Best Tire Chains
In extreme winter conditions, “all-season” tires will not provide dependable traction to get you to your destination. While dedicated winter tires are the best solution to this problem, it may not make sense to many people to buy a new set of tires for a weekend up in the mountains (some areas also require the use of snow chains).
As a temporary way of getting around this problem, snow chains are an option. Simply put, the idea behind ‘snow chains’ is to wrap metal chains around your tires in order to obtain a method to ‘dig’ through slippery surfaces in a way that all-season tires cannot. However, it’s recommended that you drive slowly to avoid any problems with the chains becoming dislodged.
We've chosen a variety of the best snow chains available. Performance and durability are very important, as the chains need to effectively allow for driving through snow and ice while not being at risk of falling apart mid-drive. Snow chains have a reputation for being difficult to install and remove, which is mostly well-earned. However, some of our more expensive picks feature installation systems that make the process quick and painless. We've also included budget-friendly options that might not include these features, but make for a good option when you're only likely to need snow chains on a rare occasion.
Thule 9mm CG9 Premium Passenger Car Snow Chain
Security Chain Company Super Z6
Thule CB12 Snow Chains
AutoSock Standard Snow Tires
Security Chain Company Radial Chain
As you’ve probably assumed from the name, the Security Chain Company (SCC) specializes in snow chain applications for cars and trucks. The Super Z6 is one of SCC’s highest-spec snow chains available, utilizing a state-of-the-art design that does away with the conventional link-type chain. Instead, the Super Z6 comes with a unique cable-type chain that allows for tight-clearance applications.
The Super Z6 is simple to install, and doesn’t require moving the vehicle or fitting extra chain tighteners. The alloy cables provide superior all-around capability than competing link-type chains and the only drawback are their relatively high price when compared to less capable options.
If you don’t see the point of spending big bucks on a piece of equipment that’s used rarely, if ever at all, consider the Thule CB12. Unlike its more expensive siblings, the CB12 forgoes the frills in exchange for functionality and affordability. Though not equipped with an external quick-release device, this asymmetrical chain is no more difficult to install than the average snow chain (which requires moving the car backwards and forwards).
The chain links provide traction in both deep snow and glare ice, and can be counted on to get you to your destination. When shopping for the Thule CB12, be sure to take into consideration the size that you will need for your particular car or truck.
Invented as an alternative to bulky tire chains, the Autosock is a fresh take on the snow traction enhancing device. Rather than using hard-riding, noisy chains around the tire, the Autosock uses a flexible, specially-designed textile cover that wraps around the whole tire. The surface is full of traction-enhancing fibers that can gain traction on snow and ice, much like conventional snow chains.
For those concerned about long-term durability, the Autosock is fully reusable and can be machine-washed after use to clean off the dirt lodged into the textile. Best of all, the textile-based Autosock can be folded up and stashed out of the way once it is not needed anymore.
For occasional use, the Security Chain Company Radial Chain is a good option. These snow chains feature a simple design and basic functionality; there's no fancy self-tensioning installation system here. Although this does mean that installation and removal is more difficult that some more expensive options, it is always a good idea to practice installing and removing snow chains at home, before you're in an emergency situation. Installation is no more difficult than any other standard snow chains. Overall, for the rare occasion when you might need to use snow chains, these are an affordable option. They might not be the best chains that money can buy, but they are certainly some of the cheapest.