Top 10 Best Zero Turn Tires for Hills: Recommendations and Reviews

Zero-turn lawn mowers have become so popular in recent years that we can safely say that the market is flooded with different models. You can choose from tiny mowers that work in smaller areas or larger mowers that can be used for very large surfaces.

Whatever your usage scenario is, there is no denying the fact that riding a zero-turn lawn mower makes the job much faster, but also that it’s fun. There is something about riding a vehicle that can make tight turns and have outstanding maneuverability.

That said, not every zero-turn mower is created equal – some are better than others. That said, everyone agrees that the most important part of any lawnmower is the tires. Even the best zero-turn mower won’t give you the desired performance with bad tires.

The best zero turn tires should give you ample traction on various surfaces and inclinations. They should also be gentle to the grass, especially for people that really care about how their yards look. And trust us, despite the marketing, some tires don’t perform reliably in some conditions.

Things become even worse if you have a field with steep hills. Many tires will struggle to give you reliable traction. That will not only make the whole experience more cumbersome but having too much wheel spin can damage the grass underneath.

Fortunately, you arrived just in the right place to learn about the best zero turn tires for hills. In this article, we will cover all models viable for zero-turn mowers and test them in several categories, including traction, drivability, and how much they damage the turf.

To help you make an easy decision, we listed the ten best tires for zero turn mower down below. To help you even further, we listed the main advantages and disadvantages of the products, giving you the chance to choose tires that will fit you best.

With that said, not many people understand zero turn tires, and they often don’t make the right purchase. If you are a newbie to these products, you can jump to our short buying guide, which is just after the Top 10 list of best zero turn tires for hills.

In the guide, you can learn about the various types of zero-turn tires and how each one performs in a variety of conditions. We strongly suggest reading through it if you want to purchase tires that will be the best choice for you.

Best Turf-Saver Tires for Zero-Turn Mower

Best Zero Turn Tires for Hills

The Kenda K358 is one of the best zero-turn tires for hills on the market right now. This is one of the few tires that obtains excellent results in almost every area, which is why many mower manufacturers use it as original equipment in their products.

When it comes to performance, the K358 offers the best balance between gentleness and traction. Thanks to the chevron tread, the tire doesn’t destroy the turf much, especially if driven carefully.

Moreover, we found that the tread is deep enough to provide you traction in most circumstances, apart from very deep mud. The Kenda K358 is usable on hills as well, apart from very steep inclines. Still, we found it to be completely useful for residential areas.

Finally, the K358 is very easy to replace, it doesn’t cost very much, and has a very long treadlife.

Pros

  • Usable traction on dry and wet turf
  • Very gentle to the surface
  • Available in many sizes
  • Easy to remove and install

Cons

  • Not usable in mud
  • Struggles on steep inclines

Best Turf-Saver Tires for Zero-Turn Mower

Best Zero Turn Tires for Hills

The Carlisle Turf Saver II is similar to the Kenda K358 in many ways, except for the fact that the tread blocks are hollow inside. This gives the Carlisle a slight advantage for saving the grass underneath, and also for traction on very slippery surfaces.

That said, the tread blocks on the Carlisle aren’t as tough or stable, which limits usability on hardpacked surfaces. The tire also comes only with a rounded tread area, which further limits usability on dry surfaces.

Still, for the majority of people, the differences are very small – the Carlisle is still a very usable tire for hills. More importantly, the Carlisle Turf Saver II is very strong and durable, despite the hollow tread blocks.

Pros

  • Usable traction on most surfaces
  • Gentle on the turf
  • Durable and tough construction

Cons

  • Only comes with a rounded tread area
  • Not a lot of traction over mud

Best Turf-Saver Tires for Zero-Turn Mower

Best Zero Turn Tires for Hills

The Deestone D265 is an excellent choice for the budget-minded buyers or anyone that has smaller yards. Overall, this tire won’t dethrone the Kenda and Carlisle in terms of traction, but it comes really close.

