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Massive 4x4 Tire Guide

Posted in How To: Wheels Tires on April 1, 2012 Comment (0)
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Contributors: John CappaChristian HazelPete Trasborg

When choosing tires for off-road performance you can’t just go to the local tire shop for the info you’re looking for. And quite often your buddies and even online forums can be biased. Nobody wants to actually admit they bought the wrong tires! The good news is that we’ve spent several decades on- and off-road in stock and lifted 4x4s testing out different treads. Not many people (if any) have tried more tires than us or have tried them in as many different on- and off-road situations. We have rolled a significant number of miles on each of these tires to give you the evaluation you need to decide what tire is right for your 4x4 and the terrain you frequently travel on.

Tire Ratings
The terrain performance is rated with easy-to-read graphics shown here. On a scale of 1-4, with 1 being poor and 4 being the best, you should be able to locate the proper tread for the terrain you favor most.
4 stars This is the tire you should be running.
3 stars It’s a decent choice and will work well.
2 stars Better tires are available, but it’s acceptable if you need to compromise.
1 star We’d recommend a different tire.

BFGoodrich Baja T/A
The BFG Baja T/A is purely a desert survivability tire. It’s not about trail traction, flexibility, or light weight. The Baja T/A is built to stay in one piece and hit rocks at 120 mph while under a 6,000-pound, 800hp, sand-blasting ball of fury known as a Trophy Truck. The Baja T/A features a virtually bombproof sidewall. There is also a full race-only version that’s even stouter, but you’ll have to be on the sponsored list to get a set of those. The BFG Baja T/A can roll down the street fairly smoothly but the stiff sidewall can cause some flat-spotting on cold mornings. These are hand-built, purpose-bred tires that don’t do much else than what they were designed for. They pack up in mud, don’t flex enough or stick well to rocks and are worthless in snow and ice. But you can’t beat ‘em for high-speed desert use.
Rating
Street: 3 stars
Heavy Rock: 2 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 1 star
Mud: 1 star
Ice: 1 star

BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO
We think of the BFG A-T as the little sister to the M-T. While it may not be able to do the same heavy lifting as its M-T brother, it’s smarter and more civilized. The BFG A-T features a three-ply sidewall with a tread pattern that has become the Swiss-Army knife of off-road rubber. It’s works well almost everywhere without providing extraordinary performance anywhere. The BFG A-T KO tends to clog in heavy mud and is vulnerable to sidewall damage in heavy rock. However, the mild tread pattern works well in the sand without digging to China and excels at delivering a quiet, smooth ride on the street. The tiny sipes on the tread blocks help grip on wet pavement, ice, snow, and even in some rocky terrain.
Rating
Street: 4 stars
Heavy Rock: 2 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 2 stars
Mud: 2 stars
Ice: 3 stars

BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2
The BFG M-T KM2 may look similar to the company’s low-production high-cost Krawler, but this is a much more streetable version that is significantly lighter. The BFG M-Ts of yesteryear had decent three-ply sidewalls, but the company really stepped up sidewall durability with the new M-T. It’s still three-ply, but a new sidewall compound and 33 percent stronger cords increase carcass rigidity and protection. This addition makes the BFG KM2 even more of a jack-of-all-trades that is perfectly happy in mud, sand, heavy rock, snow and street (wet and dry). About the only place it doesn’t do well is on slick ice. But that’s to be expected of pretty much every mud-terrain tire with large lugs and very little siping.
Rating
Street: 3 stars
Heavy Rock: 4 stars
Sand: 4 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 3 stars
Ice: 1 star

BFGoodrich Krawler T/A KX
The BFGoodrich Krawler is a low-production radial tire that shares more in strength with a bias-ply. It’s a heavy tire, but in the rocks the big lugs grab like gangbusters, especially when the tires are at sub-teen air pressures. The sidewall lugs work very well for climbing even slick granite on just the sidewall. The tread and sidewall flex and readily envelope obstacles, but resist tearing and damage to an impressive degree. They do well in most terrains and absolutely rule in the rock since that’s what they were designed for. They’re one of the best rock tires we’ve driven, bar none. They also do well in mud and deep snow but the lack of siping makes them a poor choice for ice sheets. On the street you can feel some lug slap and they drone loudly, but the ride is not overly harsh. Some flat spotting should be expected at lower pressures and temperatures.
Rating
Street: 2 stars
Heavy Rock: 4 stars
Sand: 4 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 3 stars
Ice: 1 star

