One sure way to spark a debate is to bring up the topic of best tire size for overlanding to any off-roader or overlander. You will hear a multitude of different answers.
What might be the best size for you might not be for someone else. There are a few considering factors to determine the best tire size, and we’re going to go over them in this article.
Tire Height For Overlanding
One of the best ways to add more clearance to your Overlanding vehicle is by putting on bigger tires. Adding a lift will only afford you so much clearance. I.e., you will still be the same height at your axles.
However, adding bigger tires will raise the clearance of your axles. Another advantage to taller tires is traversing over large objects. So, think if you want to go over some rocks, the taller the tire is here, the easier it is to overcome.
There are, however, some things to keep in mind when choosing how tall of a tire you want. One of the most important things to keep in mind is will it fit?
Most off-roaders will get a suspension lift, but the key here is not to go too extreme. A 2-inch lift is more than enough for most overlanders, if not all.
So, you want to get a tire that will fit your vehicle without lifting it more than 2 inches.
In most cases, lifting your vehicle any more than 2 inches will require extensive modifications.
Wide Tires For Overlanding
Another important factor when considering tire size that’s often overlooked is the width. Some people like to put on as wide a tire as possible. However, I do not recommend that.
Wide tires may look cool to some people, but their practicality on the trail may be limited.
Adding extra-wide tires to your vehicle will increase its overall width; this makes it more difficult for you to get down narrow passages.
Wide tires will also add extra weight to your vehicle, which is a big concern when Overlanding. It’s also a concern when navigating certain terrains like mud.
Many people think that wider tires are better because of a wider footprint. This is not entirely true. A taller is better here because it has a longer footprint.
Another drawback of going with wide tires is you may need to add spacers. Adding spacers to an Overlanding vehicle is not recommended.
Many off-roaders use spacers, and while I still don’t recommend it there, it’s more forgivable as they don’t depend on their vehicle as much as an overlander does.
Adding a spacer is adding another point of failure, and when Overlanding, we want to reduce risks as much as possible.
Narrow Tires For Overlanding
If I were to choose between wide tires or narrow tires for Overlanding, I would choose narrow, and I did.
Narrow tires, in my opinion, have more benefits than drawbacks for Overlanding.
The narrower a tire, the lighter it is; this is great for Overlanding, where we are always trying to reduce our weight. Narrow tires don’t increase the profile of your vehicle.
I also think narrow tires offer better traction overall; they have the ability to dig through the sloppy stuff and find solid ground.
The only place I wouldn’t recommend a narrow tire is for the desert or any sand. In this case, they would keep digging and not find solid ground.
If you don’t intend to use your vehicle solely on the sand, you can still use narrow tires if you have tall tires.
By deflating a tall tire, you create enough footprint to traverse sand.
Tire Weight For Overlanding
One thing we need to keep in mind is the weight of the tires, including any spare, which would be mounted somewhere atop the vehicle and not in contact with the ground.
If you choose a larger size tire, that will increase the overall weight of your vehicle. This may have some drawbacks; especially if you are traveling in softer terrain, it may have the opposite effect of what you were hoping for.
When choosing a tire size for your Overlanding vehicle, it’s extremely important to think about where you plan to go. I’m not talking about the type of terrain but rather geographical locations.
You will find that some tires are readily accessible in certain countries while others will take time to source or may not be sourced at all. This varies from country to country.
The same holds true for certain parts of North America.
If you have a relatively common size tire, you can pick up a replacement from almost any tire store. However, if your tire size is not so common, you may find yourself camped outside the store for several days.
Tire size for Overlanding comes down to personal preference and vehicle type. However, one of the most important things I would suggest is to buy a common tire size for your area. After that, I feel between 30 and 33-inch tires are most suitable for Overlanding.