Hankook i-Pike RW11 Studded Snow Tires

 In 5th Gen Mods, Accessories, Off-Road

Hankook i-Pike RW11 Studded Snow Tires Review

Hankook i-Pike RW11 Studded Snow Tires

CONQUER WINTER WITH YOUR 4RUNNER – DON’T SURVIVE THE WINTER, CONQUER IT! An overview on the Hankook i-Pike RW11 Studded Tires

It’s a common misperception that you don’t need snow tires in a 4-wheel drive vehicle. If you know some physics or drive regularly in the snow, you know this isn’t necessarily true. There are plenty of reasons why you would want a 4wd 4Runner Vs 2wd 4Runner but just because you have 4wd doesn’t mean you are fully prepared.

The 4-wheel drive does not help you stop on snow and ice at all, and helps very minimally when you are sliding out of a turn into a rock hard snow berm or into the ditch. While the 4Runner has a wide variety of features, none of these are going to perform quite like a snow tire.

If all four tires have no traction, 4-wheel drive is also not a lot of help. The 4-wheel drive does help you track along to some extent and certainly helps you from getting stuck, but if you want to rule the roads in the Winter season, you are going to need something more.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TIRES – WHAT TIRES ARE RIGHT FOR THE JOB?

Hankook i-Pike RW11 Studded Snow Tires

Just like the typical stock mud/snow tires on the 5th generation 4Runners do not seem sufficient for serious off-road use, and are often upgraded/replaced, they are also not sufficient for serious winter driving either. I live in a region we typically have snow four months out of the year. Some winters we have several feet of snow built up before we get some melt off. So just getting to work can sometimes be an adventure.

We also often hit a nearby mountain to ski or snowshoe on the weekends. This can get downright unpassable with an improper rig and/or tires. A couple weeks ago, I helped a hapless Prius out of the ditch halfway up the mountain with my snow recover tracks. They had to turn around, as it just got worse from there.

I welcomed the snow storm and difficult road conditions in my 2018 4Runner equipped with Hankook i-Pike RW11 studded snow tires. I powered up with great traction and clearance with no troubles. My destination was a 6-mile snowshoe hike through tons of powder with 1500 feet of gain. It was incredible.

Part of my love of body on frame SUVs is being able to go places others just can’t go and finding trails out in the woods away from the crowds. We still have an Off-Road edition Nissan Xterra that has taken us amazing places and now we look forward to all the places our new 4-Runner will take us.

WHAT TO BUY? Hankook i-Pike RW11 Studded Snow Tires

Hankook i-Pike RW11 Studded Snow Tires

I have had a lot of different snow tires and the Hankook i-Pike RW11 studded are by far my favorite. They are priced mid-range, aggressive tread, soft high traction rubber, lots of sipes, strong construction and great studs that don’t easily pop out of the tire.

I know people that run Blizzaks, which are a great high traction stud-less snow tires, but they lack the aggressive tread pattern I like to have in case you hit a mix of snow, ice, rock, mud and/or gravel conditions.

Because of the less aggressive tread pattern, the Blizzak just visually look like they belong on a passenger car or a unibody SUV, not a truck. That being said, they perform well.

The Hankooks can be hard to locate if you wait too long to purchase before winter hits, but I managed to find mine at Walmart.com in early December (last possible place I could think of looking). They actually had a great price on the tires and shipped them for free to my local store from a warehouse. I have been powering through the winter roads ever since.

Where you can buy the Hankooks

WHAT MAKES A GOOD SNOW TIRE? THE SPECS

Hankook i-Pike RW11 Studded Snow Tires

I highly recommend the Hankook i-Pike RW11 studded snow tires, but if you are shopping all your option, these are some things to consider:

  • Tread Pattern (I like aggressive for compact snow or if you hit a mix of gravel)
  • Sipes (The more sipes in the tires the better, this improves ice traction. Sipes are the small cuts you see in the tread pattern)
  • Size (The narrower the better for not getting stuck in the snow, but I always just run stock size for the snow tires but try to avoid buying wide oversized tires for snow use)
  • Studs (You want studs that don’t pop out easily and don’t pop through the tire itself and causing an air leak, and yes, that can happen on cheap tires)
  • Quality Construction (You can read reviews, but even with just a visual look, you can tell when a tire is just cheaply constructed. Just looking at the Hankooks, you can tell they are not messing around)

WHAT ABOUT THE WHEELS?

