All-terrain (AT) tires are an excellent option for the driver who goes everywhere. From daily commutes on highways to outdoor adventures on the weekend, AT tires are suited for pretty much everything you want to do on a weekly basis.
But what are all-terrain tires and when do you really need them? And how are they different from other tires?
In this post, we’ll dive into those questions and more, as well as the top all-terrain tires on the market. Our goal is to help you understand and select the perfect tires for your lifestyle and vehicle.
How Are All-Terrain Tires Different from Other Tires?
Let’s start by discussing how all-terrain tires are different. Their key features are:
- More open tread design for improved traction on varied surfaces.
- Reinforced sidewalls for a higher load-carrying capacity.
- Adequate performance in all seasons.
We also want to directly compare AT to other kinds of tires. Take a look to learn what really sets a great all-terrain option apart from an all-season, winter, or mud tire.
All-Terrain Versus All-Season Tires
The biggest difference between all-season and all-terrain tires is the comfort versus capability. Your AT tire will be able to handle continuous bumps, impacts, and rough roads, and varying surfaces better than an all-season tire. However, an all-season tire tends to be quieter and a little smoother on paved roads- but less able to handle off-roading conditions.
All-season tires also offer slightly better fuel efficiency, but if you’re looking for tires that can handle rocky roads, wet streets, and other rough conditions often, you’re better off going with an AT tire. If you have a CUV or SUV that you take camping often or venture off paved roads you might look at an AT tire.
All-Terrain Versus Snow Tires
Although an AT tire will provide grip on a snowy or icy road, it’s not the same as a true “winter” tire. Most all-terrain tires are not designed to handle extremely cold temperatures. In other words, they’re good for cold, snowy, and even icy roads but if you regularly drive in freezing temperatures and on packed snow and ice and true snow tire is your best choice. Some AT tire models are rated with the 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol, meaning they are designed to handle extreme winter conditions.
If you’re facing heavy snow, severe ice, and continual low temperatures, you’ll still want to equip your truck, SUV or CUV with winter-rated tires. The tire materials in snow tires are made for continual freezing temps on snow and ice and handle these conditions much more easily.
If your location rarely experiences serious winter weather, you can safely use AT tires with a 3PMS rating year-round. They’ll give you enough grip to safely drive on light snow or ice.
All-Terrain Versus Mud Tires
All-terrain tires have tread blocks that improve their grip on gravel, turf, rocky, and sandy surfaces than a highway tire, but not as aggressive as a mud tire. The sipes on the tread blocks help retain a strong hold on wet or snowy surfaces and they have a lower rolling resistance than most mud tires. Low rolling resistance saves fuel so this is a clear benefit of an AT tire over a mud tire. AT tires are also typically a quieter, smoother ride than a mud tire.
Mud tires, on the other hand, have more space between the blocks, and larger more aggressive tread blocks. When you’re on such a slippery, or sticky terrain the tread blocks are able to really grab the surface, and the larger spaces between the tread blocks evacuate soil, slush, and prevent stone drilling. If it is a sticky, muddy surface you want a mud tire over an AT tire. But mud tires can be a rougher ride, use more fuel, and also are commonly noisier.
At the end of the day, if you’re not going to drive in serious mud, or on loose surfaces on a regular basis, all-terrain tires can give you the advanced grip and capabilities you need to feel safe on various terrains.
Common All-Terrain Tire Terminology
Before you start seriously shopping for all-terrain tires, you need to learn some of the lingoes. Here are some common terms you’ll see.
A brief tire tread definition: tread patterns and grooves make up the terms often used as ” tire tread”. Tread depth is measured from the top of the rubber to the bottom of the deepest grooves, and it influences the tire’s traction, fuel economy, and acceleration capabilities.
What is a lug? Your tire lug is what really grips terrain. Therefore, you’ll want a tire with a lug design/pattern that is effective at gripping the ground. The tread lugs can also combine with other features of the tire to enhance stability and support.
