Well, after nearly 40 years of driving where we get snow ICE and slush, -a narrow tire is best. Wide tires just slip-slide all over and go nowhere. I have driven both under all conditions. You do need some decent tread tho, baldies will not go well either.
"Beam me up Scotty. There's no intelligent life down here..."
It all has to do with how deep the snow is. Wide or narrow it won't matter to much with decently treaded tires as long as the snow is just brushing your axle. But once you start pushing snow with your axle and bumper your gonna want narrow to cut through drifts better. I've got pretty dang good 31x10.5's on my truck, but I've got worn out front coils so it doesn't sit so high anymore. So this weekend when we were playing in the 1/4 mile long, 3 foot deep hard drifts, I was losing in are little game between 4 trucks b/c I was pushing so much snow ahead of me. As long as it's below my bumper I do alright with wide tires, but the 90 Dodge 2500 with 245x16's came out on top.
I would say NARROWER tires as opposed to widER tires. Recently, in some bad weather, I was in an Excursion, following a buddy in an F350 Dually. With experienced drivers driving within the limits, the F350 was in the ditch twice. The reason, more contact area and thus more "float". The excursion did fine. I know some will say that it was the weight of the truck and the open bed, etc.,, but from freinds up north, they say dually's have the hardest time and they should have the most contact patch.
As a lifelong resident of Alaska, I have had several trucks and experimented with both wide and narrow tires. They both have there advantages and disadvantages. Narrow tires are good when you are driving in fresh snow on a road surface, because the track really nice and don't pull you around like wide tires. If you get at all on the shoulder they will pull you off the road quicker than a 460 empties a tank of gas. However, if your breaking trail where your tires can't dig down to earth, wide tires are the way to go because they provide floatation. If you get on a side hill, your screwed. So to answer your poll, It depends!
I'm surprised no one has mentioned siping and tread compound which are the 2 most important factors when dealing with traction on snow and ice. Wide tires do provide some flotation but to think 320 sq in. ( 4 tires with 80" of surface contact per tire) of road contact will float a 5000 lb truck in three feet of snow is pretty silly, as is thinking skinny tires will dig down to the ground. In either case your going to be high centered. If you want to do it right you get a set of dedicated winter tires in the stock size and put them on steel rims...and carry a shovel, tow strap, sand, chains, winch, etc. to cover the situations that NO tire, thick or skinny, will cover. All good winter tires will have lots of siping (the cuts and grooves in the tread) and a very soft compound. Bridgestone's winter duelers will actually squawk on ice because they are so sticky but their ultra soft compound means they wear very quickly. Any serious winter tire will be labelled "meets the severe snow service requirements of the blah, blah, blah..." The bottom line is that no single tire will cover you for all types of snow and ice but a dedicated winter tire in the stock size is the best compromise.
"When I die I want to die like my grandmother peacefully in her sleep.
Not screaming like all the passengers in her car."
Let's see, snow cat's have............WIDE TRACKS and what do snowmobiles have? WIDE TRACK. Any rocket scientists out here?
Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out...
The heaviest regular production tracked snow vehicle (Thiokol Juggernaut, 16K lbs payload, 36K lbs GVW) exerts ground bearing pressure (GBP) of 2.3 psi at max GVW. Typical GBP for a Sno-Cat type vehicle is 0.5 to 1.25 psi.
Tracked snow vehicles are a completely different application, irrelevant to this discussion about truck tires. Full floatation (zero penetration) on snow is virtually impossible with any tire that you could use on a street-legal pickup truck.
Any idea what tire size you'd need to get GBP down to, say 2 psi, on a 6000 lbs (empty) F250? (Hint: at least double the size of a Super Swamper TSL 18.5/44-16.5.)
whic his why wide tires kick butt in deep snow
Yep, they kick your butt all the way off the side of the road and into the ditch.
I'm aggreeing with the more psi contact to the ground...
That is the opposite of "flotation." Now for you rocket scientists out there, that means more force per area, or...
Well, I wasn't going to wade in but it seems that you need a word from the All Knowing One. In deep, soft, snowy conditions...wide tires are best. On icy, or hardpacked glazed snow conditions...skinny tires are best. I think Ho was trying to say the same thing. BUT since there isn't a best answer to this, this thread can just go on and on, much like Ryan said. But, now that I've added my two cents we can put this debate to rest.
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