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In the past ten years, there has been a meteoric rise in the popularity of off-roading, primarily attributable to the widespread availability of SUVs and trucks. One of the greatest things about off-roading is that it takes place on a variety of terrains, each of which presents its own set of obstacles to overcome. When it comes to that, rock crawling is likely the most challenging, tricky, and complicated type of off-road territory there is.
Because of this, you will see individuals utilizing nothing but the most capable off-road SUVs and trucks for the purposes described here. You will need a vehicle that has a low range gearbox in addition to a 4×4 system that has a 50:50 distribution if you want to be successful at rock climbing. In addition, the suspension of your vehicle needs to be raised and outfitted with a lot of travel if you want it to perform well over large rocks. This is an essential component.
Having said that, even the most capable off-road SUV in the world will not be able to successfully rock crawl if it does not have the appropriate tires. If you want your rock crawler to have the greatest amount of traction possible, having good rock crawler tires is more essential than having a good suspension or powertrain.
The fact of the matter is, however, that there are a wide variety of off-road tires available on the market today. Some of them concentrate more on driving on streets and highways, while others are more concerned with driving on conditions that are slick, such as mud. Because of this, it can be challenging to locate the appropriate tire, which is particularly true if you are making your first purchase of tires for rock crawling.
It is true that there are some specialized rock crawling tires, and it is also true that using those tires will provide you with the absolute finest performance. On the other hand, those tires can be quite pricey, particularly when one takes into account the fact that they cannot be used on any other surfaces, such as when one is traveling on the road. This indicates that you will most likely need to replace them on a regular basis or restrict the use of your vehicle to mountain crawling activities only.
The good news is that you can have a fantastic time playing rock crawler if you equip your vehicle with a pair of off-road tires that are rated for maximum traction, mud terrain, or all-terrain. You simply need to be aware of what to keep an eye out for. Rock crawling enthusiasts with years of experience can tell just by glancing at a tire whether or not it is appropriate for rock crawling.
Looking at the tread pattern and the specification document of a set of rock crawler tires is all it takes to learn how to identify excellent tires for use on these vehicles. In order to be of assistance to you, we have compiled a comprehensive purchasing guide on off-road tires. In this guide, we will explain all of the differences that exist between the many different types of tires that are suitable for rock crawling.
However, before we get into the purchasing guide, we will first provide you with our curated selection of the best rock crawling tires that are currently on the market. Tires designed specifically for rock crawling will be included on that list, along with mud-terrain tires, all-terrain tires, and off-road tires with optimum traction. This manner, we will be able to meet the requirements of the majority of off-road enthusiasts, including both experienced rock crawlers and novices.
Just a brief reminder that you can support our website simply by purchasing tires directly from the links that we provide. In this manner, we will be able to continue writing articles such as this one and providing you with useful advice regarding tires for a wide variety of vehicles. Let’s get right down to business and find out which tires are the most effective for mountain crawling.
The 10 Best Rock Crawling Tires for Off-Roading Available in 2023
Best Specialized Rock Crawling Tires
1. BFGoodrich Krawler TA KX
One of the few specialized rock-crawling tires that are currently available on the market is the BF Goodrich Krawler TA KX, which features extreme adhesion as a key feature.
This tire is without a doubt the most suitable option for mountain crawling. As a result of this, a great number of industry professionals use the Krawler for rock-crawling competitions and specialized rock crawlers.
This tire is an absolute champion when it comes to providing the driver with high levels of traction over pebbles thanks to its exceptionally rugged construction as well as the large and sturdy tread blocks.
In spite of this, the Krawler is not a good choice for driving on the freeway because it lacks stability and has poor grip. In addition, BF Goodrich requests a sizeable sum of cash in exchange for the tire. Nevertheless, we were quite surprised to find out that such a high-quality rock-crawling product was so reasonably priced.
