Most of the roads in the USA and Canada today are paved, which is great because driving on them is supremely safe. However, there are still unpaved roads in almost every countryside, and those represent a problem for drivers of some vehicles. While every type of car is certainly capable of tackling gravel roads, drivers will still experience a lack of traction, longer braking distances, and less comfort along the way. That is nothing compared to what the tires experience.
Gravel roads might be fine for safety, especially if you drive slower, but your tires might suffer. See, there are a lot of small stones and debris on every gravel road that can damage your tires. You might not always experience punctures, but there will still be cracks and cuts if the tire is not designed for those circumstances. Luckily, there are a lot of modern tires today that can mitigate those issues, or put it simply, not be damaged while driving on gravel roads. The best tires for gravel roads should be cut- and -chip-resistant, have a tough casing, and good traction overall.
The thing is, there is not one tire type that will work great on gravel roads – there are several of them. That is if you own an SUV, a crossover, or a truck. Owners of passenger vehicles don’t have the same choice, sadly, but these drivers rarely encounter gravel roads anyway. This article is specifically aimed at drivers who drive on gravel roads often. Drivers of large SUVs, pickup trucks, commercial trucks and vans, and even drivers of some larger crossovers have a choice of different types of tires that will work very well on gravel roads.
To help you choose the best set of tires for your car, we created a top 10 list of the best tires for gravel roads, in our opinion. The list will be divided into several categories simply because not everybody needs the same type of tires. Some truck and SUV owners drive mostly on the road, while some use them frequently for off-roading. There are several distinct factors such as noise level, weight, performance on different terrains among others that can be used to determine the best truck tires or best SUV tires for gravel roads. Then, you will be able to read our buying guide for tires for gravel roads, where we are going to explain every different tire type. We recommend reading the buying guide if you are not sure what type of tires you want or need for your car.
Top 10 List of The Best Tires for Gravel Roads Recommended
Best Highway Tires for Gravel Roads
1. General Grabber HTS60
The General Grabber HTS60 is one of the most popular highway tires in North America, partly because it is produced from an American manufacturer, but also because it is an excellent truck and SUV tires. It fully qualifies as a best truck tires for gravel roads due to factors such as: This tire was designed to offer a comfortable and safe driving experience, even on a larger truck and with a trailer attached. We are also fans of its price, which is lower than that of premium competitors.
Most importantly, for gravel roads, the General Grabber HTS60 is made from a cut- and chip-resistant compound. This means that the tires will resist even prolonged driving on gravel roads. The 65,000-mile treadwear warranty for S- & T-Speed Rated models, and a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty for LT Sizes & H-Speed Rated models are only a testament of how well this tire is made. You should expect years of reliable service with this one.
Even though the casing is very tough, on the outside, the Grabber HTS60 looks like a passenger tire. The vehicle-tuned tread patterns improve traction and grip on the road, while the strong continuous center rib takes care of high-speed stability. Wet traction is very good on light-duty versions, almost on par with more expensive tires. However, the lower sipe density of heavy-duty versions loses some points in the wet.
On the positive side, the General Grabber HTS60 is very quiet on the highway and provides the passengers with plush ride quality.
2. Michelin Defender LTX M/S
The Michelin Defender LTX is the newest addition of the French manufacturer in the highway category, and right now, it is the best tire in its class. It brings everything that was good with the predecessor, known as the LTX M/S2, but with better results in almost every category. We think that this is the best highway tire for gravel roads, but also for on-road driving.
Thanks to the chip-resistant Evertread compound, the Defender offers reliable traction in almost every condition. On the road, the Michelin Defender LTX consistently beats its rivals when it comes to high-speed stability, cornering grip, traction during hard acceleration, and braking. It does all of that both on dry and wet pavement, unlike other tires. The 3D Active Sipes and four large circumferential grooves take care of hydroplaning, making the Defender LTX probably the best highway tire for driving in heavy rain.
The MaxTouch Construction, on the other hand, produces a large contact patch for long wear, even on gravel roads. It also helps for distributing acceleration, braking and cornering forces while towing or hauling heavy payloads, or when driving on gravel roads.
Like its predecessor, the Michelin Defender LTX M/S is also one of the quietest and most comfortable tires that can tow big trailers. This tire also comes with an outstanding 70,000-miles treadwear warranty for T- H- & V-Speed Rated, and 50,000-mile treadwear warranty for W-Speed rated models.
With all that said, the Michelin Defender LTX is not the best choice for snowy conditions – you will need a set of proper winter tires if you live in areas with harsh wintry conditions.
