Back in the days of myth and lore of 2014ish, there were only three choices when it came to light truck tires: Highway-Terrains (which aren’t a choice at all, if we’re being honest), All-Terrains, and Mud-Terrains. It was a simpler time of absolutes and easy choices. Then Hybrid-Terrain Tires came along and had to ruin everything. The old cogers decry this new world of LTs, “Now LT tires exist on a spectrum and a tire can just DECIDE what kind of tire it is! It’s the end of western civilization as we know it!” Calm down, gramps. Hybrid Tires actually fill a pretty big niche that was missing in the LT tire market, and they’ve become some of our personal go-tos for our personal trucks and Project Builds.

2018 F150 with Falken Wildpeak A/T3W

What is a Hybrid-Terrain Tire?
A hybrid tire, by definition...actually doesn’t have a specific definition. The US Tire Manufacturer’s Association doesn’t actually have a definition for what actually constitutes a hybrid tire, and to be fair to them, Hybrid-Terrain and R/T tires are still a pretty new thing. In general, a Hybrid-Terrain Tire is a tire that has elements of both a standard All-Terrain Tire and Mud-Terrain Tire and tries to bridge the gap between A/Ts and M/Ts. The goal of most Hybrid-Terrain truck tires is to get close to the on-road ride quality of an All-Terrain while still keeping the off-road traction and grip of a Mud-Terrain. Let’s face it, the gap between a lot of A/Ts and M/Ts in regards to their respective roles is absolutely massive in a lot of cases, and Hybrid-Terrain Tires make a lot of sense for folks who need a tire that has more grip than your typical All-Terrain but a better daily drive than a Mud-Terrain.

2012 F150 EcoBoost with Mickey Thompson Baja ATZs

Hybrid-Terrain Tire Design
So what exactly does "taking elements of both" actually mean? There’s a few differences in specifics of how Hybrid-Terrain tires are designed, but in general, they take the closely-packed tread pattern of an All-Terrain tire and stick on the center line of the tire and use the large shoulder lugs and lug spacing of a Mud-Terrain on their shoulders to create a tire that has less noise on the street than a true Mud-Terrain, but a lot more off-road traction than your typical All-Terrain tire. These is some variation is Hybrid-Terrain design, with some being closer to the A/T end of the spectrum and others being closer to the M/T end.

Nitto Ridge Grappler

Our much-beloved (if expensive) Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ P3 and my new personal favorite Falken Wildpeak A/T3W are closer to the A/T side of things. They have a closely-packed center tread, and while their shoulder lugs are much bigger and widely spaced than their A/T counterparts, they aren’t approaching the same aggressiveness as a true M/T. Both these tires manage to stay extremely quiet on the street, but are much more capable off-road than an A/T. Granted, these tires really need to be aired down to maximize the grip of those shoulder lugs off-road. We’ve run the Baja ATZs on both our 2012 F150 EcoBoost and our 2015 Desert Runner Project, while the Falken A/T3Ws made it onto our 2018 Budget Build for a brief spell, 2015 F150 XLT, and my own 2011 F150 XL Work Truck and have performed admirably in all sorts of conditions.

Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ Tread Pattern

Closer to the M/T side of things are the Nitto Ridge Grappler R/T and the Toyo Open Country R/T. The Ridge Grapplers feature a unique interior tread design that’s not seen on any of their other tires and is pretty aggressive compared to Nitto’s Terra Grappler A/Ts. The Ridge Grappler’s shoulder lugs, however, are ripped straight off a Nitto Trail Grappler M/T and gives the Ridge Grappler massive amounts of grip. The only downside in this case is that the Ridge Grapplers tend to be a bit louder on the street than the more A/T-skewed Hybrids on the market. We used a set of Ridge Grapplers on our 2012 Expedition build, and they worked wonderfully. The Toyo Open Country R/Ts also have a pretty unique chevron-style design that’s not seen on any of Toyo’s other tires. The shoulder lugs of the R/Ts are quite beefy, but they really need to be aired down quite a bit in order to get the necessary bite. We used the Toyo R/Ts on our 2013 F150 5.0L SuperCab Project and were very happy with how they handled on the street and their traction once they were aired down.

Nitto Ridge Grappler Tread Pattern

Which Hybrid-Terrain Tire Should I Choose?
As with most things, your choice of Hybrid Terrain tires is going to depend on more than one factor. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to Hybrid-Terrain tires is sizing. A lot of Hybrid tires are still fairly new and many manufacturers don’t have a wide size selection as of yet. So, if you have a particular size in mind, you’ll need to research carefully before getting your heart set on a particular Hybrid-Terrain tire.

2015 F150 with Falken Wildpeak A/T3W

Budget is also a big factor, and some Hybrid-Terrains come in at a much lower price point than others. The Falken WildPeak A/T3Ws are arguably some of the best bang-for-your-buck tires that you can find thanks to their low prices and excellent performance. However, if you are trying to get closer to an M/T, the Nitto Ridge Grapplers and Toyo R/Ts are going to be a bit on the pricey side.

2013 F150 with Toyo Open Country R/T

As far as individual tire choice goes, that’s going to depend on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for as quiet of a street ride as possible, the A/T skewed hybrids are probably your best bet, with the Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ and Falken A/T3Ws being the front runners, though the Toyo R/T also manages to be pretty tame. If you’re more concerned about off-road traction in sticky situations, then the Nitto Ridge Grapplers are probably your best bet.

2012 Expedition with Nitto Ridge Grapplers

Really, you can’t go wrong with a Hybrid-Terrain tire. They offer a very nice balance between basic A/Ts and M/Ts and fill in the gulf between the two that was, at times, extremely wide.