Dick Cepek Crusher
With a tread reminiscent of a Super Swamper Bogger, the Crusher excels in mud, sand, snow, and rocks. The pattern doesn’t lend itself to off-camber driving, but it makes up for that with paddle-like traction in soft terrain. On the street, the Crusher emits an audible hum compared to other mud-terrains. In colder regions this tread has trouble dealing with ice-covered roads, so we don’t recommend it for such use, but if you want an extreme off-road tire that wears well, balances well, and you don’t care about noise, this could be your tire. The crusher is tough, with three-ply sidewalls and six-plies in the tread area. In addition to acting tough, the sidebiters feature skull-and-crossbone elements that bleed testosterone. With sizes offered from 31 to 35 inches in diameter, the Crusher is great for 4x4s with mild suspension lifts.
Rating
Street: 2 stars
Heavy Rock: 3 stars
Sand: 4 stars
Snow: 4 stars
Mud: 4 stars
Ice: 1 star

Dick Cepek Mud Country
In driving the Cepek tires we’ve tested, the one thing that has struck us is the company’s apparent attention to building a round tire that rolls nicely on the street. Nothing is different with the company’s Mud Country tire. While you feel the knobbies a bit, the great off-road performance more than makes up for a little road buzz. In our review we likened them to a trial’s bike tire, offering phenomenal grip in hard packed dirt and rocks. While our time with these tires didn’t allow much mud testing, what little we got didn’t prove all that impressive. Clearly, if mud is your game there are other more aggressive offerings. Aside from the mud performance, the only real criticism we had performance-wise was the lack of a biting sidewall tread. The sidewalls lacked any serious lugs to climbs ledges and shelves. Rating
Street: 3 stars
Heavy Rock: 3 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 2 stars
Mud: 2 stars
Ice: 3 stars

Falken WildPeak A/T
For such a mild looking tread, the WildPeak A/T surpassed our expectations in terms of performance off-road. Much of the punishment our staff subjected the WildPeak A/T to included heavy rock, deep mud, high-speed gravel, and sand. We even managed to challenge the compound to some unforgiving lava rock near Flagstaff, Arizona, with little consequence. In virtually all aspects, the pattern returned positive results. Our staff didn’t experience any flats, though the WildPeak A/T did fall short when it came to braking in the dirt. It wasn’t really an issue on-road, but off-road, we found that these tires lock up and skid more readily than others in this category. As expected, the WildPeak A/T shined on pavement whether it was wet, dry, or ice-covered.
Rating
Street: 4 stars
Heavy Rock: 3 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 2 stars
Ice: 3 stars

General Grabber
Our testing concluded that the overbuilt seven-ply carcass would take on anything nature could dish out, and keep providing traction free of punctures, tears, or deep gouging. On the street, the Grabber is heavy and robs power, but inspires confidence on rain-slick pavement thanks to the long, angled grooves that channel water to the outside of the pattern. When aired down, the sipe-free tread blocks left us wanting more bite when compared to others in the segment. Additionally, the pattern returned less than desirable results in icy conditions, which is to be expected from a tire with an emphasis on desert performance. Overall, the Grabber has proven itself among the elite desert racers as a formidable competitor to other tires in the segment. We recommend the Grabber for the go-fast user who doesn’t mind a heavy tire that howls.
Rating
Street: 3 stars
Heavy Rock: 3 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 3 stars
Ice: 2 stars