3. Cooper Discoverer HTP
The Cooper Discoverer HTP is another American tire that is offered at budget-friendly prices and one that is a favorite among SUV and truck owners. Cooper Discoverer HTP is regarded as one of the best truck tires on gravel and it is all down to the fact that it has been specifically designed to provide optimum traction on gravel roads. The main advantage of the Cooper tire is how comfortable it is. When it comes to highway noise and ride quality, the Discoverer HTP is on the same level as the Defender LTX, which is very high praise.
On the road, traction and grip are very good as well, while braking is among the class best. We are also fans of how the Discoverer handles heavy rain, thanks to the four circumferential grooves. This tire is also a great choice for driving on gravel roads, especially because Cooper covers all sizes with an excellent 65,000-mile treadwear warranty.
4. Firestone Transforce HT2
The Firestone Transforce HT2 is one of the toughest highway tires on the market. That is no surprise considering the fact that it is only available in LT-metric sizes.
The chip- and tear-resistant casing is excellent news for driving on gravel roads, and even some other off-road surfaces. Sadly, Firestone doesn’t offer any treadwear warranty to cover those claims, but that is expected from a commercial LT-metric size tire.
On the road, the Transforce HT2 offers excellent highway stability and a lot of grip and traction in the corners. It also has a very good wet performance for a commercial highway tire.
Best All-Terrain Tires for Gravel Roads
5. Continental TerrainContact A/T
The TerrainContact A/T is different from most all-terrain tires on the market in the way that it is “milder.” In other words, it is not designed for very demanding off-road terrains. However, that’s why it is also the best all-terrain tire for a combination of gravel and on-road driving.
On gravel, the tough cut- and -chip resistance tread compound works its trick, while the deeper tread pattern gives the driver better traction and braking. On the road, the TerrainContact is better than any other competitor – it is almost as responsive as a highway tire and provides the driver with ample traction, grip, and braking on dry and wet surfaces.
Light snow traction is also good but not class-leading. Finally, the 60,000-mile treadwear warranty is at the top of its class.
6. Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure with Kevlar
Kevlar is a material that is used on armor and thus is a great choice for tough tires. The Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure has the Durawall Technology in the sidewalls and a long-wearing specialized rubber tread compound, which makes it one of the toughest all-terrain tires out there. Puncturing this tire is almost impossible on gravel roads, while cut- and -chip resistance is second to none.
The Goodyear is also one of the best all-terrain tires for other slippery surfaces, such as rocks and mud. On top of that, it works very well on the road. High-speed stability is very good, and there is a lot of side-to-side grip, traction, and stopping power. The siping on the tread and the circumferential grooves help wet conditions as well. The Goodyear Wrangler Adventure with Kevlar is also 3PMSF rated and can be used in light snow.
The Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure also comes with a 60,000-mile treadwear warranty, a testament to its tough and durable construction.
7. BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2
The BFGoodrich KO2 might be an older model, but it is still one of our favorites in the all-terrain category. Even today, it is probably the best off-road tire in its category, including driving on gravel roads. The KO2 is also very strong and durable thanks to the Sidewall Armor, and it’s covered by a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty.
On the road, this tire is characterized by excellent high-speed stability, good grip and traction, and strong braking. It even works on wet and snowy surfaces – the 3PMSF rating means that you can use it in deeper snow as well. That said, while we don’t have anything bad to say about the ride quality, noise can be an issue on the highway.
8. Falken Wildpeak A/T3W
Thanks to the deepest tread pattern in the all-terrain category, the Falken Wildpeak A/T3W is one of the best off-road tires in its class. This also makes it one of the best tires for gravel roads, especially when it comes to traction and braking.
The tough construction with the Outer Apex Sidewall makes it very durable as well, especially if driven on gravel roads. The Heat Diffuser Technology, on the other hand, takes care of hot summer days, improving the overall stability on dirt roads.
The Falken Wildpeak A/T3W is very good for driving on the street, as well. High-speed stability is one of the best out there, while traction, grip, and braking are among the class best. Like most all-terrain tires, the Falken has the 3PMSF rating for advanced snow traction.
The 55,000-mile treadwear warranty is another strong point of the Falken. However, it is also pretty noisy on the highway.
9. Sumitomo Encounter AT
The Sumitomo Encounter AT is a budget-friendly all-terrain tire that punches above its weight. It combines toughness and durability with excellent off-road traction, at lower prices than its competition. Thanks to the open tread design with stepped edges on the center blocks, traction on gravel roads are excellent. The rugged tread compound helps this tire resist cuts and chips from stones as well.
On the road, the Encounter is pretty good, especially when it comes to stability. However, while wet traction isn’t bad, it is not as good as on premium all-terrain tires. On the positive side, the Encounter AT comes with 3PMSF rating and an excellent 60,000-mile treadwear warranty.
