There was a time when it was commonplace to haul tire chains around everywhere you went. Tires just didn’t provide the traction they do today, and people had learned that a set of chains wrapped around the tires helped get them through the treachery of the ice and snow. Today we find it easier to utilize a different technology – studded snow tires. These are snow tires that feature small metal studs placed into the treads that act in nearly the same manner as the old snow chains. They don’t grab snow and throw it out of your way, but they do improve friction to the point where traction is enhanced. They stick out from the tread pattern and dig through the hard, slick surface of a frozen road. The following are the best studded snow tires you can buy today.
1. General Altimax Arctic Studded
The Altimax Arctic does not come from the factory as a studded tire, but it does have the holes in place for those who wish have their local tire shop place the studs for them. They feature twin steel belts encasing a polyester carcass featuring General’s Tire Reactive Contour Technology. The studs are set in alternating rows of a directional pattern that combines stability on dry roads with hydroplaning resistance on wet and slushy surfaces. Sizes range from 175/70R13 to 285/70R17, and it offers a six-year manufacturer’s warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. There is no mileage warranty. This is undoubtedly the best performing studded snow tire in the market today.
Works best on: Luxury sedans, Sports cars, Coupes, Vans, Crossover SUVs
2. Nokian Hakkapeliitta 5
The Hakkapeliitta 5 features nearly the same tread pattern as the Hakkapeliitta R, only it utilizes an off-set, alternating stud design in its directional tread pattern. The front edge of the tread blocks feature what Nokia refers to as a “Bear Claw” design, which enhances the performance of the studs. It is also a quattrotread, meaning it uses four different types of rubber compounds in its design. This improves driving stability and reduces road noise. Sizes range from 175/75R13 to 255/35R20, and there is a five-year manufacturer’s warranty against defects in materials and workmanship, with no mileage warranty.
Works best on: Coupes, All Sedans, Crossover SUVs, Sports cars, Minivans
3. Gislaved Nordfrost 5
Gislaved is not as well-known as some of the other brands, but it is quickly cementing itself among the top-tier of the studded snow tire line. The Nordfrost 5 utilizes a directional symmetrical pattern with two center ribs and “Force Transmission Links.” This provides a stiffness that enhances traction in inclement conditions. The stud pattern is offset throughout the outer edges of the tread pattern and features what Gislaved refers to as a “brilliant” stud. It is a stud that has a spiked head, aiding in ice grip and providing shorter braking distances. Sizes range from 155/80R13 to 245/40R18.
Works best on: Sedans, Performance vehicles, Coupes, Minivan, Crossover SUVs
4. Firestone Winterforce UV
The Winterforce shares the same tread pattern with previous Winterforce tires, making them interchangeable. It has an aggressive directional V-shaped tread pattern, with off-set alternating studs. These are also tires that do not come from the manufacturer with studs already inserted, but can be studded by your local tire dealer. It features twin steel belts encasing a polyester carcass. This is common for snow tires, as it enhances the stiffness of the tire and allows for better traction in snow and ice. Sizes range from 155/80R13 to 225/60R18, and it has a five-year manufacturer’s warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.
Works best on: Coupes, Sedans, Minivans