General Grabber AT2
Like the BFG A-T, the Grabber AT2 has a broad repertoire of strengths. Thanks to its deep treads and abundant siping, the interlocking tread lugs are able to resist hydroplaning in the wet and provide stellar grip in snow and ice. However, in mud the narrow voids fill up quickly and despite heavy throttle application, cleaning was non-existent. The pavement is where these tires shine best. Even on steep, twisty mountain roads, our tester was able to push this tread hard into corners, perhaps harder that any sane person would, and the tires maintained contact. With virtually no road noise and great all-around performance, the AT2 is a good choice for daily drivers that need added traction for weekend adventures, no matter sand, rock, rain, snow, or ice. Just go easy on the mud whompin’.
Rating
Street: 4 stars
Heavy Rock: 2 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 2 stars
Mud: 1 star
Ice: 3 stars

Goodyear Duratrac
One of the most aggressive all-terrain tires we’ve seen from Goodyear, we think the Duratrac blurs the lines between all-terrain and mud-terrain. As such, our staffers subjected the tire to a whole assortment of surfaces including rocks, sand, snow, mud, and ice. The pattern stood up to heavy rains and ice-covered asphalt, and returned a quieter than average road noise. In conclusion, the tread scores highest in snow and ice traction—probably because of the plethora of multi-angle siping on every lug. However, the pattern also proved worthy of mud, sand, and rock. Just don’t get too deep into rocks with sharp edges as the compound will chip and cut easily and the two-ply sidewalls are more vulnerable than you might expect. For a daily-driven weekend warrior, these tires are a great choice.
Rating
Street: 3 stars
Heavy Rock: 3 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 4 stars
Mud: 3 stars
Ice: 4 stars

Goodyear MT/R With Kevlar
It’s an asymmetrical design that delivers both aggressive and tame tread characteristics. On the outer edges, the pattern almost appears to be grooved—like a purposeful mud-bogging tire would be to add void spacing. On the inside however, there is a column of tightly packed tread blocks that maintain a seemingly continuous rib for street-friendly performance. The on-road manners are pleasant and relatively quiet, with none of the vibration or harshness we expect from tires with high void ratios. In the mud, the tread cleans well, and when aired down, the three-ply sidewall is flexible enough to envelope rocks the size of tennis balls. Speaking of sidewalls, Goodyear included Kevlar fibers to the MT/Rs sidewalls to add puncture resistance. If you want a mud tire that shines both on- and off-road, the MT/R with Kevlar is hard to beat.
Rating
Street: 3 stars
Heavy Rock: 4 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 4 stars
Ice: 2 stars

Goodyear Silent Armor
One of the quietest tires we’ve tested to date, the Silent Armor packs Goodyear’s exclusive Kevlar fiber technology with a sophisticated pattern. That’s not to say that this tire isn’t off-road friendly. It’s just not as well equipped for deep mud and heavy rock as we’d like on our 4x4s. The two circumferential grooves shed mud, but the rest of the pattern holds onto it like a fat kid holds a Slurpee. However, the shoulder lugs have larger voids between them and are able to supply bite when the middle loses traction. This split personality allows the tire to work well in the sand and snow. On ice, the abundance of siping combines with a compound that remains flexible at low temperatures, netting favorable results for winter operation.
Rating
Street: 4 stars
Heavy Rock: 3 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 4 stars
Mud: 2 stars
Ice: 4 stars

Kumho Road Venture MT
The Road Venture has surprisingly good on-road manners. The massive tread voids help channel standing water away while also promoting self-cleaning in the mud. The cut- and chip-resistant compound provides a good ride quality, but our testing indicated that the stiff sidewalls required a little breaking-in to work in heavy rock. They did prove to be a bit aggressive for sand and soft dirt use, and we did notice that ample throttle modulation was necessary in order to keep them from digging holes. Otherwise, these directional tires are definitely worthy contenders for daily drivers. Despite their big, blocky lugs, they offered a surprisingly low level of noise on the street and rolled smoothly without major lug slap. Plus, they just look cool.
Rating
Street: 3 stars
Heavy Rock: 3 stars
Sand: 2 stars
Snow: 2 stars
Mud: 3 stars
Ice: 2 stars

