Sumitomo Encounter AT vs Falken Wildpeak AT3w

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Get ready to tackle any terrain with these all-powerful tires – Sumitomo Encounter A/T and Falken Wildpeak A/T3w! These babies are built for light trucks and full-sized SUVs, but don’t let that fool you – they can handle the toughest off-road tracks with ease thanks to their beefy sidewalls and deep biters. Could we have a new off-road champion in town?

Falken Wildpeak A/T3w
Falken Wildpeak AT3w features great bite on snow.

Being a tire engineer, from my perspective, Japanese tire manufacturer offers a nice A/T tire with Sumitomo Encounter AT, where it mostly shines on road, yet it’s wet traction is on par with it’s competitor. Falken Wildpeak A/T3W, actually compromises very little on highways, and off-road its a pro on all sorts of rugged terrains. Moreover with all season traction, both tires are severe winter rated, and offer great snow traction.

(Highlighted links above contain their detailed review, it’s recommended you check them out first, for better understanding).

Tire Sizes

The Falken Wildpeak AT3w has 15 to 22 inches rims with following specs.

  • Speed ratings: Q, R, S, T, and H.
  • Tread depth is a lot on this tire, and it goes from 12 to 19/32″, (most sizes have 17/32″).
  • Load range: SL, XL, C, D, E, and F.
  • Weight range: 35 lbs to 79.4 lbs.
  • Also, all sizes have 55k miles warranty.

Sumitomo Encounter AT comes in 15 to 20 inches (wheel diameter). These sizes have:

  • Speed rating: Q, R, S and T.
  • Tread depth range: 13 to 20/32″
  • Load Ratings: SL, XL, C, D, and E
  • Weight range: 34 to 84 lbs.
  • Warranty: 60k miles for all sizes


Toughness is a must for these tires, as they face a lot of sharp objects off road, including log thorns (saying from experience).

And out of these tires, Falken Wildpeak AT3w provides better protection.

Although both tires have 3 ply polyester casings, and 2 broad steel belts running on top, the Sumitomo Encounter AT only features a single cap ply, whereas Wildpeak provides you with 2.

Moreover, it also has 2 more layers dedicated to sidewalls as well, and to further protect them, there are thicker lugs there on top.

Tread Design

The Sumitomo Encounter AT has 3 ribs in the middle and wide elongated shoulder lugs on the sides.

Sumitomo Encounter AT
Sumitomo Encounter A/T makes very similar shoulders compared to Wildpeak AT3w.

Let’s start from sides, here on sidewalls, the tire features “M” shaped lugs, they aren’t as thick compared to Wildpeak, but they do cover most of the area of the tread, providing great footprint with lowered air pressure.

The lugs are not staggered but part of them are, and making the biggest rib, they cover most of the tread’s area.

They are also embedded with full depth aggressive interlocking siping (just like the Falken Wildpeak).

Moving towards middle, there smaller lugs there, making 4 longitudinal grooves, where the outer two are wider.

These central lugs carry slightly different siping, smaller biters and offset edges.

They are also joined up from underneath, providing better directional grip in both wet and dry conditions.

On the other side, the Falken AT3w gives you a more aggressive pattern.

Falken Wildpeak AT3w
Falken Wildpeak AT3w also comes up with dual siping design.

Its shoulder blocks take up a larger portion of the tread, forming wide and deep longitudinal channels, that provide exceptional wet and lateral traction (just like the Sumitomo A/T).

They also carry similar siping pattern as well.

Though on the outer margins, they make thicker U shaped lugs and sharp saw-tooth edges on shoulder edges.

In the central area of the tread, you’ll find Z shaped lugs, surrounded by C shaped on. They have notches facing in all directions, along with supporting ridges on all of them.

These basically do a lot of things, they are optimized for off road biting, directional grip, acceleration, noise dampening and so on, I am going to talk about all of these in their respective sections.

Winter Traction

On snow, some A/T tires are pretty good, as they carry a lot features from winter tires, and have 3 peak mountain snowflake ratings, providing superb all season traction.

And both of these tires are in that list.

Though, Falken AT3w does better with slightly deeper terrains, as it’s bigger notches (on C shaped blocks), and stepped edges (on Z shaped ones and shoulders), provide better snow grabbing abilities.

On the other side, the Sumitomo Encounter A/T although lacks in biters, it makes up for it with better siping in the middle.

Though with less weight, and less overall section width (across all sizes), it’s still not able to produce as better a result as the Wildpeak AT3w, despite being a softer off the two (with better thermal adaptive properties as well).

So maybe it can do better with more extreme negative temperatures (would update as I experience it).

Dry Performance

For all-terrain tires, on and off road performance go hand in hand, but these two tires are really changing the overall game with their well optimized tread, which offers quite some needed rubber to road contact.

Out of them, the Falken Wildpeak AT3w with its summer sipes in the middle (forming rectilinear pattern) help with directional grip, whereas it’s big shoulder lugs ensures lateral traction is also up to mark.

