Let’s talk tires. Now before we get started, I know everyone has their own opinions on which tire is best for which application and vehicle. This is just what I’ve experienced with my own vehicles, and what I’ve seen and heard from others on their rigs. We’ll start moderate and move towards the extreme end as we go.
Let’s start with the all terrain department. All terrain tires are usually best for a little bit of everything…go figure. They have larger voids in the tread and deeper lugs than a street tire, while still maintaining a lot of siping. The siping is especially effective in wet weather and icy conditions while on the road. In the winter time, you really can’t beat a good all terrain. My personal favorite is the BFGoodrich. They hold up well for many miles under continuous street driving, and are invaluable in the winter time here in the 717 area. The only downfall that I’ve found with the BFGs is the price. Depending on the size, they’re usually one of the most expensive all terrains out there, however, you usually get what you pay for.
Now, onto what a lot of us are after, the mud terrains. I guess I’m kind of partial to BFG because I run the BFG KM2’s on my jeep in a 33×10.50-15 size. I absolutely love these tires. They have excellent off road traction in mud, dirt, heavy rock, and general trail riding. They also hold up very well on the street for an M/T. The sidewalls are tough too. I generally air down to about 10 to 12 psi when wheeling without bead locks, and I haven’t had one lose a bead yet. Once again, the price is a little more on these than other M/T’s. On the more budget-friendly side of the spectrum, Maxxis offers a nice M/T that they call the “Buckshot Mudder”. I’ve seen these tires in action and they dig hard, and don’t give up. They hold up decent on the street, but are right at home in the mud with the classic mud terrain-style tread pattern.
Heading into the more extreme department, we dive into the Super Swamper line from Interco. These tires are no stranger to the off road world, and have been a major name in it for years. Types such as the TSL, Bogger, and Irok are excellent for primarily off road use. These tires tend to have a soft rubber compound that, while amazing off road, doesn’t hold up well to continuous street use. These tires are quite pricey, but if you have a dedicated off road machine, you’re no stranger to spending some big money for something that works.
Now we’re gonna start getting technical. Bias ply or belted radial? Everyone you talk to has a different opinion of this as well. This decision is really a compromise one way or the other. Generally speaking, bias ply tires have a stronger and more flexible sidewall which is better when you’re wheeling. The big downfall to bias plies is that they wear out much faster on the street than a belted radial. Bias ply’s can also develop flat spots on them if they sit for a while. Belted radials stay round longer and hold up better on the street, but have sidewalls that are more susceptible to puncture if you’re running on heavy rock. So it comes down to what you’re willing to sacrifice. Most will tell you that if you run your rig on the street fairly often, stick with the radials.
There are many different types and styles of tires that I haven’t touched in this write up. I haven’t gotten into the size argument here either. Please feel free to check out the forum for discussion and suggestions on tire types and sizes from experienced wheelers, and their trials and tribulations along the way.