Most of the roads these days are tarmacked and in good condition. But once in a while, you will find yourself driving in the less-traveled paths with jagged roads. Well, once in a while may not take too much toll on the tires.
It is a different story if you live in the countryside, or you often take the graveled roads, maybe to some log cabin in the woods for some weekend peace and quiet. If that describes you, then you know most tires are not sufficient for these kinds of roads.
Besides the reduced comfort, gravel roads have longer braking distances and reduced traction.
Your tires will scream and suffer the brunt of the rough surfaces if they are not designed for it. There will be cracks and cuts that hurt the tire's overall quality and safety. You may not experience any puncture, but the injured tires will cause problems and directly affect the driving experience and safety.
But which tires are ideal for gravel roads?
Typically, tires for graveled roads are robust. They are chip and cut resistant, and their casing is as tough as can get. Their traction is excellent.
However, there is not one tire you can point at as the best overall for graveled roads. There are several, especially if you own a truck, a crossover, and an SUV. Passenger car owners don't have the same luck.
We compile a couple of the best tires for gravel roads based on various categories. Enjoy the ride.
Best Mud-Terrain/ Off-Road Tires for Gravel Roads
1.Mud-Terrain T/A KM3
BFGoodrich KM3 is as tough as nails, and it's all thanks to the Krawl-Tek compound. Its performance on gravel roads and other off-road conditions such as mud and rocks is undisturbed.
In simple terms, the mud-terrain tire is a good match if you stray off into the rocky and gravel roads, more times than would be comfortable for your everyday tire.
The stability of the KM3 is another thing to write home about, which is pretty much unlike other off-road throne contenders. The tire employs a technology developed over several generations to achieve this stability.
In addition, KM3 builds over KM2 to improve traction and handling in rocky surfaces. It builds on the sidewall durability of KM2 to have the capacity to resist chipping and holes that may come from sharp stones.
The strong off-road orientation of KM3 means that you can spend most of the driving on gravel roads and still do very little to hurt the tires. The comprehensive off-road performance is a source of confidence for most people. You can count on the tire to take you to the hills if anything like a zombie apocalypse were to happen.
The massive blocks arranged on the tread are meant to provide the best grip despite the angle you are steering the vehicle. This is especially helpful in twisty and tight rocky trails that you encounter and no alternative routes.
Its sidewall is another robust fortress featuring notched tread rolls for an extensive grip beyond the contact spot. This ensures enhanced traction even on surfaces where the gravel or rocks are bigger. In addition, the sidewall also has the most robust compound and splitting resistance in the history of the brand.
2. Cooper Evolution M/T
It is a surprise to most off-road enthusiasts that Cooper Evolution M/T is more affordable than rivals. But apart from saving your purse, these Cooper MTs are up to 10lbs lighter than MT3, which has benefits to the overall vehicle handling and experience.
You discover how much effect this weight reduction has when thrown into the rotational mass formula. But keep in mind this reduction does not affect the overall quality of the mud-terrain tires. If anything, it makes them better.
The tires boast a deeper tread depth and aggressive shoulders ready to take on the gravel you throw at the tire. At the edge of the MTs are huge lugs and alternating scoops. These blocks have a reinforced rubber compound that grips and claws at the gravel surface.
Most people tend to trust the brand as it is the best and easiest way to get quality. Cooper is the brand that has manufactured the respected off-road tires, Mickey Thompson and Dick Cepek, and that tells you a lot in terms of their commitment to quality. They do not disappoint with Evolution M/T.
Also, the MT's dry and wet performance is above average and a source of confidence for drivers exploring the graveled countryside. Their off-road performance is good as well, and that keeps you ready for anything.
The surprising thing that most people say is that they are quiet for an MT. The on-road performance during dry weather is excellent, especially when aired up to 37 psi, and whisper-quiet, as most people describe them. The only drawback is steering wheel shakes at speeds of 50 to 70, with such air filling.
The tires can feel sluggish at times when not gearing down to a lower gear ratio.
Best All-Terrain Tires for Gravel Roads
1.LTX A/T 2
So far, Michelin has been excellent in designing tires with multiple capabilities. They are especially known for their ultra-high performance category that achieves remarkably on the track and street. Their all-terrain tire category boasts real overland capabilities, and that includes gravel roads.
While the all-terrain tires are meant to be a level below the mud-terrain tires, Michelin LTX A/T 2 seems to blur this line, and it's all to the benefit of the driver exploring the graveled lands. The tires are so good in this task with the additional benefit of not having any on-road drawbacks.
Comfort Control Technology™ is an innovative technology used in LTX A/T 2 to take care of road noise. This comes in handy when riding on gravel, and it's what contributes to a comfortable ride. It may not be an intrusive hum you experience on-road, but the gravel surface noise level is better than most in its category.
Indeed, the deep and durable treads on these units announce their off-road intentions very well. Michelin's internal testing indicated a 35% improvement in tread mileage, and an optimized contact patch shape extends the life of the tire in the toughest of conditions.
The tire is in its elements even at top speeds on gravel. But what about sand and lose materials?
Typically, LTX A/T2 has biting edges that roll down the sidewall and activate as you negotiate some of the tough sections with loose sentiments and rocks. But sometimes, the tire may feel overwhelmed in steep sandy inclines.
2.Wrangler Enforcer MT
This light truck tire is ideal for drivers that are after aggressive off-road capability and decent on-roading. Wrangler Enforcer MT is stout and proven for the toughest of outdoor conditions.
