Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T vs Nitto Recon Grappler


Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T and the Nitto Recon Grappler are both slightly more aggressive to be considered as all-terrain (A/T) tires, as their inner and outer construction tells you otherwise. Nonetheless, both tires don’t disappoint at all on pavements, (as you’d expect with such rugged designs) and they are making the new rules for the game.

Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T
Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T

Being a tire engineer, my findings tell that the Mickey Thompson Baja Boss AT is a superior tire when it comes to durability, wet performance, rocky terrain traction and snow capability. The Nitto Recon Grappler on the other side, is a better option for dry roads, noise, fuel economy and wear. And this tire is also not too far off when it comes to winter and off road performance as well.

Sizes Info

Starting with Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T, the tire comes in 59 total sizes ranging form 15″ to 24″, and all of them have following specs.

  • They have speed ratings of Q and T.
  • Load ratings of SL, XL, D, E and F (no C).
  • Weight ranges from 36 lbs and goes up to 90 lbs.
  • Tread Depth: Either 16/32″ or 18.5/32″.
  • Sizes having section width above 12.5 inches don’t get to have 3pmsfr (others do).
  • And LT sizes have 50k warranty (where others, 60k).

Read detailed review of Mickey Baja Boss A/T: https://tiredriver.com/mickey-thompson-baja-boss-at-review/

On the other side, talking about Nitto Recon Grappler, this puppy comes with higher no. of sizes, 76 (16 to 24 inches).

  • All sizes have speed ratings: R or S.
  • Load Range: XL, XL, D, E and F (again no C here as well).
  • Weight Range: 40 to 80 lbs (lighter on average).
  • Tread depth: 13 to 17/32″, majorly sizes have 16/32″ (smaller on average).
  • Only M+S is available. Sizes are missing with 3pmsf ratings.
  • And LT sizes have 55k miles warranty, whereas non LTs have 65k (more in comparison).

Detailed review of Recon Grappler:

Tread Appearance

Let’s start things off with less aggressive tire, the Nitto Recon Grappler.

Nitto Recon Grappler

When it comes of off-road tires, there are A/T tires, then come R/Ts (also called hybrid), then comes mud-terrain tires, the most aggressive.

And in of them, Recon Grappler lies between A/T and R/T.

If we start things from sides, this tire make dual sidewall design, where the image shows you the one with thicker lugs.

These join the shoulder blocks having a staggered design with mud scoops in them.

They are fairly simple having full depth siping and very small notches towards (inner) edges.

In the middle there’s a lot more going on, as you see somewhat triangularly shaped ribs which seem to be divided into smaller sections, yet they are all joined together from underneath with a secondary rubber layer (adding braking stability).

The outer channels made are connected laterally with equally wide zigzag slanted grooves, providing a good tread clearing efficiency.

Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T on the other side offers more biters on sidewalls, as I’ve already showed you at the very top.

Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T
Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T

But it’s shoulder lugs are also powerful, as they offer asymmetric design with better interlocking sipes and multiple stone ejectors in the wider lateral grooves they make.

Though these lugs are not properly staggered, but you can say each lug is serrated on itself.

They make wider longitudinal channels dividing two ribs in the middle.

These ribs also have full depth sipes, notches and edges, but here one rib has extra features of lateral and longitudinal notches (which seem to be further splitting the blocks).

These additionally make a very tough passing circumferential groove in the middle, making an overall 4 rib design.

And this reminds me of Cooper tires for a reason, as Mickey Thompson is actually owned by them (and both are owned by Goodyear).


Off road tires need toughness, and both A/Ts here do their best.

Both offer 3 ply polyester casing having 2 steel belts and 2 cap plies of nylon, though Mickey Baja Boss A/T takes things further by providing thicker cords on it’s polyester cover (on 3rd layer).

It also makes bulkier lugs on sidewalls, adding strength there as well, and protecting the most susceptible part of the tire from sharp encounters.

Dry Performance

When it comes to tire’s traction on dry surface, there are a few things to note in order to calculate the overall performance.

This include the tire’s steering, both in terms of feedback times and lateral traction, and of course there is directional grip as well where acceleration and stopping ability is considered. I discussed these all factors below separately.

Directional Grip

With directional movement, the tire makes friction with the road. And how much friction is produces depends on the surface of the middle tread with the road. Middle part of the tread is significant as the tire’s whole weight puts pressure over there.

Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T offers a very closed up pattern in the middle, where the two ribs placed, make a very on road oriented design yielding 3 longitudinal channels.

But with softer rubber and larger tread depth, it’s lugs have a lot of mobility and that limits the overall grip of the tire (moving on a straight path).

Nitto Recon Grappler, on the other hand, offers a larger availability of it’s tread’s surface area to meet up with the pavement, and it further enhances its grip by offering superior stability with it’s harder tread compound.


Handling of the tire has to do with it’s sideways grip which is calculated with g forces. The more the tire shows up with these g forces, the better the overall handling times (on laps).

The Nitto Recon Grappler offers a simple shoulder design, as except for mere sipes and small notches at the end, nothing else is seen. This allows it to have a direct connection with the roads, without any hurdles.

Moreover, it’s lugs are made very stable with foundational supports underneath which allows this tire to have better handling stability as well.

Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T, on the other side has limited area of tread that get to be in contact there, so it’s not able to grip that well. Moreover, with heavier weight, it tends to under-steer, so that also increases the response times for this tire.

Wet Performance

Wet grip and hydroplaning are the two main things to consider here.

Let me start off with wet grip.

Grip on Wet

On wet roads, in order to grip properly, you need siping, as these offer slits in the tread, which soak up the water clean.

Though you also need flexibility, as without it sipes wont work.

In Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T, you get interlocking siping which consume very less energy to contract/expand, and the tire offers a more flexible tread on top to make things even better.

Nitto Recon Grappler has a harder compound and has very limited siping, especially on shoulders, though the tire offers plenty in the middle, but they don’t make an interlocking design (which could have been great on this tire).

Hydroplaning Resistance

Resistance to hydroplaning is the tire’s ability to evacuate water from its tread so it would not float. So balder the tire, the better.

The Mickey Baja Boss AT offers very straight forward 3 longitudinal channels and it’s outer channels are connected with even wider lateral grooves (between shoulder lugs), so water passes out easily in both directions.

In comparison, Recon Grappler is not able to achieve higher float speeds, as it’s compacted shoulder lugs offer slower water evacuation.

Fuel Consumption

Fuel economy of the tire is directly proportional to the tire’s weight and stickiness of the tread.

The stickier the tire, the harder it is to role. Similarly, the heavier the tire, the more energy is required to move it. Both these factors combined make rolling resistance values.

So it makes sense why Baja Boss A/T is so high with these. It’s heavier weight, (even though both tires have 3 ply sidewalls), contribute to it a lot and it’s high silica density in the rubber’s composition sticks with more energy.

In comparison, Nitto Recon Grappler leaves off the surface easily, and consumes less fuel as a result.


How much tread gets burned depends on rolling resistance as well, but here tread depth is also a contributing factor.

And besides that, the overall tread composition is also significant, as the more stiffer the compound of the rubber, the more friction it would take to burn off.

Having said that, though Mickey Baja Boss A/T offers larger tread depth, which takes a while to go, it’s sloppy rubber is still susceptible to a faster wear rate.

That’s why with the difference of 5k miles, Recon Grappler provides better warranty and actually gives much more than that in real life (though it highly depends on driving conditions).

Ride Quality

Comfort of the tire tells how well it deals with bumpy roads, and here tread noise also plays a crucial role in determining the overall ride quality, let me discuss them both.

Tread Noise

Tire’s tread including grooves, and even sipes are filled with air all the time, and as the tire rolls, that air pumps in and out generating noise.

So this means, if the tire is balder, it would produce more noise.

That’s why the Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T generates a lot more groove resonance, comparatively. It’s tread offers air, a lot of area to go every which way, hitting the walls and creating unwanted sounds.

Though its not that bad given how balder this tire is, as it deals with it, with the help of pitch sequencing.

To explain this, you can consider its shoulders, (consider image in the tread section), see how they are changing shapes, some even have to limit siping, with this air hitting the lugs have different pitches, and sound waves generated cancel out each other.

Nitto Recon Grappler is also utilizing this and in fact they market it by saying it’s their “variable pitch technology”, and this combined with packed up sides, it offers a quieter ride in comparison.


Low profile tires are not good at comfort as there is less rubber in between you and the road. That’s the reason why with more tread depth the overall tire’s comfort is enhanced.

Moreover, how well the bumps are dampened is also crucial.

Both of these traits are found in Baja Boss A/T as it’s spongy rubber when comes in contact with a bump, deforms more and dissolve that energy in to flexing.

