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Dick Cepek Trail Country EXP Tire Test

Torture-testing Dick Cepek’s do-it-all rubber

Dick Cepek is a household name in the off-road community; it's also a name that's synonymous with adventure. The company joined us on Four Wheeler's 2019 Overland Adventure, where we journeyed with a group of participants across the Arizona backcountry from Wickenburg to Flagstaff, driving almost exclusively off-road and camping each night. We outfitted a '17 Wrangler for the adventure with suspension, lights, and armor, but the story here is what handled contact with the ground beneath—Dick Cepek's Trail Country EXP tires.

In advance of the adventure, we visited the headquarters of VTX Wheels, where our Dick Cepek rubbers were fit around a set of 17x9 Terra wheels. The aluminum wheels satisfied our need for a respectably sporty look, and the hue matched that of a weathered American one-cent piece.

This is the cleanest we'd see the Trail Country EXPs and the VTX Terra wheels for the duration of our test, and if you're concerned with curb appeal, this pairing certainly places a checkmark in that box.

The Dick Cepek Trail Country EXP falls between its two close relatives—the Trail Country, an all-terrain tire; and the company's mud-terrain, the Extreme Country. Tighter spacing on the center lugs separates the tire from its mud-philic brethren by offering better pavement performance while still holding the road during rainstorms. Wider lug spacing on the outer tread grabs the dirt while stone ejectors between the blocks toss out offending stones. The two-ply sidewalls also come with their own lugs for increased traction when the pressure is inevitably dropped for off-highway adventures. With everything tucked neatly under our fender flares, this is where the rubber met the road—and the rocks, and snow, and mud, and every imaginable terrain. Have a look at how the Dick Cepek Trail Country EXPs fared through our 10,000-mile torture test.

Though we tried (did we though?) to keep them clean, we hurried off into the wild in search of snow within the first day with our new tires. The EXPs are not classified as snow tires nor do they wear the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake; however, that did not deter us from chugging straight into a snowstorm.
Shoveling through the deep fluffy stuff was no issue for the tires, in fact, they pushed us farther into the trails than our Jeep's ground clearance allowed us to go. It was the hard-packed snowy roads where we wished for more siping in the tread blocks, but considering these aren't snow tires, we couldn't complain.
Between the Arizona Overland Adventure and our subsequent explorations of the roads less paved, we spent nearly as much time with these tires on gravel as we did on concrete and asphalt. We kept a close eye on the treads for signs of chips and missing chunks after days on the stony roads and found nothing of the sort. Similarly, the stone-ejecting ribs between the blocks successfully fended off bits of rock intent on drilling through the tire carcasses, and we had no issues on that front.
Dropping air pressure in the Trail Country EXPs took an already pleasant off-pavement ride and made it considerably smoother. Our tires came in Load Range E with two plies in the sidewalls, so a few more pounds of air had to come out than in some of the lighter-duty tires we've tested to achieve the desired amount of flex.

When the day's challenges included crawling over jagged ledges or through patches of dishearteningly large granite hunks, we let more air from the tires until our gauges read roughly 20 psi. We found this to be a functional balance of enough pressure to maintain the bead while letting the sidewalls melt around the contours of each and every obstacle.

Whether it was hiding beneath the snow on our winter excursions or making it up the entire trail after a rainstorm had its way with the once-dusty track, we found our share of mud. The 18.5/32-inch tread depth gave plenty in the way of bite into any slop, and once we increased wheel speed, mud was sent flying as the tires cleaned themselves. Space between tread elements was not as great as mud-terrain tires, so choose carefully if you plan on frequently slamming the boggin' pits. However, we think these treads clean far more efficiently than the typical all-terrain tire in gooey dirt.
We sometimes think our tires go through more in 10,000 miles than some will see in an entire lifetime, so we are not surprised when signs of wear appear on the treads. With a rotation halfway through the test, the Trail Country EXPs wore down evenly without any signs of cupping or scallops. The shoulder lugs and sidewalls bore their share of superficial gashes and scuffs from encounters with obstacles, but we suffered no punctures throughout the test.

Specifications (as tested)
Tire: Dick Cepek Trail Country EXP
Size: 285/70R17 121/118Q
Type: Radial all-terrain
Load range: E
Max load (lb): 3,195
Approved rim width (in): 7.5-9.0
Tread depth (in): 18.5/32
Overall width (in): 11.5
Tread width (in): 9.2
Overall diameter (in): 33.1
Maximum psi: 80
Weight (lb): 57.0
Warranty: 45,000-mile limited treadwear