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If you drive a pickup, then you understand the value of the right set of tires. Big and beefy tires are great, but driving them on the pavement is noisy and inefficient. Highway tires offer the best mileage and quietest ride but can struggle on sand, mud, and all but the best-maintained dirt roads. All-terrain tires are the most popular type of truck tire because they can have decent highway driving characteristics as well as a confident grip when the pavement ends.
Which truck tires are the best for you? For insight and advice, we spoke to Chris King, director of marketing and communication at RealTruck, one of the top retailers of pickup truck and Jeep tires, parts, and accessories in the U.S. The folks at RealTruck know their trucks from tip to tailgate, and here are their picks for the best truck tires on the market.
Things to Consider Before Buying Truck Tires
There are a lot of truck tire options out there, and the right tire type and size for you is dependent on a number of factors. Here are some things to think about while shopping for truck tires.
Types of Truck Tires
One of the first things you'll have to decide on when selecting tires for your truck is whether you want Highway (HT), All-Terrain/Hybrid (AT), Mud/Max Traction (MT), or Snow tires. "Street tires are going to be similar to what comes standard on most pickup trucks, except for some off-road models," King says. "They are designed with street performance in mind and generally do not work well if you stray from reasonably well-maintained forest roads.
"All-terrain or hybrid terrain tires offer a big step up in off-road performance compared to a street tire, without sacrificing much in the way of street performance or longevity," King advises. "They may be slightly louder, and fuel mileage may suffer from increased weight and rolling resistance."
For those looking to maximize off-road performance, King recommends MT tires: "These are going to have much larger tread voids, large tread blocks, and aggressive designs that vastly improve off-road performance and grip." However, King notes that performance comes at a price: tread life, rolling resistance, fuel mileage, weight, and noise will all be compromised with a mud terrain tire. "However, if you're looking to venture the farthest, or explore muddy, rocky, or otherwise difficult terrain, a dedicated mud-terrain tire may be your best bet," King says.
Type of Truck and Style of Driving
Where and how you drive are the most important considerations when shopping for truck tires. Are you an urban trucker who commutes mostly on streets and freeways? Do you live in a rural area where dirt roads are common? Perhaps you have a tough truck for work that does its share of urban street driving but needs occasional power and traction on the job site or when the pavement runs out. Where and how you drive will be the main factors in determining the type of tire your truck requires.
Modifications are also an important consideration. "Generally, truck owners like to increase the tire diameter and width when selecting new tires," says King. "However, which tire fits your truck can be difficult to determine. Suspension lifts, wheel widths and offsets, and other aftermarket modifications like bumpers, fender flares, and trim can all impact what tire size you should select."
If you're an urban trucker who keeps their pickup clean and rarely leaves the pavement (you know who you are), then a bulky, blocky mud tire is going to be a noisy waste of rubber and money. If you live and drive mainly in the country or use your truck for job sites where tire bite and off-asphalt performance are essential, then a standard highway tire won't reliably get the job done. Most pickup owners fall somewhere in between, and that's why all-terrain or hybrid terrain tires are the most popular type of truck tire.
Ready to shop for truck tires? Check out RealTruck's picks for the best truck tires you can buy. Prices will vary by size and retailer, so shop wisely.
All-Terrain (A/T) Tires
Most truck owners use their pickups for everything from commuting to hauling to camping. All-terrain tires are both rugged and versatile, blending the on-road comfort and low noise level of a highway tire with the off-road bite of a mud tire.
A/T tires should adapt to every type of road, from pavement to dirt, and are designed to provide excellent traction in all weather conditions, including rain and light snow.
Nitto Ridge Grappler
The Ridge Grappler from Nitto provides excellent highway performance and a compound that delivers top-notch traction and tread life.
"This is perhaps our most popular tire at RealTruck," says King. "This hybrid tire combines great looks, all-terrain performance, and excellent drivability for those that value road manners and performance overall. They are smooth, quiet, and last a very long time." If your ride sees 50/50 street and dirt time, this is the A/T for you.
