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Light Truck snow tire comparison
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Real User
Real User
7 Points

Canada CA British Columbia
PostYou have posted in this forum: Wed Dec 06, 2006 11:24 am   Post subject:  Light Truck snow tire comparison Back to top 

This was done back in 2004, around Xmas time.

A few tire dealers have agreed to provide some LT winter tires to compare this weekend. Every few years we do this to see who's got the top tire for our conditions here. We get some ugleeeee winters with lots of snow, and glare ice for miles on end. We have 3 samples of the most popular tires that sell here currently.

1. Bridgestone Blizzak W965's, in a 235/85-16 10 ply.

Surprisingly a really descent winter tire. I'm running these right now on my truck. These are top choice for the locals that do alot of pavement/highway running. 18/32nd's tread depth, the deepest of the 3.

2. Nokian Hakkapeliitta LT, 235/85-16, also 10 ply.

These are studded. This is Nokian's next generation top tire for light trucks, replacing the Hak 10. These have the shallowest tread of 15.7/32nd's, but it doesn't seem to be a hindrence to it's traction capabilities. These are big time popular with bush trucks that don't see much pavement at all in the winter time. Just alot of logging roads, lots of ice. The studs are an asset for these drivers. If you're not familiar with this brand, check out
Go to the North American site. These guys work magic. Super long tread life and traction exceeding any other brand I've tried to date so far. This weekend will prove if they have managed to produce another class leader with the LT.

3. Cooper Discoverer M&S, 235/85-16, 10 ply.

These have also been studded. A new winter tire that is selling very quickly. A deep tread of 17/32nds, lots of flexible sipes, studable, and two deep channels for slush/snow. I never cared for Cooper since thier winter tires were considered cheap and offered little improvement over the all seasons, but these are a great looking tire with excellent customer feedback.

We have various conditions, and will compare the tires in a variety of low traction situations. Braking, acelleration, glare ice, etc.
We'll be doing this on the weekend, I'll post results then!

Day 1:

Since none of the judges can be available over the weekend with the holidays so close, we ran the Bridgestone W965's and the Nokian Hak LT's this afternoon. This is what we've found out so far.

We ran the W965's first since they're already mounted on my truck. Ford Lariat alum wheels, 53psi front, 45psi back. We ran out to the local club house at 80km/h (50mph), long straight, slight gravel, scattered on a sheet of ice/snow. Brakes hammered at power pole #19, ABS working, truck stopped about 3/4 distance to the next pole. Descent distance, good control. Tearing around a icy right corner, rear end kicks out at 60km/h, nice controled slide followed by cheering/hollering.

On to the hills. Long steep section, graded, a few traces of gravel, snow compacted on ice. Very slick. Stopped at the top, 2wd, slight pressure on throttle, sliding backwards. Backed down a few legnths where it wasn't as steep, still no go. Backing down approx 6 lenghs, pretty much at the bottom now, still spinning but gaining momentum slowly. 6 total attepmts at the hill, was made finally.
On to the loose and packed sections of snow.
Did have difficulty maintaining momentum but not to the point I was stuck. Still running 2wd. Stopped on a snow covered section about 6" deep, facing uphill, spun out immediately.
For braking we used the same graded hill but going down hill, stopping from 50km/h and 70km/h. Braking results will be compared later to the Nokians.

Nokian Hak LT's, mounted on steel Ford wheels, 53psi front, 45psi rear, studded with Nokian's recommended TSMI #13 stud. All testing in 2wd. Tires are quieter than predicted being studded. Good control on wet pavement up to 80mph. No squirmy studded tire feeling I remember with the last set I had.
Braking from 80km/h, too roughly 1/2 the distance between power poles. Approx 25% shorter stopping distance. Cooking up around the right corner again, close to 70km/h, no hooting/hollering. Truck didn't kick out at all, felt like it was on rails. Up to the graded hill. Stopped about 3 truck legnths from the top (where the W965's spun out), and crawled ahead without a hiccup. Stopped again further up and steeper, same thing, didn't spin one lug. Stopped right at the steepest point, tires spun slightly but still made it.
The snow-packed section was a piece of cake. Drove off the ruts into the deeper snow, chewed through it without effort. running the main packed trail was as easy as a graded road. The W965's struggled through this whole section. I stopped in the same spot where I spun out before, had no trouble climbing in 2wd, in 6" snow, going up hill. Didn't spin at all. In fact, I made it up the hill turned around in the ruts which required backing up one section crossing deep ruts, all in 2wd. These things work like magic!!!!
This stuff was deep enough to test which tread design would work better in the snow, and the Nokians were clearly superior.
The braking, I had an idea they were better from the 80km/h stop, and they were just as impressive on the hill also. From 50km/h, they stopped 30 1/2 feet shorter than the W965's, and 32 1/2 feet from 70km/h. Tearing back to the main highway, these things gave me new found confidence. I was flying down sections without the slightest slippage.