- Best-in-class traction for rock crawling
- Super tough construction
- Excellent durability
- Legal for street driving
- Subpar handling on the street
2. Mickey Thompson Baja Claw
Another tire developed with rock crawling in mind is called the Baja Claw, and it’s one of several options available. Mickey Thompson went so far as to use a bias-belted construction in this tire, which contributes to the tire’s incredible tenacity and resilience.
It is unnecessary to state that the Baja Claw offers the driver exceptional traction for rock crawling; in fact, it is almost on level with the BF Goodrich Krawler in this regard.
The Mickey Thompson rock-crawling tire is designed to perform well on a variety of surfaces, including mud, soil, and gravel in addition to rock. The directional tread provides additional assistance when driving over snow, which is something that is most definitely appreciated.
In spite of this, the Mickey Thompson Baja Claw performs even more poorly on the road than the BF Goodrich Krawler does, and this is particularly the case when driving on the highway.
- Outstanding traction for rock crawling
- Excellent traction on other off-road surfaces
- Extremely durable bias-belted construction
Best Maximum Traction Off-Road and Mud-Terrain Tires for Rock Crawling
3. Goodyear Wrangler MT/R with Kevlar
The Wrangler MT/R is by far the finest off-road tire for rock crawling. This is primarily due to the incredibly rugged construction with Kevlar, which makes the tire virtually indestructible. Even if driven over very large rocks, this tire will not readily become punctured as a consequence of the aforementioned factor.
In addition, the sizable and rigid tread blocks will give you excellent traction, almost on par with what you’d get from the first two tires on this list. On top of that, the Wrangler MT/R performs exceptionally well on any type of terrain found off-road, and it can even be used on paved roads.
Having said that, the Wrangler MT/R does not perform as well when driving in the weather or rain.
- Great for rock crawling
- Outstanding off-road traction
- Extra tough and durable
- Very good high-speed stability
- Wet traction and braking could be better
- Snow traction could be better
4. BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3
The BFGoodrich KM3 is not only the finest tire available for mud-terrain driving, but it also performs well when used for rock crawling.
This product is ideal for driving over large rocks due to its durable construction and massive tread blocks. In addition to this, the tire will provide you with exceptional traction on a variety of other off-road conditions.
When it comes to handling and braking, the KM3 performs admirably both on the street and on the freeway; however, on the highway, it can be quite noisy.
- Excellent traction for rock crawling
- Outstanding mud-terrain performance
- Excellent on any terrain
- Tough and durable
5. Cooper Discoverer STT Pro
The Discoverer STT Pro is an extremely durable off-road tire that has a radial construction and a third ply that is angled at an 8-degree inclination. It is manufactured by Discoverer Tire. Because of this, even the jaggedest rocks won’t cause this tire any problems; it can easily withstand them without getting injured.
In addition, the massive tread blocks not only offer superior traction over rocks, but also over other types of off-road terrain. The STT Pro excels at the street chores that are required of tires, in contrast to the majority of rock-crawling tires. Snow traction is the one and only area in which we feel there is room for development.
- Outstanding traction for rock crawling
- Exceptional traction in mud
- Very good traction on hardpacked surfaces
- Good handling and braking on the street
- Subpar traction over snowy surfaces
6. Dick Cepek Extreme Country
The name Dick Cepek is well known among people who participate in rock climbing, primarily as a result of the exceptional Extreme Country tire that he developed.
You will have an easy time climbing over pebbles of varying sizes thanks to the traction offered by this product. In addition, the tough carcass has excellent resistance to punctures, slashes, and chipping because of its brittleness.
The Dick Cepek Extreme Country has an aggressive tread compound, which allows it to perform exceptionally well on a variety of other off-road conditions.
The on-road handling and stopping performance also left us with a positive impression. On the freeway, however, traveling through the Extreme Country is an unpleasant and noisy experience.
