For years, tales of Can-Am UTV sightings in top-secret testing locales across the nation have sparked viral Web discussions among the offroad community containing enough half-truths to rival a Charlie Sheen interview. In 2011, Can-Am puts those rumors to rest by finally pulling the trigger on its new UTV. The Commander 1000XT sports an 85-hp, 976cc Rotax V-twin engine that delivers class--leading fuel economy and a range of 186 miles, thanks to a 10-gallon fuel capacity.
With an industry-first composite Dual Level cargo box, a standard 4,000-pound winch, and 27-inch Maxxis Bighorn tires mounted on 14-inch cast-aluminum wheels, the Commander 1000XT is ready for adventure, as I discovered when I took it onto some challenging trails deep in the Pennsylvania backwoods. The comfortable bucket seats are both adjustable and removable, with integrated bases that let them double as camp stools. Topping the list of ingenious safety features are a 2-inch rollover cage, quick-attach side nets, and a seat-belt sensor that limits engine speed to just a few mph with an unbuckled pilot. A drive-by-wire throttle system helps the tires stay hooked up by filtering out the unwanted throttle input created by gnarly trails. —Lance Schwartz
Manufacturer: Can Am (Can-Am.BRP.com)
Price: $14,299 - $14,899
From a dead accurate factory rifle and hunting boots inspired by the demands of mountain warfare on the far side of the world to futuristic self-warming clothing and an ingenious treestand safety harness, this year’s winners will help any hunter improve his game.
The Gear Tests
Before a product earns recognition as Best of the Best, it must undergo field testing by our experts. In all, 150 products were tested, and 26 were deemed fit enough to earn Best of the Best honors. Here are some of the testing procedures we used:
Rifles and Shotguns
• Guns were inspected for overall fit and finish, and trigger pull weights were verified. Barreled actions were removed and inspected with a borescope. Rifles were shot from a benchrest, three shots at 100 yards, with three different types of ammo, to determine accuracy. Shotguns were fired from a low-gun start on the trap and skeet field with a variety of hunting and target ammo to assess responsiveness and function.
• Penetration and weight retention of big-game bullets were examined using the Ballistic Buffalo, an ingenious instrument created by Rifles editor David E. Petzal (fieldandstream.com/ballisticbuffalo).
• Knives were tested for edge holding, initial sharpness, and ease of resharpening. Special-purpose knives were tested by cutting wood, parachute cord, and seat belts.
ATVs and UTVs
• ATVs and UTVs were loaded with gear and driven hundreds of miles through narrow wooded trails, rock fields, and mud pits.
• Optics were submerged (riflescopes had turret caps removed) in 1 foot of warm water for a full minute, then placed overnight in a chest freezer at 10 degrees to test fogproofing. Then they were left out for another night and again checked for any signs of internal moisture. In addition to examining optical quality in varying light conditions, our experts tested the riflescopes with live-fire exercises.