Green laning, off-roading, two-tracking or mudding is just some of the typical names we use to describe driving off-road, but whatever you call it, if you don’t have the best mud tires fitted, you’ll be going nowhere, fast.
But what actually 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, but that isn’t necessarily the case – even some of the best trail tires can make for a semi-decent road tire.
I’ve rounded up just five of the best mud tires, and any one of these could be considered as a great mudding tire.
Table of Contents
- Why Mud Tires?
- 2018's Top 5 Best Mud Tires Reviews
- The Conclusion
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, and it’s 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 requires 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 dual terrain tires, and these can be a great compromise for someone that wants something better than 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, which 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, and in all honesty, that type of surface could prematurely wear your mud tires, so decide on what works for your need.
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 affect 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, and although tires do vary, they will always be considerably more noisy 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, which gives 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 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.
2018's Top 5 Best Mud Tires Reviews
The tires that I have chosen should all give you a benefit when off-roading (over standard tires), but thanks to their subtle differences, each of these quality mud tires could work better in some terrains, while others suit different conditions.
1. Nitto Series TRAIL GRAPPLER M/T Radial Tire
The Trail Grappler tires are high quality mud tires – these are for the serious enthusiast that doesn’t mind spending the money. These 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 have incorporated some great features with the Trail Grapplers – the stone ejector design cleanly and efficiently removes stones from the tread blocks, and the reinforced shoulder groove gives 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.
2. Goodyear Wrangler Radial Tire
Goodyear are 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 thanks to 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.
3. Falken Wildpeak AT3W All Terrain Radial Tire
The Falken Wildpeak is packed full of tire technology – this 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, which should help ensure vehicle stability, and speaking of 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 which 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.
4. Federal Couragia M/T Mud-Terrain Radial Tire
When Federal tell 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’.
5. Milestar Patagonia M/T Mud-Terrain Radial Tire - LT265/75R16 123Q
The Patagonia tire 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, giving 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, but that does have a price in the respect of it isn’t quite as heard 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, these Patagonia tires rate as one of the finest go-anywhere tires.
Whilst there are hundreds of tires that could be classed as the best mud tire, or grippiest off-road tire, these five would definitely be at the sharp end of the list thanks to their combined attributes of grip and performance vs cost and usability.
As with anything related to cars and their owners, some products will suit your car better than others, some brands will check that box more often than other makers, 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 or tire that you’ll stick with for some time – these five are just my choice, but you won’t go wrong with any of them.