Duratracs were standard equipment on our Power Wagon (Yeti). With 11,000 miles on the tires and our first alignment, rotation, and balance behind us; it’s worth diving into our experience so far.
Duratracs are popular everywhere and cropping up as an OEM in almost every manufacturer’s line-up. Easy to find and even easier to install if they come off the lot.
Height and weight for the class and size (285/70R17) is pretty average. Lighter than a 3-ply, but on par with most of the more aggressive A/Ts. (And heavier than the street bias siblings.)
Siping is generous, but the durometer is on the harder side. Hence, why I think some have been able to get 50-60k miles out of them. Siping does earn them the mountain snowflake (more on that later).
Balancing wasn’t fantastic from the factory (neither was the alignment), but with a road force machine came out fine. There are several cases online of people having issues balancing these tires. Mine took a decent amount of weight, and again, a road force machine to have no vibrations at 80+ MPH. (We live in Utah, that’s 100% legal.)
No comment on braking or MPG since this is a new vehicle and I haven’t seen any other tires on it. I’d say with some confidence that if you’re coming from anything less aggressive, you’re going to experience a good drop. I know of one person who went from these to a General AT and said it made the truck a sports car in comparison.
On the Road Again
My biggest grip with these tires is noise. They’re sooo loud compared to the Coopers. And the Coopers weren’t exactly silent. Above 70 MPH they sing. They’re louder than the KOs, KO2, and ST/Maxx. As loud as an M/T? No. Are they so loud that it’s annoying? For the majority of the population, I’d say no. If you’re sensitive to stuff like that, then most certainly.
But you do get something for all that noise. In the wet, snow, and ice – these tires flat out excel. Besides a dedicated snow tire, these are the best I’ve ever driven in the wet stuff. The most impressive feat yet was backing a loaded trailer up a snow and ice covered driveway without tire spin that the same truck with Firestone Transforce tires couldn’t do in four-wheel drive on dry pavement without spinning a wheel here and there.
And unlike the Coopers, the depth of the snow doesn’t seem to matter. They did as well in hub-deep powder as shallow, frozen, nastiness.
In regards to roll and smoothness… it’s tough to say. The OEM tires are Load D and really should be Load E. If anything the tires feel soft. But I think that’s more to do with load rating and specific application. For smoothness… not a record setter. They roll more like a mud-terrain than any AT I’ve driven (did I mention how loud they were?).
I asked a friend why he ran Duratracs. He said, “they stick to slick rock like gecko fingers”. That they do. They clear as well or better than any AT on the market in the mud and clay. The siping and softer sidewalls (not 3-ply) deform magnificently for crazy like grip on rocks, dirt, and roots. In regards to grip off-road – they’d be hard to beat. This is something they do really well.
At speed and in the hard stuff they’re not exactly at home. Grip is fine, but like the highway, they can wander. There’s a reason you don’t see the DT’s on race vehicles.
They don’t seem to grab rocks as badly as the Coopers – but they throw them equally as well. I’d say that’s a wash. Chipping and chunking is very acceptable.
The thing that often seems to come up in these is sidewall and puncture strength. I’ve personally had zero issues. I know others who have been through tire after tire. I remain bias towards three-ply sidewalls.
This a tire review I really didn’t want to write. If you asked me right now if I’ll replace these Duratracs with another set, I’d nervously start biting my nails and darting my eyes around the room looking for something hard to drink.
I don’t know.
They do some things so incredibly well. But that’s not without compromise. Compared to other tires where they might not do as well in some categories, but the compromise all around isn’t as great.
If you’re in a climate without snow – I’d go another direction in a heartbeat. On the contrary, if you are in the snow, I’d second guess your decision and take a long hard look at these tires.
Are the sidewalls and tires overall weaker and more prone to flats than others in the class? Yes. Are the tires less round and harder to balance? Yes. Are they louder than they need to be? Yes.
Do they grip the tundra like a yeti? Fuck yeah. Crawling and off-camber is suction-cup-like traction? Better believe it.
The truth is that if my next set of tires (35″) had more selection, I’d unlikely throw another set of these on. But, then again, that’s another plus to DT, it comes in a ton of sizes. Here’s what I think I can say definitively:
The Duratrac will out perform any other 50k mile tire off-road.