Best Snow Traction Mats: Our Top Picks for Max Grip
Drive your vehicle out of the snow with these top snow traction mats
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON April 5, 2019
Few things are more frustrating in the winter than getting your vehicle stuck in the snow. But with some handy snow traction mats, you can get out of trouble easily and quickly without assistance. All-weather tire traction mats allow your wheels to grab hold of the snow and ice to get you back on the road. Here’s everything you need to know to find the right mats.
- Best OverallMaxtrax MKII Vehicle Recovery and Extraction Device for Stuck VehicleSummarySummaryThese strong, high-quality mats work extremely well in the snow. Made of a UV-stabilized, strong, engineering-grade nylon, they weigh 17 pounds.ProsProsThe mats come with a lifetime warranty and include built-in handles and shovels at both ends. They stack nicely for storage. They are also UV-protected so they can be exposed to the sun.ConsConsThese mats are rather pricey. Like other mats, the nubs on the surface can wear off if you spin the tires on them consistently.
- Best ValuePortable Tow Truck Portable Tire Traction MatsSummarySummaryThese polypropylene mats are 2.5 pounds and 36 inches long. They are simple to store in the trunk or under a seat and work on all vehicles with various types of tires.ProsProsThese mats flex and conform well in cold temperatures and are effective in both ice and snow. They also have an easy-to-read "this side up" marking on one side to get the mats into position quickly.ConsConsLong-term durability is lacking. The pads may show some wear after use, and they may need to be replaced after a couple of years.
- Honorable MentionMAXSA 2033 Escaper Buddy Traction MatsSummarySummaryMade of durable polypropylene plastic, these mats are 47.63 inches long and 13.77 inches wide. They're intended for the average car or truck as well as off-road vehicles.ProsProsTires grip these mats, which helps to create traction in various conditions. They are strong enough to use with bigger vehicles and are less expensive than other popular brands.ConsConsThey can get slippery when wet or frosted over. They’ve been known to crack under heavy vehicles and don't stack well.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Why Buy Snow Traction Mats?
- Get unstuck quickly. If the tire chains fail, it can take hours for a tow truck to provide help, particularly when there's a storm. The roads get really bad, and many people end up needing assistance as well, even when they have an all-wheel or four-wheel drive.
- Chains are a hassle. Traction mats for snow are a much simpler alternative to snow chains. For emergency traction, they're also a good substitute to sand or kitty litter, which can be very messy.
- Tow trucks are expensive. If you don't have AAA or subscribe to a towing service, it can be pricey to call for assistance in order to get out of the snow.
- Store them in your vehicle. Snow traction mats are quite portable and can be easily stored in your trunk, cargo space, or even under the seats, depending on their size.
- Get some peace of mind. If you have to drive in snowy weather for work or other reasons, traction mats for cars will give you (and your loved ones) a sense of security.
- Skip the assistance. While it's great to have help when you're stuck, you can usually use vehicle traction mats by yourself. They’re quite helpful when you're driving solo or traveling on a road with no one else around.
- One size (usually) fits all. Unlike snow chains, you can use an auto traction mat only when you need one, and it won’t require installation on the car tires. Most brands work on all vehicle types and tire sizes.
- Keep your vehicle safe. Traction pads for trucks or cars will not hurt your vehicle. They are temporarily inserted under the tires so your vehicle has a better grip.
Types of Snow Traction Mats
Regular Tire Traction Mats
Good-quality traction mats for mud, sand, and snow are generally rigid in structure and don't fold up for storage. They are typically a few feet long but can be taller or shorter. Some are designed to stack together for storage purposes. They are intended to provide as much traction as possible but may take up a few feet of space in your vehicle.
Foldable Tire Traction Mats
Foldable mats take up less space in your vehicle's trunk or cargo area. They are collapsible and compact, making them easier to stow than their non-folding counterparts. They tend to be less expensive and less durable than rigid mats, but are good for a quick emergency. If you frequently get stuck in snow, sand, or mud, however, you may want to consider more expensive solid mats that don't fold up for storage.
Top Brands of Snow Traction Mats
MAXTRAX’s founder created the company in 2001 and aimed to make a quick, easy-to-use product for recovering a stranded vehicle. In 2010, the MAXTRAX MKII won two Global Media Awards for Best New Product at the 2010 SEMA Show. MAXTRAX products are available in 30 countries. One top product is the MAXTRAX MKII Vehicle Recovery and Extraction Device for Stuck Vehicle.
Australian-owned and operated, TRED is known for creating recovery boards for off-roaders. Their popular two-in-one design features both a shovel and a heavy-duty, highly-engineered recovery ramp intended to serve as a Total Recovery and Extraction Device. TRED is part of Venlo Investments Pty. Ltd., based in Queensland.
Snow Traction Mat Pricing
- Under $20: There are a variety of off-road traction mats at this price, but the quality is hit or miss. If they're not strong enough, they may break after just one use. This range is best for small car owners or first-time users.
- $20-$100: There are a handful of snow traction mats in this price range, and some are decent quality. They are good for an emergency if used and maintained properly.
