Those who live in areas where winter lasts 3/4 of the year must be very careful with the tires they choose. As a general rule, traditional winter models are not enough to deal with thick ice and snow blocks on the roads. This is precisely where studded tires come into play to facilitate the traction and overall performance of winter tires.
Drivers who face such difficult weather conditions know a thing or two about studded tires. Most of them, if not all of them, opt for such tires to easily get out of the snow challenges. However, there is a certain "science" in choosing the right studded tires. These are not identical to each other and each manufacturer integrates studs according to their visions.
On the whole, studded tires bring with them a series of inconveniences, if we are to be honest. First of all, you must make sure that the state in which you live allows their use. Secondly, you must take into account the legal period of their use, as each state imposes its own rules. Last but not least, studded tires are among the noisiest that exist. So, it's a bit of a hustle with them.
However, they are indispensable when it comes to safety in extreme winter conditions. The safety they offer is the ultimate advantage that eclipses all their shortcomings. As such, you have only one option: to choose a studded tire that offers the highest level of safety, enhanced durability, and great winter performance. If you don't know where to find it, just keep reading. I have gathered in this article the most reliable options from the performance perspective. Also, the following models have the fewest possible drawbacks. So, let's scroll down to get to know what are the best-studded heroes!
Best Studded Tires In 2023
As usual, I will include tire models from different price categories. Also, the following offers differ in their performance profiles. Some lack steering response, others sacrifice comfort, etc. On the other hand, I will point out all their advantages so that you can form a more objective impression. Your job is to analyze well both the benefits and their shortcomings. This way you will better understand what to expect as well as what you are ready to sacrifice in favor of a wild performance in harsh winter conditions. So, here we go!
Cooper Evolution Winter
Harsh winters are characterized by abundant, steep, and heavy snow. The authorities are doing everything they can to clean the roads. However, we can never be sure that we will have snow-free pavement. In this sense, a reliable winter tire should provide superb stability and impressive resistance against slipping to overcome winter challenges.
The first tire model that can do it is the Cooper Evolution Winter. This tire impresses with its grip even from the first minutes of driving. It doesn't matter if the snow is heavy and packed, or if the snow is melting. The tire remains firm in its contact with the road.
This is due to the high-density rubber layering compounds as well as the needle holes in it, which are responsible for its firmness on the snow and its resistance against slipping. With the help of its biting edges, it always tries to maintain grip with the road, despite the snow that surrounds it.
In terms of traction, the Cooper Evolution Winter tire is equally impressively stable. Cooper has endowed this model with a complex construction including shoulder openings, center ribs, and snow-groove technologies. All together, they work to distribute traction evenly. As a result, the tire keeps rolling wildly on heavy snow, proving its resilience against snow blocks.
Cooper Evolution Winter Advantages
Cooper also thought strategically when creating this tire. This means that it has endowed the tire with some dry performance, for the "just in case" scenario. The dry handling properties are not as efficient as in an all-season tire. However, rest assured that this will be quite decent.
Finally, the most commendable point, perhaps, is that the Cooper Evolution Winter tire provides pretty decent comfort and noise control for a studded tire. Cooper has found the golden mean in terms of elasticity. As such, it made it durable enough for winter conditions, and at the same time, elastic enough to suppress noises and absorb shocks.
You want to know about the shortcomings, right?
Like any tire, the Cooper Evolution Winter is not without its shortcomings. Its disadvantage begins where hardpacked surfaces begin. I am referring more specifically to lands that abound in pebbles or something similar. The tire instantly becomes noisy and uncomfortable, for the simple reason that it is not designed for such surfaces.
Advantages: the best option for overall winter driving, solid wet traction, phenomenal aquaplaning properties, pretty silent for a studded tire, confident enough on dry surfaces, highly reliable on slippery roads, and even traction distribution.
Disadvantages: don't expect comfort whenever driving in hardpacked areas.