Maxxis Creepy Crawler
Among bias-ply tire options, the Creepy Crawler delivers half-decent on-road manners. You still get the early morning flat spotting, but it only takes a few miles to shake them round again. In the dirt, the lug spacing and edge angles return great traction, while lateral reliefs in the shoulder lugs contribute to forward bite. The sidewalls of the Creepy Crawler are covered with raised, interlocking ribs that defend the air chamber from punctures while also adding traction when in contact with the terrain. This makes them a good choice in the rocks, mud, sand, and snow, but some chunking should be expected with use in sharp rocks. Our biggest complaint with the Creepy Crawler is the lack of ice traction. You may as well strap roller skates to your axles, as the Creepy Crawlers’ large tread blocks inhibit control and leave you fighting to stay on course.
Rating
Street: 2 stars
Heavy Rock: 4 stars
Sand: 4 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 4 stars
Ice: 1 star

Maxxis Trepador
The Maxxis Trepador is an overbuilt tire with a massive carcass and a big weight penalty. Ample traction can be attained by dropping the air pressure below 8 psi in heavy rock. In deep snow and ice, the compounds lack of flexibility resulted in a somewhat lackluster performance. Sandy climbs require conservative throttle application because the stiff carcass tends to dig holes readily. We recommend beadlocks with this tire, as the robust sidewall construction and an exceptional 3,000-pound load rating limit sidewall deflection. On the street, we did notice a slight amount of tread squirm, but only when pushing the limits in hard cornering. The noise level produced is pretty much the same as others in the category. If you want a summer tire that excels in desert terrain, the Maxxis Trepador could be the perfect answer.
Rating
Street: 2 stars
Heavy Rock: 4 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 2 stars
Mud: 3 stars
Ice: 1 star

Mickey Thompson MTZ
Among mud-terrain tires, the Mickey Thompson MTZ is a versatile performer in the dirt. On-road, the pattern is louder than expected but still very comfortable in terms of ride quality. Like most Mickey Thompson designs, the MTZ includes Sidebiters that extend part-way down the sidewall. The thick, siped tread blocks provide exceptional grip in the rocks and we’ve found their performance in the mud to be outstanding as well. When negotiating thick slop, the MTZs didn’t require a lot of throttle application to clean out and pull willingly. Overall, the MTZ might not get a top score in any one terrain type, but they do everything better than average. If you don’t like compromising performance, the Mickey Thompson MTZ may be the tire for you. We recommend it to friends all the time.
Rating
Street: 3 stars
Heavy Rock: 3 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 3 stars
Ice: 2 stars

Nitto Dune Grappler
If you’re a pyromaniac or just into flame paint jobs, you’d probably like the Dune Grappler with its superfluous tread design. However, if aesthetics rank low on your priority list and function, especially in mud or on wet roadways ranks high, you probably want to consider a different tread. The pattern is full of tightly spaced lugs that make it difficult for water and mud to escape. On rock, this tire is basically worthless, as the lack of grabbing lugs require excessively low air pressures to prevent slippage. As the name implies, they do hold their own in the sand. On-road, the pattern is extremely quiet and they wear well too. If sand dune running is your thing or you simply want a different-looking tire for a drier region, the Dune Grappler might be the ticket.
Rating
Street: 3 stars
Heavy Rock: 1 star
Sand: 4 stars
Snow: 2 stars
Mud: 2 stars
Ice: 2 stars

Nitto Mud Grappler
One of the first things we thought after driving the Nitto Mud Grappler for the first time is, “Wow, somebody finally made a round Bogger.” While the Mud Grapplers may share the Bogger’s legendary WWII bomber noise level, they also share the Bogger’s legendary strength and ability to soak up abuse. With huge lugs extending down the thick sidewalls and huge, thickly siped treads, these tires offer stunning performance in soft, gooey terrain, handle rocks with ease, and even float well over sand. Most surprising for a tire with this aggressive build is its civil road manners. Sure they’re loud as hell, but they roll round, don’t require a lot of weight to balance, and wear slowly and evenly on the road.
Rating
Street: 2 stars
Heavy Rock: 3 stars
Sand: 4 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 4 stars
Ice: 2 stars