Let’s talk about 4Runner wheels briefly. There are three trains of thought. Some run the same wheels all year and pay to have someone mount and balance the summer and winter tires each year on the same wheels. The costs of this can add up quickly, paying for two mountings and balancing per year.

The second method is to buy some cheap black steel wheels for winter and keep your stock wheels for summer. But you know what, that is just kind of boring, so I prefer the third method.

I always keep my stock wheels for my winter wheels and buy a set of unique custom summer wheels for not much more than steel wheels. Might as well add a little uniqueness to your ride, if you are buying a new set of wheels anyway.

Almost all tire stores will swap your summer and winter wheels FOR FREE as long as you bought them there are purchased a hazard warranty from them. No mounting or balancing with option two or three, so no yearly costs. After a few years, the custom wheels pay for themselves.

WHAT ALL TO BUY

  • Extra set of wheels (Buy something unique you want to run in the summer. Maybe a wider wheel with a little negative offset)
  • Tire sensors (Ugh, these can be costly, but required by the government. Try to find aftermarket sensors, Toyota ones are insanely expensive. Your local tire store can usually find some reasonably priced ones)
  • Good snow tires (Again, I think you can’t go wrong with Hankook i-Pike studded tires, but everyone has their personal preference)
  • Summer tires (Well, if you still have stock tires on your 4runner, you probably want to upgrade these tires also, I plan to buy BF Goodrich KO2s, as they have been excellent on my Xterra. Just out of funds at the moment, so will have to wait a bit)

This is a lot of upfront money but will be worth it in the long run. Also, keep in mind, every month you have your snow tires on, is one less month of wear on your summer all-terrain tires.

HAULING YOUR WINTER GEAR – KEEP IT ALL UNDER CONTROL

Winter 4Runner Gear

Right here, I have to comment on the D-ring Cargo system in the 5th Generation 4Runner, as I use them every trip up the mountain. I find it a simple, but very effective and user-friendly system. I actually like it better than the more complicated track system in the cargo area of my Xterra.

I can easily secure all my snowshoe gear, shovel, and snow recover tracks in the cargo area, so they are not flying around while I head up the winding mountain road. The all-weather cargo mat is a must also, catches all the melting snow.

FIND A BLIZZARD – GO CONQUER!

4Runner Studded Snow Tires

You all know how well the 4Runner performs off road and in low traction conditions. A set of all good all-terrain tires will improve your wintering driving from the stock tires provided from Toyota, but with a set of Hankook i-Pike studded snow tires you will notice a huge jump in traction and you will own the snowy/icy roads.

The only time you will need your off-road recovery strap is when you are yanking someone else out of the ditch. Happy Driving!

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Showing 4 comments
  • Brenan - Trail4R
    Reply

    John, This is awesome. I grew up in Quincy, CA and we (my parents) had studded tires on their trucks. A ford expedition and a ford 250. Both had studded tires and they were needed for sure. Those tires make a world of a difference on the road. When everyone else is off the side of the road in a ditch, you are cruising right along. If you live in an area where winters get harsh, I agree with you John, you should buy a set of studded tires. Not only are they helpful, they are SAFE. Your 4Runner will be much more capable with studded tires. Thanks for the submission! What tires do you run in the summer? Also, what sensors did you buy?

