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15,000-Mile Nitto Ridge Grappler Review on a Ford F-350 OBS

For the past five years, we’ve had the pleasure of testing Nitto’s Ridge Grappler on an old-school workhorse: a 1997 Ford F-350 equipped with the 7.3L Power Stroke. This truck tows and hauls more than it probably should, sees snow when we need four-wheel drive and often navigates across spongy ground each spring.

Hybrid Terrain Ridge Grappler Tires Mud Testing

Unofficially, the Ridge Grapplers are the truck’s “winter” tires, which in Illinois means they’re bolted on in October and don’t come back off until May. Needless to say, while we’ve only put 15,000 miles on the Ridge Grapplers, they’ve been hard-earned.

Nitto Ridge Grappler Hybrid Terrain Tires

During its tenure, we’ve found the Ridge Grappler to be more than sufficient in every meaningful way. On the highway, its tread wears like an all-terrain. Off the beaten path, it’s an all-terrain on steroids. And in 15,000 miles we’ve yet to notice any uptick in road noise. With a hefty tongue weight on the truck or a ton and a half of rock in the bed, sidewall bulge is a non-issue and inflation pressure remains constant throughout the frigid temperatures seen from December-March. Are we going to keep running the Ridge Grappler? You bet. Here’s why.

Tire Specs

Size: LT285/75R16
Inflated Diameter: 32.83 inches
Inflated Width: 11.26 inches
Max Air Pressure: 80 psi
Load Range: E
Load Index: 126
Carrying Capacity: 3,750 lbs/tire at 80 psi
Ply Rating: 10
Factory Tread Depth: 16.4/32 inches
Current Tread Depth: 13/32 inches
Miles Tested: 15,000

The Workhorse

1997 Ford F-350 Power Stroke Diesel Truck

Yes, we’re testing a set of 16’s. Despite all the late-model vehicles you see on the freeway, these small rims (and the trucks they came bolted to) still exist. What’s more is that these aging steeds are often put to work on the farm, ranch or out on a filthy jobsite somewhere. If a tire is going to be put through its paces, there aren’t many better options than on a truck whose retirement entails being driven into the ground. We’d like to think that our test mule appears a bit cleaner than most 27-year-olds, but make no mistake, when it’s time to hook on to the trailer or haul 3,000 pounds of gravel our F-350—and its Ridge Grapplers—get a workout.

Nominal Tread Wear

Tire Tread Depth Gauge Nitto Ridge Grappler

Our LT285/75R16 test candidates began life with 16.4/32 inches of tread depth (as advertised) and we have to say, wear has been minimal. It’s a fine balance to offer a durable rubber compound that lasts long-term while also providing above average on-road comfort, but Nitto seems to have done it with the Ridge Grappler. It’s reassuring to know that we’re a lot of miles (and many years) away from having to worry about their ability to perform in wet or snowy conditions. And if their ride quality continues to satisfy us, we have zero qualms about running them another five years.

Uniform Wear

Nitto Tire Ridge Grappler Hybrid Terrain Tread Pattern

From shoulder to shoulder (and tire to tire), we’ve seen even wear throughout our testing of the Ridge Grappler. We attribute this to regular tire rotations (every 5,000 miles) and routine pressure checks. Even though we do air up to 80-psi for max effort workloads, inflation checks in at 65 psi the majority of the time. The latter pressure tends to aid ride comfort, but at the same time allows us to tote lighter trailers (or lighter payloads) without having to run their maximum inflation pressure.

Quiet & Comfortable

Tire Test Highway Nitto Ridge Grappler

Creating an all-terrain/mud-terrain hybrid that is quiet on the highway wasn’t easy, but through the employment of state-of-the-art sound equipment, computer simulation and a variable pitch tread pattern Nitto was able to pull it off. Fifteen thousand miles later, our hybrid-terrains maintain the same quiet, comfortable ride they had the day we mounted them, and their road noise matches or bests the top-performing all-terrains on the market (including Nitto’s Terra Grappler G2 and Recon Grappler). The fact that the Ridge Grappler is no louder than a traditional all-terrain while also being considerably more capable off-road is the ultimate sales pitch for a truck owner—and it’s what got us to buy them.

Towing With Confidence

Ridge Grappler Towing Test Ford F-350

The Ridge Grappler’s 10-ply rating makes it a great tire for towing, and in our experience it’s proven itself very stable and sure-footed. Even when facing high-speed crosswinds with a virtual sail behind us, they have no issue holding the road in response to our constant steering inputs. Confidence in a towing tire is arguably the most important requirement for us, and the Ridge Grappler checks the box. A typical workload for our F-350 checks in at 10,000 pounds, and in these instances we usually bump pressure up to 80-psi for maximum load carrying capacity.

Heavy-Duty DNA

Load Carrying Capacity Nitto Ridge Grappler

For the kind of cargo our OBS Ford is used to haul, the load range E, 285/75R16 Ridge Grapplers are complete overkill—which is just the way we like it. Inflated to 80 psi, each tire boasts a load index of 126, and a load carrying capacity of 3,750 pounds. For trucks sporting a more common, 20-inch wheel package, Nitto’s LT295/65R20 version of the Ridge Grappler offers up a load index of 129 and a load carrying capacity of 4,080 pounds per tire. In today’s world, where many 1-ton trucks are rated to tow in excess of 25,000 pounds, these heavy-duty load index options ensure your truck lives up to its full potential.

A Solid Performer In Inclement Weather

Snow Tire Test Nitto Ridge Grappler

Seeing snow is a regular part of life for our Ridge Grapplers, as anytime it’s on the ground four-wheel drive (by way of the F-350) is usually required. Luckily, they’ve performed flawlessly in the fluff. The tire’s stepped edge tread blocks and aggressive sidewall design grab ahold of everything in their path in order to maintain traction, and this holds true in wet, heavy snow. In addition to their stellar performance in snow, the Ridge Grapplers rarely lose air pressure due to permeation (a common problem in frigid temperatures). Of course, conducting regular pressure checks is rule number 1 in tire maintenance, which we believe is part of the reason why our Ridge Grapplers are holding up so well.

It's Not A Mud Tire—But It Could Be

Hybrid Terrain Ridge Grappler Tires Mud Testing

In the mud, the Ridge Grappler exceeded our expectations. Thanks to its aggressive tread lug pattern with tapered edges and stepped block edges, deep sidewall lugs and lateral Z grooves arranged in a zig-zag pattern, the hybrid-terrain has clawed its way through every mud hole we’ve put it in. We’ve also seen the tire’s self-cleaning, alternating width shoulder grooves in action firsthand. Whether you’re towing or hauling, traversing the back country, navigating a snowstorm, or are predominantly spending time commuting on the highway, the Ridge Grappler is well-suited for any task. Unequivocally, it’s one of the best all-around truck tires yours truly has ever tested.

  • If you’re curious where this journey started, click here. Five years later, life with Ridge Grapplers is good, and they’re some of the best tires we’ve ever run on our OBS Ford.
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