Are you living in an area with severe winters covered with snow for months? Confused about choosing the best studded snow tires for safe rides?
You may find it extremely difficult to make the final choice because this tire type has many disadvantages, such as noise and inconvenience.
Don't worry! This article is all you need. The best tires for your area are listed below. For a long time, I have worked on testing numerous studded models to verify the ones with performance, safety, and durability.
In my experience, the top 10 picks below passed many tests with the best snow performance. Now, let’s scroll down to read more information!
- In-Depth Reviews of the Best Studded Snow Tires Available in 2023
- Buying Guides: How to Choose the Best Studded Snow Tires
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
In-Depth Reviews of the Best Studded Snow Tires Available in 2023
After experimenting with many different tires, I have finally rounded up the 10 best studded snow tires for ultimate winter performance.
1. Cooper Evolution Winter
Best for Overall
Heavy, steep snow and ice are typical features of harsh winters. The tires need good slip resistance and stability to move safely over these surfaces. And the Cooper Evolution Winter is such a tire.
The Evolution winter's grip on the road surprised me during my first test drive. Needle holes and high-density rubber layering compounds help the tire to move stably on slippery surfaces.
The Evolution Winter is also entirely waterproof. So, when moving on melted snow, it still maintains a connection with the road surface.
I greatly appreciated the traction of the tire. The center ribs, shoulder openings, and snow-groove technology combine impressively and smoothly. Even in heavy snow, I never got stuck or experienced unevenly distributed traction.
In addition to impressive snow and ice handling, I also appreciate the tire's dry traction. Of course, Cooper Evolution Winter's performance on these surfaces can't be comparable with all-season tires.
The commendable point is that the tire has a reliable enough grip, steering response, and outstanding stability.
Finally, the Cooper Evolution Winter conquered me with minimal noise and acceptable comfort. It is elastic and absorbs shocks well to prevent noise from reverberating into the cabin.
Yet, its disadvantages began appearing on the terrain with many small pebbles. The too much force acting at once markedly affected the quality of my ride.
- Very low noise
- Excellent hydroplaning resistance
- Reliable on dry roads
- Excellent wet traction
- Stable movement on wet and slippery surfaces
- Traction is distributed relatively evenly
- Less comfortable on hardpacked surfaces
2. General Altimax Arctic 12
Best for Comfort
In the past, many drivers chose to add a tire chain to the tire surface for extra snow safety. However, this is not the optimal solution in the long run.
The General Altimax Arctic 12 appears to remedy this annoying situation. Although there is still noise, it is not too annoying and distracting for the driver.
Another rather impressive advantage of it is its smooth operation. From what I feel during driving, it absorbs bumps well to keep the smoothest ride over long distances.
More than simply a comfortable option, the General Altimax Arctic 12 is also a reliable tire to ride in the harsh winter.
On wet terrain, the tire drains well to hydroplaning resistance. The spikes on its surface also greatly enhance the Altimax Arctic 12's grip in slippery conditions.
On harsher surfaces like ice, this highly directional tire did not disappoint. It always maintains excellent grip, even when accelerating or cornering.
Its traction consistently tops the list of the best studded snow tires I've tested.
And when I drive on ice with metal studs attached to the tire surface, the grip increased a lot, I feel the wheel does not slip when moving as well as through corners.
My only dissatisfaction with this tire model is the steering response. Despite the stiff central ribbed section and improvements, its handling isn't too different.
The steering response of the General Altimax Arctic 12 is not too bad, but it still cannot meet my expectations.
- Good ride comfort
- Reliable traction over snow and ice
- Stable acceleration on rough terrain
- Excellent braking in the wet
- Quieter than using a tire chain
- Affordable price
- Need to improve steering response
3. Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter
Best for Heavy Snow
From my experiences, the Grip Winter has an excellent winter performance.
Moving safely in the snow was not a big challenge for Goodyear. The grip and traction on light snow are excellent for daily driving in Lewiston, Idaho and the grip in deep snow is also very good.
