Are All-Terrain Tires Worth It?

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All-terrain (A/T) tires are designed to be used on a lot of different trails, including pavement, dirt, gravel, mud, and rocks. These tires have a unique tread pattern that allows them to provide better traction and stability on different types of surfaces compared to highway tires.

All-Terrain Tires Worth It
From the looks, all-terrain tires are really worth it.

But are these worth it? Well, lets find out by looking at the good and bad of these all-terrain tires, and see which ones suit you the most.

Advantages of All-Terrain Tires

Let’s start with discussing the good about these tires first.

Traction On Multiple Terrains

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

These tires basically are engineered to offer a superior grip on tracks like gravel, mud, rocks and sand. Their cut resistant rubber ensure they last a long time there, and with larger tread voids they are able to evacuate the stuff out, keeping grooves clean.

Moreover the aggressive biters everywhere yield grip in all directions, so these tires are able to climb rocks with better friction.

Though one thing to note is that, all-terrain tires are not created equal. And so upon reviewing them all, I’ve concluded the following.

(The highlighted text contains their detailed reviews).

All Season Capabilities

You also get all season traction with them as well, as most of them are coming in with 3 peak mountain snowflake ratings. And these provide ample snow traction performance on both soft and hard packed snowy terrains, and sometimes even ice.

On soft snow, some all-terrain tires offer you with deeper lugs and in groove biters, while for on-road snow there are all-terrain tires offering snow vices, which are very efficient in trapping the snow particles and making snow to snow contact with it.

This type of contact is ideal and it yields amazing results (as snowflakes stick on each other with more friction).

You can even run these tires on ice, as some of these tires come with stud-able lugs, allowing extra bite.

Though it makes you wonder what’s the difference between A/T and all-season tire?


All-terrain tires are pretty tough. They have a powerful inner and out construction, that allows them to last a long time on rugged trails.

Their outer shell consist of thick rubber skin (having a larger tread depth, mostly), with decent Kevlar polymers embedded, making them cut/chip resistant.

And internally they have a lot of plies which make them very hard to get punctured.

Out of all the A/T tires I’ve reviewed, the BF Goodrich KO2 presents you with the most durability.

The tire features 3 ply polyester casing (which you may think of as a structure skeleton). And this casing is further layered with 2 wide steel belts, reinforced with 2 layers of nylon which are spirally wound.

Though there are tires having a very weak internal construction, of just 2 ply polyester casing, and a single nylon cap ply, as they are more focused in to improving on-road traction.

Disadvantages of All-Terrain Tires

In the world of tires, everything comes at a cost. The off road grip comes at the cost of limited off-road performance, the comfort comes at the cost of larger fuel consumption (so this one costs you literally), the list goes on. I’ve discussed all these negative points below. But the question is, considering them, are all-terrain tires still worth it? Lets find out.

Limited On-Road Traction

All-terrain tires have a lot of their rubber eaten away with grooves, so they don’t make as much contact with the road, resulting in loss of grip.

But still, their dry on-road performance is still above average, though they do make you worry on wet, well most of all-terrain tires out there.

That’s because they aren’t able to evacuate water out properly (which is the only way to pick up on traction). Though they have wide enough grooves which expel the water out, their limited number of sipes don’t allow them to grip on water particles coming underneath the lugs.

For Your Info: If you need a better wet performing aggressive all-terrain tire, you can either check out, Falken Wildpeak AT3w (review), or Sumitomo Encounter A/T (review). Both these Japanese brands are epic when it comes to wet grip and hydroplaning.

They Wear Faster

All-terrain tires need to be tough to survive off-road terrains, and so they are heavier with increase no. of plies in their internal construction and thicker rubber layer on top.

The larger weight puts more pressure on the tread, and with wider grooves, the lugs gets to bear more of it (as a lot of weight is to be disturbed on less surface area).

Moreover, these tires need to keep their composition softer so that the lugs can flex properly off-road (helps in grabbing stuff). But at the same time this also promotes to faster tread wear.

I’ve discussed this in detail in here:

For Your Info: With heavier structure, there’s also an increased wear on the vehicle’s suspension system and steering components.

They are Loud

Let me tell you how tread noise works.

Although you get other contributing noise, such as type of surface a tire’s on, and rolling noise, the tread noise is mostly generated by air.

All-terrain tires have a lot of “gaps” in the tread, and all of them are filled with air (at all times). So as the tire rolls, that air starts pumping in and out of the grooves, and most of it happens through the shoulder gaps.

Now although there are some all-terrain tires, providing you with Whisper Groove Technology (blocking shoulder gaps), with a lot of tread voids, air has a lot of room to move around, and hit around generating noise.

One of the loudest tires in the all-terrain category is Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac, just adding for your information. The quietest has to be Continental TerrainContact A/T.

Read More:

They Ain’t Cheap

All-terrain tires need more durability, and specialized cut/chip resistant rubber, and both these robust features add to the overall cost of production.

Moreover, these tires also need specialized equipment which basically supply them with superior pitch sequencing, full depth siping and notches structure, as well as sidewall lugs.

All these features may seem simple, they requrie a lot of technologies and engineering complexities. So yes, they are not cheap.

Though still, there are some budget picks out there, which are pretty great, for that, I ranked Kenda Klever AT2, in my list of top all-terrain tires.

Check here:

Factors to Consider when Choosing All-Terrain Tires

Your Driving Needs

Are you mostly staying on pavements, or going after rugged terrains? What do you want out of your tires? Do you need them to be fuel efficient, long lasting and comfortable?

If you are only staying on roads, then maybe you don’t even need all-terrain tires, whereas if you need aggressive traction off-road you can consider multiple options and pick the ones based upon your needs.

Find them in my list of top all-terrain tires (added above), each tire there is ranked for its optimal performing set of features.

Type of vehicle

The type of vehicle you own is an important factor to consider here as not all of them are designed to handle the extra weight and bulk of off-road tires.

Even though you get rim sizes going as low as 14″ (for A/T tires), the lighter vehicles, such as cars and small SUVs, may not be able to handle the added weight and size without a significantly decreasing overall performance.

But if your vehicle has good enough suspension and is heavier and needs tire which can carry it’s load, you can narrow down your options according to that.

Which brings us to the following.

Tire Sizes

All-terrain tire come in a lot of sizes, going from 14 to 15 inches, and having a wide variety of laod and speed ratings. But let me narrow it down for you.

First thing is considering the load capacity. Choose a tire which is able to carry your load. If for example you are looking for adding a lot of cargo in your truck, or going to tow, you are better off, going with a tire having load ratings of either E or F. You can learn all about that here.

Furthermore, also ensure to get the tire with appropriate speed rating (which indicates the maximum speeds a tire can safely operate up to).

With lower speed ratings, the grip gets lower, but you increases the overall tread life and fuel efficiency, and with higher speed ratings the opposite happens. Learn all about speed ratings here.

Lastly, keep in mind, that you check the tread depth, section width and sidewall symbols.


Though it depends on your needs, I think overall for someone who need to go on multiple types of trails, all-terrain tires are really worth it. They are either not too aggressive like rugged or mud terrain tries, nor they are weaker like all season tires.

So although with them you have to compromise on overall comfort and traction a little bit on highways, as these tires slow you down a little bit, they are a great all season option otherwise.

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