General Altimax Arctic 12
If you recall well, tire chains were a very popular method of adding traction to tires a few years ago. In fact, I do not rule out that this technique is still used by some drivers. The bad part of things is that this technique is not the most viable in the long run, neither for the tire structure nor for the roads.
With this idea in mind, the General tire maker decided to build winter tires that could deliver a similar effect to tire chains, but with fewer disadvantages. So, here you have the Altimax Arctic 12 which impresses with its ability to roll steadily through snow.
While this tire delivers a confident drive, it stands out for its smooth operation. Thus, drivers report nice bump absorption and a comfortable long ride.
As for safety in challenging conditions, this model stands out for its resilience against hydroplaning. As a true winter tire, it has spikes on the tread that take grip and firmness on wet roads.
General Altimax Arctic 12 Advantages
This tire behaves just as confidently, including on icy surfaces. The directional structure as well as the multiple biting edges ensure a firm grip on the ice and provide a pretty solid stability in cornering and accelerating. Last but not least, the traction is solid and uniform while counteracting lateral forces.
The metal studs in the tire architecture are a bitter enemy for icy surfaces. According to some reviews, drivers feel extremely safe, as if they were driving on a tarmac. Well, I leave room for a bit of subjectivity in these reviews. However, the Altimax Arctic 12 is really very safe and not at all slippery both on linear and cornering driving.
While the safety of this tire seems to be an advantage, the steering response is more of a disadvantage. The tire will take some time to fulfill the task you give it. That is, it lacks a sort of agility and dynamism.
Advantages: best winter option for those looking for comfort, steady acceleration on rough surfaces, pretty decent ride comfort, solid traction on ice and snow, superb braking, especially on wet surfaces, attractive price, quieter than with a chain on the tire.
Disadvantages: a little lazy steering response. You might want to look for alternatives if you want more dexterous steering feedback.
Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter
As far as I know, this model stands out for its very viable winter performance from all points of view. And I declare this because I spoke with drivers who managed to try it and with experts who were able to test it.
This Cooper guy rolls confidently on winter roads as if the harsh snow presented no challenge to it. It shows superb traction in light snow and a solid grip when it becomes deep.
This will not let you down then as the ice seems to make your riding difficult. On the contrary, it decently conquers any surface with or without studs. As if that were not enough, the Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter tire feels equally safe even on wet and dry surfaces. If I am to be objective, the dry performance, however, is a bit less solid than the wet one. Thanks to the flex components, it adheres reliably to the road, ensuring a high level of safety in any maneuver.
Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter Advantages
You will have no problems in hydroplaning conditions. The tire throws water efficiently from its tread, trying to maintain its grip on the road. It holds firmly, without slipping tendencies.
If comfort is one of your priorities, this Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter tire is at the limit of decency. The vibrations get stuck somewhere in the suspension without reaching the steering wheel at a high level. Noises are also well dispersed before announcing in the driver's cab. However, do not forget that winter tires do not have the highest level of comfort and noise control. So, leave room for a little bias.
The only concern of this model is its doubtful cornering stability and steering response. Drivers must be very careful while cornering because the sidewall of the tire is too flexible for confident turns. So, at high speeds, they could feel a floating effect. As for the steering response, Goodyear still has little work to do to improve its transmission time.
Advantages: best winter option for heavy snow, superb traction in snowy conditions, reliable grip and traction on icy surfaces, decent dry grip, pretty smooth and quiet ride for a winter tire, phenomenal hydroplaning resilience.
Disadvantages: there is room for better cornering stability and steering feedback.
Firestone Winterforce 2
Those who cannot stand the handling of studded tires must try the Firestone Winterforce 2 tire. I am almost sure that this tire will change their impression of studded tires.
I admit that this tire is not the best performer in wet and dry highway conditions, although it will pass them quite decently. But its commendatory point consists in the highly viable behavior on slippery and wet roads.
The specific and complex structure of this tire promises superb hydroplaning properties. Its stability in wet environments sets it apart from various rivals in the same category. Both traction and superb stopping distance impress motorists who already drive with this tire model.
