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January 10, 2009

[BUMP FROM 12/05] I love not getting stuck! I love driving where others can't.

Until recently if it was snowy our new/old Volvo could be held to a standstill in our driveway with one hand on the grill. Even with sandbags in the trunk. Boom-aire. It was a winter disaster. Zero traction. Well, I recall that an old pal over the years had a running commentary when we went up north skiing that he had a set of Hakkapelitta's that couldn't be stopped. Rob's Hakka's were legend. Except he never used them. Someday, someday he was going to put them on a car. Rob is a high-end mechanic. Every now and then for a big storm he'd break out the Hakka's and have a great time. Well, I recalled these remarks and called him up with an offer he couldn't refuse. Well, he could've but he didn't. He was just sitting on those things, Lord knows why, so he sold em to me at way-cheap. Now our Volvo has Hakka's.

Let me back up. What are Hakka's? Why, they're the world's best snowtires. Finnish winter rally racing tires. Oh yeah! Very pricey. They look kinda cool, too. They have a look. And a great name.

Now, maybe there are a couple tires out there today that give Hakka's a run for it, but they're still the faves of those who know. Blizzaks are very highly rated. As are even some cheapy General A/S's. A fresh snowtire is going to make anyone smile in the snow. But some are better.

Our new Hakka's have been stored inside and have about 1000 miles on them. Cool. Martha was dubious. Will they really help? Well, we've had a couple snowstorms since I put them on and sure enough, they work! Man, they're like mule-tractors out there! What fun! I look for bad roads now. We can even get in and out of our yard! It's just so cool knowing that you have control when you drive. I highly recommend it! And what a handy stealth sort of prestige item. I know people are checking out my tires now in parking lots. Dang, he's got Hakka's!

Now, FWD doesn't really need an aggro tire. RWD needs them bad, though. Back in the bad old RWD days decent snow-country folk had 2 sets of wheels, sure enough. FWD just needs some tread and you're pretty good.

My traction story isn't over, though. I told this story elsewhere already but I have to tell it again. This fall up north at Deer Camp we were mostly using a big ole new Ford 150 4WD truck to cruise the miles to the various blinds, in deep muddy snowy 2tracks. We'd sometimes almost get stuck and have to get another run at a big uphill. One day the truck was used to go to one side of the ranch while a guy and I needed to get to the other side. He had a little street-car Subaru. Low to the ground with street tires. But they have AWD. Not 4WD, just AWD. He thought it would be fine. I was kind of alarmed. Does it have towloops in case we need to be pulled back? I thought it would even get highsided on the ground between the ruts. It's a little low car and these were big slippery rutty trails. Turns out that thing ran like a charm up every hill. No slippage even. He even once stopped midhill to downshift. I cringed but it just started back up the hill. Amazing! It was 3X as good as the big truck.

Reminded me of old trapline days. We had a Blazer that often got stuck. Then we started using my aunt's little Plymouth Colt, a tiny 2WD. It kinda got stuck, too, when 2-tracking in the muddy snow, but one of us could always trot alongside pushing it and keeping it moving. We never bogged down. It's the lightness of these little cars that really does it. I guess. But that AWD is WAY cool, too. If I can, I'll get it on any car we get from here on out.

Reader Comments - Add Your Own Comment
poeg - , posted on Apr 29, 2008
Nokian WR All Weather (ice rated) tires make our Chevy HHR as happy in the snow as our Colorado 4x4. People just look as the "breadbox" on wheels flies past them through the ice and snow. You don't need all wheel drive or even a full locking 4x4 to do well in winter, you just need to spend a dime on seriously good rubber. Saskatchewan Canada has yet to pitch a winter these guys can't handle.