It’s hard to ignore the beauty of snow, a stark sheet twinkling over the horizon, defamiliarizing land you’re so well acquainted with that you may even feel you’re in a totally new and exciting place.
But, like most natural forces, it’s beauty is only matched by the danger it poses, especially on the roads.
Snow chains provide that extra traction and braking capacity your 4x4 truck needs to get from A to B safely.
They can be quite damaging to road surfaces but sometimes they’re the difference between making it home and having to abandon your vehicle on the roadside. Sometimes they may even be the difference between life and death.
By the way, if you vacation or reside in Washington, you'll want to check out the most beautiful RV campgrounds for in Washington.
So, what constitutes a good snow chain? They seem to be both a very simple and exceedingly complex product, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
We’re going to be discussing seven of the very best snow chains for 4x4 trucks available at the minute.
We’re even going to shovel through an in-depth buyer’s guide and brief FAQ section so you know exactly what to look for in the future.
With winter’s icy grasp already upon us, there’s no time to waste, so let’s get started!
Blizzard on the Way?
No problem. Here’s our top pick way up here so you can get your truck suited and booted with plenty of time to spare before those angelic white flakes turn the roads devilish.
Top 7 Best Snow Chains for 4x4 Trucks
OUR TOP PICK
Peerless snow chains are some of the most popular on the market, and due to the self-tightening and centering ratchets, it’s no surprise. These automatic ratchets are designed to allow you to install the chains easily when you’re already out and about in the snow.
Even if your fingers have started to lose a little bit of dexterity in the cold, you can set these chains up in minutes, and they’ll tighten within one revolution of your wheel.
A lot of snow chains only run across the width of the tire, giving you plenty of traction when you’re moving in a straight line, but the Auto-Tracs also have connective chains that run along with your tire tread.
These small but vital chain sections are going to give you some extra traction as you turn corners in snow or on ice.
Altogether, the chains form a diamond pattern over the surface of your tread which makes for a much smoother ride when compared with bulky horizontal patterns.
To make installation even easier the outer chains are colored red so you can identify them straight out the bag even in heavy snowfall. It’s a simple feature, but one that helps these chains stand out in the crowd both literally and figuratively.
Peerless’ thoughtfulness extends even beyond the product itself, as they provide a completely waterproof, intuitive fold-out manual. This is such a nice touch as it means you can stop mid-journey, lay the instructions out on the snow, and fit the chains precisely when you deem it necessary.
- Brightly colored outer chains improve visibility and make setup easy
- Automatically tightening ratchets
- Diamond chain pattern makes for a smoother ride
- Vertical chains provide good traction while cornering
- Comes with waterproof instructions
- Comes as a set of two
- Pretty expensive, but for good reason
Our second snow stopper is another innovative design, but this time they’re aimed specifically at 4x4s with extremely limited operating clearance.
More of a cable than a chain, Security Chain has managed to keep the Super Z6 amazingly compact in almost every way.
You’ll be able to fit these to your wheels with as little as 6.33mm (0.25 inches) of sidewall clearance which is roughly half the space required for the average snow chains.
Security Chain has also done a great job in terms of traction patterns. The alloy steel traction coils zigzag over your tire tread providing a very smooth ride, offering traction to build forward momentum, increase stopping power, and help with cornering.
You can entirely install these chains without moving your car an inch. The rubber fitting system keeps everything tight and in place before you’re even back behind the wheel, brilliant! Tightening is done with a rubber hook system that can be applied in seconds.
In addition, SuperZ6 cable chains are a healthier option for your 4x4’s hardware. Using these, there’s far less chance of damaging your rims, tires, and the road surface.
The only real problem we can see with this cable chain design is that moisture may get trapped internally, but as long as you set them to dry appropriately after use, this should be a non-issue.
- Completely static installation
- Self-tightening rubber fitting
- Strong alloy steel construction
- Great zigzag traction pattern
- Very easy to install
- Perfect for wheels with low clearance space
- Rim-friendly design
- Comes as a set of two
- Slightly cheaper than our top pick but still quite expensive
- They need to dry well after use
Slinging snow along the wintry heights of our number three spot is a simple, wheel-friendly design that you’ll kick yourself for not thinking of first.
By far the best thing about these snow chains is their ease of installation. You simply drape the chains over your tread, thread the Strong Safe strap through your clearance space using the included tool, and buckle it down.
All you need to do then is tighten it in place with one of the identical included wrenches.
The horizontal traction pattern E chains provide is pretty basic, but the fact the magnesium steel chains work in triplets is going to give you some excellent stopping power and unparalleled drive to get from stationary to forward motion.
E chains will also have no negative impact on your truck’s hardware whatsoever as no hard surfaces come into contact with your rim. That said, they’re not a perfect design.
They require quite a large rim gap for the threading tool, and if you lose the tightening wrenches or threader, you’re not going to be able to use them.
