Nitto Recon Grappler vs Toyo Open Country AT3

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The Nitto Recon Grappler and the Toyo Open Country AT3 are both all-terrain tires where the main focus is on road comfort and capability, but at the same time, you won’t get disappointed with them on minor off road rugged terrains, as well.

Nitto Recon Grappler
Nitto Recon Grappler is my go to choice for truck modification.

Being a tire engineer, my takeaway is that, the Nitto Recon Grappler provides a better off road traction, as it’s tread is slightly more self cleaning (better mud evacuation capability), and it’s biters in the middle combined with dual designed sidewall lugs supply greater rock climbing traction as well. The Toyo Open Country AT3 on the other hand, is great on highways, especially on dry ones, where it covers all key areas, even fuel economy, tread wear and comfort.

For detailed Review of Recon Grappler click here.

For detailed Review of Toyo AT3 click here.

Let’s check out their tread design in detail, but first, some info about their sizes.

The Nitto Recon comes with total of 98 sizes, ranging from 16 to 24 inches. They have:

  • Speed ratings of either R or S.
  • Load ratings of XL, D, E and F.
  • Weight range of 40 lbs to 83 lbs.
  • Tread depth range of 13/32″ to 17/32 (mostly sizes have 16/32″).
  • Tread wear warranty of 65k for P metric sizes, LT sizes get to have 55k miles warranty.

On the other side, the Toyo Open Country AT3 gives you…

  • (More sizes) 148, ranging form 15 to 22 inches.
  • Better speed ratings of Q, R, S, T and even H. (Lean more here).
  • Better load ratings of C to F.
  • Weight range of 30 lbs to 72 lbs.
  • Tread depth ranging from 12.7/32″ to 17/32″.
  • 65k miles warranty.

Tread Pattern

The Nitto Recon Grappler yields a more rugged look.

Nitto Recon Grappler
Nitto Recon Grappler has very simplistic shoulder lugs.

This tire offers staggered shoulder lugs which extend towards sidewalls on each side with a different pattern, where one side makes slightly thicker lugs compared to other (needed for off-road traction with lowered pressure).

The shoulder lugs have reinforced foundations underneath and are very much optimized for on road handling that way. (That’s why the wider gaps don’t have any stone ejectors in them as well).

With simple design to enhance rubber to road contact, there are only simply small notches on edges and rectilinear siping (though it’s full depth).

Towards middle, the tire gets more interesting. Here it makes somewhat triangular shaped ribs having notches, sharp edges, siping slits, there’s just so much going on there.

All these offer superior off road grip especially on rocky terrains.

Whereas for muddy tracks, the interconnected lateral and outer longitudinal grooves (which by the way make very similar design), offer clear mud evacuation.

On the other side, the Toyo Open Country AT3 offers a very straight forward design.

Toyo Open Country AT3
Toyo Open Country AT3 shoulder lugs are slightly more packed together.

It features S shaped lug in them middle as a bigger block, which has foundational support of rubber underneath as well, so it yields better directional dynamic stability.

(It’s basically the notches which give these block the shape of letter “S”).

Same is the case with others surrounding (you can say), F shaped lugs.

All of them have full depth siping and sharp edges to provide off road bite, yet at the same time with their packed design they offer decent on road grip as well.

Speaking of which, its shoulder lugs are even more compacted together, as each lug has connector in between joining it with the next block (and that’s why there aren’t any stone ejectors seen there).

Though towards outer edges, the lugs are staggered and extend in to sidewall lugs (which are thinner in comparison).

Highway Traction

When it comes to dry highways, there are 3 things that you have to look for, these include grip, handling and the tire’s overall feedback to inputs.

Let’s talk about both of these one by one.

Dry Grip

Directional (dry) grip tells us about how well a tire brakes and accelerates and it depends on its foot print. The more the footprint area, the better.

And Toyo AT3 produces more, allowing it to have very shorter distances in comparison.

Its lugs also offer superior on road stability, as each of them have foundational supports. That’s why the tire offers speed ratings going up to H (best you can find in A/T category).

Lateral Traction

Sideways grip of the tire, or you can say lateral traction tells you about the tire’s ability to corner. Here sides of the tire are considered.

Both tires offer very similar g forces and handling times (the two ways you can find the lateral traction).

Toyo Open Country AT3 has joined up shoulder lugs with ridges forming a compact design, which is very similar to Recon Grappler. As this tire also has shoulder lugs joined together with secondary layer running underneath.

But still just grip is not enough, and it’s only a half part of the equation, the rest is filled up with the following.

Steering Sensitivity

How well the tire communicates with you, tells about the overall steering response. Off-road tires lag more compared to passenger tires.

The Nitto Recon Grappler with it’s heavier cap plies in their internal construction causes it to over steer. And so you can’t have good enough handling capabilities on higher speeds.

The Toyo AT3 on the other hand, offers more stable lugs on sides, offering a direct steering response, with very sporty-like handling sensitivity.

Wet Performance

The overall wet traction of a tire depends on it’s grip/handling combined with hydroplaning resistance. Both tell how well a tire would clear off water from underneath.

Wet Grip

Wet roads are slightly different form dry ones, as here you don’t need contact patch, you need sipes, and good ones too.

Sipes basically offer the tread slits where water can get stored, so the more the better. They also have to be flexible otherwise they won’t allow efficient water cleaning.

Nitto Recon Grappler although has a softer rubber compound, it’s internal construction still produces stiffness in the tread. And this combined with limited siping, the overall wet traction does not get to be that impressive.

