Nitto Trail Grappler MT Review

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Nitto Trail Grappler is a mud-terrain tire (extreme off-roader of Grappler line up). But due to it’s cool appearance, folks use these tires everywhere, may it be light trucks, jeeps, or even full sized SUVs (as it also comes in 15 inches). This big guy is awesome on harsh off road terrains, but how is it compared to other similar MTs? Let’s find out!

Nitto Trail Grappler
Nitto Trail Grappler offers which side to show outside, as it features plain lugs on one side, and as they put it, lizard skin lugs on the other.

Being a tire engineer, in my opinion, the unprecedented traction of Nitto Trail Grappler is credited to it’s sidewalls and shoulder lugs. These things are massive and the act as traction scoops, especially when you lower down the tire’s pressure. The tire also offers good enough pavement traction compared to other MTs, but could use a little hand in wet areas, and in the noise department as well.

Tire sizes:

The beast Nitto Trail Grappler comes in a total of 53 total sizes, where they are available in the range of 15 to 26 inches (wheel diameter).

FYI, only one size is available right now in the 15 inches rim sizes.

The speed rating is good, where mostly sizes are coming with 2, either P or Q.

(With Q, you get the maximum speed of 106 mph), you can check out the rest here:

In terms of load ranges, the tire offers C (6-ply rating), D (8-ply rating), E (10-ply) and F (which comes with 12-ply).

And as it goes all the way from C to F, the weight also ranges widely, going from 61 lbs to 116 pounds on the heaviest tire.

Tread depth is also pretty great on all sizes, where although it ranges from 19/32″ to 21/32″, mostly sizes get to have 21/32″.

Tread Features

The Nitto Trail Grappler features a nice silica rubber tread compound which has 3rd generation composition.

Nitto Trail Grappler
Nitto Trail Grappler has interlocking shoulder lugs.

It’s symmetric tread design is pretty straight forward, where its slanted shoulder lugs are divided with slanted slits and with huge lateral gaps in between the stone ejectors are embedded.

These make dual sidewall design, where I’ve already shown you the most aggressive lizard shaped lugs above.

The following central blocks offer hook shaped lugs wrapping around the shoulder blocks to form an interlocking design.

Together these and the shoulder ribs make a wild longitudinal channels on each side, where the central ribs also make a less aggressive one in the middle.

These hook shaped central blocks offer full depth siping and small notches, and both of these try to grip the wet roads the best way possible.

And all these lugs offer excellent rock crawling, and of course, mud bogging, not to forget, my favorite, hill climbing.

Moreover, the tire also offers variable pitch technology so it’s lugs don’t drum as much (as you’ll mostly see comparing to other options).

For Your Info: The best all rounder M/T tire is BF Goodrich KM3 (review).


Mud terrains tires are the toughest, so being the most extreme versions of AT tires, you can say, these tire have to have a very solid inner architecture.

And the Nitto Trial Grappler is a very powerful tire from inside.

If offers a 3 ply polyester casing (with high turn up), which is wrapped with 2 broad belts made out of steel cords (much stronger than used in A/Ts).

And all of these is then wrapped with cap plies of nylon which are also much broader (compared to those coming in less aggressive tires).

But note here that as Nitto is famous for providing a wide range of sizes, it exempted the 3 ply sidewalls from 15 inches, where there’s only one sizes, so you can say apart from 15 33×12.50R15LT (which is 2 ply), the rest of the sizes come with 3 ply sidewalls.

And we’ve already seen how it’s 3 ply sidewalls are further protected by it’s thicker lugs on each side of the tire.

And even the central area of the tire has thick rubber on top with 21/32″ tread depth which is also cut/chip resistant.

On Road Performance:

Roads and pavements are usually not good for mud tires. They really lack in terms of grip. And of course, they are very loud.

On pavements, the traction is mostly considered with 3 things in mind, the tire’s response, the grip, and handling capabilities.

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

For Your Info: Our of all Mud tires, the most capable of gripping on dry roads is Toyo Open Country M/T (review)

Steering Response:

Due to larger number of plies/cap plies, the tire’s construction becomes stiff, where the rubber (for traction purposes) remains soft, so it’s a difficult job getting these tires to steer right especially with higher speeds, that’s why these tires don’t go above Q in speed rating (well, with the exception of a few).

But even compared to other MTs, the Nitto Trail Grappler steering response suffers a little bit as it creates a lag between the inputs and the feedback (of the wheels).

In other words, the tire is not vocal as it understeers on corners, where it’s still better compared to wet.

As on dry tarmacs, as the tire offers very less tread features, a lot of rubber contact is provided and this provides still somewhat satisfactory response, but in wet conditions, you can not curve these tires over 40 mph, they will understeer first and all of a sudden would kick in an start to over steer.

Traction on dry roads:

When it comes to dry conditions, the most crucial point to consider, is how much of the tire’s rubber meeting with the road. The more the better as friction is enhanced.

In case of Nitto Trail Grappler, the tire being an MT although does not offer a good enough rubber contact, it still is okay compared to other competitors, as the tire’s slanted shoulder lugs make an interlocking design with the central ones and they both offer braking and handling stability.

Dry highway Handling:

When it comes of cornering or handling (same thing), the tire’s weight and contact is considered, and here most of the contact is made on shoulders, as they get to have more pressure on curves.

So it makes sense that the Nitto Trail Grappler with it’s interlocking shoulder blocks provide good enough efficacy.

Wet Performance:

Wet roads performance checklist include siping (for the grip) and tire’s overall construction (which is needed for the flexibility).

And of course not to forget, hydroplaning. Let’s talk all of them one by one.

