The 7 Best Off-Road Tires for Your 4x4
Together, the Four Wheeler Network staff has tested pretty much every single off-road tire manufactured in the last two decades. Which ones are our favorites? Why should you care? Well, off-road tires are expensive! When you lay down all that hard-earned cash you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. That’s where we come in. Whether you’re talking about a gnarly mud-terrain for down-south taffy and clay or something that will stick to near-vertical slickrock like glue or a tire tough enough to withstand razor-sharp jagged obstacles while rockcrawling, we’ve run all the others through the mill. Here are each of our editors’ favorite tires they’ve tested over the years.
BFGoodrich Krawler TA KO
Christian Hazel - Editor, Four Wheeler
I mostly rockcrawl anything from Johnson Valley, Moab, Arizona, and other places in the Southwest. I also hit the sand dunes of Glamis with some regularity. For me, my choice of rubber hands-down is the BFG Krawler TA KO. I’ve been absolutely amazed at the performance I’ve been able to get out of a properly aired-down set of 35x13.50R15 Krawlers on my ’53 Willys. I normally run ’em at 2-3 psi in the rocks and 1-2 psi in the dunes. In the rocks, they hook up phenomenally, getting me up and over slick granite climbs and survive sharp pokes that would (and have) gashed lesser tires. In the dunes, the additional footprint of my 35x13.50R15 size on 15x10 beadlocks goes a long way in helping with flotation. There’s honestly not many climbs in Glamis I have had to back out of. My Krawlers almost always get me to the top. And in over 10 years of hardcore rockcrawling, I’ve never had to pull the patch kit or put down the spare.
BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM2
Ken Brubaker - Senior Editor, Four Wheeler
The best tire I’ve ever tested? Whew, that’s a tough one because I’ve tested a lot of tires and each has impressed me to some degree in specific situations. I could rattle off three or four tires that I really like, but if someone put a tire pressure gauge to my head I’d have to say the BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM2. The M-T impressed me with its ruggedness. I beat the crap out of that tire, and it never let me down. The M-T was on Four Wheeler’s project Hummer H3 Trailhugger and it helped yank the rig through mud, snow, and rocks. Even after a spirited romp in nasty, sharp-rock terrain there was no chunking from either the tread or sidewall lugs. Good road manners and ride, too.
BFGoodrich A/T KO2
Matt Emery - Editor, Dirt Sports + Off-Road
I’ve always been a BFGoodrich A/T guy. They were just coming out with it back when I first started looking to buy “off road” tires. I had used BFGoodrich Radial T/A’s on an El Camino that I’d had in high school, and they’d worked great, so I figured that the A/T’s would be great too. They have been. I’ve never had a problem with them off road and they seem to last a long time on the pavement as well (where 90% of my driving seems to be). For me, the BFG A/T line has always been great tires and one that I can see using forever. That said, I am going to be throwing some suspension at my Exploder soon and I’d like to give General Tire Grabber’s a try. I’ve heard good things about them and they look capable, so we’ll see how they are on real-world, all-around driving this season.
General Grabber Red Label
Shaun Ochsner - Staff Editor, Dirt Sports + Off Road
I have never really had the opportunity to actually “test” tires but working with race teams in the beginning I was always a fan of the Maxxis tires. Maxxis never really had a strong presence in desert racing. My teams always ran their big Super Swamper desert versions and later the Maxxis Trepadors. They have gnarly aggressive tread patterns that are probably way overkill for the deserts of Baja, but they work! We even had paddles added to a set of rear tires once to give us an advantage at qualifying in Parker. People noticed! The next set of teams I began working with was right about the time General Tire began pouring a large amount of money into off road racing. Seems like Team General was everywhere. The shortcourse teams I worked with were on Generals; same with the desert teams. The company couldn’t make enough General Grabbers to feed the demand. General Tire began sponsoring race series, throwing big events and making its presence known. It got involved with some of the biggest racers in the sport. It made it clear it wanted that elusive Baja 1000 win and to dethrone BFGoodrich, who had a longtime hold on the overall winner. Today it’s no secret General Tire will be releasing a bigger size tire, something racers have longed for. Not many may have noticed, but General Tire was in Moab this year at Easter Jeep Safari doing its homework.
