Sand driving is a driving discipline which has a lot of small caveats and expertise thrown into it. Anyone who plans on driving seriously in the sand, either as a regular past time or because work requires them to, must get a tire suited for driving in the sand. Driving in the sand differs completely from any other type of road, with it having a potential to be the softest road out of them all. This means that if you aren’t all that careful, you will end up stuck in the sand, probably in the middle of nowhere. To avoid this at all costs, get a tire capable of sand driving.
Best Mud-Terrain Tires for Sand Driving
1.Toyo Tires Open Country R/T
Sand Performance: 9 Noise and Comfort: 5 Handling: 9 Traction: 8
Mud-Terrain Tires are one of the best choices available as a sand tire, and the Toyo Tires Open Country R/T is one of the best of the bunch. The tread block design is specially created to be self-cleaning which translates beautifully into sand ejection capabilities. The tread blocks also have a special design in mind, having a bunch of sharp edges with intricate shapes designed to create an additional contact area for you and the sand. The large grooves make plenty of room for the sand to flow through, making the tread blocks act like paddles.
The winter performance is poorer, which in this case is a good indicator of a tougher rubber. A tougher rubber means that warmer climates won’t make it turn into mush, which is perfect for driving in the warm sands of a desert or a beach. The tire is also designed to be driven on sharp rocks, so any puny shells won’t stand a chance to the Open Country R/T. This translates into good puncture resistance so you’re safe to drive to your heart’s content. A very important point to a sand driving tire is tough sidewalls. This is the case because you must use really low tire pressures for extra grip, and the Open Country R/T does this job marvelously. The engineers over at Toyo Tires made the sidewalls extra durable by using extra lugs and rubber reinforcement pieces.
Where the tire is obviously lacking is comfort, but no one should expect a sand tire to be comfortable or quiet. Bear in mind that compared to other sand tires and mud tires, the Open Country R/T from Toyo is actually a tad comfier than others, but still enough to be annoying on smooth pavement. Water performance is really poor, so driving anywhere else apart from sand/mud isn’t recommended for extended periods of time.
2.Toyo Tires Open Country M/T
Sand Performance: 10 Noise Comfort: 3 Handling: 8 Traction: 9
Toyo Tires, once again, with a proper mud tire fully capable of driving in the sand without any hassle. Not only that, but the Open Country M/T is even an upgrade to the Open Country R/T. The M/T doesn’t have any soft edges to it. Its tread blocks are more symmetrical to attempt improving traction in the mud and sand by ejecting the snow symmetrically on both sides. The block themselves show many more extra small edges for the sand to grip to. The grooves are still on the big side but smaller than those found on the Open Country R/T. The performance when sunk in a bit of sand should be better than most tires on the market. The Open Country M/T has a line of tread blocks on the side wall which is quite aggressive indeed. That extra line of tread blocks should be just enough grip to get you out in case you end up being stuck, or just enough to push some sand to the side so you can actually create a small area to chuck something in there. That extra something might be all the grip you need to get yourself unstuck.
The compound is softer, built for colder climates to allow the tire to flex even if the temperatures reach 0F or thereabouts. Not only that, but to help the performance in the cold, the engineers over at Toyo Tires added small cuts in the tread blocks that add that tiny bit of flex in cold conditions in order for the tire to keep gripping the sand properly. This, however, leads to a tire which will wear out quite a bit sooner, especially seeing how the Open Country M/T isn’t backed by a treadwear warranty. You’re getting even better traction, but the treadwear has to suffer as a consequence.
While the sister tire, the Open Country R/T was bad on regular pavement, the Open Country M/T is even worse. It is built solely for driving on rough roads. Its traction on regular old pavement is quite poor indeed, regardless of conditions, so avoid driving on it if necessary. Noise shouldn’t even be mentioned, because the noise is quite bad. The tire is also really expensive, which coupled with a softer compound and no treadwear warranty makes for a really significant downside.