If your Jeep or other truck frequents the gravel roads to someplace, you need a well-built tire, tough and lasts a long time, such as Wrangler Enforcer MT. The brand utilizes durawall technology that makes it tough to resist sidewall punctures and cuts from sharp stones. The sidewall is also reinforced with DuPont Kevlar to give you the confidence to drive into uncharted territories.
On the other hand, an optimized tread design and wraparound tread enhance the gravel or mud surface contact. Thus, the hard work from the tread translates to aggressive traction on sand, mud, and gravel. Its asymmetric tread design is innovative and therefore up to the task.
Surprisingly, the tires have better on-road handling than their peers in the category. For wet traction, whether on gravel or other surfaces, the tires have silica.
That means these tires have the quality to get you out of hairy situations when you are on an off-road adventure with close friends. However, the tires have some level of on-road noise, which is not unexpected. Noise is usually the cost you pay for having deep treaded and good-quality mud-terrain and off-road tires.
Best Highway Tires for Gravel Roads
1.Defender LTX M/S
Michelin Defender LTX M/S uses the excellent tread depth and tread pattern from the original Defender passenger tire to a good effect. Combining Michelin's Evertread technology and an all-season tread compound, the tire resists wear and tear usually accelerated by poor road conditions.
On the other hand, its performance under heavy payloads is satisfactory. According to Michelin, the new tread performs better than the original LTX M/S2. It also lasts longer than most of the competition in the highway tire category.
At the back of the mind, you can't help but wonder how the tire will hold up in gravel road conditions. The answer lies with the Michelin Evertread compound, which makes the tire as tough as nails. This compound is molded into the tire's tread blocks and asymmetric design, and this makes the treads strong and grips for gravel and other off-road environments.
Most of the tire's strength is in the wet and dry traction. This includes performance on gravel roads. Its full-depth sipes and circumferential grooves enhance the grip in snow and rain, even on gravel roads. Toughness and traction are not areas to complain about with Defender LTX M/S, especially against tough road conditions.
It is not every day that you find tires that perform well on gravel and still deliver a quieter and smoother ride. MaxTouch Construction inside the tire distributes the forces of braking, acceleration, and cornering forces for better control on the road. These support an increased resistance to rolling when driving.
But on the downsides, this is not a cheap tire and may not perform optimally on a long time driving on gravel roads.
2.Cooper Discoverer H/T Plus
The all-season light truck tire combines long life, confident handling, and grip in poor weather to deliver the best for you. The year-round traction allows you to exercise some freedom on the road without worrying about how the weather will turn out later in the day.
Discoverer H/T Plus has an asymmetric tread pattern and utilizes an all-season tread compound to support easy rotation. This enhances the resistance to uneven wear and therefore extends their usable life. That means your occasional overtures into the badlands do not take so much toll on the tires.
Indeed, the combination of lateral notches and broader circumferential grooves remove the water on the contact patch to resist the chances of hydroplaning. The sipes within the blocks create the biting edges necessary for traction in wet and snowy conditions. Of course, wet and snowy conditions can happen on gravel roads and make the road slippery. The small stones on gravel roads can get even more slippery than on city roads.
Tires for Gravel Roads: Buying Guide
Tires from established brands do not come on the cheap, but their performance always makes them worth the investment. Obviously, most people will be tempted to choose the cheap tire options, especially with the pandemic and tough economic situation, but that is never the best decision.
It is even critical if you will often be driving on gravel surfaces. Don't just pick any tire. Buy from reputable tire makers, and you will be much safer, and the driving experience will be worth looking forward to.
People that frequent gravel roads need the sort of tires that can handle it without any issue, and all-terrain tires tick the boxes. These tires will cushion your ride on gravel surfaces and better safety. The tread patterns and depth on all-terrain tires are not too aggressive, and this works well on gravel surfaces.
The tires provide good braking performance and high-speed stability, two of the most important qualities. All-terrain tires also demonstrate good performance on wet gravel based on good road contact.
But the tires are good on gravel surfaces and mud, sand, and rocks. They will treat you well as you ride into off terrains and other less-traveled places.
Having all-terrain tires may be your only option if you own a midsize truck or SUV.
Keep in mind that all-terrain tires are not better than highway tires for on-road driving. If you rarely go the graveled roadway, stick with your highway tires, and you'll have the best driving experience.
Highway tires have their best performance on the highway and other tarmacked surfaces. They are much better than touring tires in terms of toughness and capability to carry heavy loads. After all, they are designed for trucks and SUVs.
The modern highway tires are quite robust and will resist chipping and cracks. That means an occasional ride to your folks who live upcountry will not take a lot of toll on them, and it's all thanks to their strong casing, which you will not find in touring tires on passenger vehicles.
Their traction on gravel surfaces isn't so bad, and they are less likely to have a puncture. But in most cases, you will need to drive safely. Don't be tempted to test their limits on gravel roads.
Off-road tires and mud-terrain tires are the bad boys when riding on any surfaces other than the tarmacked roads. They are designed for optimal performance when off-roading.
Off-road tires will give you the best performance on gravel roads, and you can have all the confidence. They are better than the all-terrain tires in that aspect.
But if you are not an off-road enthusiast and will only be driving on gravel roads, you may get much on-road dynamics from all-terrain tires and highway tires. Off-Road tires tend to be noisy, are expensive, and their braking performance is not the best. You may also find them cumbersome around the corners.