Like most aftermarket UTV accessories and components, there is no broad Polaris Ranger windshield solution that works perfectly for all riders under all circumstances. Riding conditions vary, weather conditions vary, and people’s budgets vary, which is why there is such a great variety in aftermarket Polaris Ranger windshields. Idiosyncratic rider preferences also come into play. What one rider might find to be tolerable for the price, another rider might deem absolutely unacceptable. We’ll dig into a few of these points, and at the end, you’ll hopefully have a better idea of the type of Polaris Ranger windshield that will fit your personal needs.
Polaris Ranger Poly Windshields: Hard Coated Vs. Plain
Because of the price difference (for some windshields it can be in excess of $100), many riders choose plain polycarbonate windshields over their hard-coated polycarbonate counterparts. This is no doubt cheaper in the short run, and if you’re a casual rider, non-coated poly may be your best bet. But if you use your machine frequently for work or play, the chances of scratching your windshield increase with every ride -- especially if you traverse thick wooded areas with low-hanging branches, if you convoy on dirt roads with loose gravel and rocks, or if you get off the pavement in any way really.
If money is your biggest constraint, any kind of poly windshield will do, and non-hard-coated poly windshields are definitely the cheapest of the cheap. If you don’t mind your field of view being obstructed with scratches or if you don’t take your machine off road, a plain poly windshield will do the trick. But if you’re looking to invest in the long-term performance of your Ranger -- not to mention your own personal satisfaction when riding -- a hard-coated poly or even glass windshield is the way to go.
Full Windshields Vs. Half Windshields
Riders often debate whether a full windshield or a half windshield is better -- or perhaps a combination of the two with a fold-down, flip-out, or vented windshield. A full glass or poly windshield could make your cab a bit hot and swampy in the summer. By the same token, a full windshield will also keep your cab warm in winter. Add doors, a heater, and a rear windshield and your cab will be nice and toasty regardless of how cold it gets.
Dust is another issue that can be mitigated with a windshield, but what windshield works best in dusty areas? The problem you have with a full windshield is that you need a back windshield as well to create an airflow that is conducive to a dust-free cab. On the flip side, if you have a half windshield with a rear windshield installed, the airflow is such that you will still get a lot of dust in the cab. Furthermore, anything you place on your seats will be blown onto the floorboards. However, the dynamic is also affected by the doors you have. With half doors, the airflow is heightened due to pressure differentials, but with no doors at all, a vortex cushion is created that actually makes it less windy in the cab.
In addition to keeping heat in and out of the cab and lowering the amount of airborne dust around you when you’re driving, a clear field of vision in all weather conditions is also a highly debated issue among both half and full windshield camps. Many riders choose half windshields as opposed to full windshields so they can see in the rain/snow. While a windshield wiper is an obvious fix for this, alternatively, many riders coat their windshields with Rain-Ex, a hydrophobic substance that allows snow, rain, and mud to glide over and bead right off the windshield without getting stuck.
Best Of Both Worlds
To get the advantages of both full and half windshields, many riders choose fold-down or tip-out windows. You can have it up to block the dust, then fold it down in less than five seconds to get some fresh air. Because they are made to lock and ride, these types of windshields can also be taken off quickly for towing. Alternatively, vented windshields have also become an increasingly popular way to block dust and rain while letting air and keeping the cab cool. Many vented windshields don’t “seal” per se, but instead have a plastic-on-plastic mechanism that blocks the majority of air and water.
At the end of the day, you are the only one that can determine the best windshield for your riding needs. Based on our experience, however, most of the riders who went with vented and fold-down/pop-out windshields were not disappointed.