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The Hot Sheet: 33 Off-Road Tires Tested

Posted in How To: Wheels Tires on March 1, 2012 Comment (0)
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Every few years we serve up a smorgasbord of information on tires tested by our esteemed staff. Like discerning food critics, we call ’em how we see ’em. If Trasborg thinks the lowly growl of a mud terrain on pavement sounds like a Cessna during takeoff, we’ll say so. When Stover shreds a sidewall without even trying, you read about it here. If Hazel finds that the lacking of lug spacing on an all terrain compromises traction in the mud, you’ll hear about it. Each evaluation is concluded by a series of scores in the six categories we feel most accurately represents what you do with your Jeep.

Tire Ratings
We’ve indicated specific terrain performance with easy-to-read graphics shown here. On a scale of 1-4, with 1 being crappy and 4 being the best, you should be able to locate the proper tread for your favorite terrain effortlessly.

**** This is the tire you should be running.
*** It’s a decent choice and will work well.
** Better tires are available, but it’s acceptable if you don’t mind compromise.
* We’d recommend a different tire.

BFGoodrich Baja T/A
The Baja T/A was developed for the competitive desert racing community. It doesn’t shine in snow or ice, and on the trail it lacks flexibility and sidewall bite. However, these purposeful treads offer stellar performance at high speed, both on dry pavement and in desert terrain. The carcass is incredibly tough and heavy. Despite the robust construction, this tire is well balanced and happy at speeds in excess of 100 mph. We’ve seen desert race vehicles shred cast aluminum wheels while the Baja T/A tires wrapped around them remain intact and ready to continue the race. Thick sidewall overlays deflect rock damage and enable this tread to maintain responsive steering at low air pressure, but we really consider them an off-road, go-fast race tire—not something for your daily-driver.

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: **
Sand: ***
Snow: *
Mud: *
Ice: *

BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO
We think of the A-T KO as a civilized older brother to the BFG M-T KM2. What it lacks in aggressive void spacing it makes up for in on-road politeness and tread life. Despite square shoulders this tire offers many surprises; in the sand and on snow-covered pavement, the pattern’s interlocking tread elements featuring micro-siping enables a surprising amount of bite and returns ample traction on dirt and rock. Also, the lack of circumferential grooves tends to make this tire more prone to hydroplaning than more modern all terrain offerings. In deep mud the voids fill up quickly and require heavy throttle application to clear. Dry pavement is where this tire outshines much of its competition. The 3-ply sidewall design features radial ribbing near the shoulder that interfaces with terrain when aired down.

Street: ****
Heavy Rock: **
Sand: ***
Snow: **
Mud: *
Ice: ***

BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2
The M-T KM2 is often referred to as the working man’s Krawler. Sharing the Krawler’s broad, blocky tread elements, but on a condensed scale, the M-T KM2 is a winner in almost every terrain type our editors could find. The only exception was ice-covered roads and side-hilling in snow. On icy roads the lack of siping caused the tires to spin excessively and required a lot of driver effort to slow the vehicle down. We’ve had a few experiences that make us wonder about the puncture resistance of the sidewalls, but for the most part this tread receives regular recommendations from our staff. The noise level that this tire produces on the highway is quite noticeable, but no more than many of the other mud terrains we’ve tested. With 3-plies in the sidewalls and another three in the makeup of the carcass, this tire is one of the lightest mud terrains available today.

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: ****
Sand: ****
Snow: ***
Mud: ***
Ice: *

BFGoodrich Krawler T/A KX
The BFGoodrich Krawler features a bold tread design designed with competitive rockcrawling in mind. Prior to its introduction, few tire companies even acknowledged rockcrawling as a separate segment of off-road. Today, few tires come close to the performance of the Krawler in heavy rock. The flexible carcass and tough sidewall work together to envelope obstacles while large, soft tread blocks separated by staggered voids pinch terrain to propel the vehicle. Our staff commented about the Krawler’s awesome puncture resistance on more than one occasion. The only negatives to report are the Krawler’s high weight and its propensity to wear quickly if driven on-pavement often. Also, it doesn’t work well on icy surfaces. Overall, we recommend the BFG Krawler to anyone who prioritizes off-road performance over on-road noise and accelerated wear.