Best Mud-Terrain Tires for Gravel Roads
10. BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3
The racing-derived Krawl-Tek compound in the BFGoodrich KM3 makes it one of the toughest tires on the market right now. Thanks to that, this tire isn’t disturbed by gravel roads at all, and it can even be used on large and sharp rocks. The traction it provides is simply outstanding on every off-road surface, including gravel, rocks, and mud. Interestingly, the Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 is very stable on the road, but like most mud tires, it is also very loud.
Best Tires for Gravel Roads: Buying Guide
Highway Tires Work Great on Gravel Roads
Highway tires are specifically designed for trucks and SUVs of all sizes. These tires are similar to touring tires for passenger vehicles, which means that they are great on the road. However, there is one very important difference here – highway tires are much tougher. That toughness is what you want if you use your vehicle on gravel roads.
First of all, highway tires can carry very big loads on their strong casings. You can use these tires for towing big trailers or hauling very heavy payloads. In the process, they will provide you with excellent stability, even at higher speeds. As a matter of fact, these are the most stable tires you can put on your truck or SUV when towing.
Then, most highway tires today are also cut- and -chip resistant. This means that when you encounter a gravel road, the tires won’t be damaged, unlike some passenger-car tires. Thanks to the strong casing, highway tires are much more resistant to punctures as well. On top of that, highway tires also offer reliable traction on gravel roads. Of course, performance will be worse if you compare it to the on-road dynamics, but if you drive carefully, highway tires should provide you with safe and reliable driving experience.
Considering the fact that you will mostly use these tires on the road, highway tires are an excellent option. They provide SUV and truck drivers with very good grip, traction, and braking performance. The best highway tires are also very quiet on the highway, and have very good ride quality, even with heavy cargo on your car.
Finally, highway tires also offer the longest treadlife of any other tire type meant for SUVs and trucks. This is very important for people who frequently drive on gravel roads simply because these roads are very destructive to tires. Some premium manufacturers today offer up to 70,000-mile treadwear warranty on their highway models, which is pretty amazing.
All-Terrain Tires Offer Better Traction on Gravel Roads
While highway tires offer reliable traction on gravel roads, they are still not the best option for those environments. If you want a set of tires that will give you ultimate traction on gravel, then you need all-terrain tires. These tires are designed to offer drivers better traction for off-roading, but still provide him/her with reliable performance on the road.
The best all-terrain tires today aren’t only capable of tackling any gravel road, but also mud, rocks, and sand. For the average truck and SUV driver, all-terrain tires might be the only off-road option they need. They are especially good on gravel roads, thanks to the deep but not too aggressive tread pattern. This gives them better traction on gravel roads, high-speed stability, and better braking performance. All-terrain tires are also a much better option than highway tires for driving on wet gravel, giving the driver overall a much better contact with the road.
That said if you mostly drive on the road and only encounter gravel roads rarely, you should know that all-terrain tires are worse for on-road driving than highway tires. They are safe, don’t get us wrong, but still not as capable. You will experience a lack of responsiveness and worse grip and braking performance. All-terrain tires are louder on the highway as well. Finally, they have shorter treadlife, albeit not by much. Some all-terrain tires today are offered with 60,000-mile treadwear warranties – pretty good for tires that are used on demanding terrains.
Maximum Traction Off-Road Tires and Mud-Terrain Tires are an Excellent Option as Well
Maximum traction off-road tires are the best choice for enthusiast off-roaders, together with mud-terrain tires. Both of these types are specifically designed to give the driver maximum confidence for off-roading. They provide absolutely the best traction on gravel roads (dry or wet), rocks, and mud. If you wondered – yes, they are a class above all-terrain tires in those conditions.
However, we wouldn’t recommend these tires only if you use them on paved and gravel roads. The real advantages of these tires can only be used on very demanding types of terrain like mud and rocks. If you are an enthusiast off-roader, then a set of maximum traction or mud-terrain tires is a great option. If not, you should steer away from them.
The main reason why we are saying this is on-road dynamics. These tires are not as good to drive on the road. They are less responsive and cumbersome to drive in the corners. You will also experience a lack of traction and grip, especially when it rains, and worse braking performance. Then, maximum traction off-road tires and mud-terrain tires are also extremely loud on the highway, even more so than all-terrain tires. Oh, and they are more expensive to buy.
Still, given the fact that there are truck and SUV owners who want the best off-roading tires, we included them on our list of Top 10 best tires for gravel roads.
As you probably noticed, we didn’t include very cheap tires on the list above. We believe that tires from reputable manufacturers offer the best combination of performance, toughness, longevity, and price. Cheap tires might be unsafe to drive, especially on gravel roads and with a lot of cargo onboard. For a completely reliable and safe driving experience, always buy tires from well-known manufacturers. By doing that, you will use products that were well-researched and developed in the most demanding conditions around the world.