On the other side, the Toyo Open Country AT3 is also not so great here as well, but in comparison, it does better with it’s lighter weight and interlocking sipes.


A/T tires with good hydroplaning resistance have tread patterns that are designed to channel water away and maintain contact with the road surface. These tires typically have wider, and deeper grooves that help to dissipate the water and prevent it from building up beneath the tire.

And it affects wet traction a lot because the more the tire evacuates water out, the less water there will be left for sipes to deal with

Nitto Recon Grappler offers better channels in comparison. Its outer longitudinal grooves are interconnected with lateral grooves of similar geometry, so both sideways and longitudinal water evacuation is happening on this tire.

In comparison, the Toyo AT3 has closed shoulder grooves and placed ridges (in between) which don’t allow as much water to get escaped sideways.

Fuel Economy

Overall, all-terrain tires may not be as fuel efficient as specialized tires such as highway or touring tires, which are designed with fuel efficiency in mind. However, the performance of a tire will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of vehicle, driving habits, and road conditions. Here tire’ weight and composition is also playing a huge role as well.

A thicker tire with more nylon/polyester layers in it’s internal make-up would weigh a lot more, and heavier weight is difficult to move (so it consumes more fuel).

Out of both tires, that’s why Toyo Open Country AT3 shows better efficacy, as the tire is lighter in weight and its stiffer rubber leaves off the surface easily.

Tread Usage

Rolling resistance affects tread consumption as well, but there are other things manufacturers do to minimize the wear.

This includes giving tire more tread depth so it would take longer to rub off, and a harder compound which is less prone to wear in the first place.

Being a stiffer tire, the Toyo Open Country AT3 takes slighter longer to burn off completely, even though the tire has almost 1/32″ of less tread depth.

Nitto Recon Grappler just adds to the wear equation, as its higher up in the weight, and it’s rubber is prone susceptible to wear.

Though the difference is very low, that’s why both tires offer similar tread wear warranties of 65k miles.

Ride Quality

The comfort of the tire is calculated by how much the tire offers spring displacement, or in other words, how much it’s able to spring the bumps, and the overall noise.

The noise has to do with grooves, that’s why Recon Grappler being a balder tire here provides a lot more room (in comparison), to the air molecules to come in and hit around, which generates unwanted sounds.

Toyo AT3 is silent in comparison, as it’s closed up shoulder lugs don’t allow as much air to come in.

But if we talk comfort, both tires are almost similar, and they are not that comfortable as well, I mean they are okay but if we consider the most comfortable A/T tire, like the Yokohama Geolandar G015 (review it here), then they are slightly below average.

Winter Capability

Tires with 3 peak Symbols (on their sidewalls) do great on snow.

This 3 peak mountain snowflake rating indicates that the tire has been tested and certified by the Rubber Manufacturer’s Association (RMA) to meet specific performance criteria for use in severe snow conditions.

That’s why it makes sense why the Toyo with this rating, is doing better here.

The Open Country AT3 does better with lighter terrains, whereas Recon Grappler is good with deeper snow, going above 2 feet.


Durability depends on inner construction and here the Toyo AT3 is one of the weakest tires out there (in all terrain category), whereas the Recon is one of the strongest.

Nitto Recon Grappler basically offers 3 ply polyester casing and 2 cap plies of nylon, whereas the Toyo Open Country AT3 has just 2 layers of that polyester casing and a single cap ply on the very top.

So not only this tire is vulnerable on the sidewalls (providing just 2 ply), it’s also not that tough from the middle area as well with a single cap ply.

Off Road Traction Performance

Let me split this section with different types of terrains, to make things easier to grasp, as each tire performs differently.

On Sand

On this soft terrain, airing down the tire is a must get to be even more important, and sure Recon Grappler gets to have a good footprint here as well, but its still challenging maneuvering this tire because of it’s weight.

That’s because it’s sharp on edges (shoulders), and this combined with it’s heavier weight, it digs in more.

Toyo Open Country AT3, on the other hand, does better as it focuses on moving forward, and the difference get to be more prominent on slopes, where it’s less susceptible of getting stuck comparatively.

On Mud

On mud you need a tire which can let things off it’s grooves FAST!

And All-terrain tires don’t do so good with that.

And that especially goes for Toyo Open Country AT3, as it’s packed up shoulder lugs don’t allow sideways mud evacuation.

Nitto Recon Grappler on the other side has better channels, and it’s sidewall lugs acts as traction scoops, further allowing this tire to have diggers/biters to get it out of difficult terrains.

On Rocks

Overall, notches and biters are designed to help improve traction and performance on rocky terrain. These are basically, put simply, are slits/cuts in the tread and they open their mouth to grab the surface underneath.

Foot print is also important here, just like any surface, so A/T tires have to achieve that by lowering the air pressure.

That’s why Nitto Recon Grappler does better on this terrain, it’s chunkier sidewall lugs offer better contact patch for lateral traction, and it’s more no. of biters produce better gripping abilities.

Take Home Points

Nitto Recon Grappler is a good addition to Grappler line up, but it’s still not that on-road focused, so it lacks when it comes on road comfort, fuel economy, tread wear and grip.

But at the same time does better in almost all types of terrains off road.

Toyo AT3 is the opposite, it’s great on highways (though it’s wet traction can be improved), its good with noise, wear and fuel, and it does great on snow as well (is the only tire here with 3pmsf rating).

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