Pros and Cons of Directional Tire Treads


Junior Member
In my quest for the perfect plow tire (for my steep hill application in which I am most concerned about controlling downhill speed), I have been looking at all the various brands offered in North America. I have narrowed the field to a handful of tires, but I am having trouble analyzing the new Nokian Hakkapeliitta LT. This tire, according to the dealer, is much better than the Nokian Hakkapellitta 10 LT (I think he said it is replacing it, but I am not sure). The new one has a directional tread. On the left hand side of the photo you hopefully can see the arrows. What is optimized....the acceleration or the breaking? At slow speed, I think breaking would cause the snow to load up toward the center of the tire. Accelerating would seem to force the snow to the outer walls (i.e., self cleaning). I would have thought the breaking is optimized on a commercial tire. But when I look at the tread design, it looks like acceleration is. (Or maybe I just don’t understand the theory). Has anyone used these tires or can you comment on the theory of directional treads, and the pros and cons?.



Senior Member
I would think both breaking and acceleration would be optimized on a directional tire ??? Check with the manufacturer on that one.. The only con I know of would be that you would need two spares, a left and a right ?? or a universal spare. Cause you cant change positions.... ??
Directional Tires

Hey muddy,
I am a diesel mechanic and we use uni-directional tires on some of the trucks in our fleet, however most of these seem to be on what we call "Over the Road" units that run almost all highway miles-long trips. I believe in our application the uni-directional tires are used mainly for better ride and probably more than anything better wear and mileage. I'm not sure if the same applies for car/truck tires, but I'm sure the tire manufacturer's would have all the information you would need to make an educated decision on tires for your truck. (we use Bridgestone)
Hope this helps,

Kent Lawns Veteran
The uni-directional tire is for FORWARD traction.

I don't think the new Nokian is any better than the old one and I've run them both.

While the Hakkapalitta is a fine tire, it's not as good as a Bridgestone Blizzak Winter Deuler.


Junior Member
Thanks Kent.

I am interested in hearing more about why you like the Winter Deuler over the Hakkapalitta LT (Hakkas). Both are contenders for my application. With the Deuler, I was worried about the small voids between the major tread lugs getting filled with snow and reducing breaking power and steering control under slow movement plowing hills. The Hakkas has larger voids.

As I was on my way to the tire shop to look at the Hakka and this plow was doing a driveway with a small downward slope. He skidded into the (busy) street pushing a medium size amount of snow. I saw his tires locked up as he slid about 5 feet going reasonable slow. He stopped in time…no problem, but it is exactly this I am trying to optimize for in my tire selection (I don’t know what tire he was running). My application is a much steeper driveways with curves and it is this slow skidding / stopping is what I am trying to get the most traction for.

The Hakkas LT have a significantly wider void than the Winter Dueler, but I don’t know the real world differences. Can you (or anyone else) comment on few things relative to the Dueler and or Hakka?

1. The slow speed breaking ability on hard packed snow.
2. The ability to steer when locked up (do they track better or worse than the Hekkas)
3. Performance in slush. I was on another site and there was specific criticism of the Winter Deulers in slush. “Wasn’t the best performer in slush” was the comment. The site was not a plow site but a winter tire car site (and a one-person home page at that).

I am most interested in #1.




if you want run the directionals backwards they may wear a little faster but it will not damage the tire this will give you the better braking traction you desire on the other hand they will not clean themselves as well but on a tire like the blizzak the traction is not so much from the size of the voids its from the fact that the rubber is softer than most pencil erasers allowing it to grip anything and everything possible


Long Island, NY
Well, I don't know how everyone else feels about this suggestion but I use re-treads with a Goodyear 124 tread pattern. They work great in snow and slush ...even hold pretty good on ice too.
I have two sets of tires for my truck ... winter and summer, so the re-treads go on in November and come off in March ... as long as it is cold, there isn't much worry about the adhesive loosening up and as far as DOT ... I really can't remember seeing a DOT stop in the middle of a snow storm ....:D

Kent Lawns Veteran
Originally posted by staley52
on a tire like the blizzak the traction is not so much from the size of the voids its from the fact that the rubber is softer than most pencil erasers allowing it to grip anything and everything possible
Very True.

You need both soft rubber and tons of sipes. Big voids help when you're DRIVING thru deep snow, but you need the traction BEHIND the plow.

Why do I prefer the Deuler over the Hakkis? Better ice traction.


2000 Club Member
I thought you were ignoring me big nate. anyway in this case
Muddy blacklab is looking for a way to:
"for my steep hill application in which I am most concerned about controlling downhill speed"
So a the he wouldnt be marring a customers driveway, just his own, and my bet is that the drive is gravel and not paved, but I could be wrong. Anyway the chains would be about the only way to really be able to control the factors he is looking to control.
Rather than spend several hundred on new specialty tires, he can buy one set of chains and end of problem.


Junior Member
I'll chain for ice or a subsurface slush layer when it is well below 32 deg F. (as the remainder turns to ice when plowed). So that case is covered, and thank you plowking35 for some EXCELLENT post on that subject a while back. I hit them while using the search engine for plowing hills. It was what initially got me hooked to this site and has changed my technique for the better. My application is for a paved surface and I have already budgeted the $$.

My tire selection now is focused on the more typical non-icing case. What gets me sliding sometimes is my own tire tracks I make on regular dry or slightly moist snow. This happens after several runs up and down (my tire footprints).

