Falken Wildpeak AT3W vs BFG KO2 (Updated)

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Let’s dive straight into the world of rugged all-terrain tires where the BF Goodrich KO2 reigns with its dependable grip and stellar off-road capability and Falken Wildpeak AT3w for its superb wet grip.

BFG KO2 3
I’m a fan of BF Goodrich KO2’s shoulders and sidewall lugs.

As someone who has used both tires several times, here’s my take: The Falken Wildpeak AT3W defines what an all-terrain tire should be. It’s great off-road, gives you good traction and comfort “on the road”, and handles wet conditions really well. That’s why I also placed it to the top in my list of top A/T tires. On the other hand, the BF Goodrich KO2 is super tough. It’s a bit less grippy on wet roads, but when it comes to handling rough & off-road conditions, it doesn’t let you down.

For Your Info: Both of these tires are now replaced by their successors, so if you’re interested in that, you may want to check out my Wildpeak AT4w and BFG KO3 comparison.

Tire Sizes

The Falken Wildpeak AT3w comes from 15 to 22 inches rim sizes, providing 76 total sizes, where it starts from 235/75R15 with load rating of XL and goes all the way to 37×12.50R20LT with load rating F.

For a 2 ply construction the tire weighs a lot, where it almost 79.4 lbs on the size LT 37X13.50R20, but you also see as little as 35 lbs in tire weight.

The BF Goodrich KO2 comes in 89 total sizes where all but 4 have 15/32″ tread depth.

The tire comes in 15 to 22 inches rim sizes, where the smallest has (similar) weight of 35 lbs and largest is 67 lbs (35X12.5R22 117R).

Some Info on Tread Depth

With the exception of 4 sizes, all tire sizes of BF Goodrich KO2 come with a single tread depth, which is 15/32″.

On Falken Wildpeak AT3w however, the tread depth varies form sizes to sizes. It starts from 12 (on just 1 size) and goes all the way to 19, where it only average has 17/32″ depth.

It’s very deep for all terrain tires. Usually mud terrain tires have this much tread depth.

That reminds me, the newer tire, the AT4w actually comes with a bit more depth. Compare both Wildpeak AT4w and AT3w here.

Tread Differences

The BF Goodrich KO2 provides a very aggressive shoulder design.

BF Goodrich KO2

They are staggered and have deep biters in them. Plus who can forget those wide spaces between these outer lugs having stone ejectors in them.

These design elements provide epic gravel traction (not just saying this, actually tested it).

And yes, the lugs on sidewalls also enhances the tire’s traction further (with lowered bar/psi levels).

Durability isn’t left to chance either, the tire’s 3 ply sidewalls and rim protectors are in place to secure the tire, ensuring stability even when air pressure is significantly reduced.

Speaking of central tread area, you get these interlocking S/C (worm-like) lugs with full depth sipes in them.

Though they don’t really do so well on wet roads (which is their primary function).

Switching gears to the Falken Wildpeak AT3w, this tire lives up to its name with a focus on Wear, Wet, and Winter performance, employing distinctive tread innovations.

Falken Wildpeak

It’s shoulder blocks are not staggered but they do make sharp saw tooth edges on their sides.

These big shoulder blocks cover a lot of tread and make wavy grooves, prominently separating apart the central tread area.

Speaking of which, the middle area has these C and Z shaped blocks with stepped edges (which Falken likes to call “ramps”), and notches in them.

And with their random placements, they also make a web of grooves just like the KO2.

Other than this, the sidewall lugs are although not as aggressive (in comparison here), still provide decent traction with their slanted U shaped biters on them.

I mean they also give amazing bite on rugged trials, with lowered air pressure (just like the KO2).

Side Note: If you’re new to this site, and looking for a great A/T tire for your need, I think you should start here: https://tiredriver.com/best-all-terrain-tires/ Its my main all-terrain tire page.

On-Road Performance

Highway performance is an aspect where all-terrain tires often compromise. If a tire is overly aggressive, it tends to lose on-road traction capabilities. This is why mud-terrain tires are not at all suitable for road use.