Nitto Recon on the other side, is not able to flex that much and on this tire, on-road vibrations are felt more, comparatively.

Snow Traction

In winter performance, there are a lot of key areas to look at, and out of them the most significant ones include, grip, acceleration and handling on all light and deep snow, as well as ice.

Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T is one of the best ones you can get for snowy performance. And I am saying this, after considering all of the factors and of the terrains, though don’t expect this tire to outperform winter tires, especially on ice.

But compared to Nitto Recon Grappler, you can definitely say it’s much better.

Its very good at grabbing the snow in its grooves and making snow to snow exposure, and this is what all off-road tires try to do, to improve traction, (doesn’t matter if it’s in deeper or lighter terrains).

The narrower section width of Baja Boss A/T puts pressure on its biters, and they dig in and scoop up the snow, but as the tire’s width gets wider, it’s traction gets minimized.

That’s why Mickey Baja Boss AT tires with section width above 12.5 inches don’t even qualify for 3 peak mountain snowflake rating.

Off Road Traction

Off road include a lot of terrains, and I’ve already covered on roads, and snow, so what’s left is mud, sand and rocks, let’s discuss them all one by one.


Mud is the toughest of all terrains, and here you need proper cleaning grooves, otherwise, tire would simply get packed with this thick material.

Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T offers a very self cleaning tread for couple of reasons.

One, it has very voided design which allows a lot of area for dirt and mud to leave. And second, it’s multiple ejectors, cut down the mud, so it can digest and leave out in a easier manner, (each shoulder lug of the tire actually has 6 of these triangular stone ejectors).

Moreover, it’s central lugs with sharp biters also do the same job of breaking down the mud further, so it can escape laterally or longitudinally.

Nitto Recon Grappler although offers a very great wavelike structure of grooves on both longitudinal and lateral channels and they interconnect with each other, the mud still has a hard time leaving out through shoulders as they are packed (more).


Rocks itself is further divided in to a lot of other sections, there are small rocks, stones, gravely roads, and then there are big rocks, where tires need to be effective enough to give you a good climb.

For smaller rocks, stone ejectors are needed, whereas big rocks require so much more.

Now as far as the stone or dirt ejectors go, I’ve already mentioned above in the mud section, how you get most of these on Baja Boss AT, I mean I haven’t seen any other tire with so many ejectors. And speaking of which Recon Grappler doesn’t have any, as it’s shoulders are packed up more.

So where it’s tread lacks on gravely roads, it’s lateral traction is not that impressive on climbing rocks even with lowered air pressure.

Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T on the other hand with powerful sidewall biters and notches in the middle, provides better traction capabilities in comparison.


Sand is tough one, as here besides having driving skills you need some features of a tire which can help with big and deep dunes.

The tire first of all has to be light in weight, second, it should provide paddles (scoops), third, it should offer a good tread print, and lastly, the tire should have a powerful bead locker.

Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T offers rim locks, and sidewall lugs of better capability, it’s heavier weight and sharper sides don’t allow better directional aid, as it digs more.

Nitto Recon Grappler is very smooth on the edges, so its not as digging in comparison and with it’s slightly lighter structure, you can expect better performance values, especially on slopes.

Ending Note

Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T is a proper rugged terrain tires, whereas the Nitto Recon Grappler is an aggressive all terrain, though still both tires offer good enough on road traction where Baja A/T offers superior capabilities when things are wet, and Recon offer dry traction.

Both tires offer great all season traction on asphalts.

And on rugged terrains, things are slightly better with Mickey Thompson, though Nitto Recon is better on sand.

Find more on all-terrain tires.

4 thoughts on “Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T vs Nitto Recon Grappler”

    • Thank you for this article. Trying to decide between the two. Which one is the quietest and most comfortable between the two if you had to choose? Basically I see one is quieter and the other is softer and smoother, but are they noticeably different in either of these categories to make such a difference in picking my objective?

      • Baja Boss A/T is overall a more comfortable choice, considering multiple terrains. If comfort is your focus, I’d suggest you go with lighter load ratings, if you are mostly staying on roads, then go with XL sizes.

  1. I’ve had Nitto Recon Grapplers on my 2009 Hummer H2 for 16 months, I’ve got BF Goodrich KO2’s on my 4×4 Tacoma for about a year, both tires are great but the Nitto Recon’s performance is better that’s anything else, in my opinion. Handling on Dry and Wet, off road, its a supreme tire.


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