As Off-Road vehicles have grown in popularity and merged into the Sports Utility Segment, the demands on tire design have grown. Since the SUV segment has overtaken the Sedan segment in unit sales in 2015, the SUV segment sales are now double that of the Sedan in 2021. This shift in segmentation was driven by consumers looking for a safe, quiet, and comfortable daily driver during the week and an off-road adventure-seeking go anywhere and do anything weekend lifestyle.
The All-Terrain Tire offers SUV owners a compromise of performance on all terrains. They are designed with open shoulder tread designs to clean out mud and rock and strong sidewalls to withstand side impact damage. These tires have and excellent road-holding in muddy terrain.
The best All-Terrain tires have been developed by combining the off-road attributes of a mud-terrain tire with those of a highway-terrain tire. How the top tire brands achieve this feat warrants some closer attention.
How To Design Mud Terrain Attributes On a Highway Terrain Tire?
Mud Terrain tires are the preferred option for harsh off-road conditions, with maximum grip in mud and sand is required, with suitable sidewall protection against punctures at low pressures. The aggressive tread patterns of MT tires are less than ideal on tar because of unacceptable noise and vibration levels, making long-distance trips harsh and uncomfortable.
Highway Terrain tires offer higher speed ratings, better grip on tar but less traction in off-road conditions, and are more prone to damage off-road because of their softer sidewalls.
All Terrain tires are developed to find the middle ground between MT and HT tires. They present a balance between off-road prowess and asphalt performance. AT tires represent a compromise, and as such, many options exist within this segment – from more off-road-biased choices to more on-road-inclined versions.
The secret to outstanding off-road performance on All-Terrain tires is to deflate the tires before stepping onto the mud. By deflating the tire, the effective contact surface of the tire is increased, providing a bigger tractive surface to the road. AT tires have an open tread design that allows the tires to eject mud and water to the sides away from the vehicle.
The carcass design of the tire is vital in providing the lateral stability required for good straight-line stability on highways at high speed. The tread lugs can be varied in size such that the road noise generated by these lugs can cancel each other out due to destructive noise interference.
Some AT tire designs lean more towards better road manners for highway driving, while others are biased towards off-road ability. There are numerous All-Terrain tire comparisons between top tire brands available for reference.
The Five Best All Terrain Tires For Mudding?
Off-road adventures that include a significant number of mud obstacles are most popular. The top tire manufacturers have all developed excellent AT tires which are as happy in sand and mud as they are on the open highway.
Here are some of the top-rated AT tire brands:
1. BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2
With Kevlar-reinforced sidewalls, the BFG AT tires has excellent sidewall penetration resistance. The specially designed side biter lugs provide better traction in mud and sand, especially when deflated to off-road settings. Raided bars on the tire shoulder assist in releasing compacted mud.
The aggressive tread design will result in higher than average road noise.
2. Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure
The Goodyear Wrangler Adventure is a recent addition to Goodyear’s AT lineup delivering more than capable traction in various off-road terrain. Still, it also handles very well on the highway. Low noise and ride quality are much better than you might expect from an all-terrain tire.
3. Firestone Destination AT2
The Firestone Destination AT tires provides superb traction on the street, including snow and ice. This tire can do everything you put in its way, off-road. While driving on the highway, you may think you are riding on a passenger tire with its strong performance. Ride comfort and a long-lasting tread-life round out the reasons why this tire ranks up there among the best in class. These tires are optimally designed to handle well in muddy conditions.
4. Michelin LTX A/T 2
One of the best tires in the Michelin stable for off-road trucks and SUVs, this tire is equally at home in any off-road terrain. Rated 5 out of 5 by 560 satisfied customers, this tire design uses the trademarked Michelin Biting Edges to provide a good grip in muddy and off-road conditions.
The construction of the tire carcass provides excellent straight-line stability, and an extra steel belt enhances the tire’s load capacity.
5. Mickey Thompson BAJA ATZ P3
The Mickey Thomson Baja ATZ P3 is designed with tread shoulder blocks that create a low Optimized Pitch Sequence, reducing noise frequency and resulting in a quiet ride and even tread wear. The wide-open lateral grooves provide excellent off-road traction and clear water away from the tread surface quickly.
Self-cleaning, alternating shoulder scallops provide additional off-road traction in muddy conditions. The tire tread looks like a mud track tire but with the highway performance and low noise levels of a highway design.
The advancement in All-Terrain tire design due to the growth of the Sport Utility Vehicle segment has yielded some excellent options to choose from. These tires perform very well in muddy conditions and are designed to self-clean. Operating at lower inflation pressures typical for off-road adventure driving, these AT tires can battle with more specialized mud tire designs.
The advantage of the AT tires is that you re-inflate the tires back to their normal operating inflation pressure after your mud adventure, and you will be ready to enjoy a safe and quiet ride home on the highway. All-Terrain designs by BF Goodrich or Mickey Thompson have a more robust Mud Tread bias design, while Michelin, Goodyear, and Firestone have a more pronounced Highway Tread design.
Invest in a quality tire pressure gauge to help deflate off-road and re-inflate when going back onto the highway. Ensuring that your All-Terrain tires keep you adventuring safely for many miles.