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Safeguarding Yourself With Protective Clothing and Gear

By definition, off-road riding means "rugged," so you should always wear clothing that combines protection and comfort. Never operate an ORV unless you protect yourself from head to toe by wearing these items and have them professionally adjusted when you purchase them to ensure the safest fit.

In 2012, Michigan passed a law giving some street-legal motorcycle operators the option of not wearing a helmet when operating on roadways. This law does not apply to ORVs, and helmets are still legally required to be worn by operators and passengers on ORVs.

ORV helmet

  • Helps prevent serious head injury.
  • Should fit snugly and fasten securely.
  • May be a full-face helmet or an open-face helmet plus eye protection.
  • Add a stripe of reflective tape to make you more visible at night.
  • Must be a U.S. Department of Transportation–approved crash helmet.

Goggles or other eye protection

  • Be aware that branches, road debris, and insects can hit your eyes and distract or even blind you.
  • Sunglasses do not provide adequate protection. Use goggles or a face shield.
  • Choose high-impact eye protection that bears the marking VESC8 (or V-8) or Z87.1 or is made of hard-coated polycarbonate.
  • Carry gray-tinted eye protection for bright days, yellow­tinted for overcast days, and clear for night rides.
  • Make sure your eye protection is scratch-free, securely fastened, and well-ventilated to avoid fogging.


  • Keep your hands warm in cold weather.
  • Prevent soreness and fatigue.
  • Offer protection during a spill or a collision with a branch, rock, or other debris.
  • Should be padded over the knuckles for the best protection.


  • Heels prevent your feet from slipping off footrests.
  • Off-road boots are best, offering protection for lower legs, ankles, and feet.

Long pants and long-sleeved shirt or jacket

  • Protect your skin from scratches as well as the extremes of the weather.
  • Provide the best protection with off-road riding gear that includes:
    • Pants with kneepads
    • Chest and shoulder protectors