On harsher surfaces like ice, its traction is very reliable. The Ultra Grip Winter is ideal for conquering snow and ice conditions with or without studs.
But in addition to snow and ice, dry and wet roads are common in winter. And this impressive performance tire continues to not let me down.
The Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter's dry grip is much better than I expected. Its rubber compound is flexible enough to handle well, ensuring a safe ride.
The Ultra Grip Winter also passed my wet performance tests. The tires are excellent and reliable from grip to traction to hydroplaning resistance, based on the puddles that I drove through.
Regarding the ride comfort, I found that the ride was very good, the tires handle bumps on the road very well, there is very little vibration to the steering wheel and road noise is minimal for winter tires with this tread depth.
My only complaints about this impressive overall winter performance tire are steering response and cornering stability. It has poor transmission time, so the steering response is average.
And despite the effort to improve the stiff shoulder compound, the tires still give me a feeling of floating when cornering. Manufacturers should enhance sidewall quality if their products have more cornering stability.
- Great traction on ice
- Excellent traction in the snow
- Good dry grip
- Reliable wet performance
- Excellent hydroplaning resistance
- Quiet and comfortable ride
- Steering response and stability are average
4. Firestone Winterforce 2
Best for Handling All-weather Conditions
I never appreciated the studded snow tires' handling, especially cornering and braking. But the Firestone Winterforce 2 changed my mind.
This tire model is still not responsive enough for excellent travel on dry and wet highways. However, it still passes these surfaces quite safely.
The Firestone Winterforce 2 is excellent when moving on wet and slippery roads.
Like every other winter tire, it is excellent hydroplaning resistance. Its predictable handling sets the Firestone tire apart from many of its in-class models. I've safely moved in the rain many times with impressive traction and reliable braking distances.
But the Firestone Winterforce 2 only really shines when moving in the snow. When I intentionally removed the studs, their performance remained acceptable.
Although the traction grip is a bit poor, the Firestone Winterforce 2 is still relatively safe and worth riding on the road.
After attaching the studs, I felt strong traction and a great short braking distance. Even the tire experience makes me think of the feeling of driving when traveling on dry terrain.
Despite leading in handling, the Firestone Winterforce 2 falls short in terms of comfort. Tire noise is still quite loud when I drive at high speed, while comfort is no longer maintained on long distances.
- Excellent snow traction
- Good traction in ice
- Good hydroplaning resistance
- Reliable wet and dry traction
- Short braking distance in snow
- Good responsiveness
- Not too comfortable
5. Goodyear WinterCommand (LT)
Best for Slush
I am not confident in driving my car on slush. This muddy terrain, mixed with snow, caused me to lose control and reduce braking performance and traction.
Fortunately, I found the Goodyear Winter Command (LT), a tire with pretty good slush performance.
The tire's flexible specialized compound and directional tread pattern provide impressive grip and braking performance, even on mixed terrain.
The steering feel of the tire is also quite commendable. The WinterCommand (LT) central solidity is similar to the all-weather tires I've used. Meanwhile, the shoulder blocks provide the ideal stability I've been looking for.
In addition to excellent slush handling, it also won me over with its steady performance in the snow without the studs.
On slippery terrain, its ridges and deep grooves exerted maximum strength. As a result, the Wintercommand's grip and traction are significantly superior to most spikeless tires I've used.
Goodyear sacrificed performance on dry roads for excellent performance on snow and ice. Especially when adding studs, I had trouble moving on this terrain.
- Handles heavy snow well
- Solid feeling in the center
- Work well on ice even without studs
- Impressive grip and braking on the slush
- Need to improve dry traction
6. Firestone Winterforce LT
Best for Heavy Trucks
Its internal structure is composed of a steel belt and polyester body. The tire's durability and stability significantly increased with these reinforcement efforts.
This is the 2nd winter I use these tires. I also greatly appreciate the life of the tread. The tire compound durability promises to help the Firestone Winterforce LT accompany me for many winters to come, as I will replace them next spring with a highway all-season tire.
