Those four black things on your vehicle are the only things connecting you to the road. So you would think more people would pay attention to their tires on a regular basis, but that’s not always the case. Some people are so distracted with everything else life has to offer they never bother with tire maintenance, which can lead to costly fixes. Others may realize they need fresh shoes on their truck, but are overwhelmed with all the choices on the market. What do you do? Do you stay with the factory tires or go with something a little more tailored to your driving conditions? Usually, more customized is better, especially if you’re driving a truck, Jeep, or SUV.
To help make your decision, we constructed a tire guide that explains the three main types of off-road tires: mud terrain, hybrid, and all terrain. All three categories perform exceptionally well on particular types of driving surfaces. Mud terrains will benefit on off-road driving conditions, but are not always ideal for heavy highway use. Hybrids perform well on off-road and highway conditions, but the more aggressive tire pattern can lead to more noise. All terrains are great on the highway and allow for an exceptionally quiet ride but aren’t the best for hard off-road-only use. After you let those quick facts set in, check out these examples from each category.
If you’re in the market for a mud-terrain tire, you my friend, must love the great outdoors. Life for you starts where the pavement ends. Not you? Skip to the next category. Mud terrains are excellent for off-road driving conditions, which is why they’re the top choice for many off-road race vehicles. The aggressive tire pattern allows vehicles to dig in deep and provide traction, and the equally aggressive sidewall allows the same. Both traction and puncture resistance are high, but the tradeoffs can be shorter tread life and increased road noise on pavement.
Radar Renegade R5 M/T
Radar tires made a huge push into the American off-road racing scene in 2013 with their Renegade R5 M/T tire. The tires have made quite the showing, with numerous podium finishes in the SCORE circuit. The tire is able to shovel its way through rough off-road conditions. The deep channels in the Renegade’s tread pattern grip with the greatest of ease, while the open blocks allow easy mud dispersion.
The General Grabber has always stood out in a crowd of off-road vehicles due in part to their iconic red lettering. On top of the lettering, it’s an excellent off-road tire for numerous reasons. For one, the three-ply construction helps withstand most desert elements, allowing some peace of mind. The aggressive sidewall also adds additional traction when navigating tricky terrain. And if road noise from the tires is an issue, General’s sound wave suppression does its best to minimize it for a quieter ride. The Grabber has proven its mettle in plenty of desert and short-course races.
Nitto Trail Grappler M/T
For those looking to wrestle their way through everything off-road has to offer, the Nitto Trail Grappler is a great candidate. While it is said to blend the off-road performance of the Mud Grappler with the on-road comfort of the Terra Grappler, we wouldn’t call it a hybrid. It is at home on and performs well in some of the toughest terrain on the planet. Proving this point: The Trail Grappler M/T was the tire of choice for Loren Healy on his King-of-the-Hammers-winning Ultra4.
Let’s say you want something that looks aggressive and performs well off-road, but without the tire noise that can come with it. What do you do? Well fortunately, that same predicament popped up a couple of months back with one of our project vehicles, and we ended up running a hybrid tire. Hybrid tires hook up off-road, and they perform exceptionally well back on the pavement. Plus, you won’t get a lot of the humming noise from really aggressive mud-terrain tires. They might not be the best choice for people who constantly deal with heavy mud, but they are versatile without the drawbacks of extremely aggressive tires.
Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ P3
The Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ P3 is a great, complete package for the weekend warrior. The three-ply construction can take a lot of the abuse off-road will throw at you, while the deep, aggressive side biters protect the sidewall from piercing rocks. When it comes time to end the weekend’s festivities, the Baja ATZ P3 provides the comfortable city and highway drive you were seeking.
Pro Comp Xtreme MT2
Pro Comp is no stranger to the off-road industry, and the company has been in the truck and SUV tire market for more than 15 years now. Among the vast line of performance tires Pro Comp offers is the Xtreme MT2. Designed for fullsize trucks and SUVs that see on- and off-road, the MT2 is capable of towing heavy loads and exploring rough terrain, which is why it is available in an E load rating, too. The MT2 also comes with a 40,000-mile tread wear warranty, and you can’t complain about that.
Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac
Another great hybrid tire is Goodyear’s Wrangler Duratrac tire. With the Wrangler Duratrac, you’ll get TractiveGroove Technology, which offers enhanced traction in deep mud and snow. As we all know, that’s a huge advantage for off-road. For highway use, the highly angled center tread blocks enhance traction and lateral stability while reducing road noise—a definite plus when you’re trying to keep cab noise to a minimum. And the Wrangler Duratrac comes with a 50,000-mile tread life limited warranty.
If both options don’t sound right, you might be the prime candidate for an all-terrain tire. Although some believe the all-terrain tires lack off-road performance, they still offer plenty, as long as you are not trying to slog through endless mud. For many, they are actually a better choice. They are as quiet as possible while still offering traction in the dirt and usually last a long time due to their tread designs. For those who spend lots of time on the highway with the occasional venture off-road, a well performing all terrain may be ideal.
Toyo Open Country A/T II
Toyo is another company that brings a solid all-terrain tire to the table. A strong three-ply sidewall and an open-tread block design gives off that aggressive look. Plus, it performs well in mud or snow, thanks to the polygonal blocks and zigzag sipes. Another benefit of the Toyo A/T II is it comes with a 65,000-mile tread-wear warranty and is available in a wealth of sizes.
Maxxis Bravo Series AT-771
Another all-terrain tire to consider is Maxxis’ Bravo Series AT-771. The AT-771 was engineered to tackle your favorite local trail or your everyday urban work route. The unique tread pattern and sidewall lug design has excellent all-terrain traction and reduces tire noise with multi-pitch noise reduction technology. It’s almost like having your off-road cake and eating it, too.
BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO
The BFGoodrich all-terrain tire is one of the most popular tires on the market. The three-ply constructed tire features an aggressive, high-void all-terrain tread design and two full-width steel belts. If you decide to take your vehicle off road, your tire will be strong enough to withstand plenty of punishment. Just as important, you will benefit from the quietness of the ride and the exceptional tread life.