Benefits of Airing Down Your Tires For the Trail
- Increased traction over roots, rocks, and obstacles
- Better floatation in sand, snow, and mud
- Smoother rides on washboard and small bumps at medium to low speeds
- Sidewall deflection allowing your tire to adapt to rocks roots and other obstacles
Smooth rides aren't just for comfort, it provides mechanical sympathy for your rig so you're not just ratteling it to pieces. Your tires along with the bushings are also an integral piece of your vehicles total suspension setup. If you're constantly bumping off the bumps and washboards your tires aren't in contact with the ground meaning you can't stop or steer. Proper tire pressure keeps you better contact with the ground giving you better control. Smoother rides also translate to less fatigue, if you're tired youre more likely to make mistakes, use bad judgement, or just not see something, keeping it smooth means having more fun off road longer into the day while staying safe.
It’s important to understand the benefits of running lower air pressure as well as the limitations and downsides. First off, the lower you go doesn't always mean the better off you are. There is no magic formula to decide what pressure is best to use at a given time or trail. Optimal pressure will differ with seasonal changes, weather, trail conditions, and your vehicle setup but here are some rough guides for a typical mid-size truck.
- 45 - 35psi Pavement
- 25 - 20psi Trails
- 15 - 10psi Sand
- 10 - 2psi Snow / Soft Sand preferably with beadlocks
One way to think about tire pressure is that it’s the pressure your tires are exerting on the supporting surface. For example,sand can’t support as high of pressure, hence why you sink in, and you need to lower the pressure to increase the size of your "footprint" and "float." Most passenger vehicles and medium duty trucks use factory tire pressures between 35 and 45 PSI on the pavement. When hitting the trail, we recommend starting at about 25psi and adjusting from there as necessary. For sand, we start at about 15psi and if it’s still bogging down start dropping it in 2-3psi increments down to an extreme of about 10psi. We don’t recommend going below 10psi unless you are using beadlocks or you are in a rut and need to get unstuck from soft sand or deep snow. If you do air down that low it’s important to take it really easy and air back up as soon as you’re unstuck. As you gain more experience and get comfortable, you’ll start to know what pressure to run and when to adjust on more challenging trails.