Mud-terrain tires are an absolute necessity for serious off-roaders, especially in wet climates and sandy deserts.
The best off-road mud-terrain tires for trucks, Jeeps, and SUVs are the BFGoodrich MudTerrain TA KM3, the Cooper Discoverer STT Pro, the Nitto Mud Grappler, the General Tire Grabber X3, and the Nitto Ridge Grappler.
In this article, we’ll review five of the best and most popular mud-terrain tires for off-road vehicles. We’ll cover their road handling characteristics, rubber compounds, tread patterns, and their ideal applications. Additionally, we’ll explore why some mud tires are better than others, along with the advantages and disadvantages of mud-terrains.
To ensure accuracy, we sourced all of the technical specifications mentioned in this article directly from the manufacturers of each tire.
What Makes Mud Tires Different?
Mud tires, also known as mud-terrains, are distinct from other kinds of off-road and all-terrain tires. In fact, there’s basically no comparison between true mud-terrain tires and all-terrain tires. Mud-terrain tires are designed specifically for harsh off-road conditions—specifically loose rocks and mud.
Mud-terrain tires are soft, which makes them similar to other kinds of off-road tires. Soft rubber allows the tire to absorb shock and flex to uneven terrain, whereas hard summer tires are too rigid to get proper traction over loose rocks and bumps.
Mud-terrains differ most in their tread pattern. Mud-terrain tires have a high void ratio, which means there are greater gaps between the tread. Unlike most road tires, they don’t have uniform bands stretching around the circumference of the tire.
Instead, mud-terrain tires have large tread blocks with wide and deep channels between them. These channels act as ‘ejectors,’ which throw mud, rocks, sticks, and other road gunk out of the tread more effectively than other types of tires.
Ejectors are a key design element of mud tires. This allows their aggressive tread to grip but avoid getting clogged by sticky mud and conveniently-sized rocks. Some other kinds of off-road tires have ejectors as well, but they aren’t as effective in some terrain.
Drawbacks of Mud Tires
Mud-terrain tires are an excellent choice for a wide range of off-road conditions, but they have some notable drawbacks—especially for on-road driving. First and foremost, they’re big—and may require suspension modification to avoid rubbing.
Mud-terrain tires are famously loud on the highway, as their inconsistent tread and wide voids essentially ‘pound’ the road and create a tell-tale ‘big tire whine.’
Additionally, mud-terrain tires reduce ride quality on the pavement, and they reduce the precision of your truck’s steering and handling. They can cause play in the steering, which can cause your truck or Jeep to wander at high speeds.
Mud-terrain tires also wear out surprisingly fast on pavement. Tires that would normally last years in off-road conditions can wear out in half the time if driven excessively on the highway. This is due to their limited road contact and softer rubber composition.
Best Mud Tires for Trucks and Jeeps
Mud-terrain tires are a must for any serious off-roader, especially in areas where heavy rain turns the ground into mud or sticky clay. We found five of the best mud-terrain tires available now and ranked them in order. Here are our top picks.
1. BFGoodrich MudTerrain TA KM3
The BFGoodrich MudTerrain TA KM3 is an industry staple and one of the best mud tires you can equip your truck or Jeep with. In fact, BFGoodrich mud tires are so well-known that many people in the community use ‘BFG’ as an interchangeable term for mud-terrain tires.
The BFGoodrich MudTerrain TA KM3 is the company’s latest mud tire in the series, and it’s also one of the best ever made by the company. The BFGoodrich KM3 is an all-season tire designed for rain, snow, mud, dirt, gravel, and virtually any other terrain you’ll encounter off-road.
The BFGoodrich MudTerrain TA KM3 is rated for snow, and the company reports that the new KM3 has 5% better slick traction and 8% better rock traction than the previous model. These aggressive mud tires are also an excellent choice for rock climbing, as their Krawl-TEK rubber compound increases grip on steep and slippery surfaces.
BFGoodrich MudTerrain TA KM3 tires offer superior strength, both on the tread surface and the sidewalls. BFG reinforced the sidewalls with 27% more strength than the outgoing model, which helps the new KM3 resist puncture and tears from sharp rocks.
Additionally, the strong sidewalls enhance deflated performance whenever you need to air down the tires for additional traction. BFGoodrich MudTerrain TA tires also feature a ‘Linear Flex Zone,’ which helps the tire mold to varying off-road surfaces for enhanced grip and climbing abilities.
The BFGoodrich MudTerrain TA KM3 is available from Discount Tire for between $183.00 and $534.00 per tire. Be sure to select your correct tire size before purchasing.
Best all-purpose mud-terrain tire for off-roading in mud, rocks, gravel, and snow.
2. Cooper Discoverer STT Pro
The Cooper Discoverer STT Pro is a top-quality mud-terrain tire that excels both on and off-road. Let’s face it—a lot of us don’t get to hit the trail as often as we’d like, and much of our driving takes place on-road. The Cooper Discoverer STT Pro is perfect for this situation, as its long-wearing tread and rubber compound perform well on the road too.