I often equip my 2016 F-250 Super Duty 4WD with tires in the E load range size with tire size LT265/70R17. In all harsh winter weather conditions, this tire style retains its handling and good load bearing.
Winterforce LT's snow and ice performance are even better when not under heavy loads. It operates safely in all harsh winter road conditions. I could hardly ask for more of its traction or handling in snow, sleet, icy, and slush terrain. I've never been stuck to any surface in the previous winter.
The only downside that I think Firestone could do better is highway noise. Even so, it's not too annoying to affect my driving experience.
- Exceptional traction on ice, especially with studs attached
- Outstanding traction on snow
- Good snow handling
- Stability on the road
- Good wet traction and hydroplaning resistance
- A great option for towing
- Durable tire compound
- Can be noisy on the highway
7. Cooper Discoverer Snow Claw
Best for Traction
After more than 1,200 miles with the Cooper Discoverer Snow Claw, I can conclude that this tire has the best grip in the category. Its strength comes from deep spike blocks, flexible rubber compounds, and tight slits on the surface.
Cooper Discoverer Snow Claw's grip is not only excellent when moving on harsh ice and snow. As the temperature warms and the ice becomes liquid, the Discoverer Snow Claw maintains a very good grip.
During the journey, the tire always connects with the road surface. Hydroplaning is almost non-existent, providing a reasonably safe ride.
I also greatly appreciated its cornering and braking performance. Not many options in the same class can provide the same reliable experience as above.
As a tire with pretty good overall performance, the Cooper Discoverer Snow Claw comes with a slightly above-average price tag. Like many pickup owners, though, I'd pay more for a reliable LT winter tire like the Cooper Snow Claw.
- Safe trip
- Safe stopping distance
- No vitrification occurs
- Excellent cornering performance
- Maintain good grip in all conditions
8. General Grabber Arctic LT
Best for Durability
The average life of a studded snow tire is usually about 40,000 miles, equivalent to 5-6 consecutive winters. However, with its distinctive design, the General Grabber Arctic LT offers tread life far beyond the above average.
Right from the first contact, I felt its solid texture. This model uses low porosity rubber compounds and complex rubber reinforcement layers. Besides, it also has deep sharp spikes to prevent even wear.
The above equipment promises to bring its long-term durability. But, the General Grabber Arctic LT also conquered me with its excellent grip.
I have used this tire in many winter conditions such as light snow, heavy snow in Lewiston, Idaho and ice.
During driving on less than 3 inches of light snow, I found the grip to be very good with acceleration and braking being excellent.
On deeper snow and ice surfaces, whether I attached or didn't use studs, the tires provided enough traction and grip to get through the roughly 8 inches of deep snow I drove through with confidence and great control.
As for the price, you might not believe that such a durable product only comes at a much lower cost than similar snow models. However, the lack of size diversity is its drawback. Finding the right size for my pickup took me a long time.
- Longer wear
- Good price
- Excellent grip on ice and snow
- Dependable traction on dry and wet pavement
- Silent and comfy ride
- Rugged multi-terrain performance
- Not many sizes to consider
9. Goodyear WinterCommand (SUV)
Best for Wet Traction
The Goodyear WinterCommand (SUV) performs well in harsh winter conditions without compromising.
The car that I tested with these tires is a 2014 Toyota Tacoma 4WD Regular Cab with tire size 265/70R16, this is my brother's car, and he has over 4000 miles on these tires.
After about 60 miles of test driving with this car on the surface of light snow and ice in the process of melting, I found that the traction on snow and slippery ice is excellent.
Even I quickly cornered and climbed slopes with it without worrying about losing control or having unsafe incidents. Its double steel belt construction and polyester sheath stay solid and stable even during many winters.
In my experience, this studded model's performance gets even better each year.
I am also very impressed with the tire wear after more than 4000 miles with very low noise for winter tires.
