Mickey Thompson Deegan 38 vs Nitto Trail Grappler

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Both the Mickey Thompson Deegan 38 and the Nitto Trail Grappler are the perfect choices for enthusiasts looking to get the most out of their full sized trucks. They both feature a bold tread pattern to deliver amazing commercial traction. Let’s check them out in greater detail.

Nitto Trail Grappler
Nitto Trail Grappler

In my expert opinion as a tire engineer, the Nitto Trail Grappler offers a better grip when it comes to mud, rocks and snow. The tire also lasts longer, comparatively. On the other side, the Mickey Deegan 38 is superior on sand, and offers better performance on highways, relatively, in terms of traction, comfort and fuel efficiency.

Available Sizes

The Deegan 38 M/T offers sizes in 15 to 20 inches with following specs:

  • Speed ratings: Q only.
  • Load ratings: C to E.
  • Weight range: 44 to 73 lbs.
  • Tread depth: 18.5 to 21/32″.

On the other hand, Nitto Trail Grappler comes in 15 to 26 inches, and has following specs.

  • Speed Ratings: P and Q.
  • Load Range: C up to F
  • Weight Range: 61 to 116 lbs.
  • Tread depth: 19″ to 21/32″.

Tread Appearance

Starting with Mickey Thompson Deegan M/T, the tire gives haphazard placement of lugs all over the tread.

Mickey Thompson Deegan 38 AT
Mickey Thompson Deegan 38 AT

In the middle, it presents 2 main ribs of blocks having very aggressive geometry.

On each rib, there’s actually two different kinds of blocks, where one is a little smaller than the other, yet they both have same kind of sharp edges, chamfered sides and V shaped sipes on them.

All these features render off-road traction, and at the same time, offer grip on smooth pavements as well, as these lugs are joined up with each other form underneath, providing stability.

Together lugs on both of these ribs form a network of channels connecting with outer wider tread voids of shoulder lugs with stone ejectors in between.

The shoulders have similar tread features, though they are elongated and have staggered outer edges, extending down, making sidewall lugs.

Though it’s sidewall lugs aren’t that aggressive compared to Nitto Trial Grappler.

Nitto Trail Grappler
Nitto Trail Grappler showing its more aggressive side.

This tire features dual sidewalls, so you get a different pattern on each side.

(It’s up to you to choose which side to show out, though make sure, you put the same outward facing side on all tires).

These sidewall lugs, are very powerful as they supply decent footprint and bite, when the tire in ran with lowered air pressure.

And the shoulder lugs with mud scoops (staggered edges) further add to that.

Moving towards middle, there are two ribs containing L shaped lugs.

They carry similar features (as seen on shoulders), having sharp edges, notches and off-set edges.

And together they make 3 longitudinal channels connecting with outer more voided area.


Out of both tires, the Nitto Trail Grappler gives out better tread mileage (given that you keep some variables constant).

Even though it’s rolling resistance is much higher, mainly because of its weight, it’s stiffer composition (comparatively) play a huge role in providing a longer tread life.

The Mickey Thompson Deegan 38 on the other side, wears off faster with its greater tread pliability.

For Your Info: Pro Comp Xtreme MT2 lasts the longest in my testing of all mud tires.

Level of Comfort

The level of comfort provided by off-road tires will depend on a variety of factors, including settling of bumps of road and tread noise.

That’s why the Mickey Thompson Deegan 38 with a spongier tread, offers more effective settling of the vibrations, and shocks of the road.

The Nitto Trail Grappler on the other side, not only feels more jittery, especially on dirt filled roads, it’s greater weight also account for a limited stability (as already discussed in the highway traction section).

Though the tire does better with noise out of the two, with it’s superior pitch sequencing, which Nitto calls variable pitch technology.

Noise is made with air particles hitting the tread, and in case of Trial Grappler, different parts create different tones, which try to cancel out each others’ frequencies.

Dry Performance

Handling is a major part of overall dry performance, and it depends on two things, footprint form the shoulders, and lugs flexibility.

And considering both it can be seen why the Mickey Thompson Deegan 38 comes out better.

