Stay On The Blacktop All Year: Best Snow Traction Mats

Drive your vehicle out of the snow with these top snow traction mats

byHank O'Hop| UPDATED Nov 8, 2022 10:08 AM
Stay On The Blacktop All Year: Best Snow Traction Mats

The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

BYHank O'Hop/ LAST UPDATED ON November 8, 2022

You're going to get stuck in the snow, especially if you fancy yourself a good driver at the command of a rig that can go anywhere. None of us want to admit it, but it is going to happen. You need to be prepared for when it does. In the old days, a bag of kitty litter on the back seat was your way out. Things are different now, though. Now you can buy fancy traction mats that slide right under your tires, allowing you to get a grip pretty much anywhere. There are different mats for different situations, and you need to know which is right for you if you want things to work out. This guide is just what you need to get started. 


Affiliate Disclaimer: The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

Best Overall
Maxtrax MKII Vehicle Recovery Board

Maxtrax MKII Vehicle Recovery Board

Summary
The name leading the industry. It’s hard to beat the quality and performance of Maxtrax recovery boards.
Pros
  • High quality 
  • Performs well on multiple terrains
  • Functions as a shovel 
  • High durability
Cons
  • Expensive 
  • Nubs easily wear during tire slippage
Best Value

Portable Tow Truck Tire Traction Mats

Summary
The clear choice when the budget and space are limited. These traction mats take up virtually no room, but will save you in an emergency.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Easy to store 
  • Versatile 
Cons
  • Not the best traction
  • Brittle
Honorable Mention

MAXSA 2033 Escaper Buddy Traction Mats

Summary
Somewhere between Best Overall and Best Value, these traction boards look and perform just like truck enthusiasts demand.
Pros
  • Versatile 
  • Functions as a shovel 
  • Competitive pricing
Cons
  • Durability is questionable 
  • Traction pegs can see improvement

Summary List 

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

Our Methodology

Unfortunately, we didn't have the opportunity to gather up a list of our favorite mats, take our trucks out into the snow-capped mountains, and get stuck to see which worked best. That doesn't mean we don't know what we're talking about, though. We took the time to research the market, and each mat discussed to come up with a list we trust has something for everyone. 

Best Snow Traction Mats Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Manufacturer:Maxtrax
  • Part Number:MKII
  • Length: 46 Inches

Pros

  • High quality
  • Performs well on multiple terrains
  • Functions as a shovel
  • High durability

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Nubs easily wear during tire slippage

The Maxtrax mats are made of a UV-stabilized, flexible reinforced nylon. They weigh 17 pounds and are 46 by 14 by 4 inches. The product’s cleats cling to the tire tread as well as the snowy, muddy, or sandy terrain underneath. The pair includes six built-in handles each and a shovel at both ends to make extraction easier. The Maxtrax mats are extremely strong and can accommodate very large vehicles, including a van weighing several tons. The straps make it easy to find them when they get buried in the snow or mud and they stack neatly together for storage.

One downside is that they are on the pricier side. If you are looking for something to use for the occasional snowstorm, a cheaper model might be a better option. In addition, the nubs can rub off if the tires spin on them.

Specs

  • Manufacturer:Portable Tow Truck
  • Part Number:Ptt-blk
  • Length:36 Inches

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Easy to store
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Not the best traction
  • Brittle

Portable Tow Truck’s traction mats are an obvious pick for best value because of the low asking price. However, that’s not all there is to like about them. They measure 36 inches long and weigh just 2.5 pounds each. That makes them easy to handle and store, which is great for vehicle owners with little space to offer and in any case when you’re stuck in the snow. That said, they’re great for any loose terrain a vehicle may struggle with, and you can put them to work any time of year, not just the winter.

The low cost does come with some issues. Traction isn’t the best and they’re kind of brittle. They aren’t going to perform or hold up as well as premium options, but they still may save you from calling roadside assistance.

Specs

  • Manufacturer:Maxsa
  • Part Number:20333
  • Length:48 Inches

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Functions as a shovel
  • Competitive pricing

Cons

  • Durability is questionable
  • Melt easily with tire slippage

Maxsa’s Escaper Buddy traction mats are lightweight, durable, and measure 47.63 inches long and 13.77 inches wide. The mats include raised tracks to prevent tires from spinning on snow and ice as well as mud or sand, making them suitable for off-roading and typical winter driving conditions.The tires grip the mat and pull the vehicle out of whatever jam you find yourself in, including slick conditions. The bright orange color makes them easy to see in the deep snow or mud, and the knobs are durable enough to use with heavier vehicles.