Wet Traction:

Nitto Trail Grappler being a MT tire offers a good enough all weather traction off road, but even on roads, the tire’s mixture of silica in it’s new gen tread provides good enough elasticity.

So the sipes (slits) offer a good efficacy, but only during braking (which is just the half piece of the equation).

The other half is handling and Nitto Trail Grappler provides no sipes over there, so sipes can’t get to suck water in over there, and you face a lot of slippage with these tires.

Also note that the siping provided by this tire is rectilinear which is stiffen up on corners.

You need interlocking sipes (the ones which look like waves), as they don’t get rigid and provide efficient water cleaning.

Note: Don’t drive this tire without your traction control off.


Hydroplaning means floating on water. If the tire is not able to evacuate water from underneath quickly, rolling on water, it would just start to float at one point, that, why it’s measured with float speeds which tells the maximum speed with tire can roll over water without “floating”.

Nitto Trail Grappler with larger tread voids offer a very decent cleaning of water from its grooves, on both straight and curved paths, so the tire is good here.

But with overall weight and flexible sipes, the water need more pressure to get out, that’s why MT tires can’t perform as much as the AT do.

Tread Wear:

The tire’s mileage or tread life is high dependent on weight and rubber compound, so it makes sense why MTs don’t last as much as ATs and they don’t comes with warranty as well.

Nitto Trail Grappler is also not an exception, the tire has no miles warranty and with a softer compound which is spongy and has a lot of pressure of weight (with its 3 ply polyester casing), it generates a lot of rolling resistance, so tread wears off faster.

But with superior off road traction that’s the compromise you make with Mud terrain tires.

But do note that the tire offers a cut resistant tread which provides better off efficacy, meaning these tires would wear less if you use them the most where they are meant to be used, off road.

For Your Info: Best tire for tread wear in M/T category is Pro Comp Xtreme MT2 (Review).

Ride Quality:

The more aggressive the tire gets, the less comfortability it has. That’s why passenger tires (like summer/touring/all season) offer the most comfort, then comes HT tires (highway terrains), then comes AT (all-terrain), and then the most aggressive M/Ts take the last spot.

But let’s see how is our tire performing here.

Comfort & Noise:

Nitto Trail Grappler being an MT although can’t be compared to less aggressive tires, even comparing it with others in its category wont impress you that much.

As these tires after 30 mph would start making a continuous hum at first. And if they are not rotated properly, that humming converts in to a full fledged vibrato where you don’t hear the noise, you start to feel it too (feel me?).

Although the tire’s softer rubber of top absorbs a good deal of bumps, even with its stiffer 3 ply constitutions underneath, if you don’t rotate these tires religiously that wont matter.

And yes that reminds me, it’s also very hard to balance them for the first few Ks of miles, so hang in there.

Some key points:

Noise is just generated by air particles which come in and out of the tread. And this way they make two types of sounds, one is whistling like, which you hear with a hum, and second is another vibrato type noise, which is made when air particles hit the tread walls.

Now, the Nitto Trail Grappler although gives you variable pitch technology, its noise dampening is tough as there is a lot of room for air to move around.

For Your Info: One of the quietest tire that you can get in the mud terrain category is Mickey Thompson MTZ. These tires are very silent and stay that way for a good period of time.

Snow Performance:

Nitto Trail Grappler is 3PMSF rated.

It stand for 3 peak mountain snowflake rated which is just an acceleration test on snow, and it does not tell whether the tire is capable of performing great in braking or handling, as most folks think.

So although Trail Grappler is not going to grip as much on lighter snow, it sure does great with deeper snow, as it’s lugs scoop the snow backwards to create forward momentum.

Though, I do miss the option of adding studs on these tires, they would have been great.

Off Road Traction:

Off road things get very interesting for M/Ts, as that’s where they shine the most.

That’s why in case of Nitto Trail Grappler, you can through anything in front of these tires and they would handle it pretty great.

Let’s discuss all these challenging terrains.

Muddy Terrain Performance:

Mud requires efficient self cleaning and its one of the toughest terrains ever, that’s why M/Ts exists, and that’s why they are named Mud terrain even though they are just extreme off road tires.

Nitto Trail Grappler is no exception as it offers very wild lateral gaps in between shoulder blocks which clear out mud very quickly.

The staggered shoulder lugs which extend to sidewalls on each side also help in pushing the mud backwards to provide forward momentum.

Sand Traction:

Sand is a although a clever terrain and requires some driving skills, with MTs you are not going to have too much of a problem, 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 the tire is one of the heaviest, so climbing becomes tough, but the good thing is with lowered pressure there is a lot of footprint which enhances grip.

And side lugs act as scooper in a similar manner as they do on muddy terrains.

Rock Traction:

Rocky terrains itself have a lot of stuff going on, here you need confidence inspiring climbing abilities in a tire along with powerful biters to grip, stone ejectors to keep tread clean and durability.

In case of Nitto Trail Grappler, starting with durability, that’s no issue, as it provides 3 ply sides with high turn up plies, and thick lugs which are very bulky and offer decent values of traction (when you air down these tires).

The tire’s bigger groove mouth (which are soft) simply bite in to the surface and hold on with extreme friction values.

These tires climb rocks without even pressuring down.

For Your Info: Best tire for rocks is Cooper STT Pro (review), in the M/T category of course.

Lastly, leave with this:

Nitto Trail Grappler is a powerful mud terrain tires, which is capable of conquering nearly all sorts of rugged terrains.

The tire although is not 3PMSF rated, it still offers good enough traction with deeper snow.

And on mud these tire are phenomenal.

Just make sure you rotate these tires religiously an if you are staying on roads.

Also if you are going to get these tire just for the looks and are going to stay on roads, go with the lowest rating possible. I’ve mentioned all of them in the tire sizes section.