Polaris Ranger Windshield Buyer's Guide: A Complete Review And Analysis
Dec 23rd 2018
Like most aftermarket UTV accessories and components for the Polaris Ranger lineup, 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 of this article, you’ll hopefully have a better idea of the type of Polaris Ranger windshield that will fit your personal needs.
Polaris Ranger Polycarbonate Windshields: Hard Coated Vs. Plain
Because of the price difference (for some windshields it can be in excess of several hundred dollars), many riders choose plain polycarbonate Polaris Ranger windshields over their hard-coated polycarbonate counterparts. While basic Lexan and plexiglass windshields are clearly cheaper in the short run, they may still cost more in the long run. 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 non-coated Polaris Ranger 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 to play in the mud.
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 and scratch-resistant Polaris Ranger poly 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 Polaris Ranger windshield and your cab will be nice and toasty regardless of how cold it gets. For more ways to winterize your rig, check out our post about the top five Polaris Ranger accessories to get you through winter!
Dust is another issue that can be mitigated with a Polaris Ranger 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 sucked back into the cab via the side of the machine. Furthermore, anything you place on your seats will be blown onto the floorboards. However, this airflow 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 and less dusty in the cab.
In addition to keeping heat either in or out of the cab as well as lowering the amount of airborne dust around you when you’re driving, a clear field of view in all weather conditions is also a highly debated issue among champions of both half Polaris Ranger windshields and full Polaris Ranger windshields. Many riders choose half windshields as opposed to full windshields so they can see in the rain/snow. While Polaris Ranger windshield accessories like a windshield wiper is an obvious fix for this, alternatively, many riders coat their windshields with Rain-X and other hydrophobic windshield cleaning products that allow snow, rain, and mud to bead up and glide over the windshield without becoming stuck.
Folding Windshields: The Best Of Both Worlds
To get the advantages of both full and half windshields, many riders choose fold-down, tip-out, or other styles of Polaris Ranger folding windshields. You can lock a folding windshield in the upright position to block dust, then fold it down in less than five seconds to get some fresh air. Because they are made to lock and ride, Polaris Ranger folding windshields can also be taken off quickly for on-trailer transport. Alternatively, vented windshields -- be the glass or polycarbonate -- have also become an increasingly popular way to block dust and rain while also being able to let in air and keep the cab cool. Many vented front windshields don’t “seal” per se, but instead have a plastic-on-plastic mechanism that blocks the majority of air, water, and dust when closed.
At the end of the day, you are the only one that can determine the best windshield for your own personal riding needs. Based on our experience, however, most of the riders who went with vented windshields, fold-down windshields, or pop-up Polaris Ranger windshields were not disappointed!