Mud Tires vs. All Terrain Tires
Mud-terrain tires are specifically designed to perform off-road, in jagged rocks, loose soil, mud or sand. Mud tires feature large tread blocks and wide, deep voids between them to get the best purchase on off-road surfaces and dig in; the voids also help the tire clear mud, gravel and debris as it spins, ensuring that there will be a fresh surface to grip.
The down side of mud terrain tires is that they tend to be noisy, rough, heavy, hard to balance, and often slightly out-of-round. They can also have clumsy handling qualities and an unforgiving ride; if you’re mainly just using the vehicle for short hops or around town, that may not be too bad. For long trips, however, those qualities can all really wear on a driver and passengers.
All-terrain tire brands, on the other hand, sacrifice a certain degree of traction, with smaller tread blocks, narrower voids and less-robust internal construction and tread compounds. The tread on all-terrain tires is also permeated with sipes for traction, making them a great choice for wet, snowy or icy conditions were mud-terrain tires actually do not do well. The tradeoff for off-road traction comes in a much smoother ride quality, better handling, tread life, noise level and traction in practically every other kind of conditions other than mud.
If you do any serious off-roading, chances are you’re going to be disappointed with the traction offered by all-terrain tires. They are a better choice, however, for all-around on and off pavement…back and forth to work, the store, travel, all the usual things you would expect out of a light truck or SUV. If you expect to spend a lot of time playing in the mud, mud tires are about the only thing for it…just be ready for the down side of harsh ride, noise and poor drivability that goes with them.