Street: **
Heavy Rock: ****
Sand: ****
Snow: ***
Mud: ***
Ice: *

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 3-ply sidewalls and 6-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-inch diameter, the Crusher is great for Jeeps with mild suspension lifts.

Street: **
Heavy Rock: ***
Sand: ****
Snow: ****
Mud: ****
Ice: *

Dick Cepek Mud Country
One thing we have noticed about Dick Cepek tires is the consistency in terms of balance and roundness. The Mud Country is no exception. Despite canyon-like voids and big, chunky lugs, the tire rolls smoothly and exhibits road manners akin to a much milder pattern. Each individual tread block is interrupted by a sipe that stops short of the lug’s outer perimeter. This adds stability to the pattern and enables additional grip for wet pavement, snow, and ice. In the sand, this tire satisfies, delivering traction that is on par with most other mud terrains we’ve tested. For serious mud bogging, however, we suggest another member of the Dick Cepek family, as interior voids tend to fill up quickly and hold mud tight. The sidewalls of the Mud Country add little to the traction equation in the mud, so when airing down use the conservative approach.

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: ***
Sand: ***
Snow: **
Mud: **
Ice: ***

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, and 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. However, we remain suspicious about the long-term puncture resistance of the thin sidewalls. Though our staff didn’t experience any flats, 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 snow-covered.

Street: ****
Heavy Rock: ***
Sand: ***
Snow: ***
Mud: **
Ice: ***

General Grabber
Our testing concluded that the overbuilt 7-ply carcass would take on anything nature could dish out, and keep returning 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 Jeeper who doesn’t mind a heavy tire that howls..

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: ****
Sand: ***
Snow: ***
Mud: ****
Ice: **

General Grabber AT2
Like the BFG AT, 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’.

Street: ****
Heavy Rock: **
Sand: ***
Snow: **
Mud: *
Ice: ***

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 2-ply sidewalls are more vulnerable than you might expect. For a daily-driven weekend warrior, these tires are a great choice.

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: ***
Sand: ***
Snow: ****
Mud: ***
Ice: ****

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 pattern cleans well, and when aired down, the 3-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.

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: ****
Sand: ***
Snow: ***
Mud: ****
Ice: **

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 on to 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 looses 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 and our highest recommendation for winter operation.

Street: ****
Heavy Rock: ***
Sand:***
Snow: ****
Mud: **
Ice: ****

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.

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: ***
Sand: **
Snow: **
Mud: ***
Ice: **

Maxxis Creepy Crawler
Among bias-ply tire options, the Creepy Crawler delivers superb on-road manners. You still get the early morning flat spotting, but with this design it only takes a mile or two 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 terrain. This makes them awesome in the rocks and phenomenal in mud, sand, and snow. Our biggest complaint with the Creepy Crawler is with ice traction, or lack thereof. 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.

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: ****
Sand: ****
Snow: ***
Mud: ****
Ice: *

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 3,000lb 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.

Street: **
Heavy Rock: ****
Sand: ***
Snow: **
Mud: ***
Ice:*

Mickey Thompson Baja Claw Radial
We’re not sure how much longer this version of the Claw will be around now that the new Baja Claw TTC is in production. Featuring a proven tread design that is both directional and kinda noisy, the Baja Claw Radial is an excellent tire for mud bogging. The purposeful tread lugs offer excellent traction to propel the vehicle forward, but in reverse, the design lacks traction. The lugs extend past the shoulders and half-way down the sidewall, which makes them great for rutted hill climbs. However due to the thin 2-ply sidewalls, we don’t recommend them for sharp rocky trails. The lack of siping and overall tread design make it less than favorable in snow or icy conditions. When aired down, the Baja Claws work excellent in the sand...any very well nearly everywhere else..

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: **
Sand: ****
Snow: **
Mud: ***
Ice: **

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.

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: ***
Sand: ***
Snow: ***
Mud: ***
Ice: ***

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 pressure 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.

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: *
Sand: ****
Snow: **
Mud: *
Ice: **

Nitto Mud Grappler
The first thing we noticed about the Mud Grappler was the loud drone they produce. Like a frustrated diva in a bar full of soldiers, if these tires start singing, they command everyone’s attention. With massive lugs and equally large voids, mud of any kind is a non-issue. The same holds true for sand and snow. The chunky sidewalls have a lot of rubber to ward off rock rash and the look of this tire screams “tough guy.” But on the street is where the magic happens. Somehow, even with all that mass haphazardly hanging off the carcass, the Mud Grapplers roll round and don’t typically require a lot of lead to balance. Our testing even indicated that with regular tire rotations, the tread returned long life and even wear throughout the life of the tire. If you like the look of an aggressive tread, and don’t mind the road noise, the Nitto Mud Grappler might just be the hot ticket.

