Gravel roads are challenging to drive on. There is less traction than on paved roads, it takes longer to slow down, and the jagged rocks can slice through the tire’s tread if you aren’t driving carefully. Throw inclement weather and speed into the mix, and you have a formula for trouble.
Unless you plan on buying a new set of tires every few months, it’s imperative to choose the right gravel tires for your vehicle. The best gravel tires have unique handling abilities, extra-strong sidewalls and narrower treads that let them handle the rigors of gravel roads with ease.
We recommend the Continental TerrainContact A/T, Wrangler Silent Armor and BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 as the three best tires for gravel roads. Apart from possessing all the qualities mentioned above, these gravel road tires are backed with generous warranties.
That isn’t to say that other tires reviewed below are inferior to the top three. In fact, if you are on a budget, our top three picks might roll out of your range. Their astronomical asking prices might leave you with no choice but to go for tires reviewed further down the line.
Best Tires for Gravel Roads
Here are our top tire picks for gravel roads:
#1. Continental TerrainContact A/T
Three features make the Continental TerrainContact A/T one of the best tires for gravel roads. They include an open tread design with big stable blocks, traction grooves with “teeth” or biting edges, and robust tread shoulders supporting the sidewall.
Start with the open tread design. It features stable tread blocks to give you an enhanced steering feel and is supported by +Silane technology for added traction. Add to the mix the TractionPlus technology, and you get the traction matching the demands of gravel.
Next comes the traction grooves. They feature a large number of biting edges alongside this tire’s shoulder area. This enables the tire to dig into the gravel and latch onto the solid surface underneath, offering the kind of grip most tires struggle to offer on slippery surfaces.
Then there are the robust tread shoulders. Their presence gives the sidewall the stiffness to resist cuts, chips and punctures. And as stated above, the shoulder also feature biting edges. This means they increase this tire’s grip as well as make it strong.
Continental has also provided this tire with the standard TWI’s (tread wear indicators). These are narrow rubber bars positioned inside the grooves of the TerrainContact A/T. The rubber bars are initially hidden and only become visible as the rubber wears down.
- Tough and durable
- Offers excellent grip
- Works great on gravel
- Comfortable and silent ride
- 2-ply construction means it isn’t ideal for extreme off-road terrain
#2. Goodyear Wrangler SilentArmor
What is the point of purchasing a premium set of tires for gravel roads if you don’t get long-lasting treadlife, a comfortable and refined ride quality and generous warranty? The Goodyear Wrangler SilentArmor offers all that and more in an eye-watering price.
This tire’s construction leaves no doubt about the amount of abuse it can withstand. A layer of Kevlar and twin high-tensile steel belts enable the Wrangler SilentArmor to resist punctures. They also shield this model from damage that comes from driving on gravel and rocks.
You get the same Mountain/Snowflake emblem on this tire as you get on dedicated winter tires, meaning it is capable of meeting the severe snow service requirements.
As stated above, the presence of Kevlar in its casing increases this tire’s strength, but an additional benefit is that you get a quieter and smoother ride. Kevlar makes sure of that by absorbing road noise and vibrations, keeping your ride quality high.
A rim-guard is also on offer. It will protect your custom wheels from damage caused by off-road obstructions or curbs. And to leave no doubt in your mind that it stands behind this tire, Goodyear backs the Wrangler SilentArmor with a 50,000-mile tread guarantee.
- Brilliant on gravel
- Excellent ride comfort
- 50,000 mile tread guarantee
- Outstanding in severe wintry conditions
- Heavy weight might make the tires difficult to balance
#3. BFGoodrich All Terrain T/A KO2
The BFGoodrich All Terrain T/A KO2 is one of the best gravel road tires. It is available in various sizes ranging from 15 to 24 inches in diameter. The impressive size range means you can fit this tire on passenger cars, SUVs, light trucks and even trailers.
For daily use on gravel roads, there aren’t many tires that could rival the T/A KO2.
BFGoodrich has equipped the KO2 with a double-thick tread compound and a Tri-Gard sidewall design. The former gives the tire the strength needed to withstand tough conditions. The latter provides the T/A KO2 with long-term durability.
Its sidewall rubber compound features many improvements over its previous versions. The compound is twice as thick and resultantly a lot tougher. Supported by twin steel belts from the inside, it is the reason why this tire has such excellent puncture resistance.
BFGoodrich claims that the TA KO2 offers 10% more mud traction and 19% more traction on snow compared with the previous versions of KO all terrain tires.
Side biter lugs, which are protruding rubber blocks on the sidewall, provide this tire with improved traction on mud and snow. They also enhance its rock climbing traction (when aired down). Plus, mud buster bars (or raised bars) in the shoulder tread area improve traction in soft soil.
- Tough and durable tread
- Brilliant off-road performance
- Very, very impressive treadlife
- Could get noisy at high speeds on gravel
#4. Bridgestone Dueler A/T Revo 2
The Dueler A/T Revo 2 is the first tire from Bridgestone on our list. A unique cut and chip-resistant tread compound, wide open blocks in the shoulder area, and dual tread layer technology combine to make it strong and durable when driving on gravel.
