Nordic Know How
Nokian’s highly regarded studded Hakkapeliitta LT a fine fit for mud, snow and ice
The first time someone told me about Hakkapeliittas, I thought they were choking on a burger. As it turns out the snow tire with the strange name has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best snow tires in the world.
Nokian Tyres has a long history of producing snow tires. The company’s roots go back all the way to 1898 when the Finnish rubber factory was established. The company introduced the world’s first winter tire in 1934 and the Nokian Hakkapeliitta line was launched in 1936.
Designed, developed and tested in very demanding winter conditions, Nokian Hakkapeliitta tires are well known above the 45th parallel. With this kind of history and popularity, the LT, the newest version, had a reputation to live up to.
”Product development called for clockwork precision. To develop an extremely good product into an even better one we had to look deep into tire operations,” says Teppo Huovila, Nokian Product Development Manager. “We literally put ourselves between the road and tire to get as detailed an understanding as possible of how the tread pattern and studs behave under critical conditions.”
The deep siping and soft rubber blend of the Nokian Hakkapeliitta LT add up to excellent grip on ice and snow as we saw first hand during the Christmas snowstorms.
The tire’s sturdy construction provides stability on the road, as well as durability. The tread pattern includes some pronounced water-handling grooves, which also serve as voids for snow and mud cleanout.
Numerous improvements to the LT tire structure and tread pattern address a variety of grip demands.
The tread of the new Nokian Hakkapeliitta, called “quattrotread,” features four different kinds of rubber compounds to improve driving stability and stud operation. The new tread pattern also dampens tire noise and enhances steering response.
The shoulder area was built with a number of slide prevention grooves to increase lateral grip for cornering while sharp edges on these grooves stick firmly to the road in the case of heavy swerving or other abrupt maneuvers.
The tread blocks, which are cut up with deep siping, are noticeably pliable. You can move them with your fingers even in cold weather. This is an important feature in a good winter tire, because when temperatures drop, harder compounds can’t conform to pavement, let alone icy road surfaces.
Nokian’s dedicated ice/snow LT come with or without studs. (