BFGoodrich Krawler TA KO and Maxxis Trepador
Fred Williams - Editor, 4-Wheel & Off-Road
My favorite tire is the BFGoodrich Krawler or the Maxxis Trepador bias ply, but I prefer them both in the sticky competition compound. I like the Krawler because it was one of the first rock crawling-specific tires, I know the guy that designed it (Gary Enterline from Michelin), and they flat-out work great at rockcrawling. They look like a new version of the old Michelin Military tires, and I think they just get better and better as they are worn down. I prefer rockcrawling to most other wheeling, and these tires were the big dogs for a long time. The biggest problem is the sticky compound rubber tires are hard to come by. They are not sold to the public so you usually have to buy them from a race team, and they are not for street use. The Maxxis Trepador bias ply sticky compound tires offer magic traction. These tires can make you look like a super hero on the rocks. The lugs are massive and the rubber is super-soft making them stick to obstacles like flies to honey. I had a set of 40-inch Trep’s on my Clampy truck and even though it is a ratty old Toyota, it followed some high-dollar race buggies up some trails with no trouble.
Verne Simons - Technical Editor, 4-Wheel & Off-Road
The best all-around tire I’ve ever tested might just be the BFGoodrich All-Terrain. Maybe I’m old fashioned or nostalgic, but it’s a great all-terrain tire that is aggressive enough to work pretty well in the dirt, sand, and rocks but still have some street manners. I’ve run these tires on a huge number of 4x4s for the past 20 years through the various tire designs (mostly the KO) and have never had any issue with them. I haven’t yet had a chance to test the newest BFG A/T, the KO2, but I’m sure it’s on par with the past. Another tire that stands out in my mind is the Goodyear Duratrac. This is a more aggressive all-terrain that, in my experience, really excels in the snow.
Nitto Terra Grappler
Ali Mansour - Technical Editor, Jp
Picking one tire is tough, as many of my favorites are terrain-specific. I remember being blown away at how well the Falken WildPeak All-Terrain performed. I thought for sure it was going to be an absolute disaster in wet dirt, but it did surprisingly well. I still think one of the most impressive tires I have ever tested would be the Nitto Terra Grappler (the old style). I had a set of 35s on my ’06 Dodge Ram 2500 for nearly 50,000 miles. I towed cross-country around seven or eight times (racking up around 3,000 miles each way). What made them so impressive was mostly due to my laziness: I never rotated them. Not once. Amazingly the tread never chopped, and the tires rolled true and quiet. They did OK in the dirt, but for my Cummins-powered tow-rig, I thought they were great.
BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO and KO2
Agustin Jimenez - Staff Editor, Four Wheeler Network
When it comes to an all-around off-road tire, there’s really not a lot you can’t conquer on a set of BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KM2 tires. I’ve owned many BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO tires in the past and I’ve always had good luck with them from my solid axle full-size Bronco, my prerunner TTB Bronco or even my little Baja Bug. Naturally when I heard that BFGoodrich was redesigning the All-Terrain, I had mixed feelings about it and hoped they would stay true to their Baja proven roots. Luckily I was lucky enough to be part of the media crew that got to test the all-new BFG KO2’s in Baja last year. We put almost 400 miles on the tires through the race courses and back country of Baja encountering rocks, sand, silt and even mud despite it being summer. The tires handled everything we could throw at them and despite having a large group with varying degrees of driving skills, there were no flats in the entire group. The sidewalls are much stronger and definitely up to the task of racing across rocky deserts and treacherous terrain. I’m definitely a firm believer in BFG All-Terrain rubber so not surprisingly, I’m impatiently waiting until later this year when they finally offer the new KO2 in a 35x12.50R15 so I can give my prerunner Bronco the proper look in a package that flat out performs in the dirt.