There isn't anything wrong with the W965, they're a better winter tire than any all-season / all-terrain you could get. They work great for a studless tire. I never lost control with them, or got stuck. I have a large 4wd, and they complimented the package very well. It just so happens that studs, combined with a great tire, still work better.

Tonight we'll have the Coopers ready to rock, and we'll find out what is the best Light Truck winter you can run in central BC.
The Coopers will have to be close to a perfect tire to match the Nokians. We'll see how close to perfect they really are!

Day 2:

We mounted up the set of Coopers on my stock aluminum lariat wheels, set at 53psi front and 45psi rear, same as the other two sets, studded with Cooper's recommended TSMI #15.
What we noticed right away was the Coopers are quieter than the Nokians, and did ride smoother on pavement. They did feel a bit squirmy at 80mph, the deeper tread and less contact area with it's two large channels for slush we believe contributes to this. They did not create any feeling of nervousness, just a bit more driver correction was needed to maintain direction.
Braking from 80km/h between power poles was close to the W965's for distance surprisingly, but shorter none the less by about 1 truck length.
Flying around the sharp right corner did produce a slide at 65km/h, close to what the W965's did.
On the icy hill they did not bite as well as the Hak LT's, needing a few attempts to make it up. They did spin out, and when this happened they did start to slide backwards until completely off the throttle, much like the W965's.
Running through the snow, the Coopers did work better than the W965's. They did manage to get moving once stopped on a snow covered section, the same spot where the W965's failed to get moving without 4wd.
We managed to run up the hill and fully turn aroung in the same area the Hak LT's did, all in 2wd again. It did require more effort to maintain speed, and you did have to pick your line through the snow better than the Hak LT's, but they were a improvement over the W965's. Not as much as the Hak LT's but an improvement none the less.
Braking down the hill showed braking distances marginally shorter than the W965's. From 50km/h they stopped an average of 8ft shorter. From 70km/h, we varied 9-11ft, depending on what line was picked to run.

All said and done, this is how they ranked.

Ride quality

Tire noise

High speed on pavement

Braking, flat road at 80km/h

Ice traction

Snow traction

50km/h &70km/h braking


Overall rating
17 points-Nokian #1
14 points-Cooper #2
11 points-Bridgestone #3

The Bridgestones have thier place in the winter tire market. Someone that doesn't see alot of snow or ice, or can't stand stud noise of dry sections of pavement. These tires will give you better winter traction than any all season or all terrain on the market. I was very happy with them, and ran some ugly days without worry. If you don't want studs, these are the best on the market. If you're running anything lighter than a 3/4 ton truck, go with a different tire. These tires need some weight on them, the more the better.

The Coopers IMO were somewhat of a dissapointment. Not because they were a bad tire, they did increase overall traction compared to the W965's. The deeper/open tread did give it better snow capabilities, and the studding did improve ice traction, just not to the degree I expected. These tires are a marginal improvement over the W965's, and I believe without the studs the W965's would of ranked 2nd, not 3rd overall. I believe a different rubber compound would help these tires. They seemed to have the right mix on paper to come out #1, but are a distant 2nd in real world testing.

The Nokian Hak LT's are a fun tire to run. They make you want to find deeper snow, more ice when you go out for a drive. All I can say the Finnish know thier tires. 8 months of winter every year, no doubt they know thier winter tires.
I've ran Nokians in the past, Hak 10's on a previous truck, but these are the best to date.
The braking traction was surprising, the ice traction on the hills dropped my jaw, and cornering/lateral grip, a league of it's own.

If you want the best, Hak LT's studded. I'd put these LT's against any light truck tire on the market, they're that good.
Almost forgot, traded my W965's, I kept the Hak LT's used on the test.

Hope you all enjoyed the read!

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Site Admin
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USA US New York
PostYou have posted in this forum: Wed Dec 06, 2006 2:20 pm   Post subject:   Back to top 

Great article. Thanks for sharing it.

- John

John Werner - Driving Innovative, Out of the Box Solutions
Editor: The Snow Tire FAQ (
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