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One reason van life has exploded in popularity is thanks to the increased freedom it provides.
Adventure seekers gain the freedom to explore away from traditional campgrounds by getting off-road.
Much like a runner should begin with their shoes, off-roading in an RV starts with the tires. As you continue reading, you’ll learn everything you need to know to select the best tires for off-roading in an RV.
As cool as I think monster truck tires are, they won’t fit your RV without significant modifications, nor are they practical running down the road.
Choosing the correct tire size can make or break your off-roading experience. Getting tires too big, like monster truck tires, will require many expensive modifications and, at the very least, ruin your mileage, whereas buying tires that are too small will cause you to easily get stuck, creating unnecessary frustrations.
So what’s the right size?
That will depend on the make and model of your RV and the type of off-roading you plan on doing.
For instance, if you plan to spend most of your time way off the beaten path, then I recommend going with as large of tires as your vehicle can handle.
However, if you plan to stick to gravel roads and occasionally venture onto dirt roads, you won’t need the larger tires to tackle those conditions.
One time, I bought tires that were slightly too big for my off-roading vehicle, and they drove fine until I made a sharp turn, and then they would rub the fender wells. So, I’ll leave this story here as a reminder to check and see if the tires will fit into your fender wells, especially when turning!
The tread will make or break your tires.
Living in the country for my entire life and working on gravel roads for several years, I’ve come to appreciate the all-terrain tread on a tire.
I believe it has enough grip to get out of some pretty sticky situations, yet it’s not too much that you hear it buzzing down the road while you drive.
A buddy of mine had off-road tires on his truck while we were in college, and I could hear his tires rolling down the road before I ever saw or heard his truck. It didn’t make for an enjoyable experience while on a road trip, that’s for sure.
That’s why I recommend the all-terrain route. They’re not obnoxiously loud, but they can still handle getting off the beaten path.
It should go without saying, but road tires won’t cut it. I tried to get by with some cheaper road tires while driving down a lot of gravel roads, and they were very slick, and I got more holes in those tires than I have ever gotten in any tire.
Looking back, choosing the proper tire ply would have helped with the needle-sized holes.
When first buying tires, I didn’t realize there were different thicknesses or ply of tires. That’s why I struggled with leaky tires for years while driving down gravel roads. The rocks would put little holes in my tires, creating a leak I’d have to get patched.
However, I stopped getting those pesky leaks once I stepped up to at least 8-ply tires. This was on a smaller SUV, so I strongly recommend 10-ply tires for off-roading for a heavier RV or van.
Yes, the 10-ply tires are more expensive and ride a little rougher than other tires, but you won’t have to worry so much about leaky tires, and you’ll save money on tire and vehicle repairs.
Speaking of saving money, it’s not always a good idea to go with the cheapest option every time, as we will find out next.
When I first got into off-roading, I immediately learned this hobby isn’t cheap. If you want good quality gear, you’ll have to pay for it.
That definitely goes for your tires.
Don’t skimp out with cheap tires because you got an excellent deal on some thin-walled road tires. You won’t make it very far until you’re changing a flat. =
Off-road tires are expensive compared to asphalt tires, but in the end, they’re worth the extra cost to avoid the heartache and hassle of changing flats all the time or getting stranded in the middle of nowhere when you’re searching for that next secret bass fishing spot.
Choosing the Best Tires Based On the Type of Off-Roading
Buying the right tires ultimately depends on what type and how much off-roading you plan on doing.
If you only plan to hit up the local disc golf course and park in the gravel parking lot occasionally or on the side of the road as you head off to climb a few pitches, you won’t need 10-ply off-road tires on your RV.
As a matter of fact, you’ll probably hate 10-ply tires because they’re louder, rougher, and more expensive when driving on the pavement most of the time.
However, if you drive miles and miles into the middle of nowhere on gravel and dirt roads and sometimes have to make your own road, I strongly recommend getting as big and tough tires as possible for your next elk hunting trip.
Most RVers will do perfectly fine with something in the middle, like an 8-ply all-terrain tire, but there is not a one-size-fits-all answer.
Now that you’ve finished reading this article on selecting the best tires for off-roading in an RV, you have a better idea of what you should be looking for based on the type of off-roading you will be doing.
Remember, if you plan to primarily stick to the pavement and occasionally hit the gravel roads, an 8-ply all-terrain tire will be sufficient for your adventures.
For the extreme adventure seekers taking their RV far from any maintained roads, I strongly recommend 10-ply tires as big as you can get them.
Thanks for reading. I’ll catch you on your next adventure!