Thanks to modern technology and the evolution of the tire manufacturing process, we’re at a point where we have tires for various driving conditions.
While in the early days, car owners had to settle for one type of tire and work with what they got. Today, tires are divided into multiple categories depending on what we need from them.
The most common type of tires people go for are road tires, regardless of whether they’re touring or performance options. On the other hand, there are off-road options that aren’t too common, but plenty of car owners still seek them out.
Off-roading conditions aren’t the most ideal because tires need to deliver performance in multiple conditions, from gravel to mud and sand.
People that have even been off-roading know that sand can be a very tricky situation because not all tires are capable of delivering excellent performance. With that in mind, today I’ll outline my list of the best off-road tires that perform well in sandy conditions.
Before I dive into the list, there’s one thing I should point out: my picks include mud-terrain and all-terrain models. The mix and match is because there are people who don’t need maximum sand performance, so an all-terrain tire will suffice. Also, I’ll include a specialized sand tire for maximum attack.
#1. BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3
Coming as an upgrade over the previous KM2 model, the Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 is one of the best tires for sand currently on the market.
Despite being a mud-terrain tire, the T/A KM3 can deliver some usable performance on the road. Compared with some of its rivals, it’s average for this category in dry conditions, something the tire makes up in the wet. The grip and traction are very good, bumping it near the top.
The Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 is also a very capable tire in the snow. Combining the tread design and the all-season rubber compound enables the tire to have almost no issues on snow. It remains soft enough even in freezing temperatures and has no problem digging into the snow and delivering traction.
Off-road is what the Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 is designed for, and it does that very well. Regardless if we’re talking about gravel or rock-crawling, the performance will be superb. Thanks to the internal construction, deflating will not be an issue, and the sidewall will handle it.
As I mentioned in the beginning, the performance in sand is one of the best. At standard pressure, the Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 has no problem with traction, and it’s very controllable even at higher speeds. If you run into deeper and finer sand, the regular setup isn’t the most ideal one, something that can be remedied with a bit of deflation.
One thing mud-terrain tires are notorious for is the refinement, and the Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 is no exception. The comfort levels are far from what a highway tire offers, and the roar can get tiresome, especially at higher speeds.
- Superior sand performance
- Very usable on paved roads
- Excellent performance on snow
- Refinement isn’t the tire’s strongest side
- Dry performance is average for its category
#2. Firestone Destination M/T2
Moving away from the premium segment, we come to the mid-range one with the Destination M/T2. This comes as an upgrade over Firestone’s original M/T model, bringing a few improvements across the board.
The performance on the road with the Destination M/T2 is as good as you can expect from it. As a mud-terrain tire, it is usable on paved surfaces and in dry conditions, is a tire that will get the job done. Wet performance is somewhat better, thanks to the tire’s increased number of biting edges, but I was a bit disappointed with the aquaplaning resistance.
Firestone went with a slightly different tread pattern which may cripple aquaplaning resistance, but it helps a lot in snowy conditions. While I wouldn’t compare the Destination M/T2 with the best in the mud-terrain segment, it’s pretty good for a mid-range tire.
In off-road conditions, the Destination M/T2 is an option that won’t leave you asking for more. Regardless of the situation, you’ll have no issues with grip and traction. With that said, the tire will begin to struggle in deeper mud. On the other hand, sand is something that it won’t cause too many problems. The performance is almost as good as the premium options on the market.
Unlike the previous model, the Destination M/T2 does have some positive sides. While the comfort levels aren’t outstanding, the noise is surprisingly acceptable. It’s not as quiet as a touring tire, but it’s quieter than some premium models.
- Premium-like off-road performance, including sand
- Decently quiet on the road
#3. General Grabber X3
Continuing the trend of mid-range options leads us to the next tire for sand, the Grabber X3. Like Firestone, General is a US tire manufacturer that provides excellent bang for the buck models for the masses.
The Grabber X3 is an average tire on the road, delivering safe performance but not enough to stand out from the crowd. Traction and grip are decent, along with the braking distances in dry conditions. Once it starts raining, thanks to the sipes, it shows to be slightly better than some of its rivals.
Snow is another area where the Grabber X3 doesn’t shine. In situations where the snow is unpacked, the tire is pretty good, delivering plenty of traction while being very controllable. The downside comes in packed snow, where it feels like it doesn’t have enough biting power to provide the same traction.
What the Grabber X3 lacks in on-road performance makes up in off-road conditions. The tire can tackle any kind of surface, from dirt roads to rocks. Somewhere in between is sand, something this tire is very good at. The size of the grains poses no issues, and the tire successfully avoids getting stuck. Even if the sand is deeper, you won’t have too many issues.
In the refinement department, the Grabber X3 goes back to being a tire that doesn’t have a lot to show. As with most mud-terrain tires, the comfort levels can be considered acceptable, but the tire isn’t impressive in this regard. Noise levels are also a bit on the high side, especially at higher speeds.
- Superb sand performance
- Traction on unpacked snow is excellent
- Among the best price per performance ratios
- Road performance is average
- It can get quite noisy at higher speeds
#4. Yokohama Geolandar M/T G003
Going back to the premium tire manufacturers, we come to a model that gets praised a lot for its off-road performance. Yokohama’s Geolandar M/T G003 is an excellent tire that delivers very good performance in multiple conditions.
The road performance of the Geolandar M/T G003 is very good as far as mud-terrain tires are concerned. Dry road performance is very much usable, and there’s a decent amount of grip and traction. Yokohama did its magic and made the tire perform very well in the wet, including aquaplaning resistance. In both cases, the tire remains controllable and compliant.
In winter conditions, the Geolandar M/T G003 isn’t a tire that will fall apart at the first sign of snow. While the performance over packed snow is a bit limited, it has no issues on unpacked one. In addition to that, the braking distances are acceptable until you start to drive over ice, in which case the tire doesn’t manage to deliver a lot of performance.
Off-roading is what the tire is designed for, and it does that very well. The Geolandar M/T G003 manages to deliver superb performance in any condition, including sand. With loads of traction over loose surfaces, the chances of getting stuck are minimal as the tire glides over sand. Even the extremer conditions are not a problem, and you’ll have plenty of performance to work with.
Comfort and noise levels are the part where the tire isn’t the best. On paved roads, you may want to air down the Geolandar M/T G003 a bit to get a slightly more comfortable ride. As far as noise is concerned, at marginally higher speeds, the tire will not be particularly quiet. To be fair, it’s not the loudest either.
- Decent performance over paved roads
- Usable in winter conditions
- Among the best in terms of off-roading
- Slight increase in noise on the highway
- May struggle over packed snow and especially ice
#5. Dick Cepek Extreme Country
Dick Cepek is a brand that usually flies under the radar, but in this case, it deserves to be on this list. The Extreme Country is a mud-terrain tire capable of offering competitive performance at a lower price.
Driving with the Extreme Country on paved roads isn’t a particularly bad experience. For everyday driving, the tire delivers decent performance levels, and as long as you don’t push it, you shouldn’t have any issues. The aquaplaning resistance takes a bit of a hit, but you probably won’t be driving too fast in the rain, so it shouldn’t be an issue.
The Extreme Country is M+S rated, so winter performance is a bit limited. It can handle shallow to mid unpacked snow with ease and will start to struggle a bit in a deeper one. Like some of its competitors, performance on packed snow isn’t particularly spectacular, and the same goes for ice.
Dick Cepek designed the Extreme Country as a mud-terrain tire, so the off-road performance is excellent. The self-cleaning tread pattern enables the tire to keep the grooves clean and deliver excellent performance in mud. Similarly, the sand performance is impressive, and it takes a lot to get stuck with it.
Refinement is an area of the Extreme Country that isn’t as terrible as some of its rivals. Surprisingly, the noise levels are on the lower end of the spectrum, putting it near the Firestone model. The comfort levels are also acceptable, and you can live with it, but you should still expect a slightly harsher ride.
- An affordable option
- Surprisingly quiet for a mud-terrain tire
- Excellent light snow performance
- Snow performance is poor in harsher conditions
- Not the most comfortable ride
#6. Goodyear Wrangler AT Adventure
With the mud-terrain tires out of the way, let’s mention a few all-terrain ones, starting with the Wrangler AT Adventure. Even though the off-road performance isn’t on par with the previous models on this list, it’s not the worst performer out there.
Goodyear seems to set up the Wrangler AT Adventure more towards off-roading, evident from the road performance. Dry performance is decent, offering plenty of grip, traction, and short braking distances. In rainy conditions, things take a slight turn for the worse. Even though the tire isn’t horrible, there are better options for these conditions.
Like most all-season tires from this category, winter performance isn’t one you can rely too much on. In light to medium conditions, the Wrangler AT Adventure is usable and won’t struggle too much. Going for something harsher will result in less traction, especially on ice or packed snow.
The off-road performance with the Wrangler AT Adventure is a bit of a mixed bag. Gravel is an area where the tire delivers good performance, but they are slightly above average. On the other hand, sand is its forte and manages to deliver superb traction outperforming most of its rivals.
All-terrain tires are better refined than mud-terrain ones, and the Wrangler AT Adventure is among the better ones. The comfort levels are soft enough to absorb a good amount of bumps, while the noise levels are on the lower spectrum.
- One of the best all-terrain tires for sand
- Well refined
- Outstanding dry performance
- Gravel performance is slightly above average
- Wet braking distances aren’t the shortest in the category
#7. General Grabber AT3
Going up against the premium all-terrain tire I just mentioned is General’s Grabber AT3. Like most mid-range options, this is a tire capable of delivering excellent performance at a lower price. In the case of sand performance, it’s almost as good as the Goodyear.
On the road, the Grabber AT3 offers very good performance, putting it near the top of its class. The tire has plenty of grip and traction in dry conditions. Wet roads aren’t ideal, and the tire will struggle a bit. Combine that with the average aquaplaning resistance and braking distances, and you have a tire where you’ll need to be careful in the rain.
Like the previous tire, the Grabber AT3 isn’t a replacement for a winter tire. While it manages to deliver usable performance in light snow, it may begin to struggle in harsher conditions.
Moving away from the pavement, the Grabber AT3 is a tire that won’t be superior in every condition. On dirt roads, you will have very high levels of traction, but unfortunately, the braking distances will only be average. Sand is where the tire shines, and even though it’s behind the Goodyear models, the difference isn’t massive.
General managed to make a decently well-refined model, as far as all-terrain tires are concerned. The noise levels are low enough, so they won’t be intrusive even at highway speeds. In terms of comfort, the Grabber AT3 isn’t too bad. Yes, it may feel bouncy and harsh at times, but in this regard, it’s average.
- Excellent performance in sand
- Gravel traction is superb
- Dry performance is very good, near the top of its class
- Average wet performance
- Longer braking distances on dirt roads
#8. BFGodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2
The last all-terrain tire that you should consider for driving on sand is the All-Terrain T/A KO2. It’s not the first BFGoodrich on this list which only confirms that the company makes some excellent off-road tires.
As good as the off-road performance may be, the one on the road isn’t too spectacular in some conditions. Performance on dry roads is excellent, and thanks to the levels of grip, the All-Terrain T/A KO2 almost has no issues with slip. Things change in wet, where the traction isn’t as impressive, so the tire will struggle slightly.
As an all-season tire, you’d expect to get some usable performance in the winter, which is exactly what the All-Terrain T/A KO2 can deliver and a bit more. Considering that it has the 3PMSF rating, the tire can provide some respectable performance. It does struggle a bit over packed snow, and there isn’t too much traction on ice, but it should be fine in other conditions.
When you look at the performance levels the All-Terrain T/A KO2 can deliver, it may remind you of a mud-terrain or at least a hybrid tire. The traction on dirt roads is excellent, which combined with the short braking distances, puts it near the top. I can say the same thing about sand performance, which the tire has plenty of. It’s not comparable to a mud-terrain tire, but it’s among the best in the all-terrain segment. If you need, some rock crawling is also possible.
Even in the comfort and noise levels, there are some areas of the tire that make it an attractive one. The side that I can praise is the comfort levels, which are very good for an all-terrain tire. On the negative side, there are the noise levels, which may seem fine initially, but as the tire wears down, the noise levels increase a bit.
- Excellent off-road capabilities
- Decently comfortable
- Dry on-road manners are superb
- Noise levels increase as the tire wears down
- Wet performance is average
#9. Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ P3
In recent years we’ve begun to see multiple brands going for the hybrid approach – an aggressive tread pattern with decent road manners. Mickey Thompson is a brand capable of making excellent off-road tires, and its Baja ATZ P3 is my pick for this list.
On the road, the Baja ATZ P3 isn’t a horrible choice, but it can get outperformed even by some mud-terrain options. In dry conditions, the performance is decent, and there is enough grip and traction for everyday driving. Unfortunately, the traction is limited in wet conditions, so you’ll need to be a bit gentle with it.
Winter driving isn’t something that I’d recommend with the Baja ATZ P3. Even in lighter conditions, the tire feels unstable and can struggle to put the power down.
Off-road is where the Baja ATZ P3 won’t struggle at all. Traction on hard-packed surfaces won’t be an issue, and the braking distances are quite short. Mickey Thompson designed the tire for dunes, and it doesn’t disappoint. It has almost no problems with traction on sand, making it among the best in its class.
Things seem to take a slight turn for the worse in the refinement department. The aggressive tread pattern makes noise noticeable, worsening over time as the tire wears down. Comfort levels are average, which you should expect from this type of tire.
- Among the best sand performers in its class
- Decent performance on dry roads
- Plenty of traction for other off-road conditions
- Noise levels increase as the tire wears down
- Wet and snow performance is poor
#10. BFGoodrich Baja T/A KR2
The last tire on my list is a specialized off-road one that BFGoodrich designed for Paris Dakar. As a result, you have the absolute best tire for driving in sandy conditions.
BFGoodrich put every ounce of off-road knowledge into the Baja T/A KR2, making a specialized sand tire for the wilderness. The level of performance with this tire is unlike anything that the other tires on this list can deliver.
Apart from sand performance, the Baja T/A KR2 is a tire that won’t disappoint in other off-roading conditions. It has no problems with dirt roads or some rock crawling.
A downside to these specialized tires is that they aren’t designed for other use cases. In the case of the Baja T/A KR2, you are looking at a fully off-road tire that shouldn’t be used on the road.
- Superior sand performance
- Excellent traction on dirt roads
- The tire can handle rock crawling
- Not road legal