We have been running a mud tire on our Jeep Monkey Spank for quite some time. The muds have served us well, but there were some trade-offs. For example, on road driving through snow and ice is not the right environment for mud tires. Simply put, you need rubber contact for traction, and AT's give you that contact.
Tread life of muds tends to be shorter as well. Now, of course there is a lot of thought put into a mud tire to make it roll as best it can, but the design is inherently hard on itself.
Finally let's not forget gas mileage. True we don't drive a Jeep and expect good gas mileage, but every bit helps when paying $2.50 and up per gallon.
With all of this in mind, we turned to Marty at 4 Wheel Parts for some tires. We explained that we wanted to step up from 31's just a bit and how we planned to use the vehicle (daily driver/rockcrawling). Then we asked what he would suggest for someone on a budget.
So here it is, Pro Comp's 32x11.50 All Terrains. A big enough gap between tread blocks to clean themselves, tight enough to be quiet on road, and they come in that odd-enough size of 32".
We have been driving with mud terrains on this Jeep for so long that we forgot how much quieter life in a Jeep could be. Now don't get me wrong, Jeeps are still not quiet vehicles, but it was much improved without the hum of the mud tread.
Both wet and dry road handling was improved, and we had much better contact/feel for the road. We also expect that winter weather driving will be improved upon with the siping and greater rubber contact.
As much as we love the quieter daily driving of the AT's, we're still driving a Jeep and expect it to perform off road. With this in mind what better way to try out the tires than in Moab during the Easter Jeep Safari.
During the Easter Jeep Safari, we ran these tires over about 40 miles of slickrock, rock (the regular kind), and sand. In the end we found we lost a bit of our capability in climbing rock ledges where the shoulder lugs of our previous mud terrain tires were able to grab on and lift the vehicle. On the other hand, the increased rubber contact allowed for better grip when climbing rock faces and steep angles.
Did we make the right decision? For our rockcrawling purposes, we would say it was right. Rock ledges are not the dominant feature of the rockcrawling we do in Moab. Additionally, the fact we have a rear locker on this vehicle gives the Jeep some extra push. The aired down AT's didn't wrap around the rocks quite as easily as the mud terrains, but by no means were we limited in climbing ledges.
Recommendation? If you're wanting a tire that allows you to play off-road but doesn't compromise the civility needed of a daily driver rig, this tire might be the one for you.