- Excellent traction over rocks
- Very tough and durable construction
- Outstanding mud-terrain traction
- Reasonably good handling on the street
- Noisy on the highway
- Uncomfortable ride
Best All-Terrain Tires for Rock Crawling
7. Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure with Kevlar
The All-Terrain Wrangler and its Kevlar construction make an excellent combination for rock climbing, just like their off-road counterpart does. In addition to being resistant to punctures, cuts, and chipping, this tire is also able to be operated on at very low pressures.
You will have excellent traction not only when driving over rocks, but also when driving over mud and other off-road conditions thanks to the aggressive tread compound. Having said that, the performance on sand is a little bit worse.
This is one of the safest all-terrain tires to use on the street, but there is still a problem with noise when driving on the freeway. The treadwear warranty of 60,000 miles is exceptional for an all-terrain tire, which is a favorable aspect of this product.
- Usable on every off-road surface
- Surprisingly good on the road
- Usable in light snow
- Best-in-class 60,000-mile treadwear warranty
- Not the best tread pattern for sand driving
- Highway noise
8. BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2
The BFGoodrich KO2 was widely regarded as the industry standard for many years as the finest all-terrain tire currently available. Even though most of the other companies in the market have caught up to the KO2, it is still an outstanding product.
This is particularly true for rock crawling, an activity that benefits greatly from the extremely durable construction and aggressive tread pattern of the tires.
The KO2 performs exceptionally well on a variety of other terrains, including mud, gravel, and soil. In addition, the tire has a fantastic treadwear guarantee that is good for 50,000 miles and performs very well on both city streets and highways.
Having said that, the KO2 is not hard to hear while driving on the freeway.
- Outstanding off-road abilities
- Extremely durable and strong
- 50,000-mile treadwear warranty
- Very good on-road traction
- Far from the quietest all-terrain tire
9. Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ P3
Mickey Thompson is well-known in the tire industry for manufacturing high-quality all-terrain tires. The ultra-robust construction and aggressive tread pattern of their Baja ATZ P3 variant make it an excellent choice for rock crawling, which is one of the most popular uses for these tires.
The Baja ATZ P3 is an exceptionally helpful vehicle for traversing sandy terrain, muddy terrain, clay terrain, and gravel terrain. Additionally, the tire functions exceptionally well on the road, both when it is dry and when it is wet.
Having said that, despite the fact that the Baja ATZ P3 has deep tread grooves, it is not the best option for driving in the snow.
- Excellent off-road traction
- Good rock-crawling capabilities
- Outstanding on sand
- Tough and durable
- Surprisingly useful on the road
10. Falken Wildpeak AT3W
Because of its deep and aggressive tread pattern, the Falken Wildpeak AT3W is one of the best all-terrain tires for traveling off-road and is among the best all-terrain tires overall.
Rock crawling requires dependable stability, which is provided by the aggressive tread pattern combined with the durable construction.
In addition, the tire performs admirably on other terrains, such as soil and mud, and it also deftly manages the tasks associated with driving on the street.
Having said that, you will still encounter more commotion in comparison to what you would get from some road-focused all-terrain tires.
- Usable in most off-road conditions
- Good on-road stability and responsiveness
- Excellent in the snow
- Outstanding 55,000-mile treadwear warranty
What to Look for When Buying the Best Rock Crawling Tires
1. How to Recognize Good Rock Crawling Tires
When looking to buy rock crawling tires, the quality of the tire’s durability is the single most essential factor to consider. Having tires that can withstand being cut by sharp rocks is of the uttermost importance because rubber is easily penetrated by sharp rocks.
But how can one determine whether or not a tire is durable? You can take a peek at the spec sheet and see what the tire’s load rating is. You should look for qualities like puncture-resistance, cut- and chip-resistance, and chip-resistance in rock crawler tires, and most tire manufacturers will inform you whether or not the carcass of the tire has those qualities.