Firestone Winterforce 2 Advantages
The most remarkable aspect of this tire is its strength in snowy environments. And maybe you think that this is due to the studs in it. And you are right, for the most part. However, I rush to tell you that its performance remains very acceptable even when you remove the studs.
This tire feels balanced, stable, firm, and safe. The most curious thing is that all these are valid even if the traction and grip are not at the top level. It is obvious that the grip and traction become extremely solid once you attach the studs. Also, the braking distance becomes impressively short due to these small details in its structure.
However, Firestone had to sacrifice something in favor of stability and control. It's about comfort, which sadly, won't impress you too much. Nor is noise control at the highest level, especially at high speeds.
Advantages: reliable option for handling all-weather conditions, high levels of snow traction, nice ice traction, safe hydroplaning control, great balance between high dry and wet traction, not bad responsiveness, pretty short and safe braking distance in snow, great price for a winter tire.
Disadvantages: comfort and noise control leaves much to be desired.
Goodyear WinterCommand (LT)
Slush is usually a problem for drivers. This "substance", neither liquid nor solid, causes the loss of tire stability. It is difficult to find a model that can cope with this "neither dry nor wet" condition. However, the Goodyear WinterCommand (LT) tire solves this problem better than any other on our list.
The specific structure of this tire is very capable in mixed terrain. The directional tread pattern drives this material out of the tire, maintaining stable contact with the road surface. In addition, the mixed rubber compound ensures confident traction in this terrain and promises a short and safe braking distance.
Thanks to the shoulder blocks of this tire, the Goodyear WinterCommand (LT) feels very stable and balanced. This also includes the commendability of the steering feel, which, as a rule, is missing in many winter tires. I have the impression that Goodyear designed this particular model for slush conditions.
However, I must note that this tire feels equally confident in its snow performance. And it is not necessary to attach studs to convince yourself of this. Traction, grip, balance, and responsiveness are what you will feel on snowy roads.
Also, this tire will not let you down on icy surfaces. It has enough deep grooves to confidently bite through the ice. This translates into zero slipping risks and maximum strength for rolling safely forward.
Goodyear WinterCommand (LT) Shortcomings
What this tire lacks is dry performance. The reason is somehow understandable. Goodyear preferred to excel in ice and snow performance at the price of dry performance. As such, don't expect confident traction when in dry conditions, especially if you attach the studs.
Advantages: the best option on the list against slush, great stability, nice heavy snow handling, decent feeling in the center, superb grip and braking in slush, reliable performance on ice when studless.
Disadvantages: lack of dry traction. Definitely not the best tire for dry conditions.
Firestone Winterforce LT
Let's see what options we have for drivers of heavy-duty trucks and SUVs. For this purpose, I find the Firestone Winterforce LT tire the most suitable, and here is why.
Anatomically, this tire has a polyester body and a steel belt inside. These reinforcement components provide a high level of stability and durability, which are essential for a truck or SUV.
In addition, this offering stands out for its generous tread life, like many other Firestone offerings, by the way. The point with this tire is that it confidently copes with any kind of harsh winter condition. This opposes the strong resilience against snow blocks while splendidly resisting the load bearings that are specific to light trucks. The slushy, snowy, icy, and sleety terrains do not seem to hamper the traction and strength of this model too much. As such, getting stuck somewhere in the snow is not very likely with this tire.
Firestone Winterforce LT Shortcomings
There is one aspect of this model that I don't think you will like very much. It is about the noise it generates in highway conditions. Overall, this is not very acute. However, it could disappoint those who prioritize road quietness on highways.
Advantages: the best winter offering for heavy trucks on the list, superb traction on ice especially when studded, highly reliable snow traction, decent stability and handling in snow, cheering wet traction and hydroplaning control, long tread life service.
Disadvantages: not the best option in terms of noise in highway conditions.
