It’s been a long day. You’ve traversed the unbeaten paths since dawn to find the perfect forest trail. Eaten beef jerky out of a plastic bag. Lost cell service twice. Weaved your vehicle through switchbacks, mud traps, and crossed a river, and now you find yourself facing a rocky outcropping of the most beautiful-but-tough boulders you’ve ever laid eyes on. As if the heavens had emptied their bag of giant granite marbles directly in your path, scattered them about like a sadistic obstacle course. And you’re not sure if your 4-wheel parts can even handle the traverse, especially your tires.
You’ve recently upgraded your suspension, added an even bigger lift, replaced your filters, and threw in a handful of shiny new off-road parts. But somehow you stuck with last year’s tires, or someone talked you into settling for “all-terrain” or even “snow” tires, citing some mumbo jumbo about how you don’t need specialty off-road ones or how they’re really all the same anyway. Maybe you even prioritized that fancy new body kit — sometimes the allure of turning heads can overpower the satisfaction of solid functional components.
Don’t get stuck with this mistake — literally or figuratively. Your rig’s tires are your only points of contact between you and the terrain you’re trying to conquer. Head on down to your local 4×4 service center and have them install a set of quality ones — ones that are made for rock crawling — and teach those boulders a lesson or two. Here are the top three national-brand off-road tire choices on the market right now. Next time, we’ll explore the top three specialty-brand tires, so stay tuned!
BF Goodrich Krawler™TA® KX
Chances are, if you interview a dozen rock-crawling champion racers about their choice in tires, at least half will mention the Krawler. There’s no mistaking where they got their name from and why they are one of the most sought-after 4-wheel parts for those who love scaling huge outcroppings. Drivers are slapping these things on their buggies all over the country, and there’s no wondering why. Deep-lug treads, ultra-grip rubber, and extremely puncture-resistant nylon sidewalls are just three features of these monster tires.
Keep in mind: like most off-road tires, these will wear out fast on city streets, and don’t offer much in the way of a cushy ride. Aggressively sculpted off-road rubber is fashioned to perform best at slow speeds on uneven surfaces, so don’t waste their potential by speeding down the highways. Scoop up a set with BF Goodrich’s 6-year standard warranty, and have them put on by a qualified 4×4 service team member.
Goodyear Wrangler MT/R® with Kevlar®
For the fans of extreme wraparound treads, this may just be your dream tire. Goodyear has manufactured something that really is meant to descend to the depths of the valleys and climb right back out again. And really, isn’t that what we ask of all our off-road parts?
The Kevlar® reinforced sidewalls hold up to serious pro-puncture pressure, and can handle hardcore squeeze while out on the trail. Advanced silica rubber stands up to slick conditions, and deep winding treads keep you solid on everything from sand to mud to rock. Asymmetric grooves provide tighter traction and reliable handling; something that even the 4-wheeling veterans can appreciate. Take advantage of online rebates, deals through your local mechanic, and Goodyear’s limited warranty when shopping for your new MT/R®s.
Firestone Destination M/T
If you didn’t know already, all these Ms and Ts being thrown around actually stand for “maximum traction”- something that is arguably needed in an off-road tire. The M/T class of tires compares to the A/T or “all-terrain” class, which a large proportion of Colorado drivers have on their daily drivers. The Destination is another of the top maximum traction options for your rig and may be a good fit if you like a well-rounded trail run. If you only get a taste of boulders amidst your platter of mud, river crossings, steep ascents, and dirt playgrounds, this tire might be a good off-road parts compromise for you.
The 3-ply polyester body pile and computer-optimized component system ensure that you will get a solid and even ride every time. Reinforced rubber guards protect your rims in tight spots, and the wraparound lug/tread pattern offers serious grip and improved self-cleaning in slush and mud. And as a special bonus for winter-track lovers, these tires are pinned and ready to go for stainless steel studs for ultra reliability when your trail is slick with ice. Firestone offers a unique buy-and-try 30-day guarantee, so you can be sure you’re getting the right set for your rig.
Come back for part two when we take on the specialized and custom brands, but in the meantime, head over to your favorite 4×4 service center and start talking tires!