But the Goodyear WinterCommand (SUV) stands out most in wet handling, which surprised me after many tests.
Unlike quite a few studded models I've used, the WinterCommand (SUV) has a unique wet brake system. It also has quite good traction in heavy rain conditions thanks to its ability to remove water from the tread surface.
With all the above advantages, I am assured when moving under heavy rain or through deep puddles and shallow rivers.
Unfortunately, WinterCommand's dry-road performance is not as excellent as above. However, this disadvantage is entirely acceptable because in harsh winter conditions, I do not often move through dry terrain.
- Rugged winter performance
- Stronger grip over icy and snowy surfaces
- Reliable traction
- Short braking distance
- Excellent wet handling and stability
- Comfortable and silent ride
- Longer wear
- Poor dry performance
10. Nokian Tire Hakkapeliitta 9 Studded
Best for Stability
The Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9 studded is proud to be the first tire model in the world to apply double studs technology successfully. This is one of the best studded winter tires for compact cars and family sedans.
At first contact, two types of metal grips of the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9 caught my attention. In my experience, the metal grip on the upper part ensures optimal vertical grip. Meanwhile, the studs in the lower part do an excellent job of increasing traction and distributing pressure.
The above combination has helped Hakkapeliitta 9 Studded operate stably in all harsh conditions. The tire always maintains the necessary balance and stability, typically traveling on straight roads or cornering difficult.
I ran several tests to assess the Hakkapeliitta 9 Studded overall performance in extreme weather conditions. The results of every test are within my intentions.
This Nokian tire’s ice braking performance leads in the category. It only moved 45 feet when I stepped on the brake at 18 mph. Equally excellent is the traction on the snow when the tire takes only 5.9 seconds to reach a speed of 25 mph.
The Hakkapeliitta 9 Studded wet braking distance is not top of the class. Yet, the braking distance of 47,6 feet at 25 mph is more than enough to ensure a safe ride.
It's a pity that its dry brake performance is not so perfect. I have tested many times on dry tarmac, and the results returned are not impressive. With the dry braking distance up to 111,3 feet at 50 mph, which is just average compared to other studded tires I've tested.
- Best for extremely icy roads
- Relentless traction and grip over snow
- Good acceleration on the snow
- Leader in brake performance on ice
- Stable operation
- Decent handling and ride comfort
- Moderately quiet for a studded tire
- Medium dry brake
Buying Guides: How to Choose the Best Studded Snow Tires
Winter road conditions are rife with dangerous challenges. Choosing a suitable tire model is necessary to move safely on this terrain. And here are some tips for you to choose the right one.
Studless, Studdable, and Studded Tires: What’s the difference?
Back in the day, studded winter tires were ideal in heavy snow. Studded tires are equipped with metal studs that are embedded in the tread. Those studs act like claws when driving over slippery ice, sleet, or heavy snow.
Rubber can only do so much when exposed to cold weather and extreme moisture. Try walking on a frozen lake using your favorite pair of sneakers with rubber soles, and you’ll know what we mean.
- Studded Tires
However, if your shoes had spikes – or if you wear ice skates, for instance – you’ll have better traction and grip over ice. It’s the same principle when it comes to tires. Studded tires are great if you live in year-long winter conditions, or if you generally reside in places with constant snowfall.
But there’s a caveat. When traveling over normal roads, studded tires can damage the pavement. These types of tires are also noisy on tarmac and smooth highways, hence the reason why many states forbid studded tires during non-winter months.
- Studless Tires
Studded tires are the result of a bygone era. Again, unless you live in places with extreme winters, studless snow tires are a better option. The advent of modern compounding has enabled manufacturers to create studless snow tires that perform just as well over light and medium snow as studded rubber.
But instead of relying on metal studs to produce tons of grip, modern studless snow tires benefit from breakthrough tread designs and unique grip-inducing technologies.
Studless snow tires are a more popular option for one obvious reason: it rides smoother and quieter than studded tires. And the best part is studless snow tires are good for highway driving in wintry and icy conditions.
