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Light trucks are pretty awesome. Want to do some towing? Perfect. Want to do a little off-roading? Awesome. Need to be able to get to the work site in all sorts of weather conditions? The light truck can do all of this and more.
But, as anyone who has ever driven into mud unprepared knows, you have to have the right tires for the job.
There are a lot of truck tires on the market today, and all of them seem to be marketed for different purposes. Obviously, you are not going to buy a different set of tires for every new thing you do with your light truck, just so you can have the best tires for all potential on and off road conditions. Instead, the better plan is to take a look at the variety of tires available, their specs and specialities, and decide which are the best tires for your particular needs.
Here, we’ve compiled some of the most popular and capable light truck tires on the market, for your consideration.
What Should I Look for in a Light Truck Tire?
Unfortunately, not all tires are fantastic at every job. But, the same is true for light trucks. Typically the trucks that excel at off-roading aren’t equipped for towing heavier loads, for example. Of course there are exceptions, but generally speaking, we pick out a light truck for a specific duty and roll with it.
If you are going to be towing and stowing, pay attention to load ratings. To determine load rating, take a peek at the sidewall of the tire. A P-metric tire is great for light trucks, but won’t have the heavy-duty strength needed to pull heavy loads. Instead, look for the letters “LT.” The LT-metric is designated for “Light Truck” duty, and can be used on 3/4-ton and 1-ton trucks, as well as those used for doing heavy towing.
What about weather? All season tires are a good bet for anyone who is going to be driving their pickup truck in an area that has summer, fall, winter, and spring. But, if you’re going to be driving frequently through deep snow, ice, and slush, you’ll want to invest in winter tires or snow tires.
What’s the difference? Mostly the tread compound. All season truck tires have a safe and reliable tread with incredibly durability. They’re fine in rain and light snow. However, winter tires are specifically designed so that the tread doesn’t freeze and become stiff when the temperatures drop. Your tread can’t do it’s job if it’s frozen and brittle.
Likewise, if you’re going to be off-roading frequently, you’ll want to look into all-terrain tires. All-terrain tires are kind of a compromise between mud-terrain tires or off-road tires and highway or touring tires. The road performance of all-terrain tires is good, in addition to giving you excellent traction when you’re getting weird in the woods.
On the other hand, if you’re going to be doing more mudding, climbing, fording, and so on, take a look at the heavy duty off-roading tires. They’ll have less-than-ideal road performance, but they’ll have the deep tread pattern you’ll need to navigate obstacles.
Speed rating is also important, but mostly if you’re going to be doing a lot of racing in your truck. Sport tires are offered for light trucks, so if you are going to be regularly zooming around faster than the average highway speed limit, give those a check.
So, Which Are the Best Light Truck Tires for Each Purpose?
In no particular ranking order, take a look at seven of the best options on the market today.
These tires are best for highway and on-road travel. They have a load rating that will accommodate most light truck-sized trailers, and include a tread wear warranty. They’re chip-and-cut-resistant, and handle nicely on dry and rain-soaked roads.
The General Grabber HTS 60 tires are not only fantastic on the roadways, but off road, as well. They’re budget friendly, with capable wet traction, while also providing a quiet and capable ride on dry roads. They’re not fantastic in the snow, but can be used in conjunction with a trailer, giving them a significant following among light truck drivers.
These tires from BFGoodrich may be an absolute mouthful to spit out when you’re trying to order, but they’re definitely worth the jumble. The T/A KO2 tires have a reputation for being the best all-terrain tires out there. Designed with CoreGard technology, they’re split proof and bruise proof, and feature an aggressive tread that still behaves nicely on the road.
These tires are not idea for towing and stowing, but they offer fantastic road performance. They’re known for providing a smooth ride with minimal road noise. They’re even fine to use in light snow.
These Kevlar-made tires from Goodyear are another example of all-terrain tires with impressive performance credential. These tires are perfectly fine with guiding your light truck over unpacked snow, deep mud, whatever. They’re suitable for use on the road, but they tend to be a little noisy on pavement.
Alternately, the Goodyear Wrangler MT/R is the better choice for road performance, but this off-road tire is interestingly less agile in the rain.
The Continental tires are technically all-terrain tires, but they aren’t ideal in mud. Sand and streets? Absolutely. These Continental tires would be ideal for anyone looking to head out on flat-packed trails from time to time without risking their tread life on the road.
As the name implies, these are winter tires. Made from a silica-based winter tread rubber compound, with a tread design that actually tells drivers how deep they can go without losing traction. The sipes direct melt away from the path of the tires, allowing direct contact with the driving surface and reducing slippage.
Obviously, your needs may vary depending on your job, location, and all of the things mentioned in the previous section. But, this is a good start for those who are new to replacing tires on light trucks, as well as reminding seasoned truck veterans of the newest options out there.