However, this is precisely why options like the Falken Wildpeak AT3w and BF Goodrich KO2 exist, as they both perform very well on the road (relatively speaking).

They truly meet your expectations and satisfy you in all the crucial areas, although there are still some differences between the two tires.

Wet Traction

So among these boys here, the Falken Wildpeak AT3w offers a better experience on wet roads.

The tire communicates effectively during rainy conditions, providing a dynamic response that lets you understand its reactions to steering inputs.

That’s mainly because it features full depth 3D wave-like siping on shoulders and linear (shapes) on central lugs. And this mixture basically ends up providing superior multi-directional wet grip.

Plus with deeper tread depth, the tire takes out more water through its grooves in the first place. Meaning there’s less for sipes to begin with.

In other words, Falken’s superior resistance to hydroplaning is another reason why the tire provides superior wet traction overall compared to KO2.

Speaking of which, the BF Goodrich KO2 is a harder tire with a lower silica density in its composition. Its stiffer construction, partly due to its higher ply inner structure, limits the sipes’ flexibility and efficiency in displacing water compared to the Falken’s design.

But yes, the tire still performs admirably in hydroplaning resistance, thanks to its grooves that interlock extensively and there’s very less difference between the two boys here (comparing their float speed performance, I mean).

For Your Information: The BFG KO2 tends to understeer on wet surfaces, making it fun for drifting, though this is not ideal in real-world conditions.

Dry Traction

On dry surfaces, both tires are closely matched.

The steering feels slightly stiffer with the Falken Wildpeak, where the tire is hesitant to corner quickly before suddenly becoming more responsive.

Nevertheless, dry conditions do not pose a problem for either tire, as they both possess sufficient biting edges, allowing for respectable stopping distances and handling times on laps.

Road Noise and Comfort

Both tires produce almost the same level of road noise subjectively.

However, when measured with an app, the BF Goodrich was slightly louder, emitting a continuous humming sound, which is not bothersome.

Notably, the BFG KO2 is the only tire I’ve encountered that becomes quieter with age. Its harder compound improves road noise performance.

The tire’s dual-layer construction, with a softer outer layer that wears off over time, reveals the inner harder layers which offer even better noise reduction but at the expense of wet traction performance.

On the other hand, the Falken Wildpeak AT3w is quiet enough too, but only in SL sizes. These sizes basically offer decent variable pitch producing tread design, effectively reducing noise levels.

But yes, Falken’s newer generation silica compound does offer a softer ride, allowing tire in all sizes to absorb bumps more effectively, unlike the harder rubber of the BF Goodrich KO2.

Additionally, tread depth plays a role in comfort, a fact often overlooked. More depth means more rubber between you and the road bumps, contributing to the Wildpeak’s greater impact comfort performance.

Tread Life

Although the deeper treads of the Falken Wildpeak AT3w might suggest longer life, the tire tends to wear faster due to its high silica content, which makes it softer.

This softer rubber offers numerous benefits, including improved performance on wet surfaces, snow, and even rocks. However, this type of compound also tends to wear down quicker.

On the other hand, the BF Goodrich KO2, with its stiffer rubber composition and consistent design, experiences less wear by comparison.

Winter Performance

The softer compound of the Falken Wildpeak AT3w does not harden in winter temperatures.

Dedicated winter tires are very soft, which is why they cannot be used in summer as they would deteriorate rapidly.

While the Wildpeak benefits from being softer, the BF Goodrich KO2 offers an interlocking design that excels at trapping snow.

Snow-to-snow contact is more effective than rubber-to-snow contact, so with more snow trapped in its grooves, the KO2 performs well in winter conditions.

Consequently, both tires have earned the severe winter rating of 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake.

For Your Information: Tread width also influences snow traction, and both tires have nearly identical widths.

Durability

The BF Goodrich KO2 is touted as the toughest tire in the all-terrain category, with marketing campaigns showing it being dropped from 20,000 feet and surviving.

My personal experience confirms their durability. They have withstood challenging conditions like thorny underbrush, rocky terrains with sharp edges, and high-speed gravel roads without issue.