We found that the D265 is usable on most surfaces, including dry and wet turf. Slight mud should also not pose an issue, but don’t expect great deep mud performance – the shoulder profile is a square. Also, we wouldn’t rely on the D265 on very steep hills, but it should be completely usable in most residential areas.

On the positive side, the D265 doesn’t damage the turf too much, thanks to the Chevron-style tread blocks.

Pros

  • Very easy on the turf
  • Usable traction in dry and wet conditions
  • Budget-friendly price

Cons

  • Not very usable in mud
  • Unusable on very steep inclines

Best All-Terrain Zero-Turn Tires

Best Zero Turn Tires for Hills

The Kenda K505 is the best zero turn mower tires for people with larger areas, but also anyone that wants advanced traction for steep hills.

The K505 will still struggle in very deep mud, but it will fare much better than turf-saver tires. Moreover, this tire will give you much stronger traction on very steep hills when compared to those tires.

The K505 also has self-cleaning properties, which help the tires to retain the traction for prolonged periods. Like most Kenda tires, the K505 is very tough and durable as well.

Finally, the siped tread blocks make less turf damage than comparable all-terrain tires, but still more than turf-savers.

Pros

  • Works great over most surfaces
  • Usable in shallow mud
  • Very tough and durable
  • Self-cleaning properties enhance performance over the long run

Cons

  • Struggles in deep mud

Best All-Terrain Zero-Turn Tires

Best Zero Turn Tires for Hills

The Michelin X Tweel Turf is a very expensive tire, but that’ completely understandable given its properties. This is an airless tire, which means that it can never be punctured. On top of that, the overall design promises outstanding durability and toughness.

Moreover, thanks to the multi-directional tread pattern optimized for side-hill stability, this is the best all-terrain tire for driving on steep hills. The tread pattern also doesn’t damage the turf too much, which is a great plus.

Sure, it will struggle in deep mud, but let’s be honest – not a lot of people do their mower duties when it rains heavily. Also, the design of the tire allows for outstanding usability over uneven surfaces.

Overall, this is by far the best zero turn mower tires on the market. However, it is also very expensive, which is why we recommend it only to companies (golf courses) and not residential areas.

Pros

  • Outstanding toughness and durability
  • No punctures
  • Very easy to maintain
  • Great for uneven surfaces
  • Excellent traction in most conditions
  • Outstanding side-hill performance

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Not usable in mud

Best All-Terrain Zero-Turn Tires

Best Zero Turn Tires for Hills

The OTR Grassmaster is a tire that is used on most mowers as original equipment from the factory. It is also one of the most accomplished lawn-mower tires for people that seek ultimate traction.

The Grassmaster provides the rider with outstanding traction over dry and wet turf. We found that it also works tremendously on steep hills. The tire also doesn’t damage the turf too much, thanks to the siped tread blocks.

Like most all-terrain tires, the OTR GrassMaster isn’t very usable in deep mud, but it’s completely usable for residential areas.

Durability should not concern you as well – the tire is characterized by excellent treadlife and strong construction.

Pros

  • Excellent traction over dry and wet surfaces
  • Very strong and durable construction
  • Very good on hills

Cons

  • Not the best option for driving in mud

Best Zero-Turn Tires for Hills with Large Lugs

Best Zero Turn Tires for Hills

The Kenda K514 is a heavy-duty zero-turn tire for commercial applications. Thanks to the thick lugs, the K514 provides the driver with traction on absolutely every surface, including very deep mud. Naturally, this model also works outstandingly well on very steep hills.

Moreover, the K514 is equipped with a rim guard and very tough internal construction, which should give you years of carefree mowing. The treadlife of this tire is one of the longest from any tire that we have on the list.

With that said, the K514 also isn’t very gentle on the turf, which limits its use in residential areas.

