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Off Road Tires (All Terrains vs Mud Terrains)

It's about time for off-road enthusiasts to pick out a new off road tire set. All terrain vs mud terrain tires come with their ups and downs, so knowing the difference between them is crucial.

When it comes to tires for 4x4 trucks, you can easily find the perfect fit for your vehicle. But, what exactly should you know about dirt road tires and more aggressive models?

What Are Off Road Tires?

To put it simply, off road tires are meant to be used on unpaved surfaces. These car and 4x4 truck tires feature larger footprints and tread elements, which generate traction on various driving surfaces.

Yet, off road truck tires still have to offer adequate dry and wet surface grip during their on-road applications. Without this, tires are considered dangerous and should not be used on highways.

Then, what are all terrain tires good for?

Apart from their good grip, off road tires for trucks also offer great off-road performance, damage resistance, and higher load capacity. These characteristics work together to guarantee a safer driving experience.

Vehicle performing on a steep trail

What Makes a Good Off-Road Tire?

Purchasing aggressive-looking tires is not enough. Some thick tread tires offer more of an aesthetic appeal without actually providing the necessary off roading basics. So, how can you determine which AT vs MT tires are worth the hype?

Unfortunately, the answer is not that simple as it depends on your driving habits and needs.

Whether you need mud tires vs all terrain tires, and which type of these models you should purchase will be influenced by the terrains you drive on. Off-roading frequency should also be added to the equation.

If your off road car tires spend more time on-road, all terrain off road tires are the better option. On the other hand, mudding tires provide better and stronger off-road performance. Where and when you drive will determine what you need to pick.

When searching for good off road tires, try looking at brands that make tires for motorsports races. Their extreme off road tires have passed the test and are used in racing applications, so you know they are built at higher standards. Still, you can also find cheap off road tires that will also offer excellent traction, handling, and performance.

Compromising on Tread Life and On-Road Performance

Like any other thing, aggressive tread tires also come with their downsides. MT vs AT tires face the same issues. Those are their tread life, on-road traction, noise levels, and fuel efficiency.

Due to their decreased road contact patch, offroad truck tires on the road have diminished traction, compared to summer and all season tires. On the other hand, their softer compound can greatly shorten the tires' overall service life, as accelerated treadwear is common with these models. This also results in higher road noise levels, which can ruin your driving enjoyment if you are not expecting it. Of course, fuel usage is also increased as the vehicle needs more energy to keep these large off road tires in motion.

All terrain tire mounted on a vehicle

The Different Types of Off Road Tires

Originally, there were only two distinct categories of tires for off roading: all terrain and mud terrain tires. Even now, these off road tread pattern designs are the most well-known.

However, with modern technologies and innovations, tire brands have started manufacturing so-called hybrid terrain tires, such as rugged terrain or extreme terrain models. Combining off-road tires with harsh winter traction has also become popular, but more on that later.

Mud Terrain Tires (M/T)

4x4 mud tires are deep-tread tires that feature an aggressive design. This pattern ensures the tire's consistent forward motion through mud and other loose terrains. Additionally, they feature reinforced sidewalls and casings that combat tread and structural damage.

Thanks to them being aggressive tread tire models, off road mudding tires are the better choice for steep trails. This is further improved by their self-cleaning footprint, which is made possible with their high void ratio and wider lug spacing.

Vehicle performing on a rocky terrain

The combination of these characteristics makes these models excellent rough terrain tires. Big mud tires provide the durability and traction necessary for such surfaces, especially these top 10 mud tires.

The Tradeoff With Mud Tires

The main purpose of mudder tires is off-road performance. Mounting off road mud tires on your truck will come with its downsides. Extreme mud tires for trucks provide the best off-road traction, but to achieve this, they sacrifice on-road grip, driving comfort, tread life, and fuel efficiency. Mud terrain tires on highway will not perform well.

Typically, drivers will have to give up on these features when purchasing aggressive mud terrain tires. However, we must mention, that new innovations in the tire industry are working on fixing such mud tire problems.

Still, even if we are not looking are newer models, extreme mud terrain tires are expensive. Off-road enthusiasts will have to reach deeper into their wallets to buy off road, mud terrain tires.

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All Terrain Tires (A/T)

Great tires for gravel roads are off road, all terrain tires. Compared to regular all season and highway models, aggressive all terrain tires for trucks feature larger block placements and detailed sidewalls. As a result, both small and big all terrain truck tires are able to offer on-road traction and allow you to explore off road terrains as well.

Even aggressive-looking all terrain tires are set apart from MT truck tires when it comes to road noise levels. The all terrain tread pattern usually features a variable pitch pattern, which helps lower road noise levels during the vehicle's on-road drive.

If you need something between on- and offroading tires, all terrain models are the safest choice.

What Is Missing from All Terrain Tires?

Such off road tires for truck applications have their limitations. Even heavy-duty all terrain tires will face issues driving through deep mud, on steep trails, or harsher surface conditions.

Generally speaking, due to these tires offering good on-road performance, their off-road traction is limited to gravel and dirt road performance. These aggressive truck tires are perfect all-rounders, but they are not able to conquer rough terrain surfaces.