Studless snow tires have deeper tread depths than a standard all-season tire. Most of the time, the tread design consists of a multitude of sipes or tiny slits to offer more biting edges as the tire rolls on the ground.
What’s more, studless snow tires are manufactured from nature-derived or silica-enhanced tread compounds that remain pliable in the coldest weather conditions.
- Studdable Tires
The only difference between a studless and studdable snow tire is the capability to accommodate metal studs. Studdable snow tires have fixed slots or indentations on the tread face.
If you need more grip over ice, you can fit studs on the tires as needed. If you don’t need studs, simply remove and you’re ready to go. Of course, you’ll need to remove the studs when driving over normal roads, but it’s not the easiest thing to do.
In most cases, a professional can install or remove the studs for around $15 for each tire, although the price may vary.
Which is best for my car: studless, studdable, or studded tires?
It depends. Choose studless tires if you live in areas with mild or medium snowfall. In truth, studless snow tires are enough to get you through the winter season, but there are cases when you’ll be needing more than rubber to bite over icy surfaces.
Again, studded tires are a great option for sedans, pickup trucks, and SUVs in extreme winter scenarios.
Now, if you live in places with alternating light or heavy snow, studdable tires are a fantastic option.
However, always check with your local authorities regarding the use of snow tires. You should do this before buying a set of winter rubber.
Each state has rules about when and where you can use studded tires. Please check it out here.
Disadvantages of studded winter tires
Recently, there has been much controversy regarding the pros and cons of studded tires. To make the best decision, you should consider some of the remaining disadvantages of this tire:
- It does not provide traction on loose surfaces because studs do not grip this type of surface enough.
- It causes loud noise due to the studs contacting the road surface. Although manufacturers have made efforts to optimize the tread design, the sound of the tire is still quite loud.
- It increases tire weight, increase rolling resistance, and increases fuel consumption.
- Studs are easy to damage the pavement. As a result, some states have introduced strict regulations on how long studded tires should be available.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
In addition to the issues of tire type and legality, you must be curious about many problems related to studded tires. Let’s find out some questions!
- Are studded tires better than snow tires?
Studded tires are better if you often drive on icy roads. Whereas on light snow-covered roads, snow tires will be an ideal choice.
- How fast can you go with studded snow tires?
The maximum speed of a stone-encrusted tire model is up to 100 mph. However, you should only drive at 30 - 40 mph on harsh snow and ice.
- Do studded tires help on black ice?
Studded tires will provide a safe driving experience on black ice.
The deep grooves and sidewalls of the tire will perform well in the most extreme temperatures.
- Do studded snow tires affect gas mileage?
This type significantly affects the vehicle's fuel economy. Because studs increase the tire's weight, affecting rolling resistance and fuel consumption.
- Do studded tires wear faster?
Yes, this tire wears out quickly, especially when traveling in dry conditions.
I have helped you know the pros and cons of the best studded snow tires. Hopefully, you can find the right product for the approaching winter.
I fell in love with the Cooper Evolution Winter for the harsh winters. This tire pattern distributes traction evenly with reliable performance on many surfaces.
In addition, I recommend Goodyear Wintercommand (LT) for riders looking to conquer slush terrain or General Grabber Arctic LT for years-long endurance.
Remember to consult with local authorities to determine if studded tires are allowed in your area. Remember that studded tires are pricier than studless and studdable tires and can be illegal in some states.
When buying or fitting snow tires in your car, truck, or SUV, make sure to replace all four tires to ensure maximum grip and safety.
Don't forget to share your favorite pick in the comments below.
Thanks for your interest in this article!
I’m Ivo Gievski, the content writer for Tireer. We built our website with over 15 years of experience and extensive research in the automotive and technology sectors. My dedication to delivering high-quality content is unwavering, and I strive to continuously hone my skills to stay ahead of industry trends and provide readers with informative, engaging, and valuable insights.