Tyres for Outback Travel

Submitted: Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 09:44
ThreadID: 91066 Views:5531 Replies:13 FollowUps:15
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Hi All,

Looking at new tyres for a trip where I will doing a lot of outback travel - about 15,000k's and 10,000k's on outback tracks like the Gunbarrel, Canning, Simpson & Gibb River.

In my experience I have found BFG AT's tend to chip very easily on those sorts of roads (had 2 pairs), Cooper ST's where great in the high country but to be honest werent subjected to the same roads the BFG's were.

Currently considering Cooper STmax or STT's, Mickey Thompson ATZ 4 Rib or MTZ, Goodyear Durotrac or MTR's with Kevlar

After a tyre with strong sidewalls and tough tread that doesnt chip and will wear longer in a light truck specification - size is 265/75R16.

Interested in feedback & experiences from others as well as advice on going AT's versus MT's for the trip


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Reply By: Member - DW Lennox Head(NSW) - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 10:49

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 10:49

I can only disagree with you about BFG ATs. I have done a lot of outback travel and on some of those tracks you mention and not one tyre with any damage whatsoever. My last set were replaced at 95,000 kms with probably 3/4 of the travel on lesser tracks/roads.

I have seen and heard of Coopers chipping on a regular basis.

A friend who did the same with, the heavily advertised, Coopers had to not only replace tyres but also has changed to BFG MTs. His tyres did not reach the 90,000km mark. Most of the tyre cases on the roadside include numerous Coopers.

My preference is obviously BFG ATs and to air and speed down as required.

AnswerID: 474271

Follow Up By: mikehzz - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 11:02

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 11:02
Everything I have heard around the traps totally agrees with your comments. Good advice, especially about lowering speed and pressure. Cheers
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Follow Up By: AndyMort - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 11:10

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 11:10
Hi DW,

Thanks for your feedback its great to get soemones actual experience rather than just marketing hype.

I found with the BFG AT's I was only getting 40,000k's from them while travelling Australia. I bought the first pair in Darwin and the second pair in Townsville and the guy swore by the BFG's (but also told me to run my tyre pressures at 50psi even doing Cape York lol!!) He also said the ones in Darwin were probably older stock and thats why they wore so quickly

Having said that IN THJE WHOLE 80,000k's NEVER GOT 1 PUNCTURE FROM THE BFG's but I was disappointed with the wear.
Others in coil sprung Cruisers where getting much better life so maybe it was the old front & rear leaf sprung 60 series that was the cuprit.

I now have a coil sprung Prado so the situation may have changed

Interested in hearing more feedback


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Follow Up By: Whirlwinder - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 11:21

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 11:21
Yes, I fully agree with your BFG experience. I have had 1 puncture in 12 years or about 150000kms.
But I left Sydney with 5 new Coopers on a Troopy (prior to buys BFG's) for a 8 week trip and returned with 2 after 18000kms. You couldn't give me another set!
Good luck with your choice.
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Follow Up By: Member - DW Lennox Head(NSW) - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 11:31

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 11:31

Unless your vehicle was heavily loaded, I would not be running on 50 psi especially on gravel/dirt roads. That is really asking for trouble. Check your owners manual, too. Sadly some of these tyre people have no real experience.

For further advice, approach a reputable tour operator. I did this and his advice has been 100% and that includes BFG ATs. He has done more than 30 tours across the country. He was emphatic about tyre pressures.

My travels have largely been towing a Kimberley Karavan. These are around 2 tonne on a single axle. Originally I towed it with a Mazda Bravo B2500 but recently with a Mazda BT50.

When I did the trip to Cape York in 2010, just after getting on the gravel/dirt I lowered the steer tyres to 23psi, drive to 26psi and trailer to 26 psi. I have done this for a long time and not driven above 80 km/hr on the sealed patches on the way up. Same on the Oodnadatta Track, Gibb River Road, etc. I varied the road speed to suit the conditions. When I am doing highway running my cold tyre pressures are steer 30 psi, drive 38psi and trailer 38psi and this is fully laden. Not even a damaged shocker absorber.

Hope that helps a bit more.

