You can have fun in the sand with your Sport UTV’s stock tires, but to get the best performance possible you need the best UTV sand tires you can find.
If you’re serious about playing in the sand with your UTV, you need to have proper UTV sand tires. Sand represents a unique traction challenge for a UTV. If you’ve ever walked on the beach, or on and blowing sand, you know that it moves around you and as you push off, it slides and flows. For every foot you move forward, you lose an inch or two behind you. With a sand tire on your UTV, you are looking for two things that don’t normally go together – flotation and traction. You need the tire to keep your machine up on top of the sand, and get enough bite when you accelerate to move you forward without dragging you down into the depths of the land of stuck.
What Are UTV Paddle Tires?
To balance out the need for both flotation and traction on the sand, the off-road world has developed UTV paddle tires. Paddle tires are nothing new, having been around for decades. They are the basic essence of a sand tire, with a broad design and, as the name implies, paddles that dig into the sand and propel you forward. These are extremely specialized tires and are only used in the sand. There is no need to ever use them elsewhere, as it would only destroy the expensive tire, and seriously damage any ground.
But for use in the sand, UTV paddle tires are the perfect tool for the job. Unlike most other UTV tires, paddle tires can appear prefectly smooth outside of the paddles themselves, although there is often a gritty texture that also helps propel a UTV through the sand. This seems odd when you look at any other style of off-road tire, but the spaced out paddles do all of the dirty work.
Why Use Smooth Sand Tires Up Front?
Another thing that sets UTV sand tires apart from tires you’d use for trail riding is that the front tires are often smooth or buff.
Unlike when driving on trails or though mud, most UTV drivers just use their front tires for steering and flotation – not traction. With the rear tires propelling the UTV, the front tires control where you are going. Smooth tires offer a lot more flotation and a smoother ride. Some UTV sand tires will have ribs (or a single rib) that wrap around circumference of the tire to provide additional steering control.
With all that in mind, let’s get to the list of our favorite UTV sand tires…
And the Winner is… Skat-Trak Extreme
While there are great UTV sand tires from many of the top tire makers, the best one you can get right now is a new take on a classic design from a company that just makes sand tires – the Skat-Trak Extreme Grip. Skat-Trak has been in the game of making paddle tires for about as long as anyone. It specializes in making extreme-performance sand tires and does a lot of custom work. The Extreme is based on the classic Hauler tire, the very model paddle tires have been compared to for what seems like ever.
The Skat-Trak Extreme was created for the modern high-horsepower machines we’re all running today. The paddles are 7/8-inch tall and 11-inches wide. What sets these new tires apart is that the paddles are a full 1/8-inch thicker to handle the added load of turbo-powered UTVs. It’s the construction and engineering that goes into these tires that makes them so impressive.
Skat-Trak starts out with a tire casing. From there, it scuffs the outside of the tire, giving it an extremely rough outer surface. This surface acts like sandpaper, getting an extreme grip, especially on sand. From there, Skat-Trak welds its custom paddles to the tire, with the amount of paddles depending on the tire size and the machine they are being used on. You can buy them off the shelf, or go directly to Skat-Trak and custom-order a set. Paired with Skat-Trak Buff tires on the front, and you’ve got a traction-grabbing combo that will propel you across the sand.
Honorable Mention – STI Sand Drifter
Unlike some other UTV sand tires, the STI Sand Drifter is a molded paddle tire with one-inch tall paddles. It is a wide tire at 13 inches and it has a big footprint, meaning these 4-ply tires will float over the sand and dig in well. STI reinforces the sidewalls so you can run really low tire pressure and not worry about tire roll popping you off the bead.
Affordable Alternative – CST Sandblast
The CST Sandblast is a lightweight paddle tire that gets really good floatation on the sand and good traction from the paddles. The body of the tire is textured for additional grip and small knobs help with traction and handling. They are offered in a wide range of sizes, and the biggest downfall is puncture resistance being a 2-ply tire for weight. Still a great tire for the money and if you’re trying to find sand tires that will grip and save a little green for gas and pizza, this is a great tire for you.
Can You Use Regular UTV Tires in the Sand?
If you are only an occasional visitor to the sand dunes, you may be wondering if your stock UTV tires will work in the sand. The good news is yes, you can certainly use the tires you already have on your machine in the dunes.
In fact, we’ve made more than one trip to the Glamis Sand Dunes with stock tires on both ATVs and UTVs. For the most part, those tires do a fine job of getting you around, but there are limitations.
First, you will have a greater chance of getting stuck or buried. You can help avoid this by never stopping your machine while pointed up hill. If you want to stop, make sure you turn your machine around and point it down the hill or move to a flat area.
Second, you will have less traction. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to climb hills and have some fun, but it may take a little more skill and forethought. We’ve had no issues making it up some huge sand hills in stock tires, but the key was getting having good speed at the bottom of the hill and not letting up on the throttle.
The bottom line is you can have a great day in the dunes with stock tires, but if you plan to drive a lot in the sand it it worth investing in a good set of UTV sand tires.
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