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Mud Grappler VS Trail Grappler

They are two of the most prominent mud-terrain tires on the market- the Nitto Trail Grappler and Mud Grappler. Each is well known for its off-road performance, on-road longevity, and incredible sidewall strength. While both fall under the mud-terrain tire category, they are far from the same. Given we have years of experience with both tires, we decided to dive into some of the most common questions we receive about them.

So, which one is right for you? Read on to find out.

Nitto Tire Mud Grappler versus Trail Grappler

Road Noise

Let’s get this one knocked out early. Mud Grapplers are known for a signature roar on the highway. If you want to make sure others hear you coming, this is the tire for you. On the other hand, the Trail Grappler is notoriously quiet. In fact, we’ve had all-terrain tires that make more road noise than our Trail Grapplers. Simply put, if you love the sound of an aggressive mud-terrain chopping away at the asphalt, the Mud Grappler will deliver. If you prefer peace and quiet, the Trail is the way to go.

Nitto Tire Mud Grappler tire tread sipe detail


One way tire manufacturers increase grip in wet terrain is by placing grooves into the tread known as sipes. Both the Trail and Mud have these, but the combination of the tread design and sipe placement tend to give the Mud Grappler a slight advantage in wet and winter weather over the Trail.

Nitto Tire Mud Grappler tread block detail photo

Load Range Options

Both tires are offered in a fairly wide assortment of wheel sizes. More importantly, they are available with load ratings that make them suitable for everything from small SUVs to heavy 1-ton trucks. For those looking at a 40-inch-tall tire, it’s worth noting that you can get a Trail Grappler in a 40x13.50R17 in a load range C. The Mud Grappler in that same size is comes with a load range D rating. The C range tire will offer a smoother ride under lighter vehicles such as the Jeep Wrangler.

Nitto Tire Trail Grappler on Jeep Gladiator

On-Road Comfort

Despite having fairly aggressive tread patterns, we’ve found both tires roll extremely smooth on the highway. In our experience, maintaining proper air pressure and keeping the tires rotated will make a significant in increasing the longevity of each. Despite the fact they look fairly aggressive, we’ve had no issues with running each as a daily driven tire. We’ve also found that both tend to take very little weight to balance.

Nitto Trail Grappler tire on Jeep Gladiator off-road in forest

Tread Pattern

Speaking of tread, both tires are fit with wide, deep, and well-spaced lugs. The Trail Grappler has a more uniformed design, which is a bit more refined than the Mud Grappler. Both do a great job of ejecting debris between the lugs, even at lower speeds. They also look great, even in smaller sizes.  

Nitto Trail Grappler on dirt and rock trail off road


Nitto’s are known for having extremely durable and aggressively styled sidewalls. In this department, we say both are equally matched. That being said, it’s worth noting that Trail Grapplers have become the go-to tire for those looking to push their vehicles to the extremes in events such as the King of the Hammers. The current back-to-back winner of King of the Hammers runs a 40x13.50R17 Trail Grappler.

Close up of Nitto Trail Grappler side wall and tread design


Both of these tires excel in mud. Most of the mud we’ve encountered has been in the southeast, which is a mix of red clay and sandy/loam soil. The Mud Grapplers seem to clean out slightly faster than the Trail, but there are a lot of factors that play into that. Overall mud performance, we say the tires a fairly even. It’s worth noting that the Mud Grappler is typically offered in wider section widths, while the Trail Grappler can be had in narrower molds.

Nitto Tire Mud Grappler covered in mud


If you have the ability to drive on the sand as we do here in Coastal North Carolina, we can tell you that neither of these tires is ideally suited for our sand here. It’s not to say they perform poorly, but rather the aggressive pattern is simply overkill on a beach with a 15 mph speed limit. Both perform fairly equally. Airing down makes a tremendous difference in balancing out the dig and forward bite required to stay moving in the sand.

Lifted Chevy S-10 on Nitto Mud Grappler tires

On The Rocks

Rock crawling in the east is much different out west as mud can often play a major role. The consistency of the Trail Grappler tread pattern plays a big role in keeping contact on the rocks. Both tires grip very well on east and west coast rocky terrain, but we tend to favor the Trail Grappler on the boulders. As we mentioned previously, the Trail Grappler is a dominate force in the King of the Hammers, which is has competitors on some of the hardest rock trails in the world.

Jeep Wrangler on Nitto Trail Grappler tires on rocky trail

Sled Pulling

While the Trail Grappler is the go-to in off-road comps such as KOH, the Mud Grappler is a frequent option for those sled pullers in the diesel world. While this is not something we’ve personally used the tire for, most sled pullers have stated to us that the Mud Grappler has a great balance of “slip and grip” that allows the truck to keep forward momentum without digging in so much that the truck starts to bounce. So, if you’re looking to climb to the top spot in the diesel pulling world, a Mud Grappler is an excellent option.

Nitto Tire Mud Grappler sled pulling competition

The Clear Choice?

Road noise is often a deal breaker for many. Despite the fact that we feel the Mud Grappler has some on-road handling advantages over the Trail, the noise is the one thing that keeps it off of our daily drivers these days. Both of these tires have treated us well over the years. The fact that there are more sizing options with the Trail Grappler makes it a great option for a variety of rigs. If we had to pick one, it would definitely be the Trail Grappler.

Nitto Tire Trail Grappler on Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited

  • Want to see the Trail Grappler in action? Watch our full review HERE.
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