We're all looking for that perfect set of tires for our sled haulers, right? Trust us, we've been through the same search for years. Sure, we have our favorites. But until we've tried them all, how do we know there's not something better out there?
When Toyo Tires introduced its newest all-terrain light truck tire––the Open Country A/T III–– we thought it could be a contender for the favorites list. We ordered up a set of 35x12.50R20s and put them on our 2018 Ram 2500 diesel sled hauler.
On paper, the Toyo Open Country A/T III is appealing to us for a few reasons.
First, it has the mountain snowflake qualification. That means it has a higher traction rating than a light truck tire that's rated for mud and snow (the M+S rating). The 3PMSF rating (the mountain snowflake) is achieved through different rubber durometers, siping, tread patterns and tire construction. Basically, a 3PMSF-rated tire should and usually does give you better traction in winter conditions than an M+S rated tire. That's something we look for in any tire we run on our sled hauler vehicles.
Second, we look for an interlocking tread pattern with lots of horizontal tread block edges while keeping the tread blocks fairly small. That's the eyeball test of what should work decent in the types of snow-covered roads that sledders often encounter.
Third, there's good factory siping on the Open Country A/T III tires. You get traction on packsnow and ice from the edges of tread blocks and siping lines, so more is better in this case.
Fourth, they have a good visual asthetic to them... which means they're a good-looking tire.
We got the tires installed in early March which gave us the opportunity to test them in pretty much every condition we experience over the course of a year. March in Idaho is the month of spinning the weather prize wheel. We spent about three weeks in Island Park, Idaho, and West Yellowstone, Montana, right after the install and ran the gammut of road conditions.
This is what we feel is the most common situaton snowmobilers deal with: You've just turned off of a plowed highway onto a winter access road that gets plowed occasionally. The road base is packed hard with old snow and ice, and a layer of fresh snow from the night before. These are weekend warrior road conditions.
This is the scenario we were most pleased with the Toyo Open Country A/T III. The aggressive (for an all-terrain) tread chews through the deep snow well and maintains a bite on the hard pack below. The tires don't wander as they roll through the deeper snow like others we've ran. Usually, that's a sign of the tire packing too much snow under the tread as it rolls along. The Open Country A/T IIIs do a good job at channeling snow off to the sides here.
This is also the conditions we find in most parking lots, especially on weekdays where the maintenance crew hasn't plowed snow yet. Here, we need to drag a trailer through the snow while turning, then back up to park. All the while relying on the tires to get us out of the parking lot through chewed up tracks, new snow and buried ruts.
See a short video clip of the empty truck in 2WD in this kind of snow:
The Toyo Open Country A/T IIIs performed excellent in these situations. We could lug around slowly without breaking traction (spinning) too frequently. The tires could chew through the snow and grip very well on the underlying frozen surface. The key is to prevent wheelspin and just let the tread pattern do its job. It doesn't matter what tires you're running––if you hammer the throttle and spin the tires as fast as possible, you might as well set up the hockey goals because you're just polishing ice.
On highways with packsnow or packice on the road surface, the Open Country A/T IIIs do well. We ran this highway condition in three scenarios: with an empty truck, a sled in the bed, and a gooseneck trailer hooked up. The roads felt the worst with the empty bed and the light rear end. Typical, but we haven't necessarily found a tire that feels rock solid in this condition anyway. With a sled in the bed, the little slip here and there dissapears. Same goes with the trailer pin weight, although the driving caution goes way up with that setup.
There was one day we left the valley and drove north to West Yellowstone. It was raining in the valley and the highlands were completely socked in. Somehwere around Ashton, Idaho, the roads turned to black ice and the truck (and gooseneck) just started sliding sideways across the lane stripes. We got everything under control and stopped at the truck stop in Ashton. There, guys were slipping and falling on the clear ice around the parking lot. Nothing but studs would've held straight and solid in these conditions. So no cause for a negative mark here. Bottom line: the Open Country A/T III performs great on winter highways.
On bare highway roads, cold or warm, the Open Country A/T IIIs are stellar. They're not a noisy tire despite the look of the tread pattern. There must be something to the carcass construction and details in the tread design because this tire is not as loud as it looks. It's not as quiet on the road as the Open Country C/T, but it also performs a little better in that weekend warrior snow condition we first described.
We've had good off-road experiences this spring with the Open Country A/T III as well, including muddy roads for a Diesel Tech Magazine shoot and lots of dirt roads for fun. One thing we will point out is that these tires do not grab and hold gravel as bad as we anticipated. That's a good mark for rocker panel paint preservation.
Wear-wise, we're happy with how the Open Country A/T IIIs are holding up under the weight of our heavy Ram mega cab diesel. They're definitely wearing more evenly than other A/Ts we've tested. We've logged just shy of 10,000 miles on this set with one rotation so far at 5k, and everything looks great. No weird wear patterns and no odd vibrations (we're picky with alignment, though).
After 14,000-miles in various conditions to date, the Toyo Open Country A/T III is now right up there at the top of our go-to favorites.
Go here for Toyo Open Country A/T III sizes and specs.