Pros

  • Exceptional traction on hills
  • Works tremendously well in mud
  • Very long treadlife
  • Strong and durable construction
  • Excellent resistance to cut, chips, and punctures

Cons

  • Damages the turf

Best Zero-Turn Tires for Hills with Large Lugs

Best Zero Turn Tires for Hills

The Carlisle Super Lug is an even more aggressive tire than the Kenda K514. The tread lugs on this tire are very deep, while the pattern is angled and directional.

Thanks to that, the Carlisle provides the rider with exceptional traction on every surface, especially in shallow and deep mud. Moreover, this tire won’t lose traction on steep inclines.

Like most Carlisle products, the “Super Lug” is very tough and durable. That said, the tread pattern can easily damage the turf, especially if the rider isn’t careful.

Pros

  • Outstanding traction on every surface
  • Excellent performance in mud
  • Very tough and durable

Cons

  • Not exactly gentle to the turf

Best Tires for Zero Turn Mower (Front Axle)

Best Zero Turn Tires for Hills

The Kenda K401X is an excellent option for the front wheels on any zero-turn mower. Thanks to the circumferential grooves, the tire provides the driver with excellent sidehill traction. Also, the tire is very responsive and works great in tight spaces.

The treadlife of the Kenda K401X is also exceptionally long, especially given the fact that you probably won’t use it on the driven wheel. And, honestly, you shouldn’t – this tire won’t provide you with reliable traction on hills.

Pros

  • Very gentle to the turf
  • Good lateral stability on hills
  • Long treadlife

Cons

  • No traction on slippery surfaces

10. Carlisle Straight Rib Lawn & Garden Tire

Best Tires for Zero Turn Mower (Front Axle)

Best Zero Turn Tires for Hills

Carlisle’s ribbed tire is another great option for the front wheels. It is cheap to buy, yet very tough and durable. The Carlisle Straight Rib is also very responsive and easy to turn in tight spaces.

The sidehill stability is very good, thanks to the circumferential grooves, and the tire is also gentle to the grass.

That said, we don’t recommend putting these tires on the rear wheels as they lack traction on slippery surfaces and hills.

Pros

  • Very good lateral grip
  • Long treadlife
  • Doesn’t destroy the turf

Cons

  • Doesn’t provide traction on slippery surfaces or hills

Best Zero Turn Tires for Hills: Buying Guide

1. How to Differentiate Between Various Zero-Turn Tires?

A quick web search on tires for zero-turn mowers will show you models that are very different visually. Some will have a more aggressive tread pattern with deeper grooves, while others will have a less aggressive tread with smaller grooves.

The design of the tread of zero turn tires can have a big impact on how it handles the tasks. Also, the construction of the tire plays a big difference, as well. Some models are designed for lighter-duty work, while others are designed for heavy-duty work.

On top of that, you also need to make sure that the tires you purchase fit your zero-turn mower. If they aren’t the right size, you won’t be able to fit them on the wheels. Sure, you can also buy tires together with new wheels, but even then, it is not recommended to change the diameter and width of the tires.

2. What is the Difference Between Radial and Bias-Ply Tires?

There are significant differences between radial and bias-ply tires, especially in terms of performance and toughness.

Radial tires are mostly used on passenger vehicles and are characterized by low weight, excellent responsiveness, and better treadlife. However, many manufacturers started launching radial zero turn tires, specifically because of the performance enhancements.

Bias-ply tires, on the other hand, are much tougher and more durable. These tires are more resistant to punctures and bruises, which naturally makes them a better choice for uneven surfaces. That said, they are also heavier and less responsive.

In our opinion, radial tires are a better choice for smaller applications and flat surfaces, while bias-ply tires are a better choice for larger applications and uneven surfaces.

You also need to consider the ply rating when purchasing new zero turn tires. A/2-ply tires are less durable and won’t resist punctures well, but they should still be fine for ordinary gardening use.

B/4-ply tires, on the other hand, are much tougher and will resist punctures easily. However, they are also heavier and more expensive, so we recommend purchasing them only if you really need the extra toughness over uneven surfaces.

