Almost two years after purchasing our 2021 Ford F-150, we noticed our tires were starting to look a little bare. Their tread no longer had the deep grooves they came with. That was the most obvious clue that maybe our truck’s Pirelli Scorpion ATR tires were nearing the end of their life cycle. The question became, what should we replace them with?
There are two possible answers. The first is to replace them with exactly the same kind they came with from the factory. The second is to open yourself up to the wide world of aftermarket tires that are available.
For us, this question was easy to answer: Door #2.
So You’re Looking To Go Aftermarket
We have been very hard on our truck’s tires. Immediately after buying this F-150, we set out on an open-ended journey around the U.S. pulling a 5,000-pound travel trailer. In less than a year and a half we traveled over 30,000 miles, more than half of which were towing miles.
The original Pirelli Scorpion ATR tires from the factory performed well, but they weren’t suited to our specific situation. For one, they're OEM tires, so they prioritize low rolling resistance to improve fuel efficiency as much as possible. This helps automakers meet tough fuel economy requirements set by the government, but it creates issues for people who use a truck like the F-150 for what it was intended.
Despite their name sounding off-road-ready, the Pirelli Scorpions are more like minivan tires in both form and function. They don’t look the part of tires mounted to a half-ton pickup with purpose, and we were frankly scared their meek tread would leave us stranded while trying to leave a dispersed camping spot that’s 10 miles down a dirt road.
So our new tires needed to both look more aggressive and actually wear the chunky tread that our regular off-roading required. But we were also towing, a lot, and Pirelli recommended a max PSI of only 44 for the Scorpions. Having higher air pressure in your tires while towing increases stability because the sidewalls are stiffer, and we had hundreds of pounds of stuff sitting in our bed as well as the tongue weight of our trailer pressing down on the rear tires. Nothing bad ever happened because our original tires were only inflated to 40-some PSI, but having tires with a higher maximum pressure rating would be good for our peace of mind.
What We Went With
Being in this industry, we know lots of people who could help us decide what aftermarket tires to buy. We decided to reach out to our friends at Bridgestone/Firestone because A) between their brands they have every type of tire imaginable to consider, and B) there’s a network of Firestone Complete Automotive Care centers dotted around the country, one of which we’d surely be near enough to have whatever tires we chose installed by professionals.
After doing our own research, we came to the table with three options to consider: the Bridgestone Dueler A/T Revo 3, and the Firestone Destination A/T2 and Destination X/T. We wanted the opinion of experts on which tire would best suit our needs. While we thought our three choices were all similarly suited, the experts came back with a different opinion: get the Destination X/T tires.
We weren’t expecting unanimous consent, but they had their reasons. For one, the Dueler A/T Revo 3 and Firestone Destination A/T2 are passenger car tires in most cases (some sizes of the former are higher-rated light truck tires). They may look beefy, and they are to an extent, but might not carry the same load rating as the Destination X/T, which has light truck construction throughout the line. For instance, the Destination X/Ts have a maximum PSI of 80, which helps give them a higher load rating than our original Pirellis.
The Destination X/T is also the only tire in this group that is 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake Certified, which means they are rated for use in severe snow. This certification was established in 1999 by the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) and the Rubber Association of Canada (RAC) specifically to identify tires that have a higher level of snow traction. That’s important to us, not just because we may be caught out in a snowstorm somewhere, but our home base is Cleveland, Ohio – a city with no shortage of snow come wintertime.
There is a Destination tire that’s even more hardcore than the X/T. Called the M/T2, it looks like a tire meant for mud bogging or climbing the Devil’s Backbone in Moab. We decided not even to consider the M/T2, despite how cool it looks, because it necessarily sacrifices some on-road performance, tread life, and fuel efficiency for that ultimate off-road capability. The X/Ts, meanwhile, have a good balance of everything and require very little sacrifice compared to our original factory tires.
Let’s Get These Babies Mounted
At this point, we’re obliged to say our journey deviates from that of the typical consumer because Bridgestone/Firestone offered to send us the tires, including a spare, and have them installed at one of their Firestone Complete Automotive Care shops at no cost. Aside from that, though, no money changed hands; we just needed new tires and wanted to write about the challenge, and they were willing partners.
An appointment was made at the Firestone Complete Automotive Care in Grand Junction, Colorado. We were spending the month in southern Utah exploring its incredible geography and national parks, and we needed the new tires installed before an extended boondocking excursion near Mexican Hat, Utah to watch the annular eclipse. There would likely be many miles of driving off-pavement, and we weren’t sure those Scorpions could take it.
We drove into Grand Junction the day before and set up camp in a nearby Cabela’s parking lot. The next morning we decoupled from the trailer and took our F-150, named Silvie, in for her new rubber.
To say the process was seamless would be an understatement. Despite being incredibly busy, our truck was quickly pulled into one of the FCAC’s bays and work began. It was a lot of work actually because they don’t just mount the new tires on your wheels and call it a day. In addition to balancing the tires and ensuring our alignment was still good, the technician performed a number of courtesy checks that included checking and refilling our fluids, wipers, battery, and hoses. Fortunately, we’ve kept Silvie on a strict schedule of oil changes and maintenance, so nothing else was found.
How Are They Now?
Since having the Destination X/Ts installed, we’ve driven another 3,000 miles. This includes hours off-road getting to and from campsites only the stars can see, as well as an 1,800-mile sprint back home to Cleveland that was four hours of highway driving per day for five days straight.
What I can tell you is that the Firestone Destination X/T is a better tire for us than the original Pirelli Scorpion ATR. We were worried about our fuel economy falling with a more aggressive tread, but have found the new tires make a far smaller impact to fuel efficiency than things like wind speed and direction, elevation, and incline. We also were afraid the new tires might be louder on the highway, but that hasn’t been the case. The original tires had been rotated many times and developed some tread wear that created an odd droning sound while cruising, but the new tires have a nice, even muffled hum that is less distracting.
As for off-roading, while we’ve never claimed to be rock crawlers, we’ve been far enough from the beaten path that our original tires had become a major source of anxiety. That’s completely gone with the Destination X/Ts. Just walking up to the truck, we can see these tires have the technology to get us into and out of everywhere in nature we want to go, and they’ve backed up that impression with slogs through dirt, sand, and mud.
The Firestone Destination X/T comes with a 50,000 limited mileage warranty, which means we’re more likely to exceed the 30,000-some miles we got out of our truck’s original tires. Who knows where we’ll go in that time (we have ideas forming already), but our truck, trailer, and these new tires will be right there with us.