Toyo Open Country AT3 vs Nitto Nomad Grappler

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Toyo Open Country AT3 and the Nitto Nomad Grappler are two great all-terrain tire options having stronger construction that bring off-road traction and a compact enough tread design that brings about satisfactory steering responsiveness and the driving stability on pavements.

Toyo Open Country AT3
Toyo Open Country AT3 suits all sorts of trucks, especially Ford.

From my perspective as a tire engineer, the Toyo Open Country AT3 is a very decent tire on roads, providing superior dry grip, and a quieter ride with more tread life. And off-road it does better on mud and rocks. Nitto Nomad Grappler on the other side, although is only available in XL sizes, still provides a greater grip on sand, and on roads, its a more fuel efficient tire to have, which is also capable of providing amazing wet traction.

Available Sizes

The Toyo AT3 (review) comes in 148 total sizes in 15 to 22 inches, having following specs.

  • Speed ratings: Q, R, S, T and H.
  • Load ratings of SL, XL and C to F.
  • Weight range of 30 lbs to 72 lbs.
  • Tread depth ranging from 12.7/32″ to 17/32″.
  • 65k miles warranty.

On the other side, the Nitto Nomad Grappler (review) comes in 32 total sizes in 17, 18 and 20 inches rims, having following specs.

  • Speed ratings: H, T and V.
  • Load ratings: XL only.
  • Weight range: 28 to 46 lbs.
  • Tread depth range: 12.5 to 13.5/32″.
  • Treadwear Warranty: 60k miles.

Structure of Tread

The Toyo AT3 combines off-road capabilities with highway traction, thanks to its unique structure.

Toyo Open Country AT3
On Toyo AT3, overall 2 vertical grovoes are made interconnected with central tread voids, separating shoulders.

If I consider the middle part of the tread first, it has S-shaped ribs with sharp edges and “biters” that are surrounded by F-shaped lugs, having full depth notches positioned at various angles. So overall, you get a very gripping design.

These lugs form a very aggressive groove pattern which interconnect with the outer wider longitudinal channels, separating shoulder lugs aside.

Speaking of which, these shoulder lugs are although not equipped with notches in a similar way, they do get big enough traction scoops with their serrated edges and sidewall lugs, that bite with lowered air pressure.

And for on-road stability they have reinforced foundations underneath, which basically improves lateral stability on the highways.

But that only goes for dry as under wet conditions, the tire does not perform satisfactorily despite having numerous full depth sipes, but more on that later.

On the other side, the Nitto Nomad Grappler also features a very unique design.

Nitto Nomad Grappler
Nitto Nomad Grappler features S shaped design in the middle, if you look at it from sideways.

The tire’s tread gets prominently divided in to central area and shoulder lugs by wide circumferential rings connecting lateral grooves, the central lugs make.

These S shaped central lugs (if you look at them from sideways), offer with you various biters.

They are all equipped with multiple off-set edges and in-groove notches, providing grip from all sides.

Moreover, you also see full depth interlocking sipes on them, which split open these lugs further where needed (mostly off-road). Though their main functionality is wet traction.

Moving towards shoulders, these lugs are smaller, and the least aggressive without any biters (and are only seen with rectilinear sipes).

Though their outer margins are aggressive enough where each lug is serrated on itself, and joined to them are thick sidewall lugs.

Toughness Comparison

Durability is an essential characteristic for off-road tires as they navigate on rougher terrains and encounter sharp objects more often.

And in order to keep them effective their these tires are incorporated with a cut-resistant rubber and deep tread voids. Though still the toughness is primarily determined by the internal construction, with the sidewalls playing a key role.

But on both tires you see a very minimal make-up of 2 ply polyester cover with 2 steel belts on top and a single cap ply of nylon.

And although its enough when it comes to lighter terrains, they don’t provide you with satisfactory confidence on rougher terrains, especially on rocks.

For Your Info: Most durable A/T tires are BFG KO2 and Mickey Baja Boss A/T, you can find them both in my list of top all-terrain tires.

Overall Dry Performance

When determining the dry performance of an all-terrain tire, it’s essential to take into account its traction, steering, and cornering abilities. Let’s explore these critical components in more detail.

Handling and Steering Feedback

The tire’s handling and steering feedback during cornering is dependent on the contact between the ground and the outer shoulder lugs, as all of the vehicle’s weight moves towards outer edges when a tire turns.

And here again looking at the tread pattern on both tires, it can be clearly seen why Nitto Nomad Grappler provides superior lateral traction with it’s more compacted lugs.

Moreover these lugs also provide better consistency of rubber-to-road connection without any disruptions from grooves, whereas on Toyo AT3 (although grooves have shoulder connectors), they still break the connection with the surface, decreasing overall steering response and with it handling efficacy.

That’s why its speed rated up to H whereas on Nitto Nomad Grappler, it goes up to V, so if you are wondering, do A/T tires slow you down, there’s your answer.

Dry Grip/Traction

The traction of a tire on dry straight roads is referred to as dry grip or directional grip, assessed through measurements of braking distance and acceleration time.

And since most of the tire’s weight gets concentrated in the middle part of the tread (while rolling straight), how much of it meets with the road directly tells you about it.

And in comparison, the Nitto Nomad Grappler provides you with better rubber to road meet up, with it’s thicker interlocking U shaped lugs both hooking up each other.

Toyo Open Country AT3 on the other side, although also offers decent contact patch (to connect with the ground, as well), it’s still not as great, comparatively.

Though both tires still make great daily drivers.