Then, tires that have load ratings that are higher are able to readily withstand significantly more beating before becoming punctured. In general, tires with greater load ratings have sidewalls that are more rigid and a construction that is more robust. The higher up you go, the better off you will be because sharp rocks, for instance, can put any tire’s weight rating capability to the test.
In addition, in order to achieve the highest possible level of traction, you should search for blocks on the tread pattern of the tires that are both sizable and rigid. Rock crawling is not a good use for off-road tires with smaller tread blocks because those tires will slide frequently. In addition, tires that have large tread blocks have the ability to retain stones, which is a very essential quality for rock crawling tires to have.
Skinny vs. Wide Tires
For mountain crawling, either narrow or wide tires can be an effective choice. Your vehicle will be significantly more nimble if it has skinny tires, and you will have greater control over where on the course you position it. On the other hand, having broad tires will make your vehicle less agile, but it will have better traction.
Because the answer to this question is different for each individual motorist, we are unable to provide a definitive answer to you at this time. It is in your best interest to give both choices a shot to determine which one is better suited to your driving technique before settling on the size.
Radial vs. Bias-Ply Tires
Some tire manufacturers offer bias-ply tires, which are designed to give you optimal reliability even when driving over large rocks. This fundamental tire construction should not be used for on-road applications; radials are much superior in that respect. Despite this, bias-ply tires continue to be significantly more durable, which is an advantage when traveling over large and jagged pebbles.
However, choosing bias-ply tires rather than other types of tires comes with a number of drawbacks. These tires are virtually worthless on the road, particularly when driven at faster speeds. In addition to this, they are notorious for being extremely noisy and uncomfortable over bumps. In spite of this, there is no denying the undeniable truth that they are significantly more useful for rock crawling.
As a consequence of this, we only suggest bias-ply tires to genuine rock-crawling enthusiasts or to anyone who has the financial means to purchase two separate pairs of tires.
2. Specialized Rock Crawling Tires are By Far the Best Choice, but They Have Some Disadvantages
The majority of specialized rock climbing tires have a bias-ply construction, which in and of itself is associated with a number of drawbacks. The most significant issue is the terrible performance while driving on public roads. Bias-ply rock crawling tires have extremely inadequate levels of grip and traction, which becomes particularly problematic at higher speeds.
Having said that, certain manufacturers, such as BF Goodrich, chose for a radial construction for their crawling models. Other manufacturers followed this trend. Because of this, the business guarantees that the tire is suitable for use on the street as well as the highway.
Radial crawling tires, on the other hand, feature additional sidewall plies in addition to steel belts to increase their durability over rough territory. Because of this, they are still less suitable for use on paved roads when compared to equivalent mud-terrain or maximum-traction off-road tires.
To summarize everything, it is best to steer clear of these tires if you use your SUV or pickup for activities other than rock crawling. These tires are designed specifically for that type of terrain. On the other hand, if you want to construct the most effective rock-crawling vehicle imaginable, these tires are your best and only option by a wide margin.
3. Maximum Traction Off-Road Tires are the Best Alternative
Off-road tires with maximum traction are intended to be used on any surface, including hardpacked surfaces, mud, sand, and large rocks. These tires are versatile enough to be used almost anywhere. In addition, the fact that these tires are constructed using radial technology makes them suitable for use both on the road and in the city.
These tires have a very sturdy construction, and the majority of them are impervious to puncturing, as well as cutting and chipping. Additionally, these tires have large tread blocks, which can provide you with additional traction for traveling over very large rocks. This is a benefit for those who live in areas with a lot of rocks.
The fact that these tires do not set you back a fortune to purchase and that they are readily accessible is the best thing about them. They aren’t exactly inexpensive, but they might be the last set of tires you ever need for your SUV. This is due to the fact that they perform well not only in warm circumstances, but also in cold weather and over snow.
4. Mud-Terrain Tires are Excellent for Rock Crawling as Well
Off-road tires designed for optimal traction are, in many respects, analogous to mud-terrain tires. They have very large tread blocks that provide increased traction in dirt, a sturdy construction that is resistant to punctures, cuts, and chipping, and they are also resistant to tearing.