Street:**
Heavy Rock: ***
Sand: ****
Snow: ***
Mud: ****
Ice: **

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. Nitto generally does a good job of making sure a tire is round and well balanced, and the Trail Grappler is no exception. In the snow they perform on par with others in the segment, but in ice they excel. 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.

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: ***
Sand: ***
Snow: **
Mud: ****
Ice: ****

Pit Bull Growlers
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 with ease. In the sand, the Growlers have a tendency to dig holes—until you lowered 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 Jeep owner whose main priority is off-road traction.

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: **
Sand: ***
Snow: **
Mud: ***
Ice: **

Pitbull Rockers
In the world of highly specialized extreme traction tires, Pit Bull is a force to reckon with. 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.

Street: *
Heavy Rock: ***
Sand: ****
Snow: ***
Mud: ****
Ice: **

Pro Comp Extreme AT
To score evenly across the board, a tire must balance all categories of performance. The Pro Comp Extreme AT does exactly that with its mild on-road manners and average off-road prowess. The tread design clogs easily in the mud, but returns long tread life on the street. The wet and icy pavement traction is exceptional thanks to multi-angle siping in every tread block, but the sidewalls are basically smooth and offer little help in deep mud, sand, and snow. The compound is stiff to add stability over the long haul, but the lack of block flex makes them challenging to drive in heavy rocks. We recommend this tire for daily drivers and anything that doesn’t require superior traction in any one segment. With regular rotations, the Extreme AT should return long tread life and consistent performance on the street and trail.

Street: ****
Heavy Rock: *
Sand: **
Snow: ***
Mud: *
Ice: ***

Pro Comp MT
This radial mud terrain is not designed for extreme performance, but if used for typical street driving and the occasional off-road adventure, it should return respectable reviews. The pattern sheds mud readily, but not quite as well as some of the more aggressive tires we’ve tested. The lack of outer lug siping makes them a handful on ice, but otherwise, they dominate all other terrain types. Our biggest complaint is that the sidewalls do not contribute much to the traction equation due to a lack of traction-aiding sidewall lugs. 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.

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: **
Sand: ***
Snow: ***
Mud: ***
Ice: **

Pro Comp Xterrain
The Xterrain is a radial tire with up to three polyester sidewall plies. We’re told that the individual plies are thicker than normal and woven more tightly to provide greater puncture resistance than other 3-ply tires. 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 whole package works phenomenally well in mud, snow, and sand. Our biggest complaint is with the tires high noise level on pavement. Not to say that the Xterrain is excessively noisy on-road, it’s just a little louder than we expect from an average mud-terrain tire.

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: ***
Sand: ***
Snow: ***
Mud: ***
Ice: *

Pro Comp Xtreme MT
Pro Comp is very good at building tires that work well for a broad range of customer needs. Like the Extreme AT, the Xtreme MT maintains a stronghold on the middle of the row in almost every category of performance. We were pleasantly surprised with the treads competency in rock, sand, mud, and on-road. The only shortcoming noticed was the lack of biting surfaces on the sidewalls. Otherwise, the Pro Comp Xtreme MT is a versatile mainstay that leaves little to be desired. Tri-Ply construction gives this tire excellent puncture resistance in the sidewall, while two steel belts and a spiral-wound nylon overwrap provide stability and superb load carrying ability for heavy rigs. Overall, the Xtreme MT is a great tire for everyday driving and for rigs that see trail action on a regular basis.

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: ***
Sand: ***
Snow: ***
Mud: ***
Ice: **

Super Swamper Bogger
This is the quintessential tire for any form of mud bogging. In fact, had Interco never built this tire, we probably wouldn’t have mud bogging today. Well, maybe we’re wrong about that, but one thing we’re sure of is the legendary ability of the Bogger to propel a vehicle forward in deep mud. Like sand paddle tires, the Bogger shovels material and ejects it skyward to please the crowds of onlookers who gather to witness their awesomeness. Likewise, in the rocks the Bogger’s long, wide treads act like little tank tracks to provide forward traction up just about any rock face or ledge. Where the Bogger falls short is on side-hilling. Without cuts across the treads, off-camber situations are not the Bogger’s forte. The pattern also struggles on ice-covered roads. No tire is louder or more offensive to the environmental watchdogs.

