All-Terrain vs All-Season Tires

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All-terrain tires and all-season tires are both designed for use in a wide range of conditions, but there are some key differences between the two types. And out of them, the main difference is that, all-season tires are better for performing on smooth pavements and highways, whereas all-terrain tires get to provide off-road traction.

All-Terrain Tire on RAM
Compared to all-season, all-terrain tires look a lot more cooler and aggressive.

Though both tires are reliable to preform well in all types of weather with their thermal adaptive rubber, all-season tires aren’t aggressive enough to provide any kind of traction on mud, sand, rocks, or even gravel. Whereas, all-terrain tires have cut resistant rubber and a lot of biters that get the job done in all those terrains. Though on roads, comparatively, you get a limited steering response, wet traction and overall comfort.

Benefits of Getting All-Terrain Tires

Both tires have their different sets of benefits, and so let me start off with all-terrain tires.

But make sure you check out:

Off-Road Performance

Compared to all-season, all-terrain tires have the capability of providing traction on multiple types of aggressive terrains, where the most challenging ones include rocks, mud, and sand.

On rocks, all-terrain tires give you the two most important things required, numerous biters and powerful sidewalls. These tires don’t have longitudinally streamlined grooves like all-season tires, as their randomly placed lugs create a network of grooves and have notches facing in all directions. So you get biting grip on all sides.

Moreover, with powerful sidewalls, you get the durability needed, so these protect the tire encountering sharp edges of the rocks.

Similarly, as these tires have wider grooves, they are also able to evacuate the thick mud out much more easily. In comparison, all-season tires would simply get packed on this terrain, as their tread blocks are much more closed up.

(I’ve talked about this more in how are all-terrain tires on mud)

Lastly on sand, all-terrain tires, give you the capability of running with very low air pressure values (down to 16 PSI). And with this, they are able to float on the soft sand with the help of thicker sidewall lugs.

In comparison, all-season tires can’t run on lower air pressure, and it no use either as there are no sidewall lugs present on them.

One of the main advantages of all-terrain tires is their ability to provide better traction on different types of terrain.

Read More: How are all-terrain tires on sand? – in detail.

All Weather Capabilities

All-Terrain tires give better all season traction as they are capable of going on various terrains with various temperature conditions.

Although both tires have thermal adaptive rubber, which provide them with 3 peak mountain snowflake ratings. All-Terrain tires also get to have better M+S capability additionally.

That’s why these tires give you superior traction on deep snowy terrains, where their biters everywhere grip on to the snow surface, whereas their sidewall lugs and staggered shoulders scoop the snow backwards to create better forward momentum.

And although these tires are not so great on ice, they get to have studable lugs like the winter tires, so that be improved.

Some of them include, General Grabber ATX (review), and the Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac (review), both tires are 3 peak mountain snow flake rated BTW.

Read more: how are all-terrain tires on snow?

Tougher Construction

All-terrain tires are known for their superior toughness compared to all-season tires, which is needless to say.

These robust tires have thicker rubber on top, (having deeper and wider tread voids), which gets to be reinforced with Kevlar polymers, providing it more resistance to cuts and chips.

Additionally, all-terrain tires have a more robust internal construction, which typically includes multiple plies. So they are very hard to puncture.

The number of plies can vary depending on the specific tire, but many all-terrain tires feature a 3-ply polyester casing with 2 steel belts and 2 ply nylon cap plies, which is the most common.

And these provide all the durability and stability needed to crawl on challenging tracks.

So does that mean overall, all-terrain tires are better? Well, not quite, let’s see where all-season tires have the advantage.

Why Consider All-Season Tires?

If you are mostly going to stay on roads, its recommended that you get all-season tires instead. As these tires come with a lot of benefits over A/T tires. I’ve discussed them all below.

Superior On-Road Traction

All-season tires have a tread design that is much more optimized for highways. That’s why they get to have higher speed ratings.

With their tread having closed up tread blocks with foundational supports and less tread depth, they are able to meet up with the road in a much better way compared to A/T tires which would just slow you down.

With a balanced combination of tread blocks, grooves, and sipes these tires also give you a superior hydroplaning resistance and wet traction.

So in short, you get shorter braking distances and handling times in both dry and wet roads.

Moreover, these tires give you a much better all-season traction on roads, think of them as summer tires capable of winter traction. One of the best example of such tire is Michelin CrossClimate 2 (review).

Tread life and fuel economy

With a more on-road oriented tread pattern, all season tires are very great of providing even wear throughout the tread. And with so much lighter internal construction, these tires don’t get to wear that much in the first place.

Their tread compound is although softer (needed for thermal adaptiveness), they still don’t endure the same level of stress and wear as all-terrain tires

A/T tires basically overheat with their bending lugs, and with more heat, they burn off faster comparatively.

They have more spaced up lugs, and with heavier weight, each block get to bear much more pressure on it, causing it to rub against the surface with much more force, where their numerous biters aren’t helping them either (as they further increase the friction).

So these tires also have much more rolling resistance values, making them very less efficient in therm of fuel consumption.

I’ve talked about both in detail below:

Comfort and Noise

Starting with comfort first. Although all-terrain tires have a lot of tread depth, generally speaking. Their stiffer inner construction does not allow for better settling down of vibrations.

Furthermore, with deeper tread voids, the lugs get to be less supported. And this combined with the fact that they don’t make a consistent contact with the road while rolling, its no wonder they get to create a less comfortable ride.

In comparison, all season tires, don’t have a lot of “gaps between the lugs. So while rolling air gets restricted to come in and hit around (which cause noise).

Additionally, these tires offer better pitch sequencing which helps to reduce the amplification of any air that does come in contact with the tire, leading to a quieter and more comfortable ride.

(With pitch sequencing, air particles hitting on different parts of lugs, create different tones/sound frequencies and wavelengths, canceling out each other).

Though the good thing about all-terrain tires is that there is a wide variety, and so there are tires which are actually pretty great when it comes to comfort.

Having said that, the most silent tire right now in A/T category is Continental TerrainContact A/T, whereas the loudest is Goodyear Duratrac.

For your info: I covered how all-terrain tires are noisy in details here.


Compared to all-terrain, all season tires aren’t able to provide good enough traction on mud, sand, rocks, or even gravel, that’s because they don’t have the needed durability, nor their tread pattern has biters on them.

Whereas A/T tires give you powerful full depth notches everywhere, and these grip the rough terrains from all directions. Moreover, with powerful stone ejectors and wider grooves, these tires are better at self cleaning.

But on pavements, all-season tires are much more reliable comparatively, as with them, you get a better steering response, wet traction and overall comfort.

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