- Easy installation
- Unmatched horizontal traction patterns
- Completely wheel-friendly’
- Affordable for a pack of six
- Strong Safe strap is - needless to say - strong and safe
- Steel alloy chains
- Can be added individually for custom amounts of grip assistance
- Comes with spare wrench
- Individual installation is easy but may take longer than average chains
- Requires the use of two separate tools
- Metal is strong but not fully galvanized
Coming in at number four is a company that uses the word chains fairly loosely, but they’re still a fantastic product that will keep you and your vehicle safe in the roadless wintry void.
Rather than use a chain to provide extra traction on slippery surfaces, this grippy product uses stocky, blunted steel teeth protruding from the galvanized TPU braces.
These little nails are sure to provide you with plenty of traction, especially on ice for initial acceleration, but unfortunately, they don’t have great clearing capabilities.
That said, the TPU itself does have a quality diamond traction pattern, and it morphs to the shape and size of your tire, offering what is probably the best fit of any chain on our list.
Installation is similar to our number three pick which is nice and easy, but means you can only use them if you have large gaps in your rim wall.
The extra strong belts are threaded through your clearance space then strapped and wrenched in place. The only difference here is that each chain has two straps, so it’ll take twice as long to install them.
- Easy to install
- Yellow makes them very visible in snow
- Metal studs will give you awesome grip on ice
- TPU molds to the shape of your tire
- Completely wheel-friendly
- Wrench comes included
- Roughly half the price of our top pick
- TPU has a good tread pattern
- Comes as a pack of six (2 wheels worth)
- Not strictly a chain
- Less snow clearance
- May take longer to install than the average snow chains
- 25mph limit
- Requires large clearance space
Bracing your wheels for trips into the sparkling silver expanse, at our fifth spot, we have a more traditional set of snow chains for those who want to play it safe and simple.
As it stands, these are the most expensive chains on our list so far, which seems strange as it’s the first design that doesn’t bring anything new to the table, so why the hefty price tag?
Well, it’s mostly due to the extra durable manganese steel alloy chains coated in a golden chromatic finish to protect them from oxidation.
The tightening phase of the installation process is really easy, but it does require the SCC tightening tool which is sold separately.
You simply set the chains over the tire as you would a standard set of snow chains, move your vehicle forward a few inches, hook the chains together, then flip the cam attachments with the tightening tool.
Our biggest problem with these chains is that SCC suggests you secure the cams with wire or plastic ties.
Considering the cost, and the separate tightening tool, we’d expect it to secure safely on its own. It’s also important to note that if the V-bars are facing the wrong way after installation, they will damage your tires.
- Incredibly strong and durable metal
- Built-in cams keep the chains tight
- Coating prevents oxidization
- Can be purchased in various sizes
- Comes as a set of two
- V-bar chain links provide excellent traction
- Very overpriced
- Requires a tool that’s sold separately
- SCC reckoned using additional wire or plastic ties to secure the cams
- Installation requires moving the vehicle
- May damage your tire if installed incorrectly
Eating up that snow like cotton candy, at our penultimate spot, is a quality chain similar in design to our third belted pick, but with a slightly different traction pattern to give you some extra lateral control.
Installation is almost exactly the same process as our other belted options, but no wrench is required in this instance.
The biggest difference between NICEASY chains and the EASE2U chains is the chain pattern. Here you have an X pattern secured with an O ring.
We actually prefer this traction pattern as it offers slightly more control during cornering. The iron O ring also does a great job of preventing tangling in storage.
The reason these chains aren’t further up on our list is that they’re made of iron. They are coated to prevent oxidization, but iron is nowhere near as strong as steel, and once that coating is compromised, iron rusts like nothing else in this world.
All things considered, these are great snow chains. They’ll fit any number of wheel sizes, they’re easily installed, require fewer tools than our other belted chains, and they have a fantastic traction pattern.
- Great X traction pattern
- Golden coating prevents oxidization
- Central O ring prevents chain links from tangling
- Axle buckle doesn’t require a wrench to fully secure the strap
- Stationary installation
- Totally wheel-friendly
- You can choose to use two or three a tire
- Comes as a six-pack
- Iron construction
Keeping the direction of your truck straight and true in the blizzardy depths of our grippy list is a revolutionary design that reimagines what a chain can be.
They’re made up of carbon steel rollers surrounding sturdy wire cable cross members, making these the strongest chains on our list. Moreover, an electro-galvanized coating protects the carbon steel from rust.
What these things excel at is clearance. It’s a ladder style square link chain, which is about as simple as a traction pattern can get, but they’re so low profile, they allow optimal connection between your tire tread and the road.
Another awesome thing about these chains is the security they provide on sharp corners. The carbon steel rollers slide along and build up a resistance that eliminates drifting, so if you have to navigate some fairly sinuous tracks, these could be the perfect chains for you.
Installation is really simple. It’s a classic chain link design. You don’t have to move your truck at all, but we highly recommend purchasing some rubber holding hook devices to make sure they’re as secure as possible.
The only big problem we foresee here is that they’re not going to be incredibly helpful on icy surfaces that require more of a toothy grip.