Nitto Trail Grappler
The Trail Grappler works well in the sand and dirt, assuming you can get past the stiff carcass and portly rotating mass. Mud doesn’t phase this tire. However, traction in the snow and ice falls short. On rocks, we prefer to have a carcass with more flexibility. On the road these tires are much quieter than we expected and thanks to the two separate sidewall designs, the visual appearance of the tire is selectable. If you need a puncture-resistant tire, the Trail Grappler is about as close as you can get to a bias-ply sidewall in terms of strength. The real beauty of this tread is its mild on-road manners and well-rounded performance across the board. Most of the Trail Grappler sizes are rated with a heavy-duty E load-range rating so they are best suited on heavier trucks and 4x4s.
Rating
Street: 3 stars
Heavy Rock: 3 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 2 stars
Mud: 4 stars
Ice: 2 stars

Pit Bull Growler
Pit Bull Growlers are louder on-road than most all-terrains, but they trounce most mud-terrains in the noise index. In heavy rock with air pressure at around 10 psi, the carcass wraps around rocks and chugs forward without issue. Deep mud was a good challenge for the pattern, but with heavy throttle application the lugs clean out and propel through the goo. In the sand, the Growlers have a tendency to dig holes—until you lower the pressure below 10 psi, then they float on top. On pavement you feel the squirm of the bias-ply construction. On twisty blacktop roads, this squirm requires a less aggressive driving style than we’ve come to expect from all-terrains. Overall, it’s a good all-around tire for the 4x4 owner whose main priority is off-road traction.
Rating
Street: 3 stars
Heavy Rock: 2 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 2 stars
Mud: 3 stars
Ice: 2 stars

Pit Bull Rocker
With an asymmetrical tread pattern and widely spaced lugs, the Rocker screams “aggressive.” At home in the mud and in heavy rocks, the Rocker is best for dedicated trail rigs or vehicles that don’t see a ton of highway miles. The on-road ride quality is not the worst we’ve tested, but due to chunky lugs with sharp edges, driver fatigue happens fast. If you’re looking for a true performer for seriously sloppy conditions, the Rocker is your tire. Just don’t try to converse with your passengers while driving down the highway, they probably won’t hear you over the tire noise. Overall, the Pitbull Rocker offers asymmetrical bite with ample attitude to spare...all packed in a carcass that’s as tough and nasty as its road manners.
Rating
Street: 1 star
Heavy Rock: 4 stars
Sand: 4 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 4 stars
Ice: 1 star

Pro Comp Extreme A/T
The Pro Comp Extreme A/T is an affordable tire offered in a wide array of sizes. As may be expected of an all-terrain tire with generously siped treads, noise levels and performance on the street, whether wet or dry were outstanding. The tires ride smoothly and quietly with no drawbacks. Also, as may be expected from an all-terrain, these tires offer abysmal performance in the mud, where the treads quickly clogged and showed reluctance to self clean. Sand performance was decent, with digging experienced only at higher throttle levels, but they tended to slip a bit in the rocks.
Rating
Street: 4 stars
Heavy Rock: 1 star
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 1 star
Ice: 3 stars

Pro Comp MT
Pro Comp Mud Terrain radials are probably one of the best buys in aggressive tires. They offer a tread pattern that works well all-around at a very reasonable price. We ran our 35-inch muds at 6-10 psi in the dirt, rocks, and mud. The sidewalls are only two-ply and they are not suited to real sharp rocks and stumps, but the tire isn’t really designed for crazy-extreme use anyway. The extra siping on the lugs help the Pro Comps stick to wet streets and rocks better than other mud tires. They shed mud fairly well, but not as good as more aggressive tread patterns. Overall, this is a great around-town mud-terrain that delivers traction you can count on for virtually any 4x4. The tread also features pre-molded pin voids in the outer tread lugs which make stud installation possible for use on snow and ice.
Rating
Street: 3 stars
Heavy Rock: 2 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 3 stars
Ice: 2 stars

