As with performance cars or motorcycles, if you really want to make a difference with your truck or SUV’s off-road performance, start with your tires. Off-roading means traversing dirt, sand, mud, gravel and other surfaces that sure as hell won’t provide the same kind of traction as asphalt. Good traction won’t just increase your performance off-road — it could also save you from getting stranding in the middle of nowhere (though the right recovery tools should always be kept on hand).
And while many of the hardcore guys will spring for oversized mud or swamper tires for their decked-out rig, for the mild enthusiast a good set of all-terrains will be civilized enough for daily use on the road and burly enough for hitting the trail on the weekend. There is no shortage of great all-terrain tires, but these seven stand out as some of the very best.
All-Terrain T/A KO
When BFGoodrich launched the original All-Terrain T/A back in 1976, it became the first true modern all-terrain tire. 40 years later it remains an iconic favorite, but not just for nostalgia’s sake; with a tear-resistant tread compound (which the company says can double the tire’s lifespan on gravel roads) and a split and bruise-resistant three-ply sidewall, it’s still as durable as ever. Classic looks don’t hurt, either.
While the five-rib tread design of the Cooper is meant to provide a lot of traction both on and off the road, the Discoverer truly excels with its wet weather and snow traction thanks to a silica-based compound and extensive zig-zag siping. The silica compound also helps increase chip resistance while the siping decreases stone retention during off-road excursions. Those looking for a more extreme version of the Discoverer should also look to the burlier S/T MAXX.
Though it’s marketed as “all-terrain,” the Fun Country lands in a middle ground between a true all-terrain tire and a full-on mud tire (as evidenced by its aggressive tread pattern). The tire also features treads on the sidewall called “sidebiters,” which, as the company claims, double as both protection and additional traction on loose surfaces.
On the whole, General Tire makes rubber that has exceptional value for the money. General’s all-terrain offering, the Grabber AT2, is no different, coming in several Hamiltons cheaper than its competition but still offering features like a five-row tread pattern, a stub-able design and an impressive 60,000-mile warranty.
Wrangler MT/R Kevlar
Another aggressively treaded all-terrain, the MT/R is the most off-road-suited tire in the Goodyear Wrangler lineup and a great option if you’re looking for all-out off-road traction. What’s more, Goodyear has integrated DuPont Kevlar into the sidewalls, adding that extra bit of puncture protection. Goodyear also offers Kevlar protection on the less-extreme Wrangler Adventure.
Open Country A/T II
Toyo claims that its wear-resistant tread compound lasts 40 percent longer than the competition, and the company is willing to back up the Open Country’s longevity with a 65,000-mile warranty for p-metric sizes (for light-duty trucks and SUVs). The Open Country has deep, chunky tread blocks, sidewall tread for off-roading and zig-zag sipes for snow, so its ability to handle formidable road conditions should not be overlooked, either.
Another well-priced option, the Yokohama Geolandar is a bit more geared towards civilized road use, given its reduced road noise and its large tread blocks with rounded edges for traction on dry pavement. It also has interlocking sipes for traction in wet weather and a three-ply sidewall for durability on off-road surfaces.