3.Yokohama Geolandar M/T G003
Sand Performance: 8 Noise Comfort: 6 Handling: 8 Traction: 8
The engineers over at Yokohama tried their hardest to make a tire suited for mud which is also, at the very least, livable on the streets. Their effort isn’t all that shabby, to be entirely honest. Yokohama is also a fantastic producer of mud terrain tires, being a serious sponsor in off-roading competitions and even supplying tires for teams, so their experience is a non-debatable.
The same general line of thinking applies. The tread blocks are big and generous, with plenty of hard edges to which the sand can grip to. Grooves are spacious, to say the least, which allows the sand to flow freely in-between the tire blocks creating a sort of paddle feel which is just perfect for a sand tire. Sidewall is solid, and also presents its own distinct tread pattern. It can add just the needed amount of grip in the eventuality of getting stuck in the sand. As far as the compound goes, it’s a middle ground of soft and hard, meaning that it’s rigid enough to drive on hotter days but soft enough thanks to some calculated cuts. As such, it can also be driven in colder weather, such as a night drive in the desert if you’re so inclined.
What the Geolandar M/T G003 has extra is a bit of designing done so that this tire is also relatively quiet on pavement, especially when considering that this is a mud tire at heart. This is done by a bit of clever engineering which aims to direct the sound towards the outside of the wheel and not the inside due to the staggered shoulder blocks.
Where the Geolandar doesn’t shine as bright is in the treadwear department. Treadwear is debatable, having no mileage warranty to speak of. What’s also a bit concerning is that they have no serious claims concerning the sidewall’s strength and durability, which is a pretty big minus for a sand tire which has to drive at low pressures. Last but not least, the Geolandar is more towards the expensive side of the available tires, not the most expensive one, but expensive nevertheless.
Best All-Terrain Tires for Sand Driving
1.Bridgestone Dueler A/T Revo 3
Sand Performance: 7 Noise Comfort: 7 Handling: 8 Traction: 8
Bridgestone tried their best to make a mixed tire with the Dueler A/T Revo 3, capable both on regular old tarmac and in rougher conditions, being surprisingly decent in the latter category. There are quite a few intricate design choices done, one of which being small ribs on the outside of the tread block. This will aid the tire’s ability to grip sand, which along with the generous grooves gives the Dueler A/T Revo 3 decent performance in sandy conditions. It features a treadwear warranty of 60,000 miles, all while offering a decently soft compound capable of being driven in cold weathers.
Where the tire starts losing ground is in its tread block density. For paved roads the extra density will do wonders, however, in the sand this density means that the Dueler A/T Revo 3 isn’t built to tackle the steepest of hills or the softest of sands. This doesn’t mean that it’s automatically incapable of driving in the sand, it’s just that the Dueler A/T Revo 3 is happiest on moderate sandy conditions, not dune racing. Comfort is decent enough, so overall a solid choice.
2.Falken Wildpeak A/T3W
Sand Performance: 8 Noise Comfort: 6 Handling: 7 Traction: 9
A very competent sand tire, especially for an All-Terrain model, done by the people over at Falken. The Wildpeak A/T3W adds something really important to a sand tire, and that is an added layer in the sidewall which makes the tire extra rugged. Perfect for driving the tire with lower air pressures. The tread pattern is generous, having large blocks with big grooves, just enough for it to be a confident sand tire. The tread blocks are really tall, which coupled with their softness makes for a comfortable tire capable in cold conditions and with decent durability to boot. The block themselves present many edges that will help the sand grip to the tire. It features a 55,000 miles warranty, so the treadwear durability is well justified.
Where the tire doesn’t particularly shine is in noise generation and handling. The tall tread blocks will make the tire be pretty squishy, which on sand wouldn’t be a huge issue, but on tarmac it becomes something quite apparent and irritating. There aren’t any noticeable technologies made to the tire to improve its comfort apart from using a softer rubber compound, so noise generation is high and overall comfort isn’t fantastic.