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Follow Up By: AndyMort - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 11:46

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 11:46
Hi Guys,
Funny how a so-called reputable tyre outlet in Townsville that shall remain nameless gave such advice about tyre pressure.
After 150k I reduced my tyre pressure from 50psi to 38psi on bitumen and about 28psi on gravel and like you have not had any suspension problems.
Good advice about the tour operator - any that read this thread would love to hear from you

Whirlwind interesting about the Coopers - what were they ST or STTs


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Follow Up By: Whirlwinder - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 13:53

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 13:53
Andy. It was 1996 and I really can not remember but it was one of those two. The three that failed all had sidewall damage. Another L/C on the trip also had Coopers (don't know his exect tyre) and he suffered spinifex grass spears through the sidewall giving slow leaks while a patrol had BFG and suffered not a problem of any sort. Bugger!!!
FollowupID: 749214

Reply By: Geoff H (Q - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 11:29

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 11:29
Can't comment on other tyres, however I can recommend Bridgestone 694's, I've had two sets which have done general off road work around the South East and a trip to the cape with no punctures. Both sets were the Light Truck construction.

AnswerID: 474273

Follow Up By: Member - baffle (QLD) - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 14:05

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 14:05
I have had BFGs on a Pajero, Landcruiser, Prado and 2 Patrols over the past 23 years without a puncture and mostly averaging about 80-85000kms. Couldn't be happier.
However, now using cheaper Bridgestone 694s on Navara with good results so far - yet to test out in the rough stuff.
I'm convinced it is all about right tyre pressure to suit road/track conditions and how you drive!
FollowupID: 749217

Reply By: Notso - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 11:40

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 11:40
I think the key to all of this is the Light Truck tyre specification, whatever brand you choose.
AnswerID: 474274

Reply By: Life Member - Phil B (WA) - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 11:53

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 11:53
Hi Andy

Buying tyres is like Nissan v Toyota, Engel v Waeco etc.

When receiving advice keep in mind
Was the vehicle towing?
How much weight was being carried?
How much off road v on road?
How long was the trip/s?
Were tyre pressures reduced and monitored?

You’ll get people say I reckon X are great I got 80,000 kms out of them; when you question them it’s a daily driver mostly on bitumen with two trips a year down the coast.

If you’re a series off roader and do extended desert/high-country trips that require real off road tyres make sure that’s the advice you take on board.

I fit into that category. I’ve been doing extreme off roading for 15 plus years now and do about 80-100 days a year 4Wdriving mostly in the Western Deserts of WA. Mush of the travel is off road, with washed out, rock areas, jump ups, cross country, dunes etc.

I have used BFGs and gotten around 60,000-70,000 out of them but most of the time I’ve damaged them beyond repair before then. Yes they have chipped a bit but not blocks like the Coopers.

I have been very disappointed in Coopers because of chipping, loss of blocks of rubber and delaminating etc. I’ve lost confidence in Coopers.

On my currently vehicle a 100 series I have two sets of off road rubber, BFG and Wrangler Kevlar MTRs.

I am finding I am getting better mileage out of the BFGs (as I have experienced previously) than I am out of the Wrangler Kevlar MTRS.
Although a much softer compound and I will be lucky to get 40,000 kms out of a set of Wrangler MTRs; I have found however that the MTRs are almost puncture proof and give great floatation when tyre pressures are reduced.

I therefore only run my MTRs when doing a really serious off-road trip with lots of cross country stake infested country and use my BFGs for less arduous desert trips. I don’t tow and I’m usually heavily laden, I also run a tyre pressure monitoring system.

Presumably you’re only after one set of tyres and from the country you’ve described the BFGs are what I would buy if I was driving that country.
I hope this helps, PM me if you wish to ask more in depth.

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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 11:54

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 11:54
Have been running BFG's on a camper trailer, 2 fourbies and now our 'offroad' van, collectively over 12 years - yet to have a flat, and they have taken us along plenty of ordinary gravel roads and tracks (but I'm not a bush-basher :-o). I still put our happy tyre run down to very conservative and alert driving, plus airing up and down as often as indicated by terrain. Just to be a devil, I've got Cooper ST's on the tug at present (saved a few hundred in the Alice last year - they are still happy, but have had an easy run to date - they have virtually the same specs as the BFG's). The last time I looked, Coopers promoted the STT's as having the greatest resistance to chipping and other rough going damage, but they acknowledge that this is at significant cost to service life. Re the Cooper Mileage "Warranty" - just what value anyone could see in that has me baffled :-o).
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 13:12

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 13:12

Our approach is different from most people's.