Pro Comp Xterrain
The Xterrain is a radial tire with up to three polyester sidewall plies. The plies are said to be thicker and woven more tightly to provide a more puncture-resistant sidewall than other three-ply tires. We didn’t gouge ours, even though we tried. The tread design is very aggressive with its broad lugs situated in a paddle-like arrangement. Sipes are included in the tread blocks to aid traction on wet and icy roads. The sidewalls, while containing ample rubber to ward off punctures, still flex in the rocks when aired down. The Xterrain works well in hard-packed moist dirt. Gooier mud and sand running are capably handled, but it’s not this tire’s main forte.
Rating
Street: 3 stars
Heavy Rock: 3 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 3 stars
Ice: 1 star

Pro Comp Xtreme M/T
The best way we can describe Pro Comp’s Xtreme M/T is a very capable Joe Average. Our testing found that, while the tire didn’t exactly excel in any one arena, it didn’t do poorly in any one arena. They were pleasantly competent whether in the rocks, on the street, in the sand, or in the mud. The generous siping and decent lug voids, a strong three-ply sidewall construction, a smooth-rolling radial carcass, the Xtreme M/T left little to be desired. However, the lack of any real biting surface on the sidewalls, the tire’s propensity to become mildly clogged with mud, and its desire to dig in sand when romped on hold it back from being a stellar performer in all areas.
Rating
Street: 3 stars
Heavy Rock: 3 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 3 stars
Ice: 2 stars

Super Swamper Bogger
Look up mud tire in the dictionary and you’ll be looking at a Bogger. It’s the kid that comes to town and wrecks the place. Making no excuses for its poor road manners, incredible street howl, or near inability to take a balance, the Bogger simply rules the roost in the mud and sand thanks to its paddle-like construction. Likewise, in the rocks the Bogger’s long, wide treads act like little hands or tank treads to provide forward traction up just about any jagged rock face or ledge it can get a grip on. However, the lugs don’t grip well on smooth surfaces like slickrock or rounded boulders. Lateral stability also suffers due to the tires’ lack of biting edges. Usually Boggers that have met the grooving iron exhibit better lateral traction in the mud and rocks.
Rating
Street: 1 star
Heavy Rock: 4 stars
Sand: 4 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 4 stars
Ice: 1 star

Super Swamper IROK
The Super Swamper Iroks are aggressive bias-ply tires that still provide good wet pavement traction thanks to a soft compound and siping in the tread. The sidewalls are durable but compliant; however, like all bias-ply tires they still flat spot badly, especially on cold mornings at low pressures. It takes a few miles to get them warmed up and round again. Like other Swampers the large scooped lugs on the Iroks grip well on jagged rocks and dry surfaces but also move a lot of material to help forward momentum when in the soft sand and mud. The soft tread compound seems to wear a little quicker than we had expected, especially on the edges of the outer lugs, but that’s the price you pay for traction. Irok tires are good for all-around off-road use as long as you don’t spend too much time spinning them in sharp rocks or on the street.
Rating
Street: 1 star
Heavy Rock: 4 stars
Sand: 4 stars
Snow: 4 stars
Mud: 4 stars
Ice: 2 stars

Super Swamper LTB
Driving a Jeep equipped with Super Swamper LTB tires is like telling your girlfriend you don’t care if the open-top Jeep is cold or how it will ruin her hair on the way to dinner. Harsh is the word. While LTBs do run smoother than other members of the Super Swamper family, there’s no ignoring the obvious lug slap that vibrates every nut, bolt, spot-weld, and body panel as you gain speed. With speed the vibrations also increase in frequency, which kind of gives you the ability to tune-out on your girlfriend’s nagging, and zone in on the simple fact that you are the master of all-terrains. From mud to rocks, sand to snow, and everything in-between, the LTB excels. Just don’t expect the same on pavement or ice. With aggressive good looks, the LTB is a tire that we turn to for extreme traction on rigs that we don’t drive everyday.
Rating
Street: 1 star
Heavy Rock: 4 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 3 stars
Ice: 1 star

