Snow is a very different beast when it comes to your ATV. Having the wrong tires could leave you stranded or suck the fun out of riding.
This is why it’s essential to have the right snow tires for your ATV. But this brings up the issue of what is the best ATV snow tire?
I want to go over what I consider the best tire for the snow and why I picked them. Also, I want to point out other options that people forget about or don’t know about.
If you don’t know about ATV tire sizes or don’t know the general details I recommend watching this video…
The Obvious and Often Forgotten Option
To many of you using a track system on your ATV is the “no duh” option. But I’m still surprised by how many people don’t consider this especially when they only ride in the snow.
If you’re going to be riding in fresh or deep snow an ATV track system is the best solution for you.
Tracks are wide and have the correct grip which makes them the best “tire” for an ATV. It’s not a tire in the traditional sense, but it is the very best thing you can do for snow riding.
Also, tracks work the best in the most extreme of snow. We’re talking depths that exceed your ATV’s ground clearance. Tracks will help to float you on top of the snow while still keeping you moving. The advantage starts to fall apart if you’re not in deep snow. They’re not the best for regular trail riding and other hard grounds.
If you’re not always riding in the snow 100% of the time, you need a different option.
The Best Snow Tire
The best snow tire will depend on what you ride. If it’s a quad the tire you should go with is different than a 4 wheel drive ATV.
A quad is often 2 wheel drive and chain driven. More often suited for racing but many people do use them for snowy conditions. If you ride a quad, Maxxis makes a snow tire just for you called the Maxxis 4-snow*. Here is a great video showing it off…
If you ride a 4 wheel drive ATV the best option for snow if you ask me is going to be one that is general purpose. A tire that not only does snow but one that works on the trail and whatever else I can throw at.
For me, that tire is the Kenda K299 Bear Claw*, but everyone has their own opinions. Others like the Carlisle 489 but the Bear Claw has more grip and sits wider which helps more with the snow.
What To Avoid
You want to avoid most mud tires. The problem with mud tires is that they dig in which gets you stuck in snow or sand.
You want a tire that is wide but doesn’t dig in.
While you want to avoid most mud tires, there are a few in a class of their own that might be worth a look at. The Gorilla Silverbacks are a tire that can help out in certain snow conditions. This race below helps to show this…
Do you need ATV Snow Tires?
Not if the snow is already packed down. Any regular ATV tires will do just fine, but wider ATV tires will still help glide over better.
It’s the fresh snow or the wet snow that becomes an issue. There exist other options that help to get the traction you need but keep in mind that an ATV can get only so deep.
If you live in a place with heavy snowfall, you need an ATV with tracks or a snowmobile. Don’t be foolish and get the wrong tool for the job.
Other Option To Snow Tires
I like to use general-purpose tires that work on a lot of different terrains. But there are times when you need a little more grip in the snow or ice.
That is why I carry tire chains* made for ATVs. I keep them in the utility box on the back, and when I need them, I can put them on. It’s a great compromise if you don’t want to spend the money on another set of tires especially if you don’t get a lot of snow where you ride.
Important: Don’t use chains on sidewalks or driveways! They will chew them up and destroy them for sure. Stick to only gravel and trails.
ATV tire chains are what I go with if I need to plow my gravel driveway. If you’re curious about what HP you need to plow snow I have a guide on that here.
The Problem With Snow Tires
The biggest issue I find with snow-specific tires is that they often cost more. Not only that but it can be harder to find too.
The tire’s rubber is made to flex more and not get hard when it gets cold. The tire stiffing up makes it hard to get the traction needed around unpredictable terrain of snow and ice.
You also have the issue of swapping the tires out. This is not an issue if you have another rim set for your winter tires but is an issue if you’re constantly removing tires off the rim. You run the risk of damaging the rim over time which can make the tire lose air.