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OR 101: Which Tire To Choose

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Which tire to choose?
With over 40,000 miles on our original BFG All Terrain tires, discussions of what our next tire should be have begun at FJC Magazine headquarters. A quick Google of ‘off road tires’ yields more than 300,000 results, so we won’t find any answers there. Heading to the wheels & tires section on FJCruiserForums.com shows a little more promise. There are dozens of discussions on virtually every option. Still, the tire you choose is (like many things in the FJ world) a little like religion. That’s true for us as well, our family has owned seven different 4x4 vehicles in the last 10 years, and we’ve run the BFG A/T tires on all of them.all tires

As we’ve grown in the sport of 4x4 driving and have attended many more events and trail runs, our thoughts on what make a good tire have changed a little. First, we want a tire that will perform above average on the street, since our FJ is a daily driver. We also want very good all weather performance. In Colorado, we drive through rain, snow, and ice very regularly, often all on the same day. Any tire we choose must perform well in all these conditions.
Off road performance is obviously very important as well. We’re not into the idea of changing our tires every time we want to do a trail run, so we need a tire that does as well off road as it does on the pavement. While we spend much of our time on rocks here in Colorado, we've had more than a few muddy days in the last year or two. We want a tire that will perform adequately in muddy conditions, so we don’t end up stuck somewhere with no way out. Our next set of tires should also look good. After all, our FJ is the branding for this magazine. A sharp, aggressive tread pattern is an essential feature of the next set of tires we choose.

Plenty of options
Luckily for us, in the last few years several ‘hybrid’ off road tires have been introduced. Manufacturers’ marketing information points out that these hybrid tires have great on road AND off road performance. New blends of rubber that wear longer and provide more traction promise to give us everything we want. Factory siping is supposed to help overcome the poor wet & icy performance of previous mud terrain tires. Nearly every manufacturer has some type of hybrid that looks great and should provide good performance. Which one do we choose?

We’ve narrowed the list down to these six options.
The pros & cons listed below have been gathered from around the internet, and are not guaranteed to be accurate.

Toyo Open Country M/T
Avg Rating: 8.2/10
What people are saying:
Pros: They're sturdy, very puncture resistant, plenty of great reviews
Cons: A little noisy on the highway, heavy, pricey
Avg Price: $239/ea (285/75R16)

Nitto Trail Grappler
Avg Rating: Not Available (Terra & Mud Grappler Avg Rating: 8.5/10)
What people are saying:
Pros: Unavailable, but both the Terra & Mud Grappler have had great reviews & are inexpensive
Cons:  Unavailable, but the Terra may be stiffer than needed, the Mud Grapplers seems to wear fast
Avg Price: AROUND $170-200/ea (285/70R16)

Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac
Avg Rating: 8.6/10
What people are saying:
Pros: Quiet, good hybrid choice, good rain performance
Cons:  Little stiff, since they’re relatively new, long term wear data is not available yet
Avg Price: $187/ea (285/75R16)

BFGoodrich M/T T/A KM2
Avg Rating: 8.7/10
What people are saying:
Pros: Amazing off road capability, very aggressive tread
Cons: Not great in snow & ice, wear quickly
Avg Price: $228/ea (285/75R16)

Firestone Destination M/T
Avg Rating: 9.0/10
What people are saying:
Pros:  Wear well, inexpensive, heavy duty sidewall
Cons: A little noisy, not as much ride control as other tires
Avg Price: $190/ea (285/75R16)

Pro Comp Xterrain
Avg Rating: 7.0/10
What people are saying:
Pros: Wear well, good off road performance
Cons: Not great in ice & snow, a little noisy, expensive
Avg Price: $243/ea (285/75R16)

So now that we have all the specs, details, and reviews, we can figure out which tire will be best for us. If you’re thinking of new tires, which set will you go with? Checkout the poll at www.fjc-mag.com and let us know your thoughts. In the January 2010 issue, we’ll reveal which set we went with and cover the install as well. Don’t miss it!

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