Are All-Terrain Tires Good In Snow?


All-terrain tires are designed for use in a wide range of off-road conditions, including snow, as most of them are now coming in with 3 peak mountain snowflake ratings. Though don’t expect them to perform like dedicated winter tires.

All-Terrain Tires Good In Snow

All-terrain tires have a more versatile tread pattern than tires that are only designed for snow and ice. So these tires although can do a decent job on softer terrains, for hard packed snow and ice, they can’t outperform the winter tires having specialized rubber compound that remains flexible in colder temperatures, and countless sipes that grip in all directions.

Factors Affecting Winter Performance

All-terrain tires are getting a lot better now, as they are copying the features of winter tires, and this way they get to have 3PMSF ratings a long with M+S. See what these ratings mean here.

Let’s check out all these features and factors one by one.

Rubber compound

The tire composition is the judge of overall thread’s compound. And when it comes to winter performance, you need softer tires having higher silica density in their tread.

This allows tires to stay flexible even with the cold temperatures of the snow.

If an all-terrain tires has a harder rubber on top, for example, even its numerous biters won’t be able to grip as much as they would simply get stiffen up with freezing temperatures.

But that also helps these tires with wear.

Tread Design

The overall tread pattern tells a lot about how well it would be able to grip in different types of snowy conditions, such as on-road snow, ice and deeper terrains.

Tires with deep, wide grooves and jagged edges will provide better traction on deep snow having fluffy composition, whereas closed up lugs having full depth sipes, and biters would chew ice in a better way.

Mostly tires with 3PMSF ratings, are designed in a way, that their grooves try to trap in the snow particles in them and make snow to snow contact with it.

This is helpful because rubber does not stick as much on snow as snow particles does, as snowflakes have an interlocking deigns.

Tread Structure and Weight

Like I explained above that on snow you need snow to snow contact. This is encourage with a heavier tire, having narrower tread depth (so while selecting the tire for snow, make sure you get the width right, learn tire sizes).

The narrower section width basically tires to put more pressure on the snow, and the weight acts as a catalyst in that process. So snow gets trapped pretty easily in the grooves and tire is able to maintain traction.

Note: Weight where it great for snow, it’s not so good when it comes to sand performance.

Why Winter Tires Do Best On Snow?

Winter tires basically have all these factors I discussed above. Their rubber is very soft, and that’s why they can’t perform in summers, as they burn out very quickly with heat. Though with freezing temperatures they last a while.

Moreover, you also get a ton of biting edges on these tires, and looking at the tread, it’s the first thing that you notice.

These biters are mostly in the form of full depth sipes (the slits in the tread), and these a long with the grooves dig in to the snow surface and provide a much better grip.

Although these tires are also 3 peak mountain snowflake rated, they would always have an upper hand over all-terrain tires when it comes to snow performance.

Though you can say that on deeper terrains, you can rely on all-terrain tires with sever winter ratings, but which one? Well, lets see.

Best All-Terrain Tire For Snow

I have reviewed almost all of the all-terrain tries, and from my perspective being a tire engineer, I can tell you that the there are only 3 main tires to consider if you want the maximum snow performance.

Though keep in mind, here I am considering aggressive all-terrain tires, and not the ones that are on-road focused.

Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T

The Baja Boss A/T is although very aggressive and I consider it as a hybrid tire, it’s still marketed as all-terrain. Nonetheless, it’s snow performance is off the charts, as it gives you with all the key ingredients on snow to get ranked on top.

The tire has a soft enough tread compound which is very adaptive with extreme snow temperatures, and it’s full depth sipes combined with triangular shaped ridges (placed in the grooves), ensure amazing snow grabbing abilities, and making a perfect snow to snow contact with them.

Moreover, some tires sizes get to have a lot narrower section width and this combined with the 3 ply polyester weight the tire gets to provide ample pressure on all types of snow terrains.

As I’ve already explained, skinnier tires do better on snow, that’s why on this tire, sizes having section width above 12.5 inches don’t get to have 3 peak mountain snowflake rating.

General Grabber A/TX

If you strictly want to stay in all-terrain category, then sure, you an say General Grabber A/TX is the top ranking one here.

The tire features interlocking design which is great at grabbing the snow particles. And it’s full depth sipes ensure grip even on packed up snow (maybe that’s why its named “Grabber”).

Though on ice, like the rest of the all-terrain tires, the Grabber ATX lacks as well, but it overcomes it by providing studable lugs. You can simply install them and solve that problem.

Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac.

The Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac is a pretty great choice for heavier terrains. The tire is also M+S and 3PMSF rated and like the Grabber ATX it also offers studable lugs as well.

But as you get a very malleable compound and wider grooves in this tire’s case. And both of these offers much better traction when it comes to deeper snowy tracks.

So if you are facing anything above 3 feet, do consider these tires, though make sure you get the LT sizes, as those are the ones, which have studable lugs.

One thing I really like about these tires are how they are equipped with mini tread blocks (strategically placed in the grooves). These hold on to the surface, and make snow to snow contact, which is very preferable on snowy terrains.


All-terrain tires are not so bad when it comes to overall winter performance, and that’s the reason why they get to have 3 peak mountain snowflake ratings in almost all of them.

Though they can never be better compared to dedicated winter tires, that’s for sure.

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2 thoughts on “Are All-Terrain Tires Good In Snow?”

  1. Hi Ozmen.

    Thanks for the great reviews. I’ve read a lot of them.

    I’m in the market for tires for my 2021 Ram 4×4 275/65R18.

    My priorities are snow performance (I ski a lot), comfortable ride (daily driver in AZ), and a lack of flat tires (when I occasionally take it off road in the rocky southwest). I tow a 7000 lb trailer occasionally which is well with the truck’s capabilities. I know a want full depth sipes. Other than that, I’m open to any brands. I’ve had great luck with BFG KO2’s on my Jeep but they’re too loud and rough for my truck. I’ve had good luck with Michelin Defenders on a previous truck but wouldn’t mind something beefier.

    Any input would be appreciated.



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