-0020 V-Bar ATV tire chain is a good value, entry-level tire chain that is best suited to casual use.
The 50-0020 V-Bar ATV tire chain has its strong points; for example, they use zinc-plated hardened steel and feature a V-Bar design. But the chains are a lighter gauge of steel than competitors, and they lack studs.
Their four-link ladder design makes for a rougher ride because of only having cross chains every four-links. As with any ladder-style tire chain, they resist steering control through turns and when stopping.
They’re available in b-size, which fits a nine-inch tire, and c-size that will fit 10-inch tires. They can be found in sets of two that weigh about fifteen pounds and come with a handy plastic storage case. These chains can plow your driveway and they will help an ATV navigate an icy lake in less extreme conditions.
What we like
- Manufactured from zinc plated hardened steel for durability and corrosion resistance.
- V-Bar design enhances traction on ice and hard-packed snow.
- Available in common b and c tire sizes for an easy fit.
- Durable plastic storage container.
- An affordable, good value entry-level chain.
What we don’t like
- Four link ladder design makes four rough rides because of wider gaps between chains, they also cause steering difficulty in turns.
Buyer’s Guide: What to Look for When Buying ATV Tire Chains
The right set of tire chains will help you maneuver your quad ATV over icy lakes and trails with confidence and safety. A quick Google search will show there is no shortage of tire chains available for cars, trucks, lawnmowers, snowblowers, forklifts, and yes, ATVs.
After sifting through search results, you may have more questions than answers, such as, what is a v-bar in a chain? Are two link chains better than 4 link chains? Do I need Diamond pattern chains, if so, should they be studded chains, and much more?
Investing some time in learning what features best suit tire chains for an ATV used for ice fishing will save you time and money by helping you make the choice the first time.
Types of steel used.
As with any material or product, quality levels vary. We’ll look at three types below.
Entry-level chains use hardened steel. The hardening process strengthens the steel significantly but can make it brittle. Look for hardened-tempered steel to avoid brittleness.
Hardened steel also has high levels of iron, which means it’s heavy and rusts easily. When buying hardened steel tire chains, you want to buy a set that is Zinc-Anodized or galvanized to control rusting.
Manganese Nickel Steel
The next quality level is chains made with manganese, nickel steel. This alloy is lighter, stronger and rust resistant. Their cost is higher, but so is their longevity and ease of maintenance.
Titanium Alloy Steel
The highest quality tire chains use Titanium alloy steel. Lightest, strongest, and corrosion-free it’s used for surgical implants. The downside is that all this quality comes at a high price.
Ladder, “V” or Diamond Pattern Chains, Which is Best?
Three Types of tire chains are most common for ATVs. The ladder-type Chain, the “V” type, and the diamond type. All types use sidebar links of some form but their cross chains vary in design.
Ladder Type Chains
As their name implies, these chains resemble a ladder made of chains. With cross chains linked to the sidebars. Lower quality chains have cross chains at every fourth link.
Higher quality chains have cross chains at every second link. Two link chains provide better traction because of increased chain surface on the ice or road. Ladder chains give excellent traction in most conditions, but can offer some resistance in turns and steering.
V Type Chains
These are slightly changed ladder chains, with the primary difference being that cross chains are at a slight angle similar to a “V”. This minor alteration allows for easier steering and stopping.
Diamond Pattern Tire Chains
Hands down, these are the most aggressive highest traction chains out there. And mostly limited to ATVs driven only off-road and some trucks.
These chains make for a rough ride. The diamond pattern means there’s more of the chain’s surface in contact with the road. It also wraps around the sidewalls, helping to steer and increasing control in turns.
They will bite into any surface you ride on, and if you take them on paved roads these chains will damage concrete and asphalt surfaces, which is why they aren’t legal for street use.
Do I Need Chains on All Four Wheels?
When weather requires tire chains, only one axle needs chains for a car or pickup. But because ATVs that are used for Ice fishing will spend more time on ice and hard-packed snow, traction and control may be improved with front tire chains as well.
If you decide to put chains on the front wheels, ATVs often use smaller tires on the front to limit steering snapback or whipping. So, you will need to buy smaller chains.
For the best performance and traction, tire chains on all four wheels I recommended. Diamond pattern chains with studs give maximum traction and stopping capabilities, but steering may be a little slower.