Toyo Open Country A/T III Tires
Meant for everyday driving and off-roading, Toyo has engineered a new tread compound and design that provides excellent off-road grip and confident wet braking and handling. The void area enhances on and off-road traction while maintaining a smooth, quiet ride. The staggered shoulder lugs increase grip with biting edges, allowing you to take your off-road cornering to the limit. Lateral grooves and multi-wave sipes give these tires traction on all surfaces, including snow. Each tire comes with a worry-free treadwear warranty of up to 70,000 miles.
"This is the next evolution of Toyo's Open Country All Terrain line bringing even better on and off-road performance to an already popular tire," King says.
Falken Wildpeak A/T3W Tires
The A/T3W combines aggressive off-road ability without compromising on-road performance. Better still, it's designed to work well in severe snow conditions, and features the Three Peak Mountain Snow Flake (3PMSF) symbol on its sidewall. Best of all, it's one of the more affordable A/T options on the market.
"I recommend these tires to friends often, especially those that live out west in the mountains, due to their winter tire rating," King says. "They are an all-terrain, so deep and sticky mud isn't their bread and butter, but they excel at nearly everything else. I can't say I've run into a single person who didn't love these tires."
BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2
All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires feature a racing-derived cut-, chip-, and tear-resistant tread compound that delivers longer life. The compound is molded into an aggressive, computer-optimized, high-void all-terrain pattern with interlocking tread blocks, innovative siping, and multiple loose object ejection features to combine off-road durability and traction with on-road handling and acceptable noise.
Highway (H/T) Tires
Street and/or highway truck tires will offer superior handling over blockier mud and all-terrain/hybrid terrain tires. In general, you'll also get a quieter ride, better gas mileage, and increased tread life.
While H/T tires aren’t made to perform flawlessly off-road, they’re ideal for an application that sees regular road use and only the occasional well-maintained trail or dirt and gravel parking lot. Most truck H/T tires should also be able to handle heavier load capacities than street tires for hauling, towing, campers, and more.
Michelin Defender LTX M/S
The Defender LTX M/S is designed to combine a smooth, quiet ride with year-round traction in dry, wet, and wintry conditions, even in light snow. Compared to the Michelin LTX M/S2 it replaced, Defender LTX M/S tires share the same highly functional tread pattern and offer improvements in wear life/longevity to better meet the high-torque demands of modern trucks.
Four wide circumferential channels, multiple lateral grooves, and open shoulder slots promote lateral water evacuation to enhance wet traction and stopping performance. The tire's internal structure includes twin steel belts to provide the strength and durability needed to handle heavy loads.
Toyo Proxes S/T III Tires
With a wider tread and silica-based tread compound, Proxes S/T III delivers superb handling, excellent all-season performance, consistent wear and a smooth, quiet ride now backed by a 40,000-mile warranty.
Available in sizes to fit 17-inch to 24-inch wheels, and in widths up to 335mm, the Toyo Proxes ST III is an H/T upgrade for standard pickup trucks and SUVs.
Continental TerrainContact H/T All Season
With an optimal balance between on-road manners and off-road durability, the TerrainContact H/T features TractionPlus Technology for improved traction and durability, better grip on wet roads, and quiet road noise. Designed for use on light trucks and full-size SUV, this highway tire is backed by a 70,000-mile limited manufacturer tread life for T- and H-rated sizes, and a 60,000-mile limited manufacturer tread life for R- and S-rated or LT metric sizes.
Mud Terrrain (M/T) Tires
Mud-terrain tires, or mud tires, are designed for off-road driving in extreme conditions such as mud, snow, sand, and gravel. They have deep treads and large sidewalls to provide grip in loose and risky conditions. The tread pattern has wide channels that push rocks and mud out from under the tire, providing maximum traction.
Mud-terrain tires are popular for backcountry, gravel, and mountain roads. They can also perform in light snow and rain. However, they can be heavy, noisy, and difficult to balance. They also provide a rough ride and clumsy handling on pavement.
Pricing of M/Ts can vary greatly, but avoid being tempted by a deal that looks too good to be true. We recommend buying a brand you know from a retailer you trust.
Mickey Thompson Baja Boss M/T Tires
Mickey Thompson is one of the most renowned names in off-road parts and accessories, and the company's tires live up to the legend. A durable, all-season tread compound is molded into an asymmetric pattern to balance noise, comfort, and grip on pavement, with loose surface traction when the pavement runs out. The silica-reinforced compound improves wet performance while providing increased cut-and-chip resistance. Extreme side biters offer bold looks and added protection from sharp rocks, while also helping create traction on off-camber terrain. Generous siping and grooves provide extensive biting edges for enhanced traction in wet, light snow, and icy road conditions.
