For several years Nitto offered its Terra Grappler all-terrain tire and the Mud Grappler mud-terrain tire. For us, the AT was too mild to really take wheeling and the MT was too aggressive to run on the highway daily. We thought that the company needed something in the middle. Then Nitto came up with the Trail Grappler. It's a mud tire that can hit the slop and clay, yet won't howl like a dog at the moon when rolling down the street. We slapped some 35x12.50R17 Trail Grapplers on a set of 17x8.5 AEV Pintler beadlock wheels. Then we bolted them up to our '07 two-door Wrangler to get a better idea of what the Trail Grapplers can and can't do.
The first thing we noticed was that there is some heft to these tires. The 35-inch Trail Grapplers are also a little bigger and wider than most 35s. At 78 pounds apiece they are about 10 pounds heavier than a typical 35x12.50R17.
Nitto does a really good job of making sure its tires are round and well balanced. The Trail Grappler rolls really smooth down the road even though we didn't bother having them balanced. They don't wear quickly or in a strange pattern. With regular tire rotations, proper alignment, and correct air pressure, the Trail Grapplers should have no problem going 40,000 miles or more.
The bummer is that Nitto has a tendency to build most of its tires for 18-inch and larger wheels, not exactly good for Jeep and off-road use. The added heft is likely due to the fact that they have an E Load Range rating. Each 35x12.50R17 tire is able to support 3,195 pounds at 65 psi. If you're thinking that's a lot, you're right. One tire inflated to the max psi can nearly support the entire weight of your Jeep. All but one Trail Grappler tire size is E-rated. On the street we ran 25 psi up front and 20 psi in the rear. The increased rotating weight sapped a noticeable amount of power and the stiff heavy-duty carcass rides a little rough. On an initial run we lost about .5-1 MPG with the swap to these tires. The Trail Grappler is really better suited for use on a 3/4- or 1-ton truck due to the tire design and load rating.
Off-road you really have to air the Trail Grapplers down near the single digits, making beadlocks almost mandatory. Even at 12 psi, the truck-duty seven-ply tread and three-ply sidewall don't flex and envelop obstacles all that well. But if you're looking for a puncture-resistant tire, the Trail Grappler is about as close as you can get to bias-ply sidewall strength from a radial tire.
The Trail Grapplers work well in the sand and dirt if you can get past the stiff carcass and extra rotating weight. Mud didn't pose a problem either, however snow and ice traction was unimpressive. On the rocks, we'd really prefer to have a more flexible carcass.
- Long tread life
- Rolls round and smooth
- Strong tread and side wall
- They're heavy
- Stiff tread and sidewall
- Better suited on a 3/4- or 1-ton truck