    • John
      Reply

      Thanks Brenan! It’s nice to know you will make your destination, and a bonus to have fun doing it. This 4Runner is a champ in the snow with the Hankooks, pure fun. I plan on purchasing BF Goodrich KO2s for my summer tires. We have a set on our Xterra and they are smooth on the highway, great traction off-road and the reinforced sidewalls can take some abuse. Not sure if I will get 265s or 275s, need to research that a bit. My wheels have a negative offset a little more then the TRD PRO wheels and I have the TRD PRO Bilstein suspension, which gave me a slight lift in the front, so wondering if I can get away with 275s with no rub issues?

      Discount tire told me to hold off on the tire sensors, because the 2018 ones on the 4Runner are new (not the same as 2017 ones) and had no after market version at that time. They said they would swap mine for free until the after market ones are available. The OEM Toyota ones cost more then the price of my wheels, which is just ridicules. After market ones are usually about $60, so I am waiting.

  • Sean
    Reply

    John, I want to run a second set of rims and rubber for winter. So I’m looking for a tire that performs well on icy highways as it does on snow-covered (up to a foot or more) mountain roads. So the question? What size of rims and rubber – would you suggest. I’d like it to look a little beefier but am not willing to swap out suspension as I need to park inside as its often -30’c and I want to be able to get in with a Thule box on. Second to that what time of rubber would you suggest (non studded).
    Thanks in advance

    • John - TRD Off-Road
      Reply

      Hi Sean,

      I have been winter driving for 31 years and have ran several different snow tires on my cars and trucks and some of them were just crap in performance or in quality and durability. So not to sound like a broken record, but I still suggest the Hankook i Pike RW11 snow tires. They really are great. You say you don’t want studs, but that’s okay. It comes in a STUDDED version; 265 /70 R17 115T SL VSB SL Load Range and a STUDDABLE version; 265 /70 R17 115T SL BSW SL Load Range. The studdable version gives you the option of adding the studs or just running them without studs. Lots of people don’t add the studs because they don’t like the extra road noise, they are illegal in their area, or the fact that studs can actually INCREASE stopping distance on wet and dry pavement devoid of snow or ice. I think you would be extremally happy with these tires, even without the studs. They have soft rubber, a ton of sipes for ice traction, an aggressive deep tread pattern for snow traction and just well built. I feel like I can go anywhere with them (keeping speeds at a sane level). We have KO2 all terrain tires on our Xterra, which are a step up from your typical mud & snow all season tires in the winter, but we still put Hankook i Pikes on this rig every winter, because it is a HUGE step up in winter tractions over the KO2s.

      As far as sizing, technically the narrower a tire, the better it performs in deep snow and ice. The farmers around here will run narrower then stock in the winter to get around on their farms in the winter (tall and narrow tires). If you run a really wide tire, it just acts like a big ski and you will actually have less traction and slide more. As much as I like performance, I do want my rig to look good too, so I usually just run the stock width on my snow tires and don’t go narrower, so I would suggest sticking with 265 /70 R17 stock size. Going wider is just going to be counterproductive for winter traction. You can still achieve a beefier look by playing with the wheels. My summer wheels are 8” in width with a -6 offset, which gives me an extra inch of track on each side of my rig from the stock wheels. So they stick out an extra inch on each side and gives you a more stable track (and just looks better). According to Discount Tire, you could even run up to 9” width wheels with a -12 offset if you are sticking with stock tire size. This would give your tires an even beefier, wider look. This does not affect the performance of the snow tires, as the foot print on the tire in still the same, even though you changed the wheels. They will just pooch out a little more with the wider wheels and they will stick out a little more (wider track) with the negative offset in the wheels. It’s always good to double check with tire/wheel retailer, but my 8” width R17 Wheels with a -6 offset have absolutely no issues with rubbing, but I think there is room to push it a little more. You probably already know this, but just to be clear to everyone, the more negative the offset on the wheel, the further the wheel/tires will stick out. Positive offset wheels will bring the wheels and tires closer to the center of the truck (usually decreasing room for larger tires and narrowing the track for your truck). Good luck with your search! Enjoy your truck!

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