Are Mud Tires Good in Sand?

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If you are planning a trip to the sand dunes, or a relaxing trip to the beach with your truck, you will need a tire that can drive in the sand. The tire you need will depend on your activity, and several tire options will do the job, including mud-terrain, all-terrain, and paddle tires. But are mud tires good in sand?


A mud-terrain tire will work in the sand, but it will create strong resistance and an uncomfortable driving experience. Another tire for a general trip to the coast will be an all-terrain tire with shallow treads to allow for sitting on top of the sand.


To understand which tire will work best for your adventure into the sand, this article will discuss the uses of the mud-terrain (MT) vs. the all-terrain (AT) vs. the paddle tire. You could certainly use the MT for your sandy trip if you already have them, but if you are looking for the best tire to do the job, read on.

Mud-Terrain Tires


The qualities of the MT are such to help you move more smoothly through tough off-road conditions. Key main features of the MT are the tread design, the thickness of the tread block, mud ejectors, and the side walls. Each feature works together to prevent mud, rocks, or sand from getting stuck in the tire, and they grip the soft ground to create traction.


  • Tread Design: The pattern of the tread on MT tires is considered aggressive for its more jagged and harsh pointed design. The sharp edging is supposed to help grip the mud to keep your vehicle moving without getting stuck.
  • Tread Block: A block on a tire is the single piece of the tread, and together they make the tread pattern. In an MT, the blocks are thick to give surface area for the tire to grip but aren’t spaced close together, creating a deep tire void. The wide space between the tire blocks allows for the movement of mud and rocks to pass out of the tire.
  • Mud Ejectors: Some brands of MT tires will put in mud and rock ejectors into the tire block voids to prevent them from clogging the tire. These are small ridgelines in the voids that will help push the mud to the edges of the tire.
  • Sidewall Tread: When you’re driving off-road, you might get your tires sunk into some mud, and tread on the sidewalls will help create traction in those moments. Utilizing the same wide block pattern, your tire will grip the dirt that comes up the sides to help keep grip for movement.

The Right Terrain

The MT tire is good in any off-road situation. As the name implies, they do great in the mud. Any terrain with loose ground, the MT can handle the job. Because they are designed to create a fresh surface by cutting into the ground, they work best on rough surfaces.


The down-side to this tire is they don’t do as well on smooth or wet surfaces. If you have these tires on during a rainstorm, the water will get pulled into the deep tread voids and create resistance. These tires can get noisy when driving on a flat road, and won’t make for a comfortable ride.


Use your MT tires in these places:


  • Jagged rocky roads
  • Loose soil
  • Mud
  • Sand


Hopefully, your adventure has all these, and your tires will see you through a fun day splashing in the mud. Try the Cooper Evolution M/T All Season Tire.

All-Terrain Tires


The AT tires are the tires to get when you do a lot of mixed activities. It isn’t an off-road MT tire, and it isn’t an all-season highway tire. It’s a great combination of both. Features of this tire allow for more traction when you do go off-road, but it doesn’t sacrifice a comfortable ride. These tires are designed for trucks, SUVs, campers, and 4WD vehicles.


The important components of an AT tire are:


  • Open-Treads: The AT tires have nice and open tread patterns to allow for some traction when off-road. The tread design of these tires is less aggressive looking than the MT. Open-treads allow for the movement of some mud, sand, and rocks; without losing the comfort while driving on a flat road.
  • Reinforced Sidewalls: These tires are designed to go on larger vehicles, and the tires need to be able to hold that weight. The reinforced sidewalls are common in heavy-duty aggressive tires, but not in simple highway tires. The reinforcement allows the tire to take a beating once in a while without getting a puncture.
  • Year-Round Use: One major advantage to the AT is its ability to be used in any weather situation and almost any road surface. It’s a great tire if you often go from dirt or rocky roads onto flat roads to get to town. Most tire companies have increased the value of these tires by designing them to the standards for snow conditions.

The Right Terrain

It’s as the name implies. The all-terrain tire works in all terrains. The tire will be the most efficient if you use it for a combination of road surfaces. This tire’s mileage won’t be as good as a highway tire if all you drive on are flat roads. It also won’t be as good as an MT if you are going on a heavy-duty backwoods trip.


Use the AT tire if you often drive on sand, gravel, concrete, snow, or grass in your weekly life. 


Check out the BFGoodrich All-Terrain Tire.

Paddle Tires

These tires are also known as sand tires. A paddle tire’s main characteristic is the paddle-like tread to help create traction while driving on the sand and help move the sand out of the way. These tires are used by all-terrain vehicles and dune racers. These tires are in motorcycle sizes as well.


If you are looking for a sand tire for an ATV or UTV, then this tire is what you want. You will need to make sure you talk to an expert because the front and rear axles need two different paddle tires to make an efficient ride.


For all you need to know about a paddle tire, check out Chaparral’s blog “Sand (Paddle) Tires 101 – Choosing the Right Tire”.

Best Tires for a Day in the Sand

There’s some debate about which tire is the best for a fun trip out to the beach and dunes. The answer to which tire is the best for sand comes down to your vehicle and the amount of sand.


If you are driving a truck with a high horsepower, the mud tires will work because your truck is strong enough to push through the resistance. If you are driving an SUV, the AT will be better because it needs less push and won’t dig into the sand as much.


For a great head-to-head comparison of the AT and MT tires on sand watch this YouTube Video from Tyre Review:




An outing that involves getting into the dunes at high speeds and making a sandy mess of your car, you can consider the MT as the right choice. The MT can take a bit more aggressive driving and wear, but the drive home won’t be as comfortable.


A beach camping trip with the family in the family car is a scenario where the AT will serve you better. Everyone will be comfortable on the road, in the sand, and you won’t get stuck.


If you are getting into sand dune racing or for fun with a dune buggy, then you will need an MT or paddle tire for the best performance. You may even need a combination of the two.

Let’s Review

A mud tire does a good job in the sand, but it will work best in a truck with high horsepower. The MT is designed more specifically for mud and rocky conditions than sand. The AT tire does a good job in the sand as well, and it will be a more comfortable drive with less throttle. Now you can decide which tire will be the best for your sandy beach expedition.


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