The Best Studded Snow Tires (2024)

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Give your vehicle the ultimate grip this winter

The Best Studded Snow Tires (1)

Tire manufacturers have done an amazing job at using modern rubber compounds and computer tread designs that give studless winter tires more grip than the studded tires from just 30 years ago. While that’s made studded tires less popular than they were in the past, they haven’t gone away. Why? Because some parts of the country still see winters where the snow is measured in feet, not inches. Where there is more ice on the road than there is sun in the sky for half of the year.

For drivers in those places, or anywhere that sees serious winter conditions and drivers that absolutely have to get to where they are going, tire companies have made studded tires that combine the traction of metal studs with the advanced compounds of modern winter tires. Below we will look at the best studded snow tires currently available and look at the pluses and minuses of running studded snow tires.

1. Editor's Choice: Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10

Nokian is a tire company you might not know by name, but they're from Finland, and that means they know what's what when it comes to driving in winter. They make some seriously capable winter tires, but they also offer the Hakkapeliitta 10 studded tires. While many studded tires actually come without the studs, ready for you to have them installed, Nokian actually makes its own studs and ships the tires ready to go. They're not standard studs, instead getting star-shaped metal studs that the company has designed. The shoulder studs are rotated 180 degrees versus those on the main body of the tire, helping to add even more grip when cornering. Thanks to their extensive stud experience, Nokian has designed an optimized tread layout that actually absorbs and eliminates the most prominent tire stud noises, reducing the click clack clatter you hear in your vehicle. Making sure they work in slush as well, the tires are heavily siped. This adds stability and grip in the worst winter conditions. Nokian also offers an EV version of the tire, with tweaks that put more emphasis on rolling resistance and noise. They come in common EV sizes.

2. Uniroyal Tiger Paw Ice & Snow 3

The name's straightforward here. It's the third version of Uniroyal's studdable winter tire. A special winter compound helps with flexibility and grip. It uses a directional tread pattern for more grip and includes wide grooves and shoulder channels to shed slush and rain. High sipe density helps with grip from the rubber, but the tire is moulded to take tire studs for even more mechanical grip on hard-packed snow as well as glare ice. Like other tires designed for studs, it lacks siping and moulding on the leading edge of the tread, but should have serious grip with the metal studs installed.

3. General Altimax Arctic 12

This studdable winter tire is designed to add improved steering response and dry handling, something that the company can do knowing the studs will be there for the worst of the winter weather grip needs. The wide grooves channel water while the angles of the tread blocks and their sipes add traction and braking ability on snow and ice. It's the overlapping center rib with straight-line sipes that improves steering response. General says that the tread is designed to put as much as possible on the road at all times, reducing the pressure on the tire and giving it longer life.

4. General Grabber Arctic LT

Pickups need winter tires too. Those mudders or rock crawler tires are near useless in the snow or on ice, cancelling out your four-wheel drive. This tire offers special snow traction ribs and reinforcement bars to give it better grip on snow and ice, while helping to make sure it is strong enough to stand up to pickup truck use. As a truck tire, the compound is designed to resist cutting and chips and has ultra-high strength steel belts. Great for fleet usage, the tire has a symmetrical tread for easier mounting and rotation. Buttresses on the tire's tread blocks help keep the tread blocks rigid. This means less sway and better stability, even when the tire is brand new.

5. Firestone's Winterforce 2

Firestone's Winterforce 2 is designed with a directional pattern made from a cold-weather rubber compound. It uses extra-deep circumferential grooves and lateral notches to help channel slush and water away from the contact patch. Firestone has made the rubber tread run to the full depth of the tire, and has sipes that run the full depth too, something other tires lack and that helps the tire deliver confident and capable winter handling for longer than other tires.

6. Goodyear WinterCommand

The Goodyear Wintercommand is designed for cars, crossovers, and minivans, to give them excellent traction in the worst winter conditions. An aggressive criss-cross tread design is meant to help them bite into snow and slush, with wide channels to help evacuate standing water and reduce hydroplaning. Thousands of sipes in a high-density zig-zag pattern create thousands of biting edges on the tire for better grip. Goodyear claims excellent ride quality and noise levels, which is backed up by user reviews, making it a great studded winter tire option for your daily driver.

7. Continental Vancontact Ice

The Continental Vancontact Ice is designed for the needs of delivery drivers and tradespersons driving full-size vans. The tire uses a Nordic-designed compound with added natural oils for better performance on wet surfaces as well as frozen ones. The tire has more carbon black, which improves the lifespan of the tire, helping to reduce costs for people who need their vehicles for work every day. To help the tire studs perform better, a new Ramp Ice Reservoir catches loose ice that is on the surface of the road and keeps it from building up around the stud, which would reduce the effectiveness of the tire studs. Continental's new stud is made from a special hardened steel and is actually incorporated into the fabric of the tire to reduce stud loss and improve stud and tire wear.

