Tackling Snow, Ice and Mud in the 2020 Can-Am Defender XMR and Outlander 850 MAX

It’s that time of year again…no not the Christmas season. It’s the perfect time of year when the ice on top of our usual mud pit is not thick enough to support an off-road machine, which results in the ultimate test of tires and machinery.

To hit this perfect storm, we took the 2020 Can-Am Defender XMR, a machine built purposefully for tackling the thickest mud you can imagine, and a 2020 Can-AM Outlander 850 MAX.

The XMR was much better suited for these conditions thanks to ITP Cryptid tires, arched A-arms, 15-inches of ground clearance and its HD10 engine making 82 horsepower. As for the Outlander, it’s certainly not lacking power at 78 hp from its 850 engine, while arched A-arms and 11 inches of ground clearance keep things up and out of the snow.

Running in the snow, the ATV certainly lacked real grip from its ITP Terracross tires, though it never felt ready to get stuck. Instead, it takes some serious riding to keep the machine heading straight down the trail and out of the trees. It might not be the most confident ride, but if you’re a fan of going sideways an ATV in the snow is a ton of fun.

On the flip side, the XMR doesn’t lose the feeling like it’s up on stilts even in the snow, resulting in a less than fun trail ride. That plus the imprecise light steering, and it’s just not a machine that feels comfortable when it’s hustling.

But that doesn’t mean it’s now good. In fact, this XMR is unstoppable. Even inches of thick ice swimming in water and surrounded by wet earth couldn’t slow it down. As the tires grabbed hold and pulled this big heavy machine through the mire, it’s intended purpose was fulfilled: despite what’s in front, never stop.

To see both of these machines in action and hear more of our thoughts on them, watch the video above.