Knowing the best off-road tire to use on your 4WD truck or Jeep can be a challenge.
There are many tires available today, each designed for a specific purpose as well as the more common all-terrain tires designed to be useful for multiple off-roading activities.
Most off-roaders who enjoy a variety of obstacles and trails on the weekends choose all-terrain tires; however, they may not always be the right choice if you like to go muddin’.
If you’re serious about playing in the mud and want to really challenge yourself, you need to get a set of dedicated mud-terrain tires so you can drive in and actually come out the other side.
Are All-Terrain Tires Enough for Your Muddin' Treks?
Like the name suggests, all-terrain or AT tires provide decent traction on a variety of surfaces.
They are designed to aid traction for water fording, lower level hill and rock climbing, driving through some mud, snow, and sand, and just about any other surface you might come across in your off-roading adventures.
They are ideal for the weekend off-road warrior who wants to try a little bit of everything without getting too extreme.
Yet when it comes driving through the mud, the amount of success you have with your AT tires will depend on how deep the mud is, the type of mud you try to go through, along with many other factors.
Generally speaking, while you may be able to get through some thinner, watery mud or shallow mud with a definite, solid bottom with your AT tires, anything beyond that and your treads will fill up, causing your tires to spin.
The Big Difference Between All-Terrain and Mud-Terrain Tires
If one of your off-roading goals is to hit every mud hole you come across, you should invest in mud-terrain or MT tires; these will get you through that mud more easily.
Designed with mudding in mind, the big difference is that MT tires have chunkier, deeper, and wider treads called lugs that can grip without holding onto the mud.
Instead of the treads and your fenders immediately filling up with mud and causing your tires to spin, the lugs on MT tires allow the mud to fling off so they can keep gripping and you don’t lose forward momentum.
The more extreme mud bogging you do, the more extreme your MT tires will need to be.
This generally makes them unsuitable for other uses where you need closer treads that can grip rock and provide superior traction on other surfaces.
There Are Some Disadvantages to MT Tires, Too
Before you rush out to get a set of mud-terrain tires so you can satisfy your muddin’ urges, keep in mind the fact that they are unsuitable for other types of off-roading, not too good on the highway, very noisy, and can give a rough ride.
Additionally, MT tires can reduce your fuel economy because they are heavier and require more power to keep them moving.
If you want to use MT tires along with tube doors on a daily driver, it would be wise to switch them on and off with your AT tires; however, that can be a hassle.
So - Do You Need Mud Tires?
Based on the differences in AT and MT tires, that’s probably an easier question to answer than you initially expected.
It all depends on what you want to do with your 4x4 and how badly you want to play in deep, sticky, or sloppy mud as well as what you do with your truck or Jeep when you’re not actually on the trails chasing after another mud hole.
Though you can do some basic mudding with your AT tires, when you end up getting stuck more than actually getting through any mud, it’s probably a good indicator that your AT's are not enough.
The decision you’ll need to make is to either avoid the type of mud that’s the most fun because you’ll get stuck in it or go for it with a set of mud-terrain tires that will make it through!