From this thread and several other on Plow Site, it seems like there are a couple of theories going on here that I would like to summarize (and please comment if I am off base or you see it differently).

There theory here is there are a lot of little baby traction elements. These won’t clog with snow. This requires the soft rubber so the siped rubber tread-lets (tread between sips) bend and make angle contact with the ICE/Snow surface. This would also go along with the theme a fatter tire is better (within reason)...say a 265 mm wide tire or so. Many post on Plow Site seem to think wider is better for the ice control case (skinny is better is covered below).

Different tire manufactures are going to use different rubber compounds and the hardness will vary, so it will be impossible to compare tires from specifications or observations at a tire store. Additionally, the compounds will vary as a function of temperature. Softness of rubber will be inversely proportional to tire life, but the soft rubber is needed to expose the edges of the tread-lets.

Large Voids
The other theory is healthy sized voids are good to "bite" into the snow. This helps for deep, unplowed snow. It should help for the hardpack snow too. The wider the void, the more likely it is not going to clog with snow at slow speed. The more weight on the tire tread, the more likely the tire will dig in to hardpack snow. A skinnier tire in this case helps as it puts more pressure per square inch of tread. A 245 mm or 235 mm tire might benefit from this method of traction.

Tradeoff on the above
Where there are voids there obviously is no siped tread, so larger voids is trading off Ice handling for deeper snow performance (and maybe hard packed snow performance). Conversely, a skinny voids perpendicular to the direction of travel is likely to be useless, as they will clog up with snow.

Directional self cleaning voids
With the directional tires, the voids potentially can self-clean at slow speed as they are at an angle to the direction of travel, and it plows the snow, just like an angle plow. In one direction it cleans by pushing snow to the outer shoulder, in the other it packs it toward the center. The standard directional tire cleans in when accelerating forward and when breaking backing up (prefect for flat parking lots). I don’t know that the reverse is compromised compared to a uni-directional. For hill plowers, like me, the tires can be reversed for maximum traction going downhill (constant breaking at walking speed to minimize momentum), and going uphill backwards (I don’t know if lateral traction for steering is compromised with a reverse mounted tire).

Do I have it right or at least close? Comments from anyone appreciated.


Senior Member
Tire solution

Plowking said it before I could. The solution to your problem is


I don't know why some of you guys are so afraid of chains and alleged damage to customer drives. Damage comes from agressive drivers, not from the chains. I have written many posts on this site about proper selection, mounting positions and use of chains. If you follow those recommendations which come from YEARS AND YEARS of experience doing the steepest drives in my mountainside suburban town, you will not have a problem.

Instead of spending all your time on sipes, snow chunking, tread clearing, directional mounting and all that other hokus pocus, get you some BAR REINFORCED CHAINS and be done with it. Otherwise stay on level roads, stay off the steep drives and leave them to others. Steep drives need chains. PERIOD. You have no business doing a steep drive without them. You need them for go traction and more importantly you need them for stop traction.

Maybe some day when you land sideways on your customer's hill, or crash through their split rail fence into their breakfast nook while they are sitting there drinking their morning cup of Maxwell House, the light in your head will go on and you will say, "Gee, I guess I need some Maxwell chains for this old truck of mine." What are Maxwell chains? That is what I call mine 'cuz they are "good to the last drop."


Junior Member
I realize I made a mistake in my last posting and I would like to correct it.

Originally posted by muddy_blacklab
So that case is covered, and thank you plowking35 for some EXCELLENT post on that subject a while back. I hit them while using the search engine for plowing hills. It was what initially got me hooked to this site and has changed my technique for the better.
The material I was referring to is Tommy10plows, not plowking35. I had studied the posts on this site for many many hours when I initially joined this site, and I got the authors confused. My apologies to both Tommy10plows and plowking35.

Tommy10plows, I will take your “chain chain chain” to heart and re-study your post (I have been using cables for spot applications with excellent results…but I’ll save that for a different thread some other day). I have a lot to share about my experience with cables.
Your point is well taken….don’t take unnecessary risks on hills.

However, I would like to complete this thread and come to some general conclusions about tire traction (not for hills, for all applications). I have found it is a very complicated subject, and in my opinion, Plowsite has a mixed bag of information, taking old concepts (skinny tires are better etc) and potentially incorrectly applying them to new technologies (siping). A lot of tire “opinions” conflict, which is to be expected. Also, many of the opinions are from 2000 and 2001. The combination of new tread compounds, siping and directional tires has changed a lot since then, making a lot of the plowsite data outdated and confusing.

As far as my summay goes, I don’t think it was very prudent of me to include the “mount the directional tire in the reverse direction for hills” in my summary. So I would like to omit that part. If one needs that last 2% of traction they need the advice offered and …chain chain chain.

I would like to hear views on the tire traction theory of my previous posts (for general applications, not hills).


4 Saisons

Senior Member
I run laredo lug( studded) at the rear and dueller at the front end, Braking is unbelivable, on all surface. They are not cheap, but they worth the money.( 175 cdn + instal, each, Lt 235/85/16)

Last years, I began the season with laredo at the front too, but braking was a Big 0.
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Junior Member
I'll make this short cuz I may be all wet, but I read an
article in a mag that covers a yearly snow run of 4x4's
in my state. They, being the well read and popular mag
stated that siped tires, smaller distance between lugs,
would increase traction in packed snow applications due
to the fact that snow packed into a tire contacts snow
on the ground and creates friction. Friction is traction!!

I like the chain idea too.