Super Swamper SX
The Super Swamper SX is probably one of the most bulletproof tires available, but at a price. It sucks on the street. But you probably already knew that just by looking at its huge lugs, aggressive sidewall tread, and bias-ply construction. The SX tread pattern means business, without siping or superfluous aesthetic elements the tire works awesome in deep mud, snow, and sand. Very low air pressures in the single digits are needed to get the SXs to stick to off-road terrain, so think beadlocks. Flat-spotting and excessive balance weight are common traits. Unfortunately, ice-covered roads are not in the SX’s vocabulary. These tires are not inexpensive, but like a bulletproof vest, they return unparalleled value, as they shield the air cavity and make traction easy to find.
Rating
Street: 1 star
Heavy Rock: 4 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 4 stars
Ice: 1 star

Swamper TSL
If Noah’s Ark had had tires they would’ve been Swamper TSLs. The classic TSL (three stage lug) has sidewalls that aren’t as thick or well protected as its SX cousin, but they are extremely durable and will bulge ably at low pressures. Offered in just about any size under the sun in sizes up to 44 inches in diameter and with huge hand-sized gripping lugs, it’s no wonder they’re a staple in mud and heavy rock venues. However, while they’re one of the best performing tires off-road, they’re one of the most miserable driving tires on-road, requiring huge amounts of weight to balance and are often out of round and louder than hell. Think of them as rubber tractor treads and you’ll be better off after your purchase than if you think you’ll be tooling down the road with a coffee in one hand and your cell phone in the other.
Rating
Street: 1 star
Heavy Rock: 4 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 4 stars
Ice: 1 star

Toyo Open Country A/T
The Toyo Open Country A/T really shines on the street and especially under heavy loads when the appropriately load-rated tire is used. They require very little balance weight and they roll true and round. We found that the 285/75R17 worked very well on a ¾-ton diesel truck. The carcass is very stiff so it did transfer some bumps and irregularities into cab. However, that kind of comes with the territory when you’re rolling on a tire that has an unbelievable 3,970-pound load carrying capacity. Fortunately the Toyo Open Country A/T is available in many different sizes and load ratings. In hard-pack dirt and on sand the Open Country A/T supplies surprising bite, even at street pressure. On snow- and ice-covered roads we noticed a lot of slipping and poor traction, even in four-wheel-drive.
Rating
Street: 4 stars
Heavy Rock: 2 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 2 stars
Mud: 2 stars
Ice: 2 stars

Toyo Open Country M/T
They’re as quiet as a set of aggressive all-terrain tires and they roll smooth, round, and true. After a couple thousand miles the noise level increased slightly. Wet weather performance was very good, as predictable and grippy as the Toyo Open Country A/T, but with better standing-water performance. You can successfully hit dirt trails, hills, climbs, mud, and very moderate rock at street pressure. The treads have a lot of siping that opens up the blocks and really helps the tires pull without breaking loose and spinning. They’re a good tow rig tire if you want traction without the hassle of airing down when rolling into an off-road campsite. The Toyo M/T has good lateral grip on loose soils and even in mud. On a lighter vehicle you’ll find that you need to air the tires down into the single digits in serious rocky terrain.
Rating
Street: 3 stars
Heavy Rock: 4 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 3 stars
Ice: 3 stars

Yokohama Geolandar MT
The Geolandar MT tires are refined enough for daily drivers, yet still provide ample traction for most trail scenarios. Offered in a variety of sizes up to 40 inches, the only drawback we see is that they are directional. Despite the fact that the sidewalls are only two-ply, they are not weak. In fact, throughout our testing the sidewalls exhibited a good bulge at low air pressures, and thanks to ample shoulder ribbing, they actually contributed a lot to forward bite. In thick mud, the V-shaped voids packed tightly, but were able to clean with light throttle application. We tested two sets of 35s, a 35x12.50R15 and a 315/75R16. The 15-incher was a load range C, while the 16-incher was a D. We found that the 15-inch version exhibited more tread wear on the street than the 16-inch version, even though the 16s were on a heavier rig.
Rating
Street: 3 stars
Heavy Rock: 3 stars
Sand: 3 stars
Snow: 3 stars
Mud: 3 stars
Ice: 1 star

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