8. Cooper Discoverer Snow Claw

The Discoverer Snow Claw is aimed at SUVs and trucks, offering a very aggressive tread pattern even before the studs are installed. This is a tire that can handle the duties of towing and hauling as well as heading off-road over frozen gravel and dirt roads even when they're clear of snow. The company calls the tread its claws and the studs its extra claws. The zig-zag Snow Groove circumferential grooves are actually patented technology from Cooper designed to offer better traction, handling, and stopping in the worst weather conditions. Don't rely on 4x4 to get you through winter on those same old all-seasons. Put a tire on your truck that is designed to give your 4x4 even greater capability when the weather turns tough.

9. Continental IceContact3

This is the third generation of Continental's winter-ready studdable tire. This one gets special new groove patterns that lead water and slush away from the contact patch for minimizing slushplaning (yes, that's a thing). It also has bridges between the tread blocks that help add stiffness to the tire's tread, an advantage in adding more stability and confident handling when it is well below freezing but the roads are clear of snow and ice. A new plant oil is used in the tread compound and keeps it flexible even at the lowest temperatures. This tire uses two different types of stud and an innovative distribution pattern for more grip and shorter braking distances on snow and ice. The tire is designed for special coated studs that are more resistant to being thrown out of the tread, maximizing performance over the life of the tire.

10. Michelin X-Ice North 4

Michelin designed the X-Ice North 4 for Northern Europe. If it can handle Scandinavian winters, most of the US should be a breeze. The tires start with a new V-shaped tread design to evacuate snow and ice along with wide grooves to shed water. Interlocking sipes add biting edges and give the tire more stability, improving both dry and snow handling. It comes with factory-installed studs that are placed around the tire using a special algorithm to help ensure maximum grip. They're also now triangularly shaped, helping to better dig into ice for more grip. Michelin says that the tire is built for low noise and ride comfort, normally the biggest weaknesses of the studded winter tire.

11. BF Goodrich Commercial T/A Traction

This is a studdable tire aimed at higher loads including SUVs that will tow and haul extensively, three-quarter and one-ton pickups, and other vehicles that see serious work. A tread compound high in silicon dioxide works with larger grooves to help prevent hydroplaning. The two different types of chunky grooves give you traction in mud with loads of sipes to add traction in the snow and on ice. When equipped with studs, these tires offer a level of winter grip that would have required chains in the past, saving you time and effort at the side of the road. A special insert in the shoulder of the tire is meant to keep the tires cooler. This helps extend the tread life of the tires under extreme conditions.

12. Gislaved NordFrost 200

Gislaved is another brand you might not know, but the Swedish tire maker has been around since 1893. Today it is part of Continental, but it continues to innovate in the winter tire market. The NordFrost has a special stud design that uses a lighter material (for acceleration and braking performance as well as fuel economy in all situations) as well as an innovative profile to create more mechanical grip. Tread grooves around the studs stop ice from fouling them and stopping them from gripping the main road surface. under acceleration and cornering, the tread blocks are designed to move in ways that make them interlock and behave more stiffly, helping you get away from a stop with more confidence. These tires match their predecessor in the snow, but beat it significantly on ice and in dry braking.

13. Pirelli Ice-Zero

The Ice Zero starts with 20% more snow-gripping sipes than other similar tires. Then a multi-link rubber compound offers a wider range of temperatures where it can still perform at its best, offering you grip in the best and worst of winter. The special tire studs use a massive flared base that helps keep them firmly in the tire. Double claws on the tip of the stud add even more grip when the studs hit hard-pack snow or ice, while a flat stud wall improves the consistency of the performance of the tire. These tires also offer a run flat design. While it's always nice to be able to keep driving after a flat, it's extra nice in winter knowing that you can make it to a garage or tire store instead of risking your safety changing a tire on the side of an icy road in frigid temperatures.

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The Best Studded Snow Tires (15)

What are Tire Studs?

Put simply, they are small pieces of metal that are pressed into your tires. Flat on one end to hold them in place in specially designed holes in the tire, pointed on the other end to poke into the ice and hold firmly, giving you extra traction. Hundreds of the metal studs are put in stud-compatible winter tires, using a special tool.

The Perks of Studded Tires

Metal studs offer unbeatable traction on ice compared with even the best winter tires. Because the studs poke into the ice, they grab the ice firmly, helping you to stop more quickly and more securely in the slickest conditions.

The Downsides of Studded Tires

If you've ever had a rock stuck in between the tread of your tire, you are familiar with the downsides of studded tires. Imagine the click of a rock, multiplied 180 times. In short, they're noisy, especially on dry pavement.

On dry pavement, studded tires may offer less grip than non-studded tires, as the metal stud is contacting the road before the rubber of the tire. That contact is why most areas that allow studs limit their use to the winter driving season; it damages the asphalt on top of being noisy.

Studs, especially on dry pavement and warm roads, can separate from the tire. This usually causes noise rather than damage, but if the studs fly out of the tire, you will have less traction the next time it's icy.

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The Best Studded Snow Tires (2024)


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