Like a lot of plastic products, the mats tend to melt easily with tire slippage, which is something of a common issue for these mats. They can break relatively easily, making effective positioning crucial to longevity.

Specs

  • Manufacturer:EVTime
  • Part Number:ETTM
  • Length:27.6 Inches

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Versatile
  • Rolls up for convenience
  • Includes carry bag

Cons

  • Only includes one mat
  • Heavy

EVTimes’ traction mat is a roll-up mat, measuring in just under 28 inches in length. This mat provides traction in snow, ice, mud, and sand. It’s a solid choice for all kinds of vehicles where space is limited, including ATVs. The mat is made of high strength rubberized rungs that are connected with galvanized steel core cables It’s incredibly durable and can be used with vehicles that weigh up to seven tons. It also comes conveniently rolled up in a compact carrying bag.

The downside of this mat is that you only get one in the package. That wouldn’t be a huge issue, but imagery suggests otherwise, leaving many consumers upset. They’re also rather heavy, making them awkward to carry and adjust.

Specs

  • Manufacturer:Bunker Indust
  • Part Number:RTK5-BLK-FRD
  • Length:36 Inches

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Functions as a shovel
  • Lightweight and easy to handle

Cons

  • Durability is questionable
  • Not the best choice for severe conditions

Bunker Indust’s traction mats just missed our pick for Best Value. These mats are great for use in mud, sand, snow, and ice. The design of these mats features 7mm anti-slip tough teeth. Each mat measures 38.38 by 12.9 by 2.3 inches. They’re lightweight and have increased stability and side slippage. They also have side handles for easier carrying. The nylon material is easy to clean, UV resistant, and anti-corrosive.

Unfortunately, the mats are easily pushed to their limit by heavier vehicles. They break apart easily under heavy loads, and even with lighter vehicles you want to avoid beating up on them too much because of the relatively low durability.

Our Verdict

Our top pick for the best tire traction mats is the MAXTRAX MKII Vehicle Recovery BoardsThey are flexible, durable, strong, and are easily stackable for storage. However, the Portable Tow Truck Tire Traction Mats is a great choice for those on a budget. 

What to Consider Before Buying Snow Traction Mats

Types of Snow Traction Mats

Foldable Tire Traction Mats

As the name implies, foldable mats are those that fold into themselves. However, any traction mat that collapses into itself to reduce its overall footprint in storage can loosely fit under this category. The main draw to this type is that they're great to keep in vehicles where space is limited, such as a sedan or even a crossover. They might not be as durable or effective as they're alternative, but they'll still work in an emergency.

Regular Tire Traction Mats

What we're calling regular traction mats are more like a board than a mat. They're a fixed-length design with more of an emphasis on performance than storage. These are usually a couple of feet in length, making storage on the exterior of the vehicle, like on the roof rack or in the bed of a truck, a better choice than the interior. The design is beneficial in that it's more durable and generally more effective, and the body can double as a shovel to help dig down into the snow for effective placement.

Snow Traction Mat Pricing

As with anything, the level of quality, basic design, special features, and the name attached to traction mats will largely determine how much you pay. As for hard numbers, they can run you anywhere from $20 to well over $100. It's a good idea to stick to the higher end of that price range because you really do want a set of snow traction mats to perform when you need them to. 

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: Do I need one or two sets of snow traction mats? 

A: You can almost count all four tires getting stuck at once. If money is tight, you can start by buying just one set, but upgrading to two sets in time is a good goal. 

Q: Do you put the mats under the front or back wheels?

A: That depends on the drive type and which tires are stuck. If it's a 4x4 application with just the front tires spinning, you should place them beneath the front tires. But, again, it's likely all four tires are spinning if you're stuck, and you'll need help on all corners. 

Q: Is it safe to store them permanently on a roof rack? 

A: As long as the traction mats are resilient to UV rays, you shouldn't have any problems doing so. Otherwise, they might grow brittle over time, and you should keep them covered whenever possible. 

Q: Can you get a flat tire from the protruding knobs on the mats? 

A: It's extremely unlikely. While nothing is impossible, the knobs on the boards would have a really hard time piercing vehicle tires if they could even reach a vulnerable enough point. 

Q: Is there a mounting system available for the mats? 

A: That depends on the model you’re working with. Some brands have separate mounting systems that you can purchase separately, while others might have mounting solutions built in. 

Q: Are they strong enough to bridge gaps? 

A: No. Snow traction mats are intended to get your vehicle out of the snow or ice. If you need to drive over a gap, you’ll need a bridging ladder instead. 

stripe
stripe