3.Cooper Tires Discoverer Rugged Trek
Sand Performance: 7 Noise Comfort: 7 Handling: 9 Traction: 7
Cooper tried basically everything to make a good all-terrain tire without major compromises. When looking at its sand performance, you got plenty of interesting bits that need to be covered. The grooves are generous, with plenty of edges to which the sand can stick to. Each tire block has a few thin ribs which only improve the grip in surfaces more fluid-like.The outside shoulders are chamfered which helps the tire dig in the sand so it can get some grip.
Treadwear seems good, and Cooper Tires offer a warranty for 60,000 miles which is nothing but adequate. The comfort should be the best out of all the tires, especially when talking noise. Cooper Tires added a few small walls in-between the tread blocks which aim at trapping and absorbing some of the road noise back into the tire.
Where the Discoverer Rugger Trek loses ground however is at its sidewall strength. There aren’t any extra technologies added to the sidewall which means that driving the tire partially deflated isn’t great for the tire. This means that, while the tire has good performance in the sand, it will wear poorly, and its traction will only suffer because the contact patch will ultimately be smaller. On the beach the tire will perform marvelously, and on the highway it will also perform quite decently.
Best Tires for people who want to do Sand Driving: Buying Guide
The best accessible tire for Sand Driving is a Mud-Terrain Tire
This is the case because, while not being a proper sand terrain tire which are very niche and built specifically to do just that, they are the closest you can get accessibly. Sand-Terrain tires look like their tread blocks are actually small paddles which help propel the vehicle across even the softest of sands like being in the water. This can’t be a thing on a regular tire, but mud terrain tires get really close to that design, so if you plan on doing some sand driving a mud terrain tire is your best bet. They work because the tread blocks are pretty big and have thick and deep grooves which act like a paddle.
When sidewall strength is concerned, sand driving tires must be driven at low pressures to get as big of a contact patch as you can possibly get. This means that the tires will be, for the most part, deflated. A good sand-driving tire has reinforced sidewalls that can support the vehicle’s weight even when deflated. By deflating it, you can make the contact patch just a bit wider to provide increased traction. Mud-Terrain tires are also pretty solid overall and quite durable, so they will be able to fair to the sand’s abuse reliably, both from a mechanical durability point of view but also from a temperature point of view.
As such, if you plan on driving extensively in the sand and you cannot find a pure sand driving tire, get a mud tire which suits your needs the most climate-wise.
All-Terrain tires can be used intermittently
An all-terrain tire tries to do everything but it’s really best at certain activities. The tires picked in this list are the best all-terrain tires which still get decent sand driving performances but please bear in mind that they aren’t built to be driven in the sand constantly. They can be driven in the sand, like on a calm safari or a beach, but as soon as you throw steep dunes, really soft sand or aggressive driving all that traction goes out the window.
They are meant to be used as a tire which can see sand from time to time, as a work truck/SUV which has to get into the sand because you might supply some beach shops. You could be a worker for a construction company which occupies with building small huts on the beach. You could also supply a worksite in the middle of nowhere and you need to get there safe and sound. Rough sand driving isn’t their ideal.
Knowing this, pick a tire which fits your sand driving routine. If you drive on it regularly, pick an all-terrain tire more suited for sand driving, but if you’re heading in the sand quite rarely, pick an all-terrain tire more suited for paved roads.
All-season tires shouldn’t be used to be driven on the sand
As soon as an all-season tire will see a bigger patch of sand you will surely get stuck. Snow has quite a bit more traction than soft sand, and if even the best all-season tires can struggle in the snow, soft sand is an unstoppable force for them. If you have to drive regularly on sand, an all-season tire won’t suffice and is actually quite dangerous because you’re asking for punctures and risk getting stuck. As such, if your routine means that you will drive quite often in the sand, buy an all-terrain tire at the very least and be safe.