Hoping to get high lifespan out of any tyre on remote tracks is unjustified optimism!

When in Birdsville a few months back we went to the local garbage tip to dispose of some rubbish. The pile of spent tyres there is pretty impressive. Had a good look, but didn't see any bald ones. Lots of expensive ones with virtually 100% tread left. Pity about the big stake-holes in the sidewalls. On the sort of tracks you're talking about it isn't km that determine tyre life.

We've done a lot of km on cheap tyres, and for remote travel have now standardised on Maxxis Bravos. They perform well but cost a fraction of the price of the big expensive names, so it hurts less if you do put a gidgee root through a sidewall.

I think a key factor in tyre preservation on these tracks is reduced tyre pressure and obviously reduced speed. On the CSR , in the Simpson and the like we run at about half bitumen pressure. Be aware though that reducing tyre pressure dramatically reduces the tyre's load handling capacity. For a comprehensive coverage see member Rob D's blog here.



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Follow Up By: Rockape - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 14:02

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 14:02
thanks for that link to Robs blog. He certainly has done a great job researching and sharing.

Have a good one,
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Follow Up By: Member - Welldone (WA) - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 17:54

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 17:54
My vote too is for the Maxxis Bravos!
We have an old 61series leafsprung landcruiser,
that we take beach fishing a couple of times a month , so it does a lot of sand work at reduced tyre pressure.
Also longer trips inland to the goldfields and in search of wild flowers when the season is right often over sharp, stony ground.
The Maxxis are reasonably long lasting [80k+ and still plenty of tread] plus being reasonably cheap, also they have little road noise.
Another factor is "more rubber=more protection" so it would be wise to start with brand new tyres [whatever breed] all round before commencing a long stint in the bush.
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Follow Up By: p_marns - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 19:06

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 19:06
Another vote for Maxxis bravos. I too, was at birdsville this year and and could not believe my eyes at the constant stream of vehicles pulling in with punctured expensive tyres. My Maxxis were way cheaper and not a puncture
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Follow Up By: zappa - Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 17:57

Saturday, Jan 14, 2012 at 17:57
Go the Maxxis!
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Reply By: Member - Royce- Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 13:16

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 13:16
I've always been happy with BFGs.

I think the crucial physics is how hard the rubber hits the rocks... so much of the wear is down to driving technique and tyre pressure.

Tyre technology seems to pretty much up to date with most brands.
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Reply By: Andrew & Jen - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 13:55

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 13:55
Hullo AndyMort

You might like to have a look at Mike O's blog re Toyo Open Country MTs.

I have a set of both Bridgestone 694LTs and Toyo Open Country MTs, and use one or the other depending on conditions. So far, good run out of both.

I had Toyo 4x4 tyres on my last 4WD and when I gave it to my daughter/son-in-law, they had done 80 000 kms and still had another 20 000+ left in them.

The Federal M+S on the CT are OK, just wearing a bit quickly, especially as they do not have a traction role.

AnswerID: 474283

Reply By: Alloy c/t - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 17:13

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 17:13
Your original question should be more along the lines of " what tyres do the locals use around the areas I'm planning to travel ?" ,,,, Once a year outback trips mean zip to tyre life , phone up tyre resellers in places in places like Longreach Qld or Katherine in the NT ,Kunnanurra ect and ask the Question on what locals use ,, not the once a year tourist ,,,,
AnswerID: 474295

Follow Up By: AndyMort - Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 17:11

Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 17:11
Hi All,

Never knew tyres were such an emotive issue!!

Thanks "Alloy" for the best response - you are quite right about about locals - nothing beats their knowledge - the only problem is how do you contact them??

As for all other brands it seems BFG AT's have surpassed Coopers in brand loyalty.

Now another can of worms - MT's versus AT's.

Some people say go MT's for everything including outback travel - others say they bog you down in sand too much so stick with AT's
Been really happy with my Goodyear Kevlar MTR's - quiet on raod and great off road.

Any thoughts??