Cooper Discoverer Snow Claw
Winter traction and grip are fundamental features of a winter tire. These 2 aspects are responsible for the safety of the driver behind the wheel in the most challenging winter conditions. In this sense, the Cooper Discoverer Snow Claw model should not disappear from your radar if you want your tires to offer you the necessary level of safety.
For the curious who want to know why this tire is so influential over snow, know that it's all about its flexible rubber compounds, deep spike blocks, and tight slits on the outside. All these together work to increase grip and confidently move the tire forward in strident winters. By the way, the grip offered by the Cooper Discoverer Snow Claw marks a higher rating than other models in its class.
But wait and see what happens next. As a rule, many tire makers sacrifice the all-season performance to increase the winter one. But, not in the case of Cooper Discoverer Snow Claw tires. It remains as grippy even when the temperatures drop slightly, melting the snow on the roads.
The secret of this tire is that it always seeks to maintain optimal contact with the road. So, Cooper took care to integrate various technologies so that neither snow, water, nor slush compromises this contact too much. Thus, expect a splendid hydroplaning resilience that translates into high safety levels on wet roads.
Moreover, the performance in braking and cornering is at an appreciable level. It is even more promising than other options in the same lineup. So, you are guaranteed short, sharp, and safe braking, while cornering is very balanced and steady.
Cooper Discoverer Snow Claw Shortcomings
The dark side, or the deal breaker of the Cooper Discoverer Snow Claw tire is... the price. While the performance attributes sound very promising, the price tag generates impressions of "Ouch!" for many drivers. In the end, though, it's up to you whether to pay for a great winter performance or not.
Benefits: best offering for traction from this list, high levels of safety, solid braking properties, reliable cornering resilience, great grip in all kinds of winter challenges.
Disadvantages: you have to have a solid bank balance to afford this tire.
General Grabber Arctic LT
Winter tires are relatively expensive compared to other types. And when you decide to get a set, you want them to serve you for a long time, if you still pay a decent price for them. But, it turns out that studded tires last about 40,000 on average. This means that you will use them for about 4-6 winter seasons, depending on how much you travel.
It is neither too much nor too little for us. However, General Grabber Arctic LT offers a life service with much more than that. So, the first aspect to appreciate in this model is its impressive durability.
General has compiled special components and structures in this tire. It is about intricate rubber reinforcement layers, sharp spikes, as well as low-porosity rubber compounds. Together, they work to solidify the texture of the tire and minimize its wear.
As a result, the General Grabber Arctic LT tire promises exceptional durability. But this is not its only benefit. Turns out that the tests indicate an increased level of grip in winter conditions. The one more curious thing is that the grip is maintained both in light and heavy snow layers, as well as with or without studs. Both the acceleration and braking properties are agile, dynamic, and highly responsive.
Unlike the previous Cooper Discoverer Snow Claw, the price of the General Grabber Arctic LT model is more of an advantage. Moreover, it seems surprising that a tire with such impressive durability is more advantageous in price than other offers in the class.
General Grabber Arctic LT Pros and Cons
This model is likely to arouse the desire to buy it immediately, taking into account the range of benefits that it includes. The problem, however, is that you will hardly find the right size for your vehicle. The lack of size diversity is the biggest drawback for this tire. So, you may not have it, even if you want it.
Advantages: the best winter offering in terms of durability from the list, affordable price, rugged multi-terrain performance included, nice level of comfort and noise control, superb grip on snow and ice, above average traction on wet and dry pavement.
Disadvantages: try to catch it, if you can. The variety of sizes is scarce.
Goodyear WinterCommand (SUV)
As expected from a Goodyear tire, the Goodyear WinterCommand (SUV) model delights with its performance in winter conditions.
If you put this tire on light snow and melting ice, it will roll confidently with no traces of slipping. Goodyear has endowed the model with a special tread design that grips hard surfaces like this. As a result, the Goodyear WinterCommand (SUV) tire is synonymous with excellent traction and superb grip.