- Over $100: You need to spend a few hundred dollars to get really strong, durable, high-quality snow traction mats made of heavy-duty plastics. They last much longer than cheaper mats and are essential if you drive in harsh conditions or frequently get stuck in the snow, sand, or mud. Plus, you will still save some money compared to typical snow tires.
Handles & Straps
A select number of snow traction mats are equipped with straps that allow you to connect them together so they stay put for storage purposes. Others feature handles either on the end or sides of the product, making them more convenient to carry, particularly if the traction mats are a couple of feet long.
Several snow traction mats and recovery/extraction devices are angled on one or two edges to act as a shovel. This allows you to clear away some of the snow before attempting to free your vehicle from a slippery surface. The angled edge can also serve as an ice scraper if necessary.
- Size. Make sure you know the dimensions of the mats/recovery and extraction device before making a purchase because some are longer than others. If you plan on storing them in your vehicle, you’ll want to ensure that you have enough space to accommodate them. Some mats are several feet long, while others fold up and are more portable.
- Clean up. The mats may get dirty, wet, or muddy after a recovery, which may be less problematic if you store them in the trunk or cargo bed. It can be less convenient to put them back in a sedan following an extraction, so keep that in mind when choosing a snow traction mat.
Best Snow Traction Mats Reviews & Recommendations 2019
The MAXTRAX mats are made of a UV-stabilized, flexible, and strong 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 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. For storage, they stack really close together to fit into tight spaces. Best of all, their lightweight construction still offers a higher degree of durability than other models.
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 are allowed to spin on them, which is not advised.
Best Value: Portable Tow Truck Portable Tire Traction Mats
Portable Tow Truck's tire traction mats are suitable for snow, ice, mud, and sand and work on all vehicles regardless of the type of tires they have. The mats are made of polypropylene, weigh 2.5 pounds, and are 36 inches long. They are simple to store in the trunk or under a seat.
These mats are inexpensive compared to other brands. They flex and conform well in cold temperatures and work nicely in both ice and snow. The spikes on the bottom grab the ice and keep the mat in place during use, saving you a lot of time and aggravation when freeing a stuck vehicle. Finally, they have an easy-to-read marking on the top side to position the mats correctly.
The downsides of these mats reflect their budget-oriented design. The pads may show some wear after use, and they may need to be replaced after a couple of years. They are also bulky and can’t fold to store in small, tight spaces. In muddy conditions, they’ve been known to slide around under the weight of heavier vehicles.
Honorable Mention: MAXSA 2033 Escaper Buddy Traction Mats
Each mat in the pair is 47.63 inches long and 13.77 inches wide. They are lightweight and made of durable, high-impact polypropylene plastic. The mats include raised tracks to prevent tires from spinning on snow and ice as well as mud or sand. They are 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. The knobs are durable enough to use with bigger, heavier vehicles.
Like a lot of plastic products, the mats can melt if you spin the tires on them repeatedly. Since they can dislodge under the weight of larger vehicles, the mats may require a bit of repositioning to work or avoid cracking the plastic. If the tires are wet, the plastic can also become slippery.
Tips & Advice for Snow Traction Mats
- Drive slowly when you use snow traction mats. Don't press too hard or too quickly on the gas pedal to avoid wearing down the nubs, particularly on traction mats made of plastic.
- Make sure there is a wide driving path clear of other vehicles or objects when you use the mats because you may not have total control of your vehicle after getting unstuck.
- Check the recommended load weight for the mats to ensure that they can accommodate the weight of your vehicle and the size of your tires. Most mats should work fine with most cars, trucks, and regular-sized off-road vehicles.
- If your vehicle is buried in a really tough spot, mats alone may not be effective. You may also need the assistance of another vehicle and the use of a winch or snatch strap.
Q: Do I need one or two sets of snow traction mats?
A: It's likely that you will only need one set of snow traction mats because it's not too common for all four wheels to get stuck at once. If you drive alone a lot in extreme conditions, however, you may need two sets.
Q: Do you put the mats under the front or back wheels?
A: It depends on where you need traction. You should put the mats on the drive wheels. For example, if the front tires are stuck and spinning on the snow, that's where they need to go.
Q: Is it safe to store them permanently on a roof rack?
A: If possible, it's better to keep the mats covered in order to avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight unless they are UV-stabilized. The sun and heat may make them brittle.
Q: Can you get a flat tire from the protruding knobs on the mats?
A: It would be difficult for the mats to pierce your tires unless they don’t have much tread on them, which means you shouldn't be driving on them in the first place.
Q: Is there a mounting system available for the mats?
A: Some brands have separate mounting systems that you can purchase for the mats/extraction devices. Some models have a mounting pin set with pins that can securely hold two or four mats.
Q: Are they strong enough to bridge gaps?
A: Snow traction mats are intended to get your vehicle out of the snow or ice. If you need to drive over a gap, consider purchasing a classic bridging ladder instead.
Our top pick for the best tire traction mats is the MAXTRAX MKII Vehicle Recovery and Extraction Device for Stuck Vehicle. They are flexible, durable, strong, and are easily stackable for storage.
If you’re looking for something a little less pricey, consider the Portable Tow Truck Portable Tire Traction Mats.