The KO2’s durability can be attributed to its robust internal structure, featuring a triple-layered polyester base, reinforced by two layers of heavy-duty steel belts and wrapped with two spiral layers of nylon polymer for added toughness. This construction gives the KO2 its exceptional strength and resilience, with essentially a 5-ply construction due to the additional nylon layers.

Conversely, the Falken Wildpeak AT3W uses a dual-layer polyester casing with two steel belts for reinforcement, topped with a two-ply nylon cover. Unlike the KO2, its layers aren’t spirally wound but it includes two extra layers of polyamide to strengthen the sidewalls, resulting in a sturdy four-ply sidewall construction.

This design makes it slightly less durable overall compared to the KO2, but in practice, they are still highly reliable. I’ve never experienced any issues with sidewall tears on the Wildpeak.

Mud Performance

If you read above topic, you must have seen, that I said, KO2 is good at trapping stuff in its grooves.

This is not good for mud.

Mud to mud contact loses friction and BF Goodrich KO2 with it’s interlocked ribs hold on to the mud and is not able to clean itself.

On the other hand, Falken Wildepak is better. The tire also has a advantage of deeper tread blocks which allow more mud to go through the tire’s channels.

Rocky Terrain Performance

Both tire have have good biting lugs which provide decent climbing abilities.

The Falken Wildpeak provides better rock to rubber contact with its softer compound.

The BF Goodrich KO2 on the other hand has larger sidewall lugs, and when you run them in low bar/psi, they provide a very decent footprint with the rocks.

The tire is also king of gravel as it provides dual stone ejectors (see if you find triangular ones in the image above).

But with no stone ejectors, the Falken Wildpeak gets stuck with a lot of stones, and this makes it’s ride bumpier.

Take Home Points

Falken Wildpeak AT3w simple covers all areas which makes an AT tire great. It provides decent on road traction, where it’s remarkable on wet with it’s dual siping, which also awards it 3 PMSF rating.

The tire provide good comfort and is very silent as well and off road, it shines with it’s aggressive notches seen everywhere.

The BF Goodrich KO2 which is also 3 peak rated, is impressive on snow and is on par on dry. But the tire lacks slightly on wet.

But it sure covers for it with it unique rugged terrain performance.

Side Note: Did you like this comparison? Or have any questions for me? I’m all ears in the comments section!

6 thoughts on “Falken Wildpeak AT3W vs BFG KO2 (Updated)”

  1. I have been reading your head to head comparisons for a couple of weeks now. I have a 2004 Lexus GX470. It currently has Cooper Discovery ATP3s. I have liked them, especially their quiet ride. We have been to Moab, out to Denver and back, northern CA, Yosemite, and forest roads in our nearby mountains. But they are down to 5-7/32nds, winter rains are coming, and we are going to Lake Tahoe in December. So I need replacements. I don’t need extreme all terrain tires like BFG KO2s. I don’t do rock or sand crawling. But I do need tires that will be good in rain and light snow. So I settled on the Falken Wildpeaks. I am picking them up on Monday.

    Thanks again for your reviews.

    Reply
  2. Hi Ozmen, thanks for sharing your perspective on these types of tires. Not very many engineer types share info with the public, and it’s hard to make decisions from layman reviews alone.

    I am ready to replace my Cooper Discoverer AT3s4’s on my Grand Cherokee. Like every pair of Coopers I have owned these have grown extremely noisy and take a lot of weight balance to correct vibration. (New Bilstines all around and 4 wheel alignment were done just prior to putting these on.)

    I have been considering the Firestone Destination AT2s since the rate well as a highway tire in almost every category, but to be honest I would prefer something more aggressive, for off-road getting into woods on wet, sloppy, rough, and rocky jeep paths (better protected, and with more tread depth than 12/32). I also use the vehicle to commute to work on dry roads half the year, and icy or snowpack roads the other half.

    I think the BFG AT KO2 is just a bit to tough and harsh for me, but do you think the Falcon Wildpeak AT3w might provide a good balance for me? I really don’t want another set of tires that make the “warbly howl of death” on the highway when they’re only half wore out.

    Reply

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