One should never underestimate the worthiness of a proper winter tire. Over the past several years I’ve fallen in love with driving through fresh snow in my Honda CRV and this season the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 SUV Nordic winter tires have made it even more fun—I mean…safe. This recent upgrade feels something like going from riding big mountain lines on a park noodle to hopping on a cambered, all-mountain board with a finely tuned base and sharpened edges. As I was driving through a recent snowstorm that blanketed the poorly plowed city of Bellingham, WA, I watched others spin their wheels while I stayed steady cruising.
The Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 is a non-studded winter tire with phenomenal braking control. The tires feature a beautifully badass tread with multi-faceted Snow Claws between the tread blocks and shoulders that create a confidence boosting grip that you can feel. Snow gets packed between the treads which helps with having extra traction on unplowed surfaces and Biobased Cryo Crystal 3 are added to the tires’ rubber compound to further improve grip on ice. In addition to accounting for ice and fresh powder, the treads are designed to displace water from the tires’ footprints which greatly reduces the risk of hydroplaning. Fortunately, although you can feel the grip, you can’t much hear it—these tires make for a quiet and comfortable ride.
Durability is another major highlight of the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 Nordic winter tires. As any snowboarder knows, mountain roads are riddled with potholes, rocks and the like. On any given trip to your local resort or on service roads to access the backcountry there’s always plenty of opportunity to pop a tire. My fear of doing so in a zone without cell service has been greatly reduced due to the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3’s Aramid Sidewall technology. If you aren’t familiar with Aramid, it’s the sort of fiber used in ballistic-rated body armors worn by military personnel. Now, I haven’t personally tested if these tires are literally bulletproof because that might upset my neighbors but knowing that this kind of technology is in my tires makes me feel much better about the possibility of running into an unexpected rock, nail or other debris on the road.
Winter tires are not well-known for their fuel efficiency, but I haven’t noticed my miles per gallon being negatively affected by the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 tires. Between the high-performance cornering, braking and accelerating on snow, ice and slush, the durability provided by Aramid sidewalls, as well as having no major hit on my gas mileage, I’m happy so say the Hakkapeliitta R3s are some of the best winter tires I’ve ever had the pleasure of driving. The only parting warning I’d bestow on anyone planning to pick up a set is to not get too carried away with the confidence boost these tires give you, because they really make you want to rip.
The Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 Nordic non-studded winter tire retails for $136 – $481 depending on automobile make and model. Find out more on www.nokiantires.com.