Street: *
Heavy Rock: ****
Sand: ****
Snow: ***
Mud: ****
Ice: *

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 they still flat spot on cold mornings at low pressures. Like most Swampers the large scooped lugs on the IROKs work well on rocky terrain and on dry surfaces. The soft tread compound wears quickly on the street but the pattern makes up for that when you consider how well it does in soft sand, mud, and snow. IROK tires are great for all-around traction off-road but are short-lived as street tires. We love the look of the IROK, and with such well-rounded performance in rock, sand, mud, and snow, we recommend it for purpose-built trail rigs all the time.

Street: *
Heavy Rock: ****
Sand: ****
Snow: ****
Mud: ****
Ice: *

Super Swamper LTB
Driving a Jeep equipped with Super Swamper LTB tires is like telling you girlfriend you don’t care if the open-top Jeep is cold and 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 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. With aggressive good looks, the LTB is a tire that we turn to for extreme traction on rigs that we don’t drive everyday.

Street: *
Heavy Rock: ****
Sand: ***
Snow: ***
Mud: ****
Ice: *

Super Swamper SX
The Super Swamper SX is covered by massive rubber lugs to defend the thick bias-ply carcass from punctures. The SX tread pattern means business, without siping or superfluous aesthetic elements the tire works awesome in deep mud, snow, and sand. The stiff sidewalls require very low air pressure to make the SXs envelope rocks—which isn’t a particularly bad thing considering how well-armed they are. However, the lack of sidewall flex also contributes to a rough on-road ride, but that doesn’t matter much because once you have crossed the line into SX territory, a plush ride is probably low on the priority list. Unfortunately, ice-covered roads are not in the SX’s vocabulary. These tires not inexpensive, but like a bulletproof vest, they return unparalleled value, as they shield the air cavity and make traction easy to find.

Street: *
Heavy Rock: ****
Sand: ***
Snow: ***
Mud: ****
Ice: *

Swamper TSL
If Noah’s Ark required tires, they would have likely been Swamper TSLs. This classic tread gave birth to the whole three-stage lug concept within the 4x4 community. Offered in virtually every size imaginable, the tread is a tried-and-true testament to what works well in sand, snow, and heavy rock. In the mud, the Swamper TSLs are equally impressive with a unique ability to fling goo into oblivion. Contrasting their stellar performance off-road, the massive, dense lugs and extensive void separation make them a handful on ice and downright miserable to drive on pavement every day. As with others in the extreme-traction segment, balancing will require huge amounts of weight. Overall, TSLs are a good tire to put on a rig that you don’t drive everyday, especially if mud bogging and heavy rock are your thing.

Street: *
Heavy Rock: ***
Sand: ***
Snow: ***
Mud: ****
Ice: *

Tread Wright Tires MT
With all the emphasis on going green nowadays, wheelers have nuclear-reactor-size targets on our backs. However, even the worst gas-guzzling Jeep owner can join the ranks of Prius drivers by simply running recycled Tread Wright tires. The concept is simple. Take a worn-out tire and vulcanize a new tread pattern to it. Carcass construction is based on what is available at the time of assembly and can affect performance significantly. Performance-wise, the MT we tested returned great results in heavy rock thanks to a soft, flexible tread compound. Street noise was moderate to low, and mud and sand performance was average. With no sipes to speak of, performance in icy conditions suffers, unless you add studs to the pre-molded holes in the tread.

Street: ***
Heavy Rock:***
Sand: ***
Snow:***
Mud: ***
Ice: *

Yokahama Geolander MT
The Geolander MT 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 2-ply, we were not able to expose them as a weakness. 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. On the road, we observed a well-rounded and balanced ride characteristic. However one thing struck our tester as odd: the lighter Load Range C version wore out quicker than a set of heavier Load Range D tires, despite higher vehicle weight on the tires with a higher load rating.

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: ***
Sand: ***
Snow: ***
Mud: ***
Ice: *

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