Cooper Discoverer STT Pro tires are aggressive mud-terrains with superior traction and plenty of tread gap to fling out sticky mud and clay. Additionally, the rubber compound used by Cooper is well-known for good traction on snow and mud.
The Cooper Discoverer STT Pro tire is also exceptionally tough, thanks to Cooper’s Armor-Tek 3 technology. Cooper Armor-Tek uses a third ply running at an angle, which increases strength while maintaining sidewall flexibility. Additionally, the tire is puncture-resistant across the wide tread band.
Strengthened sidewalls are a huge advantage. But what about the tread? These Cooper Discoverer STT Pro tires feature a tall tread pattern with wide voids—but not too wide, as they maintain excellent on-road stability and braking abilities.
Additionally, Cooper Discoverer STT Pro tires feature mud release dimples which knock loose stubborn gunk that would otherwise stay trapped in the tread. And for loose surfaces like mud and fine sand, the Cooper Discoverer STT Pro features alternating treads to dig in and dig out of tough terrain.
Cooper Discoverer STT Pro tires are available from Discount Tire for between $177.00 and $513.00 per tire, and they’re rated for speeds up to P (94mph) or Q (100mph).
The Cooper Discoverer STT Pro is ideal primarily for snow and mud, but it also performs surprisingly well on the highway.
3. Nitto Mud Grappler
Here’s an aggressive and high-quality tire designed specifically for the deepest and slipperiest mud. The high-traction Nitto Mud Grappler looks more like a paddlewheel than a tire, and it excels in slippery terrain thanks to its massive tread blocks and voids.
Nitto Mud Grappler tires are some of the most aggressive on the market. Their tread pattern features distinct blocks with the widest gaps on the outer rungs, which increases traction and helps shed clogged mud.
Nitto Mud Grappler tires feature three-ply polyester sidewalls, which are the industry standard for strength and puncture resistance on the trail. Additionally, these tires work well on sand and rocks thanks to the sharp tread blocks and wide voids.
These tires also feature dual sidewalls, which look great and reduce the likelihood of damage from sharp rocks. These tires perform best on mud and loose surfaces, but their wide tread blocks also perform well on the pavement. These tries are not designed for sub-zero conditions.
Nitto Mud Grappler tires are available from Discount Tire for between $297.00 and $874.00 per tire, and a 10% military discount is available.
Ideal for warm and extremely wet climates, like those in the South. Also great for sand, but not the best choice for snow.
4. General Tire Grabber X3
General Tire produces one of the best mud tires on the market today. The General Tire Grabber X3 is a wide and aggressive mud tire that works well both aired-down and aired-up and on rocks and other loose terrain.
The General Tire Grabber X3 tires get their effectiveness from giant tread voids and big, sturdy tread blocks. The largest voids are on the edges of the tire, and they fling out rocks and mud with ease. It’s also affordable, making the General Tire Grabber X3 an excellent entry-level mud tire.
The center tread is more compact, as it has the most contact with the road. This provides excellent balance, as the tires have tread where they need it and voids for deeper mud. The tread is flat where it needs to be, and the tire has very little curvature.
The alternating shoulder scoops of the General Tire Grabber X3 tire allow for superior traction on sand and loose surfaces without sacrificing wet surface performance. And thanks to the steel belts inside the tire, these mud-terrains are some of the strongest on the market.
You can buy General Tire Grabber X3 tires on Discount Tire for between $192.00 and $570.00 per tire.
Best affordable entry-level all-purpose off-road tire with excellent dry and wet dirt performance.
5. Nitto Ridge Grappler
Are you looking for a mud-terrain tire that looks great on big wheels? The Nitto Ridge Grappler is the perfect off-road tire for trucks and SUVs with large wheels, and its low-profile design performs surprisingly well on all off-road surfaces.
Nitto Ridge Grappler tires use a traditional tread pattern for off-road grip, which has large blocks and voids. However, the blocks and voids aren’t as wide on the Nitto Ridge Grappler as they are on other tires, which provides a good on/off-road balance. That makes the Nitto Ridge Grappler a great choice for daily driving.
Additionally, the large staggered shoulder lugs provide excellent traction in loose dirt and wet surfaces, and the tire’s alternating grooves help resist clogging and increase bite on sticky clay. These tires are Q-rated for up to 100mph, which is higher than most mud-terrain tires.
From an aesthetic perspective, the Nitto Ridge Grappler is one of the meanest-looking tires on the market. It has a wide stance and a short sidewall, which is reinforced to resist puncture in rough terrain. Additionally, the larger tread blocks and narrower voids increase highway lifespan.
You can purchase the Nitto Ridge Grappler online at Discount Tire for between $425.00 and $740.00 per tire.
Great on and off-road mud-terrain tire for daily driver SUVs and trucks, especially those with large wheels.
About THE AUTHOR
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding