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goodyear duratrac winter

Why The Goodyear Duratrac is The Best Offroad Tire for Winter

I’ve been a big fan of the Goodyear Duratrac tire for quite a few years now. Now that I’m on my second set, I still believe they’re the best offroad tire for winter as well as daily driving.

My first experience with the Goodyear Duratrac was when I was looking for tires to replace my old Bridgestone Dueller Revos on my Grand Cherokee. I was never impressed with the Revos and didn’t think they lived up to the hype the Jeep community gave them at the time.

Up until that point, the Revo was recommended to anyone looking to upsize the tires on their Grand Cherokee to something more aggressive without switching to a mud-terrain. Then a new player showed up on the scene; the Goodyear Duratrac.

goodyear duratrac snow

Many people were skeptical at first, due to the much more aggressive design of the Duratrac. It looked like a mud tire. Everyone assumed it would be loud on the road because of the large tread blocks. But the Duratrac quickly gained traction (ha!) in the Jeep community as people started giving it a chance. I decided to jump on the bandwagon and try a set on my Grand Cherokee.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Not only did they prove to me how great they are, but they also showed me how bad my old tires were in comparison. The Bridgestone Revos were pathetic on anything other than dry roads compared to these. The narrow size that I was running (245/70/17) combined with the Jeep’s full time AWD system made it feel like a rally car in the winter time.

They remained on my Jeep until I sold it, and they appear to still be on there to this day when I see it driving around town! The Duratrac made a huge believer out of me; so when I was shopping for wheels and tires for my 4runner – well I was really just shopping for wheels. I already knew exactly what tire I would buy without giving it a second thought.

 

Want to read more about my Toyota 4runner? Check out the feature article here:

 

 

I’m running a much bigger size on the 4runner, but I’m still enjoying the same attributes they had on my Jeep. I’m not sure how Goodyear has done it, but somehow they’re good (or even great) at nearly everything. If you own a mid size 4×4 vehicle that you daily drive during the week and off road on the weekend, the Goodyear Duratrac is your tire. Rain, shine, summer or winter, they have proven themselves trustworthy to me time and time again.

So why is the Duratrac the best offroad tire for winter?

Notice I said “winter” not “snow”. There’s a big difference. Any decent mud tire will do fine in deep snow. The same self-cleaning properties that make them so good in the mud also translate to deep snow.

I don’t know about you, but here in Canada we don’t typically have to dig through huge amounts of deep snow every morning to get to work. (We have a pet Moose for that, duh!)

In reality, winter driving consists of packed snow, slush, and ice. Using a mud tire in these conditions is a horrible experience. Those large tread blocks that make them so good offroad quickly turn into hundreds of little “racing slick” tires under your rig. You’re basically driving on hockey pucks.

Although the Duratrac has large tread blocks (for an all-terrain tire), Goodyear has also given it generous siping. This is what makes all the difference in winter conditions. Take a look at any winter tire and you’ll see two things: deep tread blocks and tons of siping.

goodyear duratrac siping
What is tire siping?

Siping involves cutting thin slits into the larger tread blocks of a tire. This allows the block to flex with the surface of the road rather than slide across it.

An extreme comparison would be a track-specific racing slick vs a winter tire. Track tires have completely smooth rubber with no tread at all. This offers the most grip on hot, dry pavement. As soon as you add any water on the surface however, these tires hydroplane and lose traction completely.

Winter tires are the opposite. They have intricate tread designs with deep blocks and plenty of siping. You won’t see a smooth, flat chunk of rubber anywhere on a winter tire’s tread. This helps them to stick to slippery surfaces and keep snow from packing up in the tread. This is also what makes them awful in the summertime. They’re loud and wear quickly in hot, dry summer conditions.

The Goodyear Duratrac has all of the characteristics of a good winter tire built into an offroad tire. I find they not only live up to their mountain/snowflake rating but can even keep up with a dedicated winter tire in many situations.

goodyear duratrac method racewheels
Size makes a difference

I have the exact same tires on my 4runner that I had on my Grand Cherokee. The only difference between them is the tire size. The Jeep had a more narrow “pizza cutter” style setup (245/70/17) while the 4runner wears beefy 285/70/17s.

In my experience, the width of the tire has played a role in how they behave in winter conditions. The narrow tire had better stability, steering, and braking in slippery weather while the wide tire does a better job of floating on top of deep snow. I would suggest choosing your tire size based on which of the two you do more of. I was surprised at how differently the same tire performs in two different sizes.

 

Offroad driving:

goodyear duratrac mud

It’s easy to forget that the Duratrac isn’t just a dedicated winter tire. It’s primarily meant for dirt, mud and rocks and it handles them very well. Many people consider this tire to be closer to a mud-terrain than an all-terrain. Most all-terrain tires feature a more mild tread design, and can easily get in over their head when it comes to hardcore four wheeling. The Duratrac isn’t one of those.