FollowupID: 749429

Follow Up By: Alloy c/t - Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 18:35

Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 18:35
Andy , out our way , the Geographical centre of QLD , flooded rds and mud , dry stone and sandy roads , black soil country ,one lane asphalt roads with potholes that swallow mini minors , 9 out of 10 locals run AT in LT construction ,, MT just dont last as long with the variation of surfaces and who has time to swap from one set of wheels to another every ten minuets , most popular tyres out our way ?? Bridgestone Duellers and Toyo Open Country ,,,
FollowupID: 749442

Reply By: Mick O - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 18:03

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 18:03
I've had a run out of both BFG, Cooper ST's, Dick Cepeks and a couple of the cheapies over the years. I've had no real issues with the Cooper even after a 46,000 km trip in, around and over Oz towing a camper trailer. They all have issues if they are not driven to the conditions. They will all fail if overloaded and they all have sidewalls that make them a consumable when you're out in the rough.

If you're going to be carrying heavy loads in rough conditions and/or need heavy duty sidewalls for some less than pedestrian outback travel, then I'd have a look at the Toyo Open Country MT's.

Micks Toyo Review

If it's average outback travel with a few of the iconic outback tracks here and there, They are all much of a muchness and I echo Phil B and John and Vals comments about driving to the conditions and adjusting your tyre pressures accordingly.


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trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Follow Up By: Member - Krakka - Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 18:02

Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 18:02
Hi Mick, After reading your blogs and others that have travelled with you over the years, know a few of these people personally, have just purchased a set of these in 285/75/16. Crossing the Madigan Line later this year and am hoping these will give me more relaxation time at the end of the day.
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Follow Up By: Mick O - Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 19:17

Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 19:17
I don't think you'll be disappointed. Jaydub's been running the 315/75 party balloons for a few years now and Michael J is refitting his new F-truck with 285/75's as well on the strength of their past performance on his troopy.

Not cheap but well worth the piece of mind.

''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Reply By: Member - wadams - Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 22:47

Saturday, Jan 07, 2012 at 22:47
Hi Mate,
Lived in forsayth in outback far north Qld and did 50,000km per year mail run on all dirt roads for 5 years. Not one flat. Lived in Kununurra for 3 years, did most of the gibb etc. Not one flat. Crossed the Simpson and the Anne Beadell hwy last year. Not one flat. Googs track and Gawler ranges last year. Not One flat. Cape York a few years ago. Not one flat.
In fact have only had one flat in 15 years and that was a 3 inch Teck Screw in the middle of town on the bitumen.
Moral to the story.
BFG Mud Terrains with pressure NEVER over 30 PSI regardless of the loads.
Works for me.

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AnswerID: 474333

Reply By: agora - Sunday, Jan 08, 2012 at 09:29

Sunday, Jan 08, 2012 at 09:29
The tyre discussion is never ending. I drive a landcrusier cab chassis with a slide on on the back. Total Weight 3300kgs and run Wrangler Sient armour AT tyres. Generally -32 psi highway and 26 psi on dirt roads and16 pson very sandy envronments. So far 55k travelled and still 50% tread left. Most driving is on outback roads like Simpson, Strezlecki, Birdsville, Oodnaatta both in dry and very muddy conditions.
My mates on these trips have driven land crusise wagons with similar total weights but with higher tyre pressures, using Cooper AT then changed to Cooper STT ( lost lot of blocks with both types of Coopers) and even one has Mickey Thompson Mud tyres. None of them are happy with their tyres.
This not a plug for Wrangers but I think that Speed, tyre pressure, weight for the road conditions is important.
With my previous vehicle a Subaru foester MY06 (standard set up) I used Cooper Highway tyres and covered the Mereenie loop, Tanami trek, Kimberleys Top End ad Gulf areas with a light load and had no issues. Got 68k from the tyres.
Still have the Subaru as a town vehicle.
AnswerID: 474354

Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 12:31

Monday, Jan 09, 2012 at 12:31

Like you. I found BFG AT's to chip readily, but don't think I ever had a flat, over 10 years, and maybe 200K. Also would have been delighted to get over 40K too, but usually replaced them at about 35-38K.

Ran these tyres at 32 all round, unless loaded up, taking kids back to school, when would bump up rear pressure to 36. I put the poor wear down to gravel roads, high speeds(well, 100-110 on gravel) and most of bitumen running, being through the hotter months.

Last year, bought a set of these GT Radial Adventura M/T's, and over 5-6K, have found them to be very good, with no chipping or accelerated wear. They've been down the Birdsville Track to Lake Eyre and back, then across the Plenty to Yulara, and back up the Sandover to Camooweal, then down the bitumen to Winton.

Don't know how strong they are, or how long they'll last, but will do me for time being.

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