Why do tires have grooves? Well, the tire groove’s main purpose is to expel water from the tread to prevent hydroplaning. Large wide grooves, channel water more quickly and often grooves are designed to move water to the outside of the tire. The grooves can also help expel loose materials and also provide cooling for the tire.
A tread’s void ratio is the amount of open space. A low void ratio means more contact with the road while a high void ratio means more ability to drain water, expel loos materials, and let the tread blocks move. The average all-terrain tire has larger voids, which means it does better on snow, in rainy conditions, and on different terrains than a highway or sport truck tire.
Sipes (Tire Siping)
Sipes are the slots you’ll see cut into the tire tread’s surface. The design of these slots influences how the tire handles snow, mud, ice, and wet surfaces. Sipes open and grab the surface while rolling over it, creating more traction.
Common Markings on All-Terrain Tires
In the United States, federal law requires all manufacturers to include certain information on their tires, including all-terrain options. This required info includes:
- Basic characteristics
- Capacities (load, speed, etc.)
- DOT Tire Identification Number
The DOT number can be found directly on your tire and consists of eight to thirteen letters and/or numbers. This indicates where the tire was manufactured, the tire size, and the manufacturer’s tire date code.
You’ll also want to take note of the UTQG rating or the “Uniform Tire Quality Grading” system. This rating helps you compare different tires’ tread wear, traction, and temperature ratings.
When looking at traction and temperature ratings, you’ll find that tires are rated from A (superior) to C (average). If you need a tire that offers a stellar grip, ensure you’re looking for a traction rating of A.
You’ll also want to consider the maximum speed rating and load rating on tires to understand how the amount of load you can put on your tires as well as the maximum speed the tire are rated for. The “tire load index” was calculated by engineers, and it reflects exactly how much weight you can safely carry based on the tire’s size and pressure.
Do You Really Need AT Tires?
Now we get to the important question – do you really need all-terrain tires, or can you get away with standard all-season tires?
In short, all-terrain tires are going to be the best choice if you drive as much on dirt or unpaved roads as you do on paved. If you rarely venture off the road and mostly stick to easy street and highway driving, you might not need them and should choose a highway tire or sport truck tire.
We frequently recommend all-terrain tires to the drivers of light trucks, pickups, and SUVs who want the ability to safely travel on pretty much any road. You might be hesitant to make the switch, but when your vehicle is slipping and sliding on a gravel path, you might wish you’d chosen differently.
If you have come to the conclusion that you do need AT tires to stay safe and care for your vehicle, keep reading. We’ve rounded up some of the best AT tires for daily driving, excellent off-road handling, and low noise levels.
Best All-Terrain Tires for Daily Driving
● Great off-road and snow performance.
● Multi-angled tread locks to improve acceleration and braking on almost any kind of terrain.
● Jagged cleats to grab onto rough terrain and defend against debris/stones.
● Stone Armor ribs between the treads to protect from punctures.
● Relatively quiet road performance despite its aggression.
This tire’s price starts at $129/each.
● Traction on unpaved surfaces as well as regular asphalt road
● High performance in any weather conditions.
● Unique tread grooves for water drainage and slush evacuation.
● Reduced risk of hydroplaning.
This tire’s price starts at $135/each.
● Excellent wear resistance and long tread life.
● Year-round traction, including in light snow and ice.
● Wide tread patterns to expel stones and dirt.
● Full-depth circumferential grooves for better grip on loose surfaces.
This tire’s price starts at $127/each.
● Exceptional off and on-road capability and durability.
● A five-row tread pattern for high-density, multi-angle traction.
● Off-road grip in all directions on any terrain.
● Traction notches for additional grip on loose surfaces and snow.
This tire’s price starts at $111/each.
● A quiet ride on highways as well as excellent off-road traction.
● The Snowflake symbol certifying snow and ice capabilities.
● Big central tread lugs and open shoulders for stability and balance.
● Falken’s patented 3D Canyon Sipes for consistent performance.