The most curious thing is that turning does not generate any difficulty. The tire maker made the sidewall reinforced enough for the tire to withstand the cornering forces. It is about polyester sheath and double steel belt construction that offers solid resistance to both loss of control and loss of durability.
If we compare the wet performance with the dry one, the tire feels much more confident in wet environments. This controls hydroplaning well and provides steady braking. Water is efficiently thrown from the tire before it forms a barrier between the tread and the road. As such, the tire positively resists acceleration even in severe rain conditions.
As for the dry performance, I can't say much except that it's a total disadvantage. No firm traction, no splendid grip, no cornering stability. With these in mind, the Goodyear WinterCommand (SUV) tire is mainly intended for those who do not meet dry terrain during the winter.
Advantages: the best offer on the list for winter wet traction, short and agile braking, rugged winter performance, nice comfort, surprising noise control, superb handling and stability in wet environments, and pretty decent tread wear.
Disadvantages: the tire is not intended for dry environments.
Nokian Tire Hakkapeliitta 9 Studded
We talked about everything, except for winter stability. But I will correct the mistake immediately by presenting you the Nokian Tire Hakkapeliitta 9 Studded tire. Of all the proposed ones, I find it the most reliable in terms of stability. But not only that.
First of all, this tire is the first in the world to include double studs technology. Nokian totally nailed it because this technology brings winter confidence to a new level. Drivers of family sedans and compact cars can already enjoy this unique offer if the hard winter conditions complicate driving.
The tire delivers 2 types of metal grips. Each of them has a specific purpose. The studs on the upper tire surface are responsible for the phenomenal vertical grip. On the other hand, the pressure distribution and superb traction are ensured by the metal grip in the lower tire part.
Altogether, these double studs guarantee stable and balanced operation in the most difficult winter conditions. Where other tires encounter difficulties in traction and maneuver efficiency, the Nokian Tire Hakkapeliitta 9 Studded passes easily without endangering the safety of the driver.
Nokian Tire Hakkapeliitta 9 Studded Pros And Cons
This model probably has the most effective braking properties. This is valid for both icy and snowy surfaces. It loses some points in wet conditions but still ensures a pretty safe ride.
While ice, snow, and water are favorable environments for this tire, the dry performance is more of a drawback. It can be seen that Nokian had to sacrifice something to raise the wet and snow performance to a phenomenal level. Taking into account that dry surfaces are not very common in harsh winter conditions, the tire maker decided to give up on this particular aspect. The traction decreases, the braking distance increases and the grip becomes average in relation to other studded options.
Advantages: the best winter option in terms of stability from the list, superb ice handling, relentless grip and traction in snowy environments, total leader in ice braking, competitive in snow acceleration, promising durability, acceptable ride comfort and handling, modest quietness, and highly stable operation.
Disadvantages: mediocre dry braking and overall dry performance.
Buying Tips: What To Consider When Buying Winter Studded Tires?
Winter comes with its challenges and you never know how difficult it will be to drive in this season of the year. As such, choosing the right tires is not one of the easiest tasks. While all tire makers promise superior winter performance, this model comes with certain pitfalls in it. To make the right choice, I recommend dedicating 5 minutes to find out some tips. These will facilitate your buying process and increase your chances of finding the best winter deal.
The first thing you have to start with is to understand what type of winter tires you need. Studless? Studdable? Studded? If you haven't answered this question yet, here is what you need to know about them.
Studded, Studless, Studdable Tires: What Makes Them Different?
I will briefly describe these tire types to create a general impression. A few decades ago, drivers used iron chains to add traction to tires in extreme conditions. Somewhat later, tire makers decided to integrate something similar in tires. They began to integrate metal studs into the external structure of the tires to facilitate the drivers' experience.
So, studded tires are the ones that come with metal details already integrated from the factory. They help to optimize traction in extreme conditions such as snowblocks and slippery ice. Studded tires are a good option for areas where winters never end. If you use them on surfaces without snow and ice, they severely damage the roads. In addition, they are horribly noisy when on dry tarmac or highways. Precisely for this reason, some states prohibit by law their use in moderate periods of the year.
