The Top Tire Traction Boards for Snow & Mud

We’ve all experienced the sinking feeling (excuse the pun) of spinning tires while either stuck in snow or mud. Tire Traction Mats can be an invaluable piece of hardware to keep in your vehicle in such cases. Whether you’re keeping the mats in your daily driver in case you encounter snow or you’re keeping them in your truck or jeep for off-road adventures, tire traction mats can help recover your vehicle in a bind.

Overview

What to Look for in Traction Mats

If you’re looking to purchase a set of mats for your vehicle, there’s a few things you should consider.

Grip

The purpose of the mats is to give your wheels something to bite into and help you get un-stuck. The best performing traction mats tend to be composed of high quality plastic and are also bulky, like the Maxtrax like seen below. Roll-up and fold-up traction mats are nice but often suffer from in ability to grip to the same degrees as their bulkier competitors.

Durability

Possibly the biggest headache when buying traction mats is their inclination to fail. Traction mats are designed to have a very heavy vehicle being driven over them which, as you may have guessed, can lead to serious stress on the mats.

Traction mats basically come in one of two varieties: either some form of plastic or some form of metal such as aluminum. Metal mats very rarely break but are heavy, expensive, and don’t always grip well. Plastic mats tend to have the best grip but also are most inclined to fail, especially if you buy cheaper versions with flimsier plastic.  If buying a plastic traction mat, make sure the plastic is strong and durable.

Size/Ability to Store

When it comes to picking traction mats there’s a real trade off between performance and size. In our experience, the best performing mats are full-size mats which are bulky and difficult to store. If you have the ability to store your mats on a roof rack then size may not be such an issue. If not though, you may have to opt for a fold-up/roll-up version of traction mats.

Our Top Choices

We’ve broken our top choices of traction mats into three categories: best performing fold-up mat, roll-up mat, and full-size mat.

Full-size Traction Mat

Offroading Gear MaxGrip Recovery Pads

Offroading Gear Recovery PadsOffroading Gear’s MaxGrip recovery pads featured a unique 89 ultra-grip studs that are supposed to increase traction. In our testing, they worked as well as similar designs but also looked cooler (arguably the most important thing when 4x4ing!). They’re slightly smaller than other similar versions measuring 42″ long (compared to most others which are around 42″).

Buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/B07SDBLNNY

Features:

  • Size: 42’x12″
  • Incorporated shovel scoop on the front of the mats
  • Includes recovery leash
  • Includes carrying bag
  • Bulky and difficult to store

Maxsa Escaper Buddy Buddy

Maxsa’s Escaper Buddy’s are basically a clone of the more popular Maxtrax but at a fraction of the price. These full-size traction boards are the gold standard in vehicle recovery and if your vehicle can’t be recovered with these you’ll probably need another vehicle to pull you out. The downside is these things are BIG.

Buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/B00AV2HONS

Features:

  • Size: 48″ x 14″
  • Incorporated shovel scoop on the front of the mats
  • Great traction and durability
  • High visibility
  • Bulky and difficult to store

Fold-up Traction Mat

These Rabbit Traps sold by every Canadians favorite store, Canadian Tire, work wonderfully in mud, sand, and snow. They are sold in pairs and stow easily in the included carrying case.

Buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/B00S0CZZD2

Features:

  • Extends to 21″
  • Excellent grip
  • Compact and stowes easily
  • Comes in a set of two
  • Includes storage box
  • Steel is prone to bending

 

Roll-up Traction Mat

storage mat speedmasterSpeedmaster Vehicle Traction Mats

These Speedmaster storage mats are a fraction of the price of the ARB mats and nearly identical. These storage mats roll up very conveniently and have excellent recoverability reports. Sold individually so make sure you purchase two if needed.

Buy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/B018HTEJ9S

Features:

  • Made of heavy duty black rubber
  • Sold individually
  • Rolls up compactly
  • Each mat rolls out to 60″ x 13″
  • Includes storage bag

 

How to Use Traction Pads

Once you’ve gotten a pair of traction pads, how do you actually use them?

There’s a few tips that will help increase your likelihood of successfully getting unstuck:

  1. Decrease air pressure. Decrease the air pressure in your tires to 15-18 PSI (of course you’ll need some tire deflators for that). Sometimes this alone will be enough to get you unstuck.
  2. Dig out the some snow/sand in front of the tires. If you’re stuck in snow or sand, dig out some of this impediment in front of the tires and under the tires as much as possible.
  3. Progress slowly forward. Resist the urge to gun it full-throttle forward. Slow and ease (in low gear or the equivalent).