Green-laning, off-roading, two-tracking, and mudding are just some of the typical names we use to describe driving off-road. No matter what you call it, if you don’t have the best mud tires fitted, you’ll be going nowhere, fast.
What constitutes the ‘best mud tires’? Is it just plenty of big tread blocks, or should they have something more? The very nature of these chunky off-road tires should make driving on the road more difficult. However, that isn’t necessarily the case – even some of the best trail tires can make for a semi-decent road tire.
We’ve reviewed five of the best mud tires below that would all be great for mudding.
Why Mud Tires?
Since the invention of the automobile, people have pushed the boundaries as to what it can do. Speeding along at 5 mph soon became 10, 20, 50 and more. Equally, it didn’t take long for a curious person to try and find out whether they could drive over a field or muddy track.
Thanks to people like that, we find ourselves with cars capable of traveling at over three miles a minute. Crawling over rocks, climbing near-vertical faces and doing a ¼ mile in less time than it takes to read this sentence.
But to achieve those things all require specialist equipment. A rail car couldn’t hit the sub-4-second ¼ mile without thousands of horsepower. A Bugatti Chiron couldn’t travel in excess of 200 mph without some serious aero and an off-roader only works well when it has high-quality mud tires fitted.
Of course, you can buy all-terrain tires, and these can be a great compromise for someone that wants something better than the ultimate grip on the road. But, when the terrain starts getting really muddy and boggy, these tires can’t clear enough mud from the tread pattern. This, in turn, makes it like a mud-covered slick racing tire – giving you less than zero traction.
Fitting a set of ultimate mud tires to your vehicle may not be straightforward. The first thing you need to check is whether you have enough clearance between the tire and the fender. Most serious off-road vehicles have space to accommodate bigger tires, but if you have soft-roader, it’s a very real concern.
You should also think about the exact type of terrain that you want to drive through or over. Bolting a set of professional mud tires on your vehicle that’s doing 85% of the work on dusty tracks isn’t an advantage. That type of surface could prematurely wear your mud tires. So decide on what works for your needs.
A large off-road tire can significantly change the dynamics of any vehicle. In terms of the way it drives and handles, and even affecting gear ratios if it’s significantly bigger than what was fitted as standard (which could also affect any mph/distance readings). It’s important to know just what effect it could have before you purchase, in some extreme cases, it could even affect your insurance.
Noise can be an issue for serious mud tires. The construction and design will always give you some extra noise. Although tires do vary, they will always be considerably noisier than a standard road tire.
Lastly, remember that not all off-road and mud tires are the same – what works for your friend’s vehicle may not work for yours.
Part of the job of a great mud tire is being able to spread the load of the vehicle. So ideally, you need something with a reasonably strong sidewall. This will give it the ability to run low tire pressures – effectively giving a larger footprint and contact patch. This helps to maximize the tread and grip.
You should also consider the actual width of the tire (a wide tire already has the built-in advantage of having a larger contact patch). The wider the better. But, unless you want to purchase a new set of wheels to match, they need to fit in the maximum dimensions of your existing wheels. You can’t just order a set of tires that run at ten inches in width if your wheel will only take a 7.5” tire.
Exactly the same for wheel diameter – you can’t run a set of tires designed for an 18” wheel on rims that measure up at 14 inches.
2020’s Top 5 Mud Tires
The tires that we have chosen should are great for off-roading. And because of their subtle differences, each of these quality mud tires could work better in some terrains, while others suit different conditions.
The Trail Grappler tires are high-quality mud tires. These are for the serious enthusiast that doesn’t mind spending the money. They seem to be equally at home on rocks, sand, mud, snow, and trails. And thanks to the design with an in-built 3D tapered groove, they seem to have more biting power than some of the other quality mud tires.
Nitto has incorporated some great features with the Trail Grapplers. The stone ejector design cleanly and efficiently removes stones from the tread blocks. The reinforced shoulder groove gives a better performance without risking any of the tread block stiffness; making the Trail Grapplers one of the very best mud tires available, regardless of the terrain.
Road noise is as you’d expect from a serious off-roading tire – a fair degree of humming when traveling along on the pavement, but not enough to be irritable.
Goodyear is known throughout the world for their tires, they generally offer a solid, if traditional style and get the job done.
The Goodyear Wrangler is exactly that – there’s nothing that will set the world alight, but they do what’s needed, and providing you aren’t expecting to climb mountains, they do it well. The Wrangler is an all-terrain tire, and whilst it would struggle in the muddiest of conditions, it would certainly be an improvement of stock tires.
This isn’t the ultimate mud tire, but it’s certainly one of the best all-round all-terrain tires because of the optimized tread design which features large tread blocks to stabilize the handling. The sipes could be a little deeper, and there’s no visible reinforcement of the sidewalls to help fend off the rocks. But, if that’s high on your priority list, these aren’t the tires for you. A great light-duty off-road tire, but for more serious work, you need to look at the list of extreme mud tires.
The Falken Wildpeak is packed full of tire technology. It isn’t just a generic tire that’s been styled to look a bit ‘off-roady’. This has everything that you’d want, either to improve grip, aid traction or increase stability.
Starting at the lower sidewall, there is ‘heat diffuser technology’ which is designed to help cool the internals of the tire. This should help ensure vehicle stability. The 3D canyon sipe helps to lock together the shoulders of the tread, helping to resist wear from particularly high torque engines and add further to the stability.
The upper sidewall is an aggressive design, with offset shoulder blocks that help to protect the tire from sharp rocks and give better traction at the necessarily low tire pressures. Road noise will be similar to the Nitto – noticeable!
All in, the Falken Wildpeak is perhaps one of the most advanced mud tires, giving extreme control in all conditions.
When Federal tells you that these were designed to “conquer the impossible”, after looking at the aggressive design, you’d believe them! These tires are Federal’s answer to the question “What’s the ultimate mud tire?”
A great deal is made of the engineering of these tires. The Couragia isn’t just a basic design, made to look rugged – pretending to be the grippiest off-road tire. They’ve spent a great deal of time getting the specifications right. From the aggressive block and shoulder lugs, right through to the deep voids which help with the self-clearing of anything that finds its way in them.
The Couragia offers excellent grip in the mud. In fact, pretty much any loose surface becomes tractable with these fitted. And despite the super-rugged design, they’re still pretty quiet on the road up to about 60 mph. Definitely a top contender for the title of ‘Supreme mud tire’.
- Rating: 4.4 / 5
- Brand: Milestar
The Patagonia tire’s tread pattern doesn’t look quite as aggressive as the Couragia, but it works and works well. These tires will handle anything from mud bogging to rock-crawling and everything in-between – desert driving, mountain trails and they even work well on the road. They give off no discernable noise – super quiet at highway speeds (for a heavy-duty mud tire).
The rubber is quite soft, which gives it great off-road performance. It isn’t quite as hard-wearing on the road, but then you wouldn’t be buying these tires solely for road use.
The engineered off-center staggered tread blocks work well with stone ejection and self-clearing, so they’re unlikely to clog when you’re axle deep in the mud. The 3-ply sidewalls (with optional white lettering) provide great protection against damage. All in all, these Patagonia tires rate as one of the finest go-anywhere tires.
There are many tires that could be classed as the best mud tire, or grippiest off-road tire. However, these five would definitely be on the list because of their combined attributes of grip. Not to mention performance vs. cost and usability.
As with anything related to cars and their owners, some products will suit your car better than others. It’s about understanding what works best for you and your requirements. Sure, any of these quality off-road tires will work in most conditions and most vehicles (subject to vehicle fitment). But, you’ll always find one brand of tire that you’ll stick with for some time.