Make it a rule to maintain your speed at or below 30mph for safety reasons.
If you decide to use chains on all four wheels, check sizes carefully, Quad ATVs often use different size tires on the front and back wheels. Make sure you measure carefully or check the size written on the sidewall of the tire. For more on ATV tires, click here.
What are V-Bars in Tire Chains?
V-backs refer to the shape of the cross-links in your tire chain. In v-back chains, instead of lying flat, the cross-links turn up in a “V” or triangle shape, creating greater traction.
Studded V-Bar chains have studs welded to the V-Bar links to provide an even deeper bite into icy lakes or hard-packed snow surfaces; however, the improved traction comes at the cost of a rougher ride.
V-Bar tire chains, especially those with spikes, like tirechains.com ATV615Stud , may not be legal for street use in your state or province. Be sure to check local regulations before taking them on the road.
Ride and Speed with Tire Chains
Any time you put an object between your tire and the driving surface, it will make for a rougher ride. The fact is, when using tire chains, increased traction comes at the cost of a rougher ride. If you’re putting chains on a passenger car, cable types may suffice in minimal snow conditions.
The next best riding chains are 2-link ladder-style chains. They give a smoother ride but are noticeably rougher on hard surfaces, like concrete or asphalt. Besides the rougher ride, you will also sacrifice a little steering control in the turns.
V-Bar diamond pattern chains are only suitable for some heavy trucks and ATVs. Their design gives great traction, but at the cost of a rougher ride and slows you down a bit.
Speed and Tire Chains
When you hear guys talking about blazing along at 60mph while using tire chains, take it with a grain of salt. For safety, keep your speed at or below 30mph when driving on tire chains.
Safe-assured stopping distances increase dramatically on snow-covered or icy roads. On frozen lakes, even with tire chains, safe stopping distances are ten times higher than on a dry road.
Add to this the fact that by the time you see a break in the ice or an open ice fishing hole, at over 15 or 20 mph, it’s too late to stop.
Fitment and Sizing of ATV Tire Chains
ATV tires are available in a wide variety of sizes, and many quads use different size tires on the front and back wheels. You find tire size on the sidewall of your tires.
The first number is the mounted & inflated height of the tire. The second number is the width and the last number is the diameter of the wheel. Tire sizes displayed in millimeters will need to be converted to inches to find what size chain you need. Not sure how to convert to inches, click here?
When sizing tire chains, you may need to go a size up for tires with aggressive treads. It’s better to go a little bigger if you’re unsure of the correct size, a set of chain tensioners . Make a snug fit easy and quick.
Higher quality chains fit better, install easier, and some come with tensioners to adjust the fit. You can install lower-end chains manually, but it takes longer and requires manual adjustments.
Tire Chain Tensioners
A loose tire chain is less effective, makes steering difficult, and can damage the brakes of your ATV. Tire chain tensioners are an inexpensive way to make a proper fit fast.
Peerless Max Trax chain tensioners fit up to 24x12x12 ATV tires, are easy to install, and have a five-star rating from 68% of users.
The Final Verdict and Wrap Up.
All five of the chains reviewed are good for their class. However, hands down, the best tire chains for heavy off-road use and extended hours on rough, icy terrains are Tirechain.com’s Diamond Pattern Studded ATV Tire Chains #ATV615Stud.
Their heavy gauge, lightweight, Manganese steel makes them highly durable and corrosion-resistant. Double studded V-Bar, diamond pattern cross-links grip deep into the ice and hard-packed snow for exceptional traction, a smoother ride and enhanced steering.
They are pricey, but well worth it, as you’ll probably be moving these chains to your next ATV.
The first runner-up, once again for heavy users, are the best 2-link Ladder-type chains from Security Chain Company, the Trac V-Bar ATV tire chains. Their 2-link ladder design smooths out the ride, while the studded V-bar gives impressive traction.
Built from zinc-plated, heavy-gauge steel, they are durable and corrosion-resistant. They come in on the high end of affordability, and you can expect to get many years of use out of them.
I picked the second runner-up because it represents a good value and satisfactory performance for an entry-level 4-link ladder-type chain. They are manufactured by Koplin and zinc plated to be rust resistant. They will get through light snow and ice when you’re out ice fishing.