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Choosing the Best Tyres for Your Overlanding Vehicle

When you start thinking about preparing your vehicle for Overlanding, the first thing that you need to consider is the tyres. Chances are that your truck was supplied with road Passenger tyres. Whilst these tyres are perfectly good for around town and the highway, they will not get you where you want to go Overlanding.

It is worth considering that your tyres are the only part of the vehicle which is in contact with the terrain that you plan to cover. Running at normal road pressures, the amount of contact that your tyres have with the terrain is remarkably small. Not normally larger than the palm of your hand. We have covered tyre pressures in a previous article and will now concentrate on the choice of tyres.

Photo 1 of Choosing the Best Tyres for Your Overlanding Vehicle

The amount of off road use you that you think that you’ll be getting will dictate the type of tyres that you chose. To start with, there are a few straight “no no’s”. It is quite common these days to see, what looks like a well-equipped vehicle, running on 20” rims and low profile tyres. This may look the part  around town but is definitely not suitable for off road and Overlanding. Road tyres will definitely not get you where you want to go and you should certainly not be using big rims and low profile tyres.  These are a recipe for disaster, as both will lead to you getting punctures and potentially leaving you in a difficult or dangerous situation.

For Overlanding, you basically have a choice between two types of tyre. A Mud Tyre (MT) or an All Terrain (AT).

Tyres, like everything in life, are a compromise. If, like us, you’re out a lot and need maximum grip, a dedicated Mud tyre is the way to go. A Mud tyre (MT) will definitely be the best off road for a number of reasons. Primarily far better grip and less chance of punctures. They are however noisy on road, offer diminished handling in the wet and can increase fuel consumption. MTs should be rotated every 10,000kms or so to make sure that the leading edges of the treads wear evenly. They should be rotated diagonally, so the front right moves to rear left and so on.

Photo 2 of Choosing the Best Tyres for Your Overlanding Vehicle

Some people who only use their vehicle off road occasionally, will have two sets of wheels, although not everyone has the space or the money to have a spare set of wheels and tyres reserved for the occasional off road trip.

For most people, a good set of All Terrain (AT) tyres is the best solution. They will provide ample performance off road whilst maintaining good on road handling characteristics.  Many brands produce ATs and you generally get what you pay for. Many are categorized by the percentage of use that will be on road and off road. For example, a 70/30 tyre will be optimized for 70% on road and 30% off road. As we’ve said, it’s a compromise and up to you to decide where your best point on the curve is.
 If you’re starting out and your 4WD is your daily driver, we would suggest a tyre with 70/30 performance. Your tyre dealer should be able to provide you with advice on which AT will suit you best. It’s always worth getting a second opinion.

 The other thing to consider is future proofing your investment. Good tyres are not cheap and, if you think that Overlanding is something that you might get into, it may be worth buying something that you think is a bit too aggressive for the time being, safe in the knowledge that they will take you further as your adventures continue.

Photo 3 of Choosing the Best Tyres for Your Overlanding Vehicle

Another important factor to consider is your tyre’s resistance to punctures. Whilst a puncture in the tread, often caused by driving over a sharp object, can be repaired, a puncture in the side wall means the end of the tyre and possibly your trip. A side wall puncture cannot be repaired, so it is important that your tyres have side walls strong enough to resist those scrapes with rocks that we often suffer on tight tracks.

When you are looking at tyres, check to see if they have an LT (Light Truck) rating. This will be indicated by the letters “LT” on the side of the trye in front of the other numbers.
Don’t worry, you’re not going to feel like you’re driving a truck but your tyres will have specially reinforced side walls making them far more resistant to that dreaded side wall puncture.

We hope that you have found this article helpful and informative and look forward to meeting you out there on the tracks.

This article is part of the Building an Overlanding Vehicle Series.

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