All, avalanche accidents always bring out the pundit in us. But enough of that for now. I know Cory would appreciate it if we got on with enjoying the wonderful snow we’re getting. So today we’re off on a Christmas tree cutting expedition that will involve skis, snowmobiles, chain saws — and trucks. To that end, I thought I’d have some fun and depart for a moment from ski related stuff and file one of our ever popular automotive posts. These of course hearken to the sometimes dark truth that most of us need to drive cars if we want to backcountry ski. Yep, reality strikes. Thus, we need tires. Good tires. Here are some thoughts along those lines.
“Retread” has become a pejorative. But it’s not. I recently got my latest issue of Petersen’s 4 Wheel (yep, it’s like Christmas when that comes). Lo and behold, the bubba fun bible had an article about installing and using retread (“recap”) tires from TreadWright.
The Petersen article said retreads have 90% the carbon footprint of making new tires (all you greenies should be running them or you’re a hypocrite), and keep tires out landfills, lakes, and other dumping grounds. More, you can get into a tire for about half the price of a new set! My quad for the Silverado easily came in at half price, even after shipping, installation, and studding.
Okay, I’m reading like an infomercial. The question is how do retreads last, do they ride like a new tire, and are they any more likely to fail than fresh rubber? All my research indicated they’ll be fine, but the WildSnow.com road test will tell the tale. (Update: I’ve been on these tires about a week. On the pave they feel round and balanced, actually better than the tires they replaced. They howl a bit as aggressive AT pattern tires tend to do, but not obnoxiously so. They don’t have the deep vibrating rumble some snow tires do, probably because they’re an AT pattern rather than full-on snow tires. In terms of grip on snow and ice I’m totally satisfied, though I don’t know how they’d be without studs as they do use a fairly hard rubber. I’ll update this post as testing progresses over the winter.)
Around here, part of backcountry skiing is having a snow-worthy 4×4 to reach remote trailheads. You can get away with all season tires and a set of chains for emergencies. But my all-seasons were too worn for safe winter use, so I figured this was a good time to experiment with recaps as a set of meats dedicated to winter use. What came from Treadwright uses a Bridgstone Dueler casing, with a tread pattern they call “AT,” per what we usually consider to be an all terrain tire with enough siping to perform on snow and ice, as well as being pinned for stud installation. I tested on our ice bound streets just a moment ago, and they grab like any other studded snow tires I’ve used over the years, so good.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.