Why We Drive On All Terrain Tires Practical Points For Truck Campers & Other Overland Rigs
While whizzing down the byways of Death Valley National Park, we encounter a couple searching for their jack. The road may have been rated for two-wheel drive, low clearance vehicles but traction was not the trouble here. Flat as the road may have been, the sharp rocks had shredded the standard road tires on the compact car. It’s a problem that plenty of people encounter while wandering from the pavement. But, fortunately, we haven’t had a flat from rough trails in the 7 years we have been driving our truck.* And a lot of that is thanks to our all terrain tires.
A Controversial Take
Right off the bat, we want to be clear: there is no single best tire that everyone should have. Different styles of tires serve different purposes. While all-terrain tires are incredibly useful, they also tend to be more expensive and less fuel-efficient than road tires. At the same time, all terrains have less grip than mud tires or other specialized treads.
Similarly, I know that the question of “what brand or make of tires” can be contentious. Some tires do perform better than others. Some brands have more reliable histories than others. But a lot of the bluster and bravado expressed by confident tire absolutists can have more to do with ego than knowledge of quality. So, I’ll share what tires we have used to give context without definitive judgment. There are a lot of tires we haven’t tried. But those that we have, we have appreciated. And considering some of the horror stories we have heard from others travelers, I think that is meaningful in itself.
Our Journey To All Terrains
Our tire selection has evolved with our rig and lifestyle. We only have one vehicle. We use our truck for everything from daily errands to offroad adventures. So we don’t have the luxury of a small commuter car for daily use and an over-equipped monster for the weekends. Our truck serves both purposes and so do our tires.
In the early days, our trucks’ factory road tires were enough for our needs. We drove on them for three years until they gave up the ghost in 2019. During that time, we mostly stuck to the pavement. We explored the occasional dirt road but only for relatively short day trips. By the time we needed new tires, however, we knew that we needed more than just another pair of the same. We explored longer and more technically difficult trails. In so doing, we recognized that our gear needed to evolve with our ambition. We needed recovery gear, sturdy mounts, better lighting, and more durable tires.
We even flirted with mud tires. They have impressive traction and could roll through trouble spots with little disruption. And, heck, they’d look pretty awesome. But we spend too much time on the highway to justify the poor gas mileage and loud roar that comes with the traction of mud tires.
Goodyear Wrangler UtraTerrain AT Tires
All terrains have been our sweet spot. In 2019, we had the exhilarating opportunity to work with Goodyear to promote their Goodyear Wrangler UltraTerrain AT tires. It was perfect timing. We needed new tires and were just gearing up for our first deep dive exploring Colorado. There is no way we would have risked taking the Rim Rocker Trail from Montrose, Colorado to Moab, Utah without a set of all terrains. And they performed beautifully.
New Wheels, New Tires
Frankly, our latest upgrade at the end of 2021 was premature. Our Goodyears still had plenty of tread on them. But we had something new up our sleeves. Because, despite all that strong tread, there was still a limited amount that made contact with the trail. We wanted to change that by investing in smaller wheels and larger tires. We already had our eyes on a set of Method Racing Wheels 305s. But what about the tires?
Goodrich KO2 All Terrain Tires
Fortunately, we were just in time for Overland Expo East 2021. After quizzing all the tire booths we settled on BF Goodrich KO2s. Not only do the treads take these all terrain tires to the next level’ but they are shockingly quiet on the highway.
With a few months on the road, we can look back and feel pleased. Sure, we drive a big truck with our home in the bed, but gas economy still matters to us, and these tires have minimized the friction on highways that often inflates a gas bill. At the same time, they have performed well biting into the trails we explored over the spring.
Knowing Our Limitations
Of course, All terrains aren’t bulletproof. We’ve turned away on many trails to avoid getting stuck in sand or mud or harming the tires with exceptionally sharp rocks. In exploring Nevada’s Big Sand Dune Recreational Area we knew when to turn based on the slipping of the tires. Sure, we could see Jeeps in the distance tearing up the dunes. But we aren’t light enough or have the traction of those rigs.
“All Terrain” is a generalization. Of course, there are still places we cannot go. But with these tires, we are able to reasonably cover the greatest diversity of terrain. They walk the line between power and practicality. And that’s always the zone where we have felt most comfortable.
*We did have a flat from a screw. But that’s our fault for not properly cleaning up our workspace.