*Originally published with 11,000 miles on the tires — this review has been updated as of June 2019 and 16,500 miles on the tires.
Duratracs were standard equipment on our Power Wagon (Yeti). With 16,500 miles on the tires; it’s worth diving into our experience. Since it’s now come to a screeching halt. More on that later.
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.
We now have the ST/Maxx tires on the truck and our average listening volume level dropped from 10 to 7 just with the change in tires. And again, the Coopers aren’t a quiet tire.
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 smoothness… the OEM tires are Load D and really should be Load E. They feel soft in the corners and deform, almost excessively, when aired down. They’re a lot softer than I’d like them to be. And while load index 121, the replacement tires are the same, have more sidewall, and are considerably less squishy. So they’re smooth? Not really…
They roll more like a mud-terrain than any AT I’ve driven (did I mention how loud they were?). This, combined with how soft they are, leads to excessive chatter in corrugations and road irregularities. In summary, they ride terribly compared to others in this class of tire. Probably the worst riding and rolling AT out there.
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 are acceptable. And that’s putting it generously. The generous sipes pick up all kinds of debris and help it chip and chunk away at itself. If you do a good amount of driving off-road (including gravel), expect to see chipping and chunking.
The thing that often seems to come up in these is sidewall and puncture strength. And I can see why. We’re no longer running these because of a pinch flat that happened on an abandon gravel road. No obstacles. Under 15 MPH. It’s my opinion that the sidewalls, as I’ve already droned on about, are way too soft. I’d say just about any AT from General, Cooper, or BFG will offer a better sidewall than these tires.
This a tire review I really didn’t want to write. If you asked me before we lost a sidewall if I’d replace these Duratracs with another set — I’d nervously start biting my nails and mumbling.
In the end, I told myself that if I could put 40k miles on them and have no failures, I’d likely buy another set purely because of the snow performance. Well, we all know how that ended up.
The Duratracs do some things so incredibly well. But that’s not without compromise. Serious compromise.
If you’re in a climate without snow – I wouldn’t even consider these tires. On the contrary, if you are in the snow, I’d second guess your decision and take a long hard look at these tires. Especially if more of a weekend warrior when it comes to off-roading and not doing multi-day, remote trips or running difficult trails and making liberal use of your sliders and skids.