Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T vs Nitto Ridge Grappler

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Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T and the Nitto Ridge Grappler are head to head here as they are both coming in Rugged Terrain category, though Baja Boss A/T is marketed as all-terrain tire, as you may have guessed with it’s name.

Mickey Thompson Baja Boss AT
Mickey Thompson Baja Boss AT offers a rugged structure, yet, it’s 4 rib design stays comfortable on roads.

Being a tire engineer, from my perspective, the Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T is a beast of a tire on rugged tracks, it keeps things super smooth on highways as well, providing better grip in both wet and dry conditions in comparison. The tire is also one of the top performing in snow, earning 3 peak mountain snowflake rating. In comparison, Nitto Ridge Grappler although does not have this rating due to it’s lack of siping which BTW also compromises wet performance, the tire is good enough on dry roads, and is superb off road especially on rocky terrains.

Tread Info

Starting things off with Mickey Thompson A/T.

Mickey Thompson Baja Boss AT
Mickey Thompson Baja Boss AT offers a aggressive mud terrain design built on an all-terrain platform.

This tire offers 4 channels where inner one is very rugged and narrower, and outer one are wider and connect with even wider shoulder voids.

The shoulder lugs of the tire form a very changing design with it’s asymmetric nature, and yielding amazing pitch sequencing as a result (see in the noise section).

All these lugs on the outside form very powerful biters, and towards middle (of the tread), they have full depth sipes and notches.

The middle two ribs of the tread are even more interesting, and both of them are forming reflections of each other, expect that one rib has vertical and horizontal slits in them.

(This adds to the random design of the tire, and offers superior off road bite).

Overall, it’s design is just as aggressive as it’s competitor.

Let’s check it out.

The Nitto Ridge Grappler makes dual sidewall design, where in the image below, you are seeing the one with more biters.

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

This tire makes slightly thicker lugs in comparison, and cover up more bead area (offering larger footprint when pressured down, as a result).

The shoulder lugs are properly staggered having thick mud scoops in them. Though they get to have a very simple design.

This is because they don’t carry too much of the tread features and are equipped with just a mere rectilinear siping.

These lugs run in pairs and have stone ejectors embedded in the wider lateral grooves they make joining the circumferential channels in the middle.

Unlike the Baja Boss A/T, this tire only makes 2 of these longitudinal channels which are then interconnected by X and Z shaped grooves made from ribs in the middle.

These lugs here offer aggressive biting, as they have notches, full depth notches, rectilinear siping and offsets in them.

Available Sizes

Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T offers 59 sizes, with rim diameters of 15″ to 24″.

  • They have speed ratings of Q and T.
  • Load ratings of SL, XL, D, E and F (no C).
  • Weight ranges of 36 to 90 lbs.
  • Tread Depth of 16/32″ or 18.5/32″ (constant).
  • 3PMSF ratings (but not on all sizes).
  • And LT sizes have 50k warranty, whereas P metric have 60k.

On the other side, talking about Nitto Ridge Grappler. This tire offers more sizes, 98 (16″ to 24″).

  • Load ratings are available in SL, XL, D, E and F (again no C).
  • Speed ratings stay in T or Q (similar ratings).
  • The weight range : 36 lbs to 91 lbs (very similar weight range as well comparatively).
  • And tread depth ranges form 13/32″ and goes up to 18/32″, where most sizes get to have 16.4/32″.
  • Sizes have no warranty or winter ratings (so this is better with Baja Boss A/T).

Tire Toughness

Off road tires are built strong and here their inner construction matters the most, to be even more specific, their sidewalls internal built is the main thing to consider.

And both tires offer enough of that.

They are both equipped with 3 ply polyester casing with 2 wide powerful belts (made of cords of steel), and 2 nylon cap plies on the very top, where their thick rubber sits.

So both tires score evenly in this area. That’s the reason their weight range across all sizes is also so similar (it’s almost exact). And same goes for speed and load ratings in case you missed above.