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The Difference Between All Terrain and Mud Tires

The debate of all terrain tires vs mud tires is evergreen. In other words, what is the perfect choice for one truck and driver, might not work for the other.

Yet, it is important to know the main differences between A/T vs M/T models:

  • All terrain tires offer on-road traction and driving comfort, the mud tire tread doesn't
  • Mud terrain tires handle steep trails and deep mud better compared to AT, dirt tires
  • The tread life of AT tires lasts longer than MT tires
  • MT tires offer a better tread cleaning capability, offering better damage resistance

What About Snow Tires?

The best 4x4 tires might not be the perfect choice for winter use. While the off road tire tread features the necessary details, all terrain or mud terrain tires in snow lack the needed rubber flexibility. They are snow and mud tires, but low temperatures hinder their performance.

Aggressive off road tires are not manufactured using rubber materials that stay soft and pliable in freezing temperatures. Instead, their rubber becomes rigid, preventing their footprint from gripping the road.

A tire stuck in the snow

However, if you wish to get an offroad snow tire set, you can. Tire brands identified the need to combine these two tire categories by designing off road snow tires that feature the 3PMS (three-peak mountain and snowflake) symbol. In other words, those big off road tires are severe winter weather rated.

Off Road Tires vs All Season and Winter Tires

Due to consumer demand, tire manufacturers had to step up their game. There is still a clear distinction between the performance of all season and offroad tire sets, but the gap is shrinking.

Heavy and wide off road truck tires require a higher energy output to keep in motion, increasing fuel usage. Their handling and overall performance also need improvement. But, the difference between aggressive truck tire sets and all season models is not as prominent. You can even find high mileage mud tires now.

Year-round use is guaranteed with both all season and off road tires. But, are off-road tires good in the snow? As we have mentioned before, some new off road tires are also 3PMS certified, but you need to keep in mind that these models still cannot compete with true winter tires.

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Read This Before Buying Off-Road Tires

When it coms to SUV or light truck off road tires, the prices differ greatly. Brands calculate prices based on a few factors. Tire size, tire type, quality, performance, and even the popularity of the brand will be considered when placing a price point.

How much are off road tires then?

Typically, AT or MT tires range between $120-$400+ per tire. These prices greatly depend on the previously mentioned factors. For example huge mud tires will definitely cost more. You can also find cheap offroad tires that offer good quality, but you need to be careful.

It is advisable to carry a spare tire and a tire patch kit when starting your off-road journey. This will add the price of a 5th tire to your total, but accidents can happen all the time and you do not want to become stranded.

If you are not sure what tire size you need, be sure to consult your mechanic before you buy all terrain tires or their mud terrain counterparts.

Picking the Right Size and Load Rating

Usually, aggressive AT tires for trucks come in larger sizes. Of course, this is true for mudding tires for trucks as well. Mounting too small or too large tires on your vehicle will come with consequences. So, how do you know what offroad tire size you need?

We are here to help!

When looking at your tire's sidewall, you will see a sequence of numbers and letters. They are the tire size, load index, and speed rating. Matching the size (for example LT265/70R16) is crucial. Out of these three numbers, the last one, which is the rim diameter, has to match, but the first two can be minimally changed.

Off-road tire size

You can have P-metric or LT tires on your vehicle. P-metric models are usually for passenger cars and SUVs, which are designed mainly for on-road use. LT tires are able to handle harsher conditions as well, and they are used on vehicles for heavy-duty and/or towing applications. These tire types are not interchangeable.

Therefore, the load durability of your off road tire for P-metric vehicles or light trucks is also important. Smaller tires cannot handle large loads safely, but the best off-road tires must ensure different types of durability.

Drivers looking for mud terrain vs all terrain tires tend to want taller tires, as they can improve off-road grip. However, that comes with consequences. Make sure you select tire sizes that do not hinder the vehicle's regular performance.

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Where to Buy Off Road Tires?

In order to find the best tire deals and purchase offroad tires for cheap, we recommend shopping online. It is easier to find the lowest prices when you can compare websites to one another.

Speaking of which, why not check out Priority Tire? Find the best off-road tire deals in our inventory and get them at affordable prices. Cheap off road truck tires are just a few clicks away.

For example, if you are looking for budget-friendly, yet good-quality aggressive MT tires, Venom Power models are an excellent choice. Learn more about off-road Venom Power tires before making a decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Off Road Tires Good in Snow?

Unless you buy 3PMS-rated tires, your off roading tires will not provide the best winter weather traction. They have similar tread designs to snow tires, but aggressive tires for trucks are manufactured using different compound blends. Their compounds do not keep their flexibility in freezing temperatures.

How Long Do Off Road Tires Last?

Generally speaking, offroad tires offer about 40,000 miles when they are used on the driving surfaces they are intended for. While these tires offer damage resistance and are molded from stronger compounds, their extreme terrain applications can easily shorten their overall service life.

Are Mud Terrain Tires Good on the Road?

While there are exceptions, most mud tires for trucks will not perform well on-road. Big tread tires for off road feature staggered blocks and a high void ratio, in order to improve their different terrain grip. However, this pattern sacrifices the on-road traction and performance of mud grip tires.