3. How to Choose the Right Tire Size?

There are two different sizing methods that are used for zero turn mower tires, which can make things hard for potential buyers. Nonetheless, you will never make a mistake if you purchase tires with the same sizing as the one imprinted on your existing tires. That way, you’ll be sure that the new tires match the wheels on your vehicle. Let’s take a deeper look:

  • Two-Number Sizing signifies only the diameter of the wheel and the width of the tire. On these tires, the height of the sidewall is equal for the same width, unlike passenger tires, where the sidewall height depends on the width of the tire. A common size of zero-turn tires is 4.80-8. Here, the first number relates to the diameter of the wheel (4.8-inches), while the second number relates to the width of the tire. When purchasing, be sure that both numbers are the same as the existing tires on your mower. Otherwise, you either risk rubbing the tires against the body, or not be able to position them on the wheel properly.
  • Three-Number Sizing is quite different from the two-number sizing method. For example, a tire with a 14X4.50-6 size has a full diameter of 14-inches (the first number) when not inflated or positioned on the wheel. The second number, after the “X,” signifies the width of the tire, which in this case is 4.5-inches. The last number, interestingly, is the width of the rim and not its diameter. Obviously, we strongly recommend sticking to the same size as your existing tires as other sizes might not fit properly.

4. Differences in Tread Designs and Patterns

The best tires for zero turn mower come in many different tread designs. That’s understandable – each one of us has a different usage scenario. Some have smaller and flat yards; others have large grasslands with a lot of slopes and hills.

Given the fact that we cover only tires that work on hills, we didn’t include some tires types in our Top 10 list. Nonetheless, we listed all the different tread designs down below in case you find some of them useful for your particular needs:

  • Flat or slick tires are designed for completely flat turf. These tires don’t have much traction, but that shouldn’t be a big issue on flat surfaces. Moreover, they are friendly to the turf and won’t destroy it much, if at all. That said, they aren’t usable on hills, especially over wet turf or mud. You can still use them without an issue on the front axle, though.
  • Ribbed tires are similar in many ways to slick tires – the only difference is the few circumferential grooves. These grooves provide slightly better sideway grip, especially when your mower is positioned sideways on a hill. They lack proper traction for driving uphill, though. Still, ribbed tires can be useful on the front wheels, which don’t require a lot of traction.
  • Turf-saver tread design gives you much more traction to work with, while still taking care of the turf. These models have large lugs to aid traction over turf or mud. However, those lugs aren’t very deep, and they are also hollow on the inside. Thanks to that, they won’t damage the turf, yet still, give you usable performance. We recommend going for rear turf-saver tires if the field has hills with lower ascents and not a lot of mud.
  • All-terrain knobby tires will give you much more traction to work with over any kind of surface. These tires are great for steep hills and slopes, and they work over dry and wet surfaces. That said, they can still struggle in deep mud, and more importantly, they will damage the turf underneath, especially if driven carelessly. We recommend these tires on the back axle if you deal with steep ascents or deep mud.
  • Tires with large lugs will give you by far the best traction, even when going uphill on a very muddy surface. However, these tires aren’t gentle to the turf and can easily damage it. Still, they might be a good option for heavy-duty applications when installed on the rear wheels.

5. What is the Difference Between Flat and Round Tires?

Tires with flat tread area are designed mostly for flat surfaces. In these circumstances, they will give you the best possible traction, thanks to the large contact patch. However, flat tires aren’t very useful over softer surfaces, such as mud or sand.

Tires with rounded tread areas have much less traction on flat surfaces due to the smaller contact patch. However, they are much better for soft surfaces. For example, rounded tires will have a much larger contact patch in mud than flat tires.

Final Words

You probably learned by now, but there is no single tire type that works best for all people. What we want to tell you is that even if some tires are placed higher on the list, it doesn’t mean that they will work better for you. 

That’s why it is always best to choose tires that will fit all conditions that you encounter. And by all conditions, we mean choosing the right size, the appropriate “ply” rating, and a suitable tread pattern. That way, you’ll ensure that the tires work best for you and the conditions around you.

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