Replacement Tires: Do You Need Two Sets Of Wheels?

Hunters face a significant dilemma when it comes time to replace tires for their trucks. They need rubber that'll help them tackle the occasional off-road obstacle, but almost all pickups and SUVs spend their lives as commuter vehicles and often cover endless Interstate miles to remote hunting or fishing areas.

How do you pick the right replacements when your tires wear out? First, start with an honest assessment of how your vehicle has performed. If you were satisfied with its off-pavement performance when it was new, simply install the same tires that came on the vehicle. Randomly trying a different tire makes little sense.

If you didn't like the way your tires performed off road, though, you face a challenging choice. With tires, when one type of performance is improved, others are degraded. The best off-road tires are less than pleasing on the highway. Many things that allow these tires to successfully negotiate a mud hole or steep rocky trail makes everyday driving a pain. And every mile they travel on pavement makes them a little less capable.

I solve this problem by using two sets of wheels. One is shod with a popular compromise tire: This rubber earns solid marks both on pavement and on logging trails during the dry season. The other set uses the most serious off-road tires I could find. The compromise tire stays on through most of deer season: Fall tends to be dry around here. The mud masters go on before turkey season: March showers make for muddy trails in April.

Mac Demere is a veteran auto journalist, former race driver, and test driver for a major tire company. An experienced hunter and firearms collector, he lives in the Upstate of South Carolina.