King raved about these tires. "The most aggressive off-road tire on our list that's still incredibly liveable on a daily driven truck," he said. "The asymmetrical tread, siping, and extreme sidewall blocks have excellent manners on pavement, but truly shine in extreme off-road environments."
BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3
The Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 is designed to enhance grip on rock and slick surfaces and is molded into the symmetric, Terrain-Attack tread design. The large tread blocks provide a stable foundation in loose or rocky conditions and provide biting edges in all directions for traction regardless of the angle of approach.
The sidewall sculpture protects the tire off-road by helping prevent hazards from snagging and splitting the sidewall, while the notched shoulder design improves traction in dirt and mud. Stone bumpers in the tread grooves eject small rocks to prevent damage from drilling, and wide grooves and lateral notches aid in hydroplaning resistance.
Milestar Patagonia M/T Tires
A fine option for a high-quality, budget-friendly mud terrain tire. The Patagonia M/T features angled biting edges that enhance the tire's traction and performance, and its complex siping helps maintain grip under the most extreme conditions. The integrated center rib provides excellent on-road handling while ensuring a quiet, comfortable ride, while the high-void tread design not only looks aggressive but promotes self-cleaning, quickly expelling mud and debris.
"These tires offer a lot of performance for the money," King said. "Owners typically rave about their smooth and quiet on-road performance and seem quite pleased with them when the going gets dirty."
What truck tire brand is the best?
Shop for truck tires as you would any car tires. That is, if you have a tire brand you've always preferred, consider its offerings in truck tires. Any of the big-name tire brands usually offer quality products with decent warranties. If you see a great deal on a reputable brand, go for it! In general, though, it's wise to avoid tire brands you've never heard of. Do your research.
How much does a set of four truck tires cost?
Truck tires are larger and heavier than car tires, meaning more material and, therefore, a heavier weight. You should expect to pay accordingly. Considering the prices listed above, even a set of four standard H/T truck tires will probably push the thousand-dollar mark. Four A/T tires will most likely break $1,000, and a full set of M/Ts could cost younearly two grand. It all depends on the size, type, and retailer. Shop wisely; it's a big investment.
What truck tires last the longest?
Most renowned tire brands produce a quality product, so the answer is purely subjective to the type of tire you have and the kind of driving you do. You can't expect highway tires to last long if you're consistently driving on dirt or gravel roads, and you can't expect beefy mudders to last for tens of thousands of highway miles. That said, most pickup truck owners seem content to achieve 35-50,000 miles on a new set of tires.
Should you always buy 4 tires at a time?
In general, the answer is yes. Four new tires come with your vehicle and with normal wear and tear, they should be ready to be replaced at approximately the same time. For most pickup owners, upgrading from the standard set of H/Ts that likely came with your new truck means replacing all four tires with an A/T option.
Why Trust Us?
Road & Track and its sibling publications at Hearst Autos represent three of the most influential automotive publications in the world. We rely on decades of experience in the automotive and gear spaces to help readers make informed purchasing choices.
With the legacies of Autoweek, Car and Driver, and Road & Track behind us, the Hearst Autos Gear Team is more concerned with our readers' trust than with our bottom line. We won't tell you to buy something if we wouldn't buy it ourselves or recommend it to our friends, and we'll never claim to have used or tested something if we haven't. We've evaluated dozens of products, from Tire Pressure Gauges and wheel cleaners to garage flooring. Our picks and recommendations of products and gear are based on testing and knowledge, not hype.
Why Trust RealTruck?
With over 5,000 employees and 35 locations across North America, RealTruck is one of the premier truck, Jeep®, and off-road parts and accessories companies in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. It's headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich.
RealTruck designs, develops, manufactures, and sells truck, Jeep®, and off-road products with more than 570 patents and growing. RealTruck's 5,000+ employees are made up of truck and off-road lovers, and its RealSource blog is a fantastic destination for information and insight into products, parts, modifications, and fun.