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FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE MILESTAR PATAGONIA TIRE
I have never been brand-loyal when it comes to tires. I always seemed to get caught up with the many trends or phases that the 4×4 industry has gone through with tires over the years. There always seems to be that one “in style” tire brand that everyone is wheeling on.
There was a time years ago when everyone ran BFG Mud Terrains. I had those. Then suddenly nearly every rig on the trail started running Interco Super Swampers or IROKs. I had those. There was the Bogger craze, (YELLING SO YOU CAN HEAR ME OVER THE TIRE NOISE: I HAD THOSE!) Goodyear MTR’s were the go-to tire for a while. I had those.
Ultra4 racing has brought several other brand names into the fold recently, and those tires have now started appearing on the trail. Yep. I have run all those on my vehicles. I have also had several sets of the no-name budget tires and gone as far as embarrassingly enough… wait for it… had a set of Thornbirds on my old Jeep YJ. So it appears that I am a total 4×4 fashionista when it comes to tires.
Tire Choice is Important
With that said, if there is just one thing that I have learned in 30 years of four-wheeling with all those brands, it is this: ALL TIRES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL. All many people require in a tire is that it is round, rubber, rotates and reasonably priced, but I have learned that tire choice is extremely important depending on your vehicle, your budget and what types of surfaces you are planning to drive on.
My 16 year old son’s 1941 Willys had a set of ancient, dry rotted, Goodyear MTRs underneath it. I was worried about him driving on such old tires, but our budget did not allow us to throw an entire new set of tires on his rig. That is, until he walked out of the house one morning to drive to school and found that one of the tires had finally given up the ghost and went completely flat.
I was forced to try to find five new 35 x 12.5/R15 tires on my limited budget. I needed a tire that was fairly road-worthy since my kid drives his 77 year old rig to school every day, but we also needed a tire that works well on the rocks since we are planning multiple Rubicon trips this coming summer. Most importantly, I needed a tire that was really reasonably priced to fit my meager budget.
Lately, I have seen many rigs running Milestar Patagonia MT tires. Without a lot of prior knowledge of the brand or the tires, I admittedly based my purchase on three things: For one, the Milestar Patagonias are, in my opinion, just a good-looking tire. The tread and sidewalls look aggressive, but not overly obnoxious. Secondly, and this may sound dumb at first, the people who run these tires affectionately call them “Pats.” I figured that if people are actually giving a tire a non-derogatory nick-name, they must really like them. But the biggest factor for me, was the cost. They were fairly cheaper than many of the more current, well-known name brands. So 35 inch Milestar Patagonia MTs it was.
When I picked up the tires and threw them into the bed of my pickup, one of the first things that I noticed was the weight of the tires. Each 35×12.5 R15 tire weighs about 65 pounds, which is about average for a tire that size. Since we are stuffing them under an essentially historical, glorified 4×4 golf-cart, I didn’t want heavy tires under it.
The second thing that drew my attention was the tread design. The middle of the tire has off centered tread blocks, all of which have slanted edges and three lines of angled siping on each block. The outer edges of the tires have more aggressive, looking larger lugs, that have siping on the sides of the blocks nearer the center of the tire. It almost looks like two separate tread patterns from two totally different tires, with the outer sides of the tire more “mud-terrain-ish” and the inside lugs more reserved and road-worthy.
As the outer lugs spill over the sides of the tires onto the sidewalls the pattern, in my mind, resembles wicked looking flames that have been painted onto the hood of a hot-rod. It is just a different, but really cool looking tread pattern, that obviously had a lot of thought put into it.
What really got me excited however, was the compound of the tires. The rubber is much softer than I had expected for a tire at that price, and I could fairly easily squish the blocks with my fingers. This lead me right away to believe that the tires would be sticky on the rocks.
Most 16 year old boys get excited over a new video game. My kid gets excited over new tires. When I picked them up, he could not wait to shoe his Willys with the “Pats,” so within an hour of picking up the tires we headed off to Sierra Nevada Tire and Wheel and shoved them under my kid’s Jeep. New tires on a rig always make it look “beefier”, and the 77 year old Willys did look great with the Pats under it, especially in comparison to the older, worn tires we had on it before.
The plan was for me to follow my son back home in my pickup. On the way back to the house however, Peyton turned the Willys left and up the hill into the woods. He wanted to test his new tires right away.
The problem with this, is that his on-board air was not working. If he aired the tires down to wheel it, we would have to drive a lot of miles on asphalt back home in order to air back up. Furthermore, the tire place filled the tires up to the suggested psi for the tire, which was way too much air for the Willys which is not a very heavy vehicle. Kids do not always think everything through, so it was going to be wheeling without airing down.
