Having durables tires on your 4×4 is as important as it having a mechanically sound engine—you won’t go anywhere fast if either fails you. In this tire review, I examine both the Nitto Exo Grapplers and Ridge Grapplers. What are their pros, cons, and usability in various types of terrain? After logging several thousand miles on both Nitto Exo Grappler and Nitto Ridge Grappler tires, I’ve got a few things to say.
Nitto Exo Grapplers: a Three-Peak-Rated All-Terrain Tire
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Nitto’s Exo Grappler tires became our winter tire of choice after my husband Andy and I competed in the 2020 Alcan 5000 Rally with them. This winter Arctic road rally spanned more than 5,120 miles of Arctic wonderland. It was the perfect proving ground to test this winter all-terrain tire.
Armed with a three-peak mountain winter rating, Nitto constructed the Exo Grapplers with durable compounds. The Nitto Exo Grappler is made of high-strength polymers, natural rubber, and wear-resistant materials. This combination of ingredients creates greater wear and chip resistance when traversing gravel or dirt tracks.
Nitto Exo Grappler tires provide thick three-ply sidewalls that offer improved puncture resistance. Nitto Exo Grappler owners can choose between two different oversized sidewall patterns to enhance the look of their off-road vehicle, too.
Exo Grappler all-terrain tires boast specially placed sipes and oversized tread block grooves that permit quick debris removal. These features also allow for better traction in snow and ice—which was critical for completing the rally successfully.
Nitto, a high-tech tire company, carefully arranges tread block patterns and “spiral-shaped stone ejectors” to create a solid surface to roll on. This overall design also minimizes snagging small rocks.
How did the Nitto Exo Grapplers Fair?
I opted for a skinnier winter tire, knowing they’d slice through thousands of miles of snow better than typical, wider off-road rubber. Arming our 1991 Mitsubishi Pajero rally truck with 235/80R17 Exo Grapplers, we tackled dry pavement, severe rain, snow- and ice-covered roads, as well as a night-time blizzard during the 10-day competition.
Our studded Nitto Exo Grapplers kept us sure-footed and on track throughout the Arctic rally. Although a beefy winter all-terrain tire, the Exo Grapplers were surprisingly quiet. It didn’t matter if we were traveling on pavement, gravel, or even a legitimate ice road—the lack of vibration and noise made us forget we were donning all-terrain tires.
We had no flats during the Alcan 5000 Rally event. We had a spare just in case, but didn’t need it. Additionally, our Nitto Exo Grappler’s cut through hard-packed and loose snow exceptionally well.
Even at temps well below zero (-40 was the coldest we saw during the rally), they performed admirably. Nitto’s Exo Grappler tires exceeded our expectations.
The Exo Grapplers don’t look as aggressive as Nitto’s Ridge Grapplers or other off-road tires, even with the more aggressive sidewall pattern facing out. The price may be more than some are willing to spend. But, when you buy Nitto tires, you’re paying for quality and advanced tire design.
Nitto Ridge Grapplers: a Hybrid Off-Road Tire
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Nitto’s Ridge Grappler tires are unique. They aren’t a true all-terrain or mud tire, but they include characteristics of both. Ridge Grapplers are designed with advanced computer technology. This includes specific sound equipment to create tread patterns that allow a hum-free ride. Special grooves alternate in size allowing for quick debris release. As with all Nitto Grappler tire models, the Ridge Grapplers boast two different sidewall designs. One side is a traditional off-road pattern whereas the other dons an aggressive block-style design. We opted to have the more aggressive pattern facing out for more biting potential against tight rocks, etc.
Similar to the winter Exo Grappler tires, Nitto incorporates “stone ejectors” to shield the bottom tread grooves from stone intrusions. As with other Nitto rubber, the Ridge Grapplers are designed with the off-road enthusiast in mind. Beefier construction and advanced designs are qualities to help off-pavement drivers pilot a variety of terrain successfully.
The Nitto Ridge Grapplers have a smooth and quiet highway demeanor. Off-road performance is commendable. Ridge Grapplers grip uneven ground aggressively with its unique tread pattern and rugged sidewall patterning—getting me to where I need to go.
Historically, mud terrain tires have a tendency to be loud when traveling highway speeds. However, the Ridge Grapplers don’t vibrate or make droning noises when traversing long distances on the interstate.
My 285/75R16 Nitto Ridge Grapplers were stable and confident as I logged hundreds of dirt and gravel-filled off-road tracks. Never once did I feel my Pajero break loose or lose its footing. The Nitto Ridge Grapplers grabbed off-tarmac divots and bumps with ease.
Muddy water crossings and thick silt beds were also navigated successfully—the Nitto Ridge Grapplers cleaned out quickly, getting them ready for the next challenge. After a year of fun with them, the Nitto Ridge Grappler hybrid tires have proved their place on my off-road vehicle.
Price may be more than some people want to dish out.
Nitto Exo Grappler and Ridge Grappler Conclusions
If you’re in the market for premium off-road tires that are durable, quiet, and will offer up a comfortable vibration-free ride, then Nitto has you covered. Nitto’s Exo Grappler winter tires surpassed our expectations during the grueling Alcan 5000 Rally. The Nitto Ridge Grapplers have also exceeded our expectations for summertime fun. They’ve conquered everything we’ve thrown at them and so far, came out on top as our favorite off-road tires.
Premium quality meets sophisticated design. If you’re in the market for winter or summer all-terrain/off-road tires, then Nitto’s Exo Grapplers or Ridge Grapplers should be considered.