This tire’s price starts at $145/each.
● Exceptional traction and durable tread life across different road conditions.
● A unique tread compound that boosts wet traction and longevity.
● Large tread blocks and deep grooves for superior off-road grip.
● Wide angled lateral grooves to provide reliable traction.
● A Mud & Snow (M+S) rating.
This tire’s price starts at $120/each.
Most Aggressive All-Terrain Tires
● A staggered tread block design for superb traction.
● Wide and deep grooves to resist hydroplaning.
● Two wide circumferential grooves that optimize wet-terrain handling.
● Excellent handling on asphalt, sand, dirt, rocks, and more.
This tire’s price starts at $89/each.
● Large, rigid tread blocks that enhance braking capabilities.
● Treads with varied pitch and unique patterns for a smooth ride.
● Stepped tread block edges for additional off-road grip.
● An M + S rating for dry, wet, muddy, and light snow conditions.
● Aggressive sidewall protectors to prevent damage.
This tire’s price starts at $104/each.
● Great gripping and off-road traction, as well as high on-road performance.
● Confident wet braking and handling with increased lateral grooves.
● A tread compound that provides cut and chip resistance.
● Staggered shoulder lugs that enhance off-road traction with biting edges.
● Evenly distributed void area for increased tread block rigidity and handling stability.
This tire’s price starts at $125/each.
● A long-lasting, quiet ride due to the blockchain control system.
● Interlocking shoulder lugs to increase stability.
● Reinforced sidewalls that are chip and puncture-resistant.
● Biting-edge tread blocks with Step Block Technology.
This tire’s price starts at $120/each.
● The strength to hold up against some of the toughest stress tests.
● An economical tread design that provides excellent traction.
● Large tread blocks for a stable footprint.
● Confident handling in a variety of conditions and on different terrains.
This tire’s price starts at $231/each.
Quietest All-Terrain Tires
● An additional layer of protective rubber to enhance tire pressure stability and air retention.
● Long-lasting wear with double steel-belted construction.
● A unique tread design with aggressive sidewalls for traction.
● A 3-ply sidewall and one-of-a-kind tread design for versatile traction.
This tire’s price starts at $120/each.
● Large interlocking tread blocks to deliver on and off-road durability.
● Saw-tooth tread block edges for enhanced all-season traction.
● An optimized tread pattern for long life and noise reduction.
● Rugged stepped shoulder for added traction in deep mud and snow.
● An M+S rating indicating usability in snow and ice.
This tire’s price starts at $105/each.
● Long mileage with a quiet comfortable ride.
● Rugged looks and even better off-road traction capabilities.
● Federal tire’s latest silica tread compound and pattern design.
● Wide-angled lateral grooves for traction and zig-zag sipes for water dispersion.
● An angled pattern to prevent mud, snow, and dirt from sticking in the tread.
This tire’s price starts at $91/each.
● Easy driving, even on rough terrain, due to a unique tread design.
● Aggressive symmetrical tread design.
● A wide and flat tread compound for wear uniformity and improved noise reduction.
● Shoulder radial grooves that grant efficient braking capabilities and traction.
● Excellent pressure distribution and contact area for aquaplaning resistance.
This tire’s price starts at $119/each.
● Heavy load-bearing capabilities, even on gravel and dirt roads.
● Cooper’s Whisper Grooves technology that reduces worn tire noise.
● Even Wear Arc Technology for strategically balanced pressure.
● Ledges designed to eject stone and gravel from the tire tread.
This tire’s price starts at $182/each.
Talk to the Tire Professionals
At Tires Easy, we’re committed to helping our drivers find the tire that meets their lifestyle and vehicle requirements. If you’re looking at all-terrain tires, let us know. Our tire experts will guide you toward the best match for your circumstances.
Additionally, we’ll share our drive-now pay-later financing options. We promise there are no hidden fees or costs.
Give us a call at 1-855-978-6789 to begin your tire shopping process. You can also send us a message online or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.