Mud

The Goodyear Duratrac doesn’t handle deep mud as well as a dedicated mud tire. It’s quite impressive how well they manage to perform in these conditions though. Most all-terrain tires will have trouble with mud packing up in the tread, robbing them of traction. Thanks to their self-cleaning shoulder blocks, these actually shed mud fairly well. With a bit of wheel speed, the Duratrac will keep chugging along in all but the worst mud scenarios. That makes them a great option for people going to and from job sites in wet weather.

Rocks

Users have reported that these tires aren’t really a fan of rock crawling. They tend to chunk easily and they’re also known for having a weaker sidewall which can make them vulnerable to punctures. The extended tread blocks that wrap around the edge of the sidewall help with both traction and protection in the rocks, but you still need to be careful.

The rim protector on the inner edge of the sidewall is a nice feature. This will hopefully save your wheel from damage in some cases.

 

On road driving:

goodyear duratrac tire shine
Noise

This is another big surprise. After one look at these tires, you would assume that they’ll be really loud on the highway. They actually aren’t nearly as loud as a mud tire. As a matter of fact, they aren’t loud at all. Sure, you can tell the vehicle you’re driving has off road tires on it, but it’s nowhere near the point of being an annoyance.

Again, the size of the tire makes a difference here. My 285s on the 4runner are a bit louder than the 245s on my Jeep. Overall, it’s amazing how Goodyear has managed to keep such an aggressive tire quiet. They used angled tread blocks in the center to help with this. I don’t know how, but it works.

Vibration

Obviously, these tires aren’t going to be as smooth at 80 mph as a performance tire. Having said that, they’re actually quite comfortable on the highway. They also don’t have that slow speed “hopping” vibration that mud tires have when you come to a stop. The Duratrac is extremely livable in day to day street driving.

Owners of heavier trucks have complained about these tires squirming and swaying. Some of them say it goes away once the tires are broken in and the mold release has worn off them, but for others, the problem remains. This could be an issue with the weaker sidewalls on heavy vehicles.

Rain

Wet roads are another case where mud tires don’t do well. The Duratrac succeeds in these conditions for the same reasons that it does great in the winter. Siping plays a big role on wet roads, and this tire has plenty. I’ve never felt any type of hydroplaning with either of the sets I’ve owned.

Treadwear

Goodyear expects these to last at least 50,000 miles (80,000kms) on most vehicles. I didn’t own my Jeep for long enough to see the end of the Duratracs’ life, but they hadn’t noticeably worn at all in a number of years.

 

Tip: When it comes to any all-terrain or mud-terrain tire, the key to getting the most life out of them is to rotate them regularly. I rotate mine with nearly every oil change just to be safe. Tire pressure is an important factor as well. Making sure they have a consistent contact patch from proper air pressure will help to keep them around for a long time.

 

Price

The Goodyear Duratrac is a great value thanks to its long tread life and wide variety of uses. These tires are a bit more expensive than their biggest competitor (BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2). If you compare them to popular mud tires, they’re either on par or cheaper. To me, they’re worth a few extra dollars because they perform so much better than any other all-terrain tire.

 

 

Pros and Cons:

 

  • Excellent in any type of weather including winter
  • Great offroad performance for an all-terrain tire
  • Smooth, quiet ride on pavement
  • Long tread life
  • Aggressive looks

 

 

  • Weaker sidewall
  • Can be squirmy on heavy duty trucks
  • Slightly more expensive than competitors
  • Not as good in mud as a dedicated mud tire

 

best all terrain tire snow

Conclusion

As you can see, I’m a huge fan of this tire. If you don’t believe me, feel free to read their thousands of positive reviews online. I currently have them on my daily driven 4runner. I drive it all winter long, on the street, in the mud, and to the mountain bike trails in the heat of summer. They’ve given me fantastic performance every time.

I think these are the perfect tire for anyone into overland driving. They can rack up the miles on paved and dirt roads quietly and comfortably, then take you nearly anywhere you need to go offroad. Their long tread life will come in handy for those cross country trips too.

I’ve recommended these tires to people in person many, many times. Whenever someone with an offroad vehicle up here in Canada asks me what tire to buy, my answer is always the Goodyear Duratrac. That’s not likely going to change anytime soon.

 

Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac All Terrain tires

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2 Comments

  • Al Crocker

    December 4, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    You said the narrower tire is better 4 stability, steering & braking. All my driving will be on-road & just ordered DuraTracs 31×10.50 (the size on the 06 Wrangler I just bought) SO will that be OK or do I need to cancel my order and get
    29 x 9.50 ???

    Reply
    • Canadian Gearhead

      December 4, 2018 at 7:27 pm

      I wouldn’t worry about it. I noticed a bit of a difference between the 245 wide tires on my Grand Cherokee and the 285s on my 4runner, but the wider tires are still great in the winter.

      Tim

      Reply

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