- Low profile allows for enhanced tire to road contact
- Sliding rollers provide stability on sharp corners
- Super affordable
- Static installation
- Installation is incredibly easy
- Great snow clearance
- Carbon steel construction
- Comes in a pack of two
- Might not perform as well as others on ice
- Simple traction pattern
- Insides can rust if not properly cared for
Best Snow Chains for 4x4 Trucks Buying Guide
Before you settle on some tire chains, let’s discuss some of the things we considered when compiling our list.
Obviously, money considerations should take a back seat where safety is concerned, but it is worth keeping in mind as snow chains aren’t exactly cheap, and you’ll need four of them for your 4x4.
Most companies sell chains in multiple sizes to enhance compatibility.
You should always check the size of your wheel and tire before you order any snow chains.
Before tightening, they should be neither slack nor tight to your tire, rather, somewhere in between.
Clearance space is the distance between your tire and your wheel arch. Some chains require a larger space than others.
You’ll need to account for the size of the chain, the installation method, and space you’ll need for your hands.
If you’ve got limited clearance space, it’s best to use low profile chains, as they’ll free up some room for your hands during installation.
Better yet, if you have the space available in your rim pattern, you could try belted chains like our number three pick.
For lots of chains, rim space isn’t an issue as they secure around your tire rather than through it, but for others, especially belted chains, you need a large enough space to accommodate the threading tool.
With this in mind, it’s a good idea to take some accurate measurements of the gaps in your rim pattern before you start shopping..
Ideally, installation needs to be as quick and easy as possible. There are three main installation processes available: Static cable fitted, chain link fitted with vehicle movement, and belt fitted.
Static cable fitted chains are the easiest and fastest to install because they don’t require you to move your vehicle after placement. They connect around your tire using cables. All you need to do then is secure them. These kinds of chains are really easy to install when you’re already out and about in the snow.
Traditional chain link designs are the next fastest, but they require you to move your vehicle after placement, allowing both ends of the chains to meet.
Belt chains are really easy to install but they’re fitted individually which generally takes longer than other designs. They’re also reliant on at least one tool, sometimes two, which could be considered a little impractical.
Top Tip - Practice installation in a warm, dry environment so you’re prepared to fit them efficiently come the next snowfall.
An automatic tightening system is the most efficient way to keep your chains in place.
Failing that, a rubber fastening device is a quick and reliable way to keep your chains tight over your tire.
Chain patterns provide a variety of different grips on the road, so it’s important to consider which ones will suit your environment the most.
Square link or ladder chains are the most common and simple chain design, with equally spaced horizontal chains running over your tire tread.
They provide excellent traction for acceleration and clear out snow really well, but they’re not perfect for sharp corners.
Zigzagging chains are great all-rounders, but they don’t offer as much traction for accelerating from a static position as ladder chains do.
Diamond links provide the best of both worlds. They find enough traction to take off as well as supporting your wheels as you corner.
If they have vertical connective links like our top pick, they’ll provide even better lateral traction. As the diamond is a more consistent pattern, they also offer a much smoother ride.
The last thing you need after a long trip is a grueling removal process.
Most snow chains are fairly easy to remove, but if you want something particularly fast, look for chains with ripcord removal functions.
By law, you’re not allowed to travel beyond 30mph with snow chains fitted to your truck, but some snow chains will suggest a lower top speed.
Make sure you check the manufacturer’s recommendations on speed before purchasing your snow chains.
Snow chains need to be able to handle some pretty rugged usage. They’re going to take a beating from your vehicle, the road, moisture, and the extreme temperatures.
Steel alloy is your best bet. Iron is also strong, but it won’t last as long as steel.
Coatings are essential in preventing oxidization. Rust is a big problem with snow chains, it can happen pretty suddenly and completely debilitate their structural integrity.
Coatings eliminate this risk, but eventually, will wear down.
Many snow chains, regardless of installation method, will require the use of extra tools.
They’re most commonly used for tightening the chains to your tire. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but we recommend choosing a product that needs as few tools as possible.
This way you don’t have to worry about losing them.
Colored chain sections are a fantastic way to give you a little bit of help during installation.
The colors keep important sections visible in the snow enabling a speedy installation so you can get moving again.
Tangling is a common problem with snow chains, but there are some innovative designs available at the minute that reduce or completely eliminate tangling.
Some chains can damage your wheel or tire if not installed correctly.
It’s best to avoid these if you’re not used to installing snow chains.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many snow chains do you need on a 4x4?
You’ll need four chains to make the most of your four-wheel drive.
How fast can you go with snow chains on?
The law states 30mph, but some chains are only designed for even slower speeds.
Is it okay to leave snow chains on overnight?
It should be, but some with internal links can be particularly vulnerable to rust, so it’s advisable they’re removed and left to dry.
Snow chains are an invaluable asset in wintry climates. Everyone should have at least two in their car at all times in case of emergency.
Following our buyer’s guide and using our picks as a point of reference, there’s no reason you can’t find the perfect snow chains for your 4x4 truck.