After driving a ways on asphalt, the road eventually became dotted with snow and we reached a long incline that was completely covered with a foot of two of iced-over snow. There where several vehicles at the bottom, including a Jeep XJ in the middle of the road that had slid sideways after attempting the climb. Farther up the hill were a couple of wranglers that were also having issues with traction.
My son got out of his Willys to turn his hubs, and I got out of my truck to air down, only to slip and fall promptly onto my ass. The snow was so iced over on the top that you could not even leave a footprint in it. Peyton jumped back into his rig, clicked his seat belt on, and to the amazement of all the people at the bottom of the hill, and admittedly myself, he chunked slowly right up the hill in four low with no issues.
The two Jeeps farther up the hill just stared at him in disbelief as he motored right past them. Keep in mind that he did this totally aired up. He then waited at the top of the hill with a “come on dad” look on his face as I struggled to get up the hill with slipping tires. Looks like the Patagonias work very well on the slick stuff with all the siping they have.
A few miles farther up the road and he turned off onto a dirt route that eventually lead to a very short rock trail that my 4×4 club has done multiple times. It was time to see what these things would do in the rocks, but unfortunately aired all the way up.
My pickup would never make it down this trail, so I parked it, hopped into the passenger seat of the Willys and my kid, and we headed down the trail. Most of it was in direct sunlight, so it was void of snow. The rock surface was Sierra granite slabs with occasional boulders, all of which were sprinkled with that light granite gravel that tends to make tires slip a little. I would say that it was a “Rubicon-ish” type of surface, so much so that it reminded me of the “Indian trail” section of the Rubicon.
The first obstacle was an sharp incline that lead to up to the slabs. Normally in my own trail rig, (which is admittedly much heavier) the tires chirp a little and it takes a blip of the throttle to get myself up over it. The Willys idled right up it. It had no problem over the entire trail, and even aired all the way up the tires had very little slippage. Had we dropped he tire pressure down, this moderate trail would be a complete cake-walk for the Patagonias. I was thoroughly impressed. It looks like these tires will work very well in the rocks when actually aired down.
Driving back down the hill, the dirt route was a mix of chip-seal, forest service gravel and mud. When we reached pavement, we once again exited our rigs so my son could turn his hubs. The treads of my tires were completed packed with mud and gravel. They resembled one of those pine cone bird-feeders you made as a kid that you stuffed with peanut butter and covered with bird seed. Peyton’s Patagonias were as clean as a whistle. Apparently the treads on these tires clean themselves very well.
What About Pavement?
On the ride home, my son pulled off to the side of the road as the sun was setting. At first I had thought something had gone wrong with his Jeep, but in actuality, my boy was freezing his butt off in the open top Jeep and was hoping we could switch vehicles so he could warm up. Normally I would have laid into him about toughing it out and have him drive his own rig home, but I wanted to see how the tires did on the pavement.
The first thing I noticed was a definite smoother ride than the rig used to have. I would not necessarily equate this to the Patagonias, but because the old tires we had on it were cupped and hardened with age. The difference had to be just because I was on new tires.
Driving down the paved highway at speed, I noticed the first negative aspect of these tires. At least from my point of view. I am an old school kind of ModernJeeper guy. When I am driving down the road in a rig, I actually like to hear a nice, steady hum from the tires. It just reminds me that I am in an off-road rig, not a normal vehicle.
I also like it when people can hear me coming. A loud tire kind of gives a commanding presence. These Milestar Patagonias however, are nearly dead silent. Even in my son’s open top Willys, the tire noise was negligible. If I was inside my full sized Jeep Wagoneer, I would not be able to hear them at all. The lack of tire noise must stem from the duel tread patterns, where the inside of the tire is more like an all-terrain, while the outer lugs are more mud-terrain. I realize that most normal people would see this as a huge positive, but I guess I am just weird that way.
My First Impressions?
I conclusion, at first glance we are extremely happy with the Milestar Patagonias. It seems that with so many people already affectionately calling these tires “Pats”, others are too. They are grippy, great on multiple surfaces, especially rocks, and are just a great looking tire, at a great price. Admittedly it will take several thousand miles on these tires both on the road and on the trail to see how they really pan out, and how well they wear. In the near future, after my kid puts some more miles on them, we will do another review right here on ModernJeeper.com.
So far, we give the Patagonia tire from Milestar a 5-Jeep rating!