Although, as a whole, they might not be as good as maximum traction off-road tires, there are still some versions that will do an excellent job for rock crawling. Overall, they might not be as good. Our selection of the best tires, which can be found above, includes those particular models.
The greatest feature of mud-terrain tires is that in addition to performing exceptionally well on other kinds of terrain, they are particularly effective when used in muddy conditions. Mud-terrain tires are also very effective on the road, and they offer the motorist a ride that is both secure and steady as a result.
5. Some All-Terrain Tires Might be a Good Option for Amateur Rock Crawlers
There are some exceptional versions of all-terrain tires that can still do a good job over rocks, even though they are not the best option for rock crawling. Simply make it a point to search for tires that have a tread pattern that is more aggressive and bigger tread blocks. Verify that the tread on the tires is resistant to being sliced and chipped, as well as whether or not they can withstand punctures.
On hardpacked surfaces, all-terrain tires will perform exceptionally well, while they will perform very well on dirt or sand. In addition, these tires are the best ones for use on roads because they offer a high degree of grip and traction, responsive handling, and a comfortable ride for the driver.
6. How to Prepare for Rock Crawling
To get the most out of your rock climbing experience, thorough preparation is absolutely necessary. To put it another way, if you do not make the necessary adjustments, not even the finest rock crawler tires will be able to provide you with adequate traction. In addition, if you do not correctly set up your vehicle, you run the chance of causing damage to the tires.
When driving over large rocks, you should always travel with lower tire pressures. This is especially important for performance. Taking advantage of the elasticity of the rubber, the tire will be able to contour itself around the rocks in this manner. If you apply an excessive amount of pressure, you run the danger of puncturing the tires. Having said that, you shouldn’t use very low pressure because there is a chance that the tire will completely separate from the rim seam if you do. Ten to fourteen pounds per square inch is the pressure range that we recommend using.
In addition to the tires, the following are some additional helpful hints that will assist you in better preparing for the upcoming adventure:
- It is imperative that you perform routine maintenance on your vehicle if you do not want to find yourself stranded in the center of the desert.
- Bring along a gauge and oxygen compressor of the highest quality. In this manner, you will not only be able to accurately measure the pressure that is currently present within your tires, but you will also be able to re-inflate them to their normal operating pressure before you set out on the road.
- It is strongly suggested that you bring a companion along for the ride. When looking at the terrain from the outside, having a companion can provide an additional set of eyes that can help you identify sharp rocks. It is without a doubt not a good idea to participate in the activity of rock crawling by yourself.
- Always carry along sufficient amounts of food and beverages. In the event that you find yourself stranded somewhere, it is a good idea to carry phone chargers as well as external batteries.
The final piece of direction we can give you is to reduce your speed. In contrast to other forms of motorsport, the primary objective of rock climbing is to move at an extremely snail’s-pace. And even if you really put your foot down on the gas button, it won’t make any difference in where you end up going. In point of fact, driving carelessly over significant rocks is extremely hazardous. Be kind, and you will accomplish more than you ever imagined you were capable of doing!
The activity of rock crawling appears to garner an increasing number of followers on an annual basis. Because of this, tire manufacturers all over the world have come out with a plethora of new products that are designed to fulfill the needs of rock crawlers.
Having said that, we strongly advise consumers to adhere with well-established, reputable manufacturers. Off-road tires that are inexpensive and typically made in China might look like a decent option on paper, but in practice, they are not even close to being competitive.
In addition to this, they won’t be able to be used for nearly as long, which may cause their overall cost to be higher. In addition, mountain crawling can easily puncture these tires, which is not something you want to happen when you’re in the middle of nowhere.
Last but not least, prioritizing safety should be your top priority whenever you embark on a new excursion, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get ready. And don’t forget to enjoy yourself immensely!