Bridgestone has tried to shield this tire from the effects of wear. It has done that by providing it with a unique dual tread layer that exposes new rubber as the tread begins wearing down. This helps the tire retain its original handling and cornering as the miles fly by.
If you drive with one eye on the fuel gauge, the Dueler A/T Revo 2 has something for you. Its tread compound is designed to reduce this model’s rolling resistance. As you might guess, this translates into added fuel economy over the entire lifespan of this tire.
Driving in the snow or on wet roads is another strong suit of this tire.
The credit for this goes to its open shoulder design and semi-stealth tread block technology. Together with the circumferential and lateral grooves, which reduce the risk of hydroplaning. They increase this model’s handling and eliminate water from underneath the tread area.
One of the few areas where this tire could have fared better is treadlife.
That isn’t to say that the A/T Revo 2 will require replacement after only a few months. Had that been the case, Bridgestone wouldn’t have included a 50,000 mile tread guarantee. Still, when compared with our top picks, this tire’s tread life looks lackluster.
- Above average ride comfort
- Quiet tire for an AT model
- Impressive fuel economy for a tire of its class
- Treadlife could have been better
#5. General Grabber HTS 60
Who says highway tires struggle on gravel roads? The General Grabber HTS 60 is proof that these tires are much tougher than touring or grand-touring tires. It is the added toughness that would help this tire keep your vehicle under your control on gravel roads.
Everything good about this tire isn’t related to brute strength, though. Take, for instance, the DuraGen Technology. It forces you to take note of its presence via the cuts on the tread area, which provide the HTS 60 with an excellent cut and chip resistance.
Ride quality is also impressive for an AT tire. The credit for this goes to the Comfort Balance Technology whose name makes its intentions clear. This technology works by putting a cushioned layer on top of the tread, isolating your vehicle from road noises and disturbances.
Treadlife is also on the higher side. The StabiliTread technology increases the tire’s footprint on slippery surfaces, exposing the tread to less stress and helping it last longer.
An optimized symmetric ribbed tread pattern, together with a continuous center rib, enhances the steering response and driving stability. Aside from that, the siping details on the shoulder pattern increase the number of biting edges, positively impacting the grip.
- Brilliant all-season performance
- Sure and precise steering response
- Almost noise-free
- Some sizes are pricey
#6. Falken Wildpeak AT3W
The Wildpeak AT3W is one of the toughest off-road tires you can buy. At the same time, its refinement on highway conditions won’t let you feel as if you’re driving an AT tire. Sounds interesting, right?
An outer apex sidewall is where the fun begins with the AT3W. The ultra-strong sidewall is the reason why this tire is ultra-durable and resists damage or punctures so well. It also functions as a heat shield to prevent temperatures from soaring in highway driving.
Close inspection of the sidewall will reveal heat diffusers. They are the reason why this tire’s rubber remains cool at highway speeds. This ensures that the tire’s stability remains above par when carrying or towing incredibly heavy loads.
All of this is good and all that, but what about gravel performance? Well, that is where its treads make an appearance. Falken claims they are the deepest in the A/T category. A bold claim, sure, but one that is backed by an army of tread blocks visible from the outside.
Look closely and you’ll notice that the blocks are dotted with step-down etching and support ramps. Both these features not only ensure consistent grip and handling on gravel. They also help with stone ejection, minimizing the risk of punctures.
Noise is the only area where you feel the AT3W has let the guard down. Even for an all-terrain tire, this model is incredibly loud, especially as the needle on the speedometer swings toward the right.
- Long-lasting wear
- Consistent grip and traction
- Resists damage as well as punctures
- Tire roars at high speeds
Gravel Road Tires Buying Guide
How to choose the right gravel tire? If you are not sure which factors make a tire dependable on gravel roads, we have included some things for you to consider.
Tread pattern plays an important part in deciding how well your vehicle will handle gravel roads. The tread pattern modulates tire pressure, allowing the tire to strike the perfect balance between traction and rolling resistance. It is thus imperative that you check out the tire’s tread.
The best tires for gravel roads have a deep tread. The tread pattern also has multiple biting edges — sipes — to help the tire grip the road better. Remember, the higher the traction of your tire, the better its ability to handle gravel roads.
Every tire has an internal casing that determines its durability, stability and ride quality. Yet another thing the internal casing plays a major role in is the tire’s handling on gravel. So while you cannot see it in action, your tire’s internal casing will determine how it performs on gravel.
Make sure to get a tire with a 10-ply internal casing. The higher the tire rating, the better the tire’s puncture resistance and ride quality. Also, tires with, say, a 10-ply rating have less chance of incurring chip and cut damage than 9-ply tires.
The sidewall is the area between the edge of the tire and its bead. It protects the tire’s interior and features information such as tire markings, tire size, and tire type. In other words, the sidewall is the area that is visible to the eye when you look at the tire from the side.
