The best sand tires feature unique design, compounds and (especially) tread patterning designed to effectively tackle the unique challenges of driving in deep sand.
Mud tires and (more broadly) off-road tires, tend to take the spotlight on the mental radar of 4×4 shoppers who will be active in an off-road setting. Of course, it’s not just mud, ruts and rocks that may be between your 4×4 and your off-road destination of choice—and for some enthusiasts, a sand-ready tire may be the ideal choice for their off-roader.
Below, we’ll highlight some of the best sand tire options for adding sand-ready rubber to your ride.
What to Know About Buying the Best Sand Tires
Assess Your Needs: Some sand tires are designed for off-road use only, and others can be driven on the highway, but with a significant hit to comfort, noise levels, and fuel economy. Many 4×4 enthusiasts avoid dedicated sand tires altogether, instead recommending the use of a good all-terrain tire, possibly up-sized to be wider than factory, and with a less-aggressive tread pattern. This combination may allow the vehicle to ‘float’ over the sand when required, without compromising traction and performance in other situations.
Do your Homework: It’s important for shoppers and owners to do their homework ahead of selecting and installing the best sand tires possible to tackle this type of terrain. Tire sizing and inflation pressures are key to success, with many pros recommending a wider tire that’s ‘aired down’ to about 10 to 20 pounds of pressure. Some tires can handle running in a low-pressure inflation mode better than others. Be sure to check ahead of time—and especially if you’ll go the popular route of running an all-terrain tire, instead of a dedicated sand tire, on your 4×4. And remember—the more specifically an off-road tire targets a specific type of driving (like sand), the more compromise is usually required when it comes to driving outside of those conditions.
Where to Go: In all aspects of off-roading, it’s important to make sure the area you’ll visit isn’t off limits, or that driving there won’t harm or damage the environment or reduce other people’s enjoyment of it. Be sure to check out the location where you’re going first: ask fellow off-roaders or locals, and consider checking a site like duneguide.com ahead of time to make sure it’s legal to drive in the area you’re considering. Failure to check ahead of time can lead to trespassing and other charges.
More Than Just Tires: Successful, safe and enjoyable driving in sandy conditions requires more than just a good set of tires for the job. Driving in sand can be difficult, strenuous or even hazardous, depending on the driver, the vehicle, and the equipment in play. For instance, sand is invasive—and will inevitably find its way into part of your vehicle that can be damaged or worn severely as a result. This may require some changes to your maintenance regime, driving habits, or off-road destination of choice. There are numerous best-practices that should be followed for safe and successful operation of a vehicle in deep sand, as well. If you’re new to off-roading in sand, be sure to join an off-road enthusiast forum to ask questions, chat with other enthusiasts, and benefit from the experience of the community in question. Being properly prepared, both mentally and mechanically, is key.
Safety First: If you’ll be hitting the dunes with a set of the best sand tires connecting you to the ground, be sure to protect yourself—and have all safety and rescue-related implements on hand before you head out. Pack extra water, sun protection, shelter, fluids, a shovel, recovery straps, a portable power pack and working cellular phone, and any other emergency implements that could help you if you become stuck or stranded in a remote location, away from water, and under the hot sun. Remember to tell friends and loved ones where you’re going, and when you’ll be back, and never visit unfamiliar off-road destinations alone.
Table of contents
1. Editor's Pick: BF Goodrich Mud Terrain T/A KM2
These high-performing tires feature the most glowing owner reviews in our list, with many satisfied owners advising that these tires are great-looking, easy to balance, and quieter than expected when used at higher speeds on paved roads. Some owners even watch these tires regularly, waiting to snatch them up when they go on sale. A super-tough sidewall compound and reinforced construction resists cuts and bruises, reducing the hazard of driving in many off-road settings.
Best of all, the BF Goodrich KM2s are created with special built-in flex zones, which allow the tires to conform and grip better during aired-down driving, which is a vital part of successfully tackling deep sand. By and large, these look to be a great all-around value on an all-purpose off-road tire that’s adapted well for use in sand, but with minimal compromise to on-road comfort.
2. Yokohama Geolandar M/T G003
Fresh out of the 2018 Yokohama National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA) Mexican 1000 off-road race, the Geolandar M/T G003 are a mud-terrain tire with a set of design attributes and functionalities that make them some of the best sand tires as well. With a collection of in-demand attributes built into a single tire, the M/T G003 tires feature special provisions for on and off-road traction, thanks in no small part to an innovative tread design and advanced rubber compounding. Signature GEO-SHEILD technology enables construction that’s engineered to withstand punishment for the long haul, and a wide and flat profile helps this tire to wear evenly, last longer, and perform better—even in sand.
Engineers even created an advanced pitch variation, which contributes to a quieter and more comfortable highway drive back home, after a day of exploring your favorite dunes or trails. With reasonable pricing, high-performance, long life and a proven name, these tires are a go-to with enthusiasts from around the globe. Best of all, many owners say that the on-road noise is kept nicely in check, compared to other aggressive off-road tires.
Read the Yokohama Geolandar M/T G003 review at tirereviewsandmore.com
3. Mickey Thompson Baja Claw
One of the toughest and most popular off-road tires on the scene comes from Mickey Thompson. The Baja Claw tires are designed for tackling some of the most extreme off-road situations, and feature numerous design and construction implements that enable top performance. Built-in SideBiters, for instance, provide a biting edge for added traction in deep mud or sand. The design of this ‘tall’ tire enhances ground clearance, which can help keep your 4×4 from bottoming out, or grounding against the terrain beneath, even over taller obstacles.