Although both tires features similar contact patch form the shoulder area (of the tread), the Deegan 38 still shows faster handling with it’s lighter construction.

With lighter weight, its lugs aren’t pushed as much with the ground, and they face less bending. This allows for faster steering response compared to Nitto Trail Grappler (which is one of the heaviest tire in the M/T category).

The other part of dry traction comes form directional grip, and tests show that both tires have similar performance values. They both come with almost same braking distances.

Wet Traction

Both tires although features a similar resistance to hydroplaning, with their wide enough evacuation channels, the overall wet traction is still seen better on Nitto Trail Grappler.

This is mostly because of the tire’s full depth siping, splitting open the lugs. These are better able to bite down on watery roads in comparison.

On the other hand, the Deegan 38 could really use some help in this area, as its tread features very small and in-effective siping pattern.

Fuel Consumption

With heavier construction, the tread blocks bear more pressure on them, as they bend against the ground. This causes the wastage of the fuel energy. (Though these effect are more pronounced for mud tires).

That’s the reason why out of both, the Nitto Trail Grappler with it’s heavier structure gets to consume more fuel, relatively.

The Deegan 38 on the other hand, although features a softer tread compound, that also enforces lugs to bend, it’s tread is still more stable thanks to its lighter structure.

But don’t get me wrong, it’s fuel efficiency is also nothing to be proud off.

Winter Grip

Winter traction depends on a tire’s capability to corner, brake and accelerate on all types of snowy terrains.

And although both these tires are not suitable for hard packed snow and definitely not for icy terrains, they do okay when it comes to deeper snow, I am talking about anything above 3 feet.

That’s because these tires offer scooping abilities with their voided structures, and staggered shoulders. So they paddle their way around without any hurdles.

Yet still with better “elongated” shoulders of Nitto Trail Grappler, combined with dual sidewall lugs, you get better scooping efficacy overall on this tire (at least on the paper).

Performance Off-Road

Different terrains require different skills from tires, so its best if we consider them by the various terrain types, I mentioned below.


Mud is the toughest of all, that’s why we have dedicated MTs for this terrain type.

And here there are two things involved, mud scooping, and self cleaning capabilities. And considering both, I would have to rate the Nitto Trail Grappler superior.

The tire features better shoulders, with thicker mud scoops in them, and a combination of sidewall lugs. All these yield the most needed paddling on the ground, while the thick mud is escaped out of its highly voided structure.

In case of Deegan 38, the interlocking central lugs create more hurdles for the mud passing through.

Rocky Terrains

A tire designed for rocky terrain should possess a pliant tread with blocks that can flex to enhance grip in every direction. Additionally, you also need durable sides to guard against sharp puncturing rocks with thick enough lugs on top, that can grab and pull.

And after a lot of testing, I would have to rate Nitto Trail Grappler better here. The tire basically gives out tremendous traction with it’s sidewall biters.

Not only they are highly capable of protecting the tire on it’s most vulnerable area, they also supply excellent traction, with lowered air pressure values.

In comparison, the Mickey Thompson Deegan is also a great pick, as it’s tread is softer and grabs the rocky surface with decent amount of force, yet it lacks with it’s lacking sidewall biters, relatively speaking.

On Sand

Sand is a although a clever terrain and requires a lot of driving skills and experience, with these mud terrain tires around, it gets a lot easier. Well except for climbing, that’s one area where these tires aren’t so great.

And this goes especially for the Nitto Trail Grappler, as its one of the heaviest, so on inclines, keeping it’s forward momentum going is pretty challenging. Though lowering the air pressure helps a lot.

In comparison, the Deegan 38 with its lighter structure and smoother edges is less digging, so keeping this tire afloat is easier.

Take Home Points

Let me sum up all of the above I discussed.

So comparing both tires, the tests clearly showed that the Trail Grappler is a superior pick for rocks, mud, winter grip, noise/quietness of ride, and overall tread life.

Whereas the Mickey Thompson Deegan 38 does better on roads, in both wet and dry traction areas, and brings superior fuel economy, as well as comfort (in terms of bumps absorption).

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