Wet Traction

For enhanced wet traction, efficient water evacuation is necessary, which is facilitated by wet grip and resistance to hydroplaning. Let’s scrutinize each factor separately.

Most of the wet get grip comes from sipes, as they offer slits which contract/expand to make a vacuum, slurping water particles in them (and that’s how it gets wiped).

That’s why with more no. of sipes, the Nitto Nomad Grappler provides you with better gripping abilities.

Toyo Open Country AT3 on the other side, not only offers less siping, it’s tread is also stiffer, and so this also affects hydroplaning resistance, as water is not able to pushed out of the grooves with as much pressure.

Tread Noise

The sound associated with tires originates from shoulders, as from there, air gets pumped in and out of the grooves, and that air then hits around the tread walls generating unwanted noise.

Though Toyo Open Country AT3 deals with it in a very well-engineered way. As it provides you with whisper grooves (using a term which Cooper uses for its tires). This is simply put, just the packing of the shoulder blocks.

All shoulder voids on the tire’s tread have connectors/ridges placed in between, and these basically restrict the flow of air in the first place dampening noise in a better way.

Nitto Nomad Grappler on the other hand, although provides you with very closed up shoulder lugs as well, they still allow more air to flow in. Moreover, the tire is also not as great with pitch sequencing, even though they market it with “variable pitch technology”.

This is just varying of the geometry of tread blocks, so air particles hitting them can create different sound waves frequencies and can cancel out each other.

Fuel Consumption

The amount of fuel used by a vehicle is largely influenced by the rolling resistance of its tires, with the weight and tread composition being the two major factors determining it.

And so as the Nitto Nomad Grappler gets to be very light, it provides better efficacy.

Toyo Open Country AT3 on the other side, has lugs surrounded by wider grooves, and that combined with it’s heavier construction, each of it’s lugs get to bear more weight on it. And so they burn off the road with more force decreasing overall fuel efficiency.

Winter Traction

Out of both tires, although both of them have 3 peak mountain snowflake and M+S ratings, the overall directional grip is seen better on Nitto Nomad Grappler, while the handling is seen on Toyo AT3.

This can be explained by understanding the how these tires grip in the first place.

Snowflakes basically have an interlocking structure, with their unique arms hanging out, and that’s why they attach to other snow particles with ease, so instead of rubber to snow contact, a good tire on snow would prefer gripping on snow with the lodged snow in the grooves.

Nomad Grappler does it better in the middle (part of the tread), so it provides you with shorter braking distances and acceleration efficiency, while the Open Country AT3 provides the same on shoulders, yielding better lateral traction with it.

Off Road Traction

Different terrains on rugged paths present unique challenges for tires, which is why I evaluated both tires in all of these conditions.

On Mud

A tire’s capability to handle muddy conditions is closely tied to its tread design, and the size of its grooves play a critical role. Narrow grooves result in mud packing and loss of traction, while wider grooves allow for efficient mud evacuation and better traction.

That’s why although you don’t see good enough performance on both of these tires with closed up lugs, you can still expect a little bit more out of Toyo AT3.

This is because the tire provides you with a better web of grooves running in all directions. Whereas Nitto Nomad Grappler features very closed up shoulder lugs, not allowing mud to leave out laterally.

For Your Info: Out of all A/T tires, Goodyear Duratrac provides the best mud traction. Review the tire here.

On Rocks

The optimal tire for rocky terrain should feature gripping abilities in all directions. That’s why out of both tires you see a superior performance on Nitto Nomad Grappler.

The tire basically provides interlocking lugs in the middle with full depth interlocking sipes. These U shaped lugs provide a mixture of vertical and lateral grip, while the full depth sipes further split open the blocks providing chewing abilities.

Moreover, although you get less aggressive shoulder lugs on the tire, the outer margins are pretty biting, as you get dual sidewall design on each side of the tire, presenting you with thicker lugs on both, and saw-toothed shoulder edges, where each lug is serrated on itself.

These features provide additional climbing abilities, especially with lowered air pressure (which also enhanced the footprint of the sidewall lugs by expanding them).

The Toyo AT3 although features decent biters, they are only seen in the middle, as on shoulders/sidewalls you don’t get ample biters nor bulky enough sidewall lugs.

On Gravel and Dirt

Off-road tires that lack self-cleaning grooves are at a disadvantage on gravely roads, where sharp stone can get lodged in the tread causing harm and losing traction values.

And even though both tires are missing with stone ejectors, the Toyo Open Country AT3 having an open design out of the two, manages that in a better way still.

Nitto Nomad Grappler is very prone to getting stuck with stones on the other hand, and it’s packed up shoulders and interlocking central section isn’t helping. So it’s handling times is lower compared to Toyo AT3.

On Sand

Sand driving necessitates reducing the air pressure of the tire, as this basically improves the contact patch, and allows for flotation. Though there are some tread features that help to that.

And that includes being lighter in weight and having a softer tread with ample sidewall lugs. And all of these features are provided by Nomad Grappler, as it rubber is more malleable, it’s lighter in weight, as it comes only in XL sizes, and supplies with dual sidewall lugs (with thicker pattern on both sides).

Toyo Open Country AT3 on the other side digs more due to it’s larger weight, and sharper (shoulder) sides.


Out of both tires, although their dry traction is on par, wet traction is seen better on Nitto Nomad Grappler, as the tire features superior siping, which also provide enhanced winter traction.

And off-road, it provides superior sand traction.

Toyo Open Country AT3 on the other side, is better with tread wear, and provides you with a quieter ride, and although it’s mud and rocky terrain traction is not so great, its still better in comparison.

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