On the other side, the Sumitomo Encounter A/T provides very similar shoulder lugs so it’s not surprising that it’s lateral traction is very similar in comparison.

Both tires features compact lugs there, which basically cover majority of tread’s area, and provide great handling times.

Moreover, all blocks (on both ) have similar secondary layers underneath, so even with softer composition and a lot of tread depth, the lugs stay in place and don’t loose stability.

Wet Traction

Wet traction is a little different but not for these tires, as they both are equally great here as well.

But you have to admit, Falken Wildpeak AT3w is more aggressive, and this tire where it offers such great off road performance (as you are about to find out), lacks so little on roads, that its performance is on par with a very on-road oriented tire.

Both tires offer dual siping design where the sipes are most effective on shoulder lugs, and I’ve explained above, how both of them are so similar there.

They both are able to provide very alert feedback with this, where they react to subtle steering inputs quickly.

Side Note: Similar results were also derived by Tire Rack on this.

Off-Road Traction

To excel in off-road conditions, tires should be able to resist holding onto stones, handle rough crawling, have powerful LT sizes with thick enough lugs, and have strong self-cleaning abilities.

All of these judge how well a tire does in the following terrains.

On Rocks

On rocky surfaces, a tire’s durability and traction capabilities are key to successful performance.

it’s sidewalls have 2 dedicated layers protecting the bead, and it’s lugs on top offer good enough lateral traction.

Sumitomo Encounter A/T lacks in the durability department as it only offers 2 ply sidewalls

On Gravel and Dirt

On gravely roads, stones get trapped in the tread and they not only damage the rubber but also reduce the overall handling and directional traction capabilities of a tire.

To handle this, both tires have cut resistant rubber, which fights that, though still, Falken Wildpeak AT3w does a better job with more voided design, even though it does not offer any kind of stone ejectors just like the Sumitomo.

On Sand

Out of both tires the Sumitomo Encounter AT provides better efficacy, even though it’s weight range is very similar in comparison.

That’s because it’s sides are not as serrated, and it digs less comparatively. Moreover, with closed up lugs, and M shaped sidewall lugs, it’s able to provide ample tread print allowing it to float on even deeper terrains in a better way.

Falken Wildpeak AT3w on the other side, has sharper sidewalls and shoulder lugs, so it’s forward momentum is slightly harder to achieve.

Muddy Tracks

Ever wondered why mud tires are name “mud-terrain”? Well, that’s because mud is the toughest of all. And its the only reason those tires exist.

Though, still, you can expect A/T tires to handle little bit of mud, you can take them to lighter terrains, I mean.

Yet, I’d take Falken Wildpeak AT3w with me, if these two tires are the only option, as on this tire, you get to have powerful thick U shaped lugs, which gets the tire out by scooping,

And although, its tread only goes up to 19/32″ (compared to 20 on other), it’s still more voided, allowing better mud escaping abilities.

Sumitomo Encounter A/T lugs are more closely arranged, in comparison, so its no surprise mud quickly packs this tire up.

Fuel and Tread Wear

The fuel efficiency of a tire is affected by its rolling resistance, which can be influenced by the tire’s weight and tread composition. Tires that are harder to roll or stickier tend to have higher rolling resistance and use more fuel.

Both tires provide similar weight across all sizes (they both have similar weight range of 35 to 85 lbs approx.), so weight factor can be eliminated.

But still Falken Wildpeak AT3w produces larger rolling resistance values, that’s because with wider tread voids, the lugs gets to have more pressure on them.

In other words, same weight is divided upon tread blocks, so they face more friction when they move.

The Encounter A/T on the other side offers a more streamlined design, with 5 longitudinal ribs, so it’s directional pattern uses less fuel comparatively.

The tire also provides better tread depth, where it reaches up to 20/32″, whereas the Falken Wildpeak at 19/32″, so it also makes sense, why it provides better tread life and 5k more mileage warranty in comparison.

Ride Comfort

The overall comfort is although made better with good suspension system, tires act as secondary suspension options as well, and here besides bumps absorption, they also need a quieter ride.

Noise is basically produced when air particles hit the surface of the tread.

Though, with voided design although tires are louder, the Falken Wildpeak AT3w is still pretty great as it generates better pitch sequencing.

With this, the air hitting different parts of the tread create different tones which cancel out each other, to dampen the overall tread noise.

In comparison, the Sumitomo Encounter A/T although tries to minimize noise pollution in a similar fashion, it’s groove resonance is still louder, meaning it’s tread is more prone to sound wave reflection.

Though worth reminding, its still able to do better with cushioning of the bumps.

It’s silica rich rubber combined with super thick tread going up to 20/32″ offers a big area for the vibrations to soak down,proving a better on road comfort.

Winding Up

Both tires look very similar from the shoulder lugs, and that explains why they are both so good in handling on wet and snowy roads.

Yet, the Sumitomo Encounter A/T offers superior dry grip, and steering response, along with fuel efficiency and comfort, whereas, the Falken Wildpeak AT3w provides better durability, and off-road traction on mud and rocks.

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