This category refers to traditional winter tires. Traction, grip, and power rely exclusively on rubber composition and design. Tire makers have enough resources and technologies to make modern tires extremely efficient in winter conditions. This is valid even without the addition of studs.
Traditionally, this tire class is the favorite for those who live in areas with moderate winters. The advanced technologies in them offer phenomenal grip and superb traction both in snow and on ice. To obtain such effects, tire makers include deeper grooves and blocks than in traditional all-season alternatives.
In addition, they add tons of slits and sipes that act like biting edges. Last but not least, these tires withstand very well in cold temperatures thanks to the special silica component. Here you have some great winter tires to feel ultimate winter performance.
This class of tires is something between studless and studded tires. The studless typology assumes a tire that has studs from the factory. The driver already buys it with plenty of studs in it without being able to remove them when necessary.
The studless winter tire is the one that has nothing provided in it to be able to integrate studs when necessary. In fact, some drivers dare to integrate studs independently, but this is not the best idea.
Studdable tires are those in which you can integrate or remove studs as needed. This means that they have fixed slots in the tread face. So, need more grip? You add the studs. Don't need it anymore? You just remove them accurately. Many drivers do it alone whenever the weather conditions worsen or become mild. But my recommendation is to call a specialist because this process requires some skills.
Which Of The 3 Is More Reliable For You?
It's hard to say until you clearly define what the specifics of winters are in the area where you live. If we talk about moderate winters, studless tires are more than enough for a safe winter ride. However, some moderate winters can be accompanied by stormy periods, which severely complicate driving. If such conditions characterize the area where you live, then studdable tires are a more viable option. These will help you pass more easily over thick ice or severe snow blocks.
A quick note about studdable tires! You must make sure that the town where you live allows their use. Some states categorically prohibit their use.
As for studded tires, these are the most optimal when the winters are extremely difficult permanently. However, I would opt for studdable tires. You never know how global warming affects even the area with harsh winters. If you wonder why I'm more for studdable than for studded, here is why.
Studded Tires' Shortcomings
The oscillation between studded and studdable tires is a frequent concern of many drivers. These always create controversies that bring advantages and disadvantages for each of them. Personally, I see more advantages in favor of studdable ones, if I had to choose between them. Below I have presented some studded tire shortcomings to consider.
First of all, studded options are very rigid for loose surfaces. They lack grip and the traction becomes unbearable on such terrain. I do not recommend rolling with these tires on such terrains. Instead, a studdable tire is always ready for such surfaces. All you have to do is remove the studs and you are ready to go.
Second, studded tires are noisy. They generate an unbearable noise when they contact the road surface. And if the snow melts even a little, your riding will become extremely uncomfortable. In the case of studdable tires, you only have to remove the metal details to benefit from much smoother riding.
They damage the pavement and road surfaces. Well, the impact is less when layers of solid ice cover the road surface. But when it melts, the tire destroys not only the ice layer but also the pavement below. On the other hand, you can remove the studs at the first signs of spring coming. Thus, you reduce the impact on the roads in the long run. As such, I find the studdable option much more universal.
I hope this article was useful for you to learn more about winter tires. More than that, I presented both studded and studdable models to have a wider horizon of options.
Each of them excels in a certain aspect, be it wet traction, stability, comfort, or snow grip. At the same time, they all have certain shortcomings that I recommend you take into account. On the surface, all winter tires have a promising profile. But if you get into the essence, you might discover that there is something in them that can make them not the best option for your personal needs.
Either way, the description of the previous tires is not only based on my subjective opinion. I relied on objective reviews and official ratings as a basis. As such, you can trust that the information is unbiased and transparent. If you have a different opinion about them from your own experience, feel free to comment on the post below so we also can learn more. In the meantime, don't forget to consult the laws of the area where you live to know how legal it is to use studded and studdable tires. Drive safe and thanks for your interest in this article!