Highway On-Road Performance

On roads, in dry conditions, the grip of the tire matters of course, but there are other things as well where how sensitive the tire is to your steering input is considered, as well as the handling performance.

So lets take a look at all these factors for these tires.

Cornering Feedback

Tire’s overall feedback depends on the lag times. Usually off-road tires lag more compared to passenger tires because they are made heavier which then causes under-steering on sharp corners.

Although both tires have similar weight range, Nitto Ridge Grappler does better as it offers narrower gaps between the lugs in general and its rubber is neither too soft nor is that deep comparatively.

So how that helps? Well let me explain.

A tire with softer tread has more moveable lugs, so they take their time to move the whole tire in any specific direction, and tread depth enhances that.

Mickey Thompson AT has both of these features, it’s tread is deeper and at the same time softer. So it lacks in providing faster feedback.

Braking and Acceleration

Gripping of the tire has to do with the central area of the tread, here you have to check how much of it’s tread is meeting with the road. The more the contact, the better the grip. Though there are other factors as well, like the tire’s composition as some tires stick better. There’s also tire’s rolling resistance.

With narrower grooves and more stable blocks, Nitto Ridge Grappler offers better efficacy. That’s because these lugs have reinforced foundations underneath and they are bigger as well, so a more firmer contact is made with the surface.

(Reinforced foundations are basically made by providing a secondary layer of tread beneath the lugs).

Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T on the other hand has smaller lugs, and they are highly voided both laterally and longitudinally, so these lugs are not that efficient.

Though both tires come up with similar speed ratings of either Q or T.


Cornering abilities of the tire comes form shoulder lugs. The more firm they are they better. Here the shoulder contact patch with the road also matters a lot, as during turning, the whole weight of the tire (and the vehicle) shifts towards sides.

Nitto Ridge Grappler does better as it’s shoulder lugs have a lot of real estate to meet up with the road. And the lateral gaps between them cover less area. I also showed you guys how it makes very less tread features on it as well, allowing it to have a better connection with the surface.

Mickey Thompson A/T has very wild gaps around shoulder lugs, and it’s full depth siping and notches take away the shoulder’s contact path further, reducing overall handling capabilities.

Wet Performance

Wet performance contains two different dimensions. Wet traction and hydroplaning resistance. Wet traction is not hard to get for all terrains. Yet, hydroplaning resistance can be cheeky due to heavier vehicles.

Wet Traction

Low siping ratio is one of the main reasons, why all-terrain tires don’t do so good.

But that’s not the problem with Mickey Baja Boss A/T,

This tire not only offers ample siping, but those also have a better design combined with flexibility. If you consider the siping structure, on this tire, you’ll note that they have zigzag nature, which goes like that all the way down to the tread.

So when tire brakes abruptly or takes sharp turns, the sipes don’t get rigid and water is efficiently removed at all times.

To give you a rough idea, it’s wet performance is almost similar to Toyo Open Country AT3.

Nitto Ridge Grappler on the other hand, lacks severely in the siping area, and even those available sipes don’t make a good enough pattern.

In other words, they are just straight lines (of slits), so when a tire is under pressure of turning for example, all these sipes get rigid.

And with this, they can’t open up to soak water particles in them anymore.


Hydroplaning is a bad new for all-terrain tires. And to avoid this, tread needs fast water evacuation capability.

The good thing is, both tires are very great at this, with their balder design. The Nitto Ridge offers Z shaped channels meeting the outer lateral shoulder grooves, and Mickey Thompson A/T provides 3 longitudinal channels interconnected with each other.

So both offer wide enough channels for water removal.

Though, still with multiple testing, the Mickey Baja Boss comes out slightly better in curved aqua (which tells, how much water can get evacuated sideways), and it’s explained with it’s more tread depth which is able to take on a larger volume of water.

Fuel Economy

Fuel usage and rolling resistance are both very closely related.

Baja Boss A/T as I explained in the cornering feedback section, has deeper and softer tread lugs, so a lot of energy gets wasted on them to move.

