Our Favorite Off-Road Tires of All Time: Staff Picks
Picking the perfect tire for any terrain.
It's the question we're asked most frequently: What's your favorite off-road tire. Well, since we all drive different types of vehicles and since we all enjoy different types of terrain, you're gonna get a variety of answers, but here's what the staff likes and why.
Ken Brubaker: Goodyear Wrangler MT/R
I've tested a lot of tires in my 30-plus years of working in the off-road publishing biz, and I haven't tested a bad tire yet. Even the most so-so tire has been good at something. But some tires have left a lasting impression above all others, and they typically have been those tires that are well rounded (no pun intended), meaning beefy construction and good performance in a variety of terrain. But there's a tire that left me with such a positive impression due to its all-around beef, functionality, and manners that it can be called my favorite tire. It's the Goodyear Wrangler MT/R, as shown here on Vincent and Inez Guss' 1972 K5 Blazer. I'm clearly not the only fan of MT/Rs, and I have photographed a number of 4x4s shod with these tires. There are a lot of things to like including the DuPont Kevlar-reinforced sidewalls, sizing up to 42 inches, and some have a load range E rating.
Jason Gonderman: BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A
This is another tough question, as there are just so many great tires on the market. Much like the current state of the pickup market it's really hard to buy a bad tire. Looking back at my personal tire experience, I would choose the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A as my favorite tire of all time. BFGoodrich launched the original radial All-Terrain T/A all the way back in 1976. A second generation of All-Terrain T/A hit the market in 1986, with the third-generation T/A KO coming along in 1999. The current fourth-generation All-Terrain T/A KO2 launched in 2015. I've owned several sets of KO- and KO2-generation tires, and all have treated me exceptionally well. The tire rides nice on the highway, has great tread life, and handles the rigors of most off-road environments with ease. It's also been chosen many times by vehicle manufacturers as an original equipment tire, like on Ford's F-150 Raptor, for example. So, because of my experience, the All-Terrain T/A's longevity, and the fact that it essentially created the all-terrain genera as we know it, I would declare the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A family the best tire of all time.
Christian Hazel: BFGoodrich Krawler T/A KX
With less than a half dozen exceptions I've done a thorough hands-on evaluation of every off-road tire that's come on the market in the past 21 years. I'm talking an aired-down slogfest through the worst type of terrain you can imagine. And out of all those tires on all those vehicles in all types of terrain, not one of them holds a candle to the BFG Krawler T/A KX—specifically, the set of 35x13.50R15s I've run on my '53 Willys DJ-3A since I finished the vehicle build back in 2003. I've installed other tires on this particular Jeep for testing, but as soon as I've completed my review the trusty Krawlers go back on. The sad part is BFG doesn't make the Krawler in the coveted 35-inch size anymore, so I'm limping my prized set as long as I dare since there's no way I'll be able to fit the 37x12.50R17, 39x13.50R17, or 42x14.50R20 on this rig. But be that as it may, the Krawler's insanely tough carcass shrugs off heavy rock bites, the rubber compound and tread design give insane grabbing traction in the rocks, the generously wide footprint lends ample flotation for sand, and the generous voids between lugs and ejection bars allow the tread to clear quite well in mud and soft, sticky soil. With the exception of very deep and sticky taffy-like mud where an Interco Bogger or TSL Swamper does better or maybe a dedicated paddle tire for sand use, I can't think of any terrain in which another tire can beat out a BFG Krawler.
KJ Jones: Toyo Open Country H/T
Full disclosure: I really didn't start truly paying attention to my truck tires until I bought my dualie in 2005. Prior to that, tires I bought for the two trucks I owned before Big White—a '79 Ford F-250 and an '86 F-350 dualie—were purchased without any research, and I didn't do any deep analysis or pay attention to how they performed, either. However, I always bought the correct (size, tread pattern) on-road tires for the truck. Now that I've given the disclaimer, my current favorite truck tire is Toyo Tire's Open Country H/T (on the left in the photo). I have been using the H/T exclusively for about 8 years. My truck is daily driven, and it's also used for everything from towing a 28-foot enclosed trailer, to hauling parts, to making Home Depot runs. Toyo designed this all-weather tire for trucks that are used the same way that I use mine. It's really smooth, quiet, and helps compensate a little for the roughness of the truck's I-beam front suspension. It's also is very, very good in wet weather. I have been very happy with Toyo Open Country H/T, and I'm about to start using the H/T II (the tire on the right/an improved version of the H/T), which was introduced in 2019.
Jered Korfhage: Goodyear DuraTrac
The industry must be on my side since this rubber appears as original equipment on a handful of vehicles—my vote is the Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac. I lived in Ohio, and while working for my city's service department plowing snow, these Three-Peak-Mountain-Snowflake-emblazoned rubbers were the best in the business when it came to biting into the icy, sloppy white stuff. Once I wore the stock all-terrains off my '02 TJ Wrangler, I fit a set of the multi-purpose tires onto the Jeep's plain-black 15-inch steel wheels. They really "dug" our Midwest style of fun—sinking your rig in the smelliest of mud bogs, then, for the remaining two thirds of the calendar year, battling snow. Never quite learned what snow chains were since the DuraTracs more than got the job done on slippery roads. In the years since, I've spent a fair amount of time coaxing DuraTrac sidewalls back together from various maladies and have come to the conclusion that their strength is not hardcore pokey stabby stuff. However, the deep-diggin' mud characteristics mixed with powder prowess puts them at the top of my list.