A cut-resistant sidewall adds durability on more aggressive terrain where there’s an increased likelihood of incremental damage which can accelerate tire wear, too. This all-around off-road tire is an extreme performer that’s well-rated to work in sand, as well as mud, gravel, snow and dirt. Just expect plenty of added noise and fuel consumption when used on the highway.
4. BF Goodrich Baja TA
The BF Goodrich Baja TA are the world’s first, and best, ultra-high-performance off-road tire. Popular with more Baja 1000 Champions than all other tires combined, these specialty tires come with exceptional performance in the sand, and a price tag to match. High-speed performance and soft-surface traction were the key attributes targeted by the design team, and an edge-rich tread pattern combined with enhanced lateral traction and plenty of side bite help this race-ready tire exceed expectations. There’s likely no higher-performing, sand-oriented tire on the market today.
With the durability of bruise-resistance, and a puncture defense system built into the sidewall, the Baja TA tires are ideal for maximum peace of mind, even in challenging conditions. An enhanced self-cleaning pattern is incorporated with the treads, ensuring consistent grip and performance. Finally, these flagship Baja tires come backed by one of the most recognized names in the game.
5. Nitto Dune Grappler
With a blend of on-road comfort and engineered performance on packed dirt, sand and loose rocks, these popular and highly rated tires from Nitto feature aggressive reinforcement and 3-ply polyester sidewall construction for maximum protection and durability. They are also some of the best sand tires you can buy. Carefully selected void ratios between the tread blocks were chosen to provide added grip and traction to assist drivers in aggressive maneuvers at speed over loose surfaces, and 3D grooving supports a more rigid tread block that helps mitigate irregular wear and road noise that result from unwanted tread-lug movement. Shoppers can select their Dune Grappler tires with one of two sidewall design, to help customize the look of their new tires perfectly for the application.
Owner reviews rate this tire highly for dry performance and quietness, though comfort proves to be the weakest rating. Finally, expert reviews note that a lowered siping area helps keep more of the tire in contact with the sand beneath, for flotation that’s important while driving in these unique conditions.
6. Dick Cepek Fun Country
Highly rated within various 4×4 owner communities, the Fun Country All-Terrain radial tires from Dick Cepek combine narrow sipes and interlocking tread lugs for exceptional surface grip and minimized sinking when travelling over sand and other soft surfaces. These tires are also available in wider widths, which are popular amongst owners who will frequently use them in sand dunes, beaches, and the like. After all, when driving in the sand, wider is better.
The Fun Country tires feature a firm contact patch that’s flexible enough to change in response to varying terrain. Special reinforcements and staggered SideBiters on the sidewall help make this tire more puncture-resistant, too. Finally, an advanced-engineering rubber compound helps protect your investment with improved cut and chip protection for a longer tire life. Owner reviews are very positive, with owners rating these tires highly on all aspects of appearance, value, and even performance in the snow.
The Dick Cepek Fun Country was well received on tirereviewsandmore.com
7. Toyo Open Country R/T
Excellent owner ratings and solid performance credentials helped this popular off-road tire earn a place on our list. Though not a sand-specific tire, this durable and rugged all-purpose off-road tire has many an owner impressed with its performance in a variety of situations, including while driving in deep snow or sand. Highest marks for this tire come from its off-road traction, tread life, winter handling, and dry handling—though shoppers can expect fuel efficiency to take a notable hit.
Open, scalloped shoulder blocks help eject mud and snow through open channels, while enhancing grip in muddy or sandy conditions. Large tread lugs provide plenty of surface area for decent flotation, helping this tire stay above the sand, rather than digging into it. Owners have noted surprisingly long life from these tires as well, perhaps thanks to the reinforced design and special rubber compound, which helps to fend off cuts, bruising and chips that can wear lesser tires down more quickly.
8. Falken Wildpeak AT3W
Highly rated for performance and value, these relatively affordable tires from Falken come packed with clever and innovative design touches to help drive value for the shopper. A true all-season tire, special compounding and design helps ensure excellence in three key areas: wear and treadlife, winter performance, and wet performance.
Though this is not a dedicated sand tire, many enthusiast communities rank them among the best sand tires drivers interested in partaking in beach or dune driving. A special silica-based tread compound dials up the grip and durability, while a built-in cooling system within the sidewall helps fight thermal stresses during severe use under heavy load. The 3D sipe technology interlocks the shoulders to help resist wear and improve handling stability on all surfaces. Here’s another all-purpose off-road tire that’s well-rated for use in sand, and at a price that won’t break the bank.
9. Mickey Thompson Baja STZ
Here’s another well-reviewed tire from Mickey Thompson. The Baja STZ All-Terrain Radials combine attractive pricing with a strong warranty that’ll serve the value-minded shopper nicely. If you’re after a strong performance from a well-backed, no-BS tire that’s designed for the long haul, the Baja STZs are worth further investigation.
Strategically placed siping uses a computer-designed shape to improve wear and traction characteristics, and multi-draft lug angles improve self-cleaning and increase the stability of the contact patch for more consistent handling. Expect great steering response, excellent all-surface grip, and strong performance in wet or icy conditions. Owner reviews are generally positive, and surprisingly low noise levels have been noted by many users. Still, some have reported that these tires may be difficult to balance, and a handful of owners have had tires replaced for that reason. Other complaints relate to wet surface traction when taking off from a stop, where these tires may tend to spin and skid.
Read tirereviewsandmore.com‘s review of the Mickey Thompson Baja STZ
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