And in terms of weight the tire is almost just as heavy as the Ridge Grappler, so although they are not so great at fuel usage, Nitto Ridge is still slightly better.

Tread Mileage

Tread usage is also very dependent on the rolling resistance, and it would make sense that the Mickey Baja Boss AT wears faster, but that’s really not the case.

The tire basically takes a longer time to wear with it’s larger tread depth, as most of it’s sizes get to have above 18/32″ whereas the Ridge Grappler has 16.4/32″ (on majority of its sizes).

Moreover, it’s on-road oriented design with longitudinal running ribs (like most passenger tires out there), yields better mileage efficacy.

That’s why it offers a decent mileage warranty of 50k miles, whereas you don’t get any with Nitto.

Ride Quality

When it comes to overall ride quality, tread noise and bumps absorption is considered.

Let’s talk noise first.

For silencing the grooves, pitch sequencing is a technology which is used by almost all tires these days, even all-terrain tires. With this manufacturers basically change the geometry of the tire slightly so air particles hitting the tread at different areas produce different pitches and they don’t amplify, dampening the overall noise.

And both these R/T tires I am discussing aren’t different, in fact Nitto Ridge Grappler names it as Variable Pitch Technology.

Though both tires are pretty loud and they get louder with wear if not rotated at every 3k miles.

However, with softer rubber, the Mickey Baja Boss A/T does offer better vibration absorbing capabilities, so it produces better results when it comes to overall comfort.

Winter Traction

Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T is an obvious pick here, as it comes with 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake rating.

But do you know its actually one of the top tires to have for snow traction?

This tire even outperforms some of the best names in all-terrain tires, like the Wildpeak AT3w or the Toyo AT3, and so on, all of these are 3pmsf rated.

That’s why I rated this tire on my list of top A/Ts, check it out here.

In comparison, Nitto Ridge Grappler is not a good tire to have on snow, and it’s performance on ice is straight up dangerous.

Rugged Terrain Performance

Off road, you need tires with huge cleaning abilities.

You also need durability to move confidently on all types of terrains, let’s see all these types of lands.

Thick Mud

Both tires perform great here, though don’t expect them to outperform any mud tire, but sure, they are better compared to all terrain.

The Nitto Ridge Grappler offers sharp triangular lugs with powerful biters in the middle which break down the mud in to smaller chunks as they pass out through Z shaped grooves connecting shoulder voids.

The thicker mud scoops on sides, also add to the traction as they act as spoons picking up the mud and throwing it backwards to form forward momentum.

In comparison, although Mickey Baja Boss A/T lacks providing mud scoops, it’s wider channels offer similar mud evacuation capabilities.

On Rocks

On rocky terrains, you need tires which have proper sidewall lugs, that can yield extra footprint (needed to provide lateral traction).

Lateral traction is just a grip of the tire from sideways, it significant as tires with lower values can get overturned while climbing rocks.

Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T offers very great lateral traction, but it’s still not enough to outperform the king of rocks, Nitto Ridge.

Nitto Ridge Grappler offers very optmized-for-rocks lugs on its sidewalls, and these grab more with lowered air pressure.

Moreover, its triangular lugs in the middle also offers more no. of biters in comparison, rendering it superior in terms of traction.

Soft Sand

Sand is a tricky terrain, here you need to enhance foot print of the tire by lowering down the air pressure.

And with stronger rim locks on both tires, this can be achieved effectively.

Though with softer sides, Ridge Grappler offers better climbing abilities as it’s sides don’t dig in more, and focuses on moving forward.

In Closing

Both rugged terrain tires are pretty good overall, but the Mickey Thompson Baja Boss A/T is taking things to the next level as it’s on road performance is simply great.

And here the most important thing to consider is it’s wet traction. There are a very few tires which are as good on wet with such aggressive design.

And this also goes for it’s snow performance, where it’s one of the top ranking ones, even when compared to other less aggressive A/T tires.

Nitto Ridge Grappler on the other hand, although does things good enough on dry roads, lacks severely on wet.

Though its amazing off road especially on rocks.

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