When shopping for the best tires for gravel roads, make sure their sidewall is made up of reinforced rubber and carries cut and chip-resistant features. Only with a strengthened sidewall could a tire roll over jagged rocks and other sharp objects without incurring punctures.
If you regularly drive on gravel roads, you are likely to be aware of one thing. Without a proper tire grip, any vehicle would struggle on gravel. That is why it is important to spend your money on a tire that offers good grip in slippery conditions.
There are two factors that determine a tire’s grip: tread depth and stiffness. As stated earlier, a deep tread is necessary for adequate traction on gravel. As for stiffness, tires that are less stiff and/or are flexible fare better on slippery surfaces than their ultra-stiff counterparts.
There are three factors that will determine how well your vehicle handles on gravel. The first of which is the amount of traction its tires offer, decided by the number of sipes and the tread depth. The second factor is the speed on which you drive.
The final factor is related to how effectively a tire removes water from underneath its surface. This is decided by whether or not it has circumferential grooves, which are crucial for channeling out water and improving the tire’s handling in rainy conditions.
Tips for Driving Safely on Gravel Roads
According to an estimate, 16.5 percent of all fatal road accidents occur on gravel roads. This is a worrying figure given that gravel roads are a fraction of the total road network. It indicates that while gravel roads are few and far between, they are contributing a lion’s share of road accidents.
Whether you’re a member of the farming community, or whether you are frequent commuter to the nearby lake, it is imperative that you know how to drive safely on gravel roads. Otherwise your own safety and that of your fellow car passengers might be at a risk.
Here are tips for driving safely on gravel roads:
Accelerating and braking too quickly on gravel roads is a recipe for accident. It forces you to lose control over your vehicle and increases the risk of having a collision.
For this reason, regardless of the posted speed limit on gravel roads, make sure to drive to road conditions. Another thing you could do is slowing down when approaching blind turns, objects or hills that obstruct your vision.
Maintain a safe following distance
Rear-end accidents are the most common collisions between vehicles on gravel roads. It is thus imperative to keep a safe following distance between your car and the one in front of you. The simplest way to maintain a safe following distance is by following the three-second rule.
When the car in front of you passes a stationary object, such as a tree or other landmark, start counting to three. (Here’s an effective tip to count properly: count 1,000; 1,001; 1,002). If you pass the same point before making it to three, slow down as your distance from the car in front is likely too small.
Drive in the tracks
If you are the only one driving on the gravel road, look for existing tire tracks. Tire tracks will lay out the area in which it is safe to drive. If a vehicle is approaching from the other side and you have to leave the tracks, reduce your right, move to the other side, and pass with extreme caution.
Avoid any sudden movements and put both hands on the wheel. That said, you do not need to apply too much pressure on the steering wheel. Since gravel isn’t as consistent as paved roads, less pressure on the steering wheel will allow the tires to “go with the flow.”
Don’t panic while handling skids
If your vehicle ends up skidding on gravel, the last thing you need to do is panic. Take your foot off the gas and the brakes, gently increase the pressure on steering and turn the steering wheel in the direction the vehicle is skidding.
If you do it right, you would be able to regain control over your car within seconds and return safely on the track.
Frequently Asked Questions
What tire is best for gravel?
The Continental Terrain Contact A/T is one of the best tires for gravel. This tire has a sophisticated tread design with lots of voids that enable it to provide supreme grip on slippery surfaces. Puncture-resistant side lugs and a sturdy Kevlar-reinforced bead at its center also makes it best for gravel.
Are all season tires good for gravel?
All-season tires can safely carry you from point A to point B on gravel, as long as you keep the speed below 50mph. However, if you accelerate too quickly or drive too frequently on gravel roads, all-season tires might develop cuts and chips.
How bad are gravel roads for tires?
Gravel roads can reduce a tire’s road life. Driving on them is like sanding down your tires with sand paper. Aside from that, the slippage and friction between the gravel and your tire tread also takes a toll on your tire’s performance. This is one issue you don’t normally have to face on paved roads.
Do gravel tires wear faster?
Yes, tires wear faster on gravel roads than on paved ones. The scattered pieces of stones as well as other types of rubbish are highly abrasive on tires. So if you regularly drive on gravel roads, don’t expect your tire to outlast its treadwear warranty.
Some of the tires reviewed above will cost you to rob a bank. We’re talking about models belonging to Michelin, Continental, Bridgestone and other premium brands. Yet they will justify their asking price with superior performance on gravel and long-lasting tread life.
Others, such as the Falken Wildpeak AT3W, will be more generous on your pocket. Not because their off-road performance cannot rival with that of our top picks. It’s just that these tires’ tread lives cannot stand in a one vs. one comparison with our top picks.
The choice, as always, is yours. Go for the top three tires for gravel roads on our list if you want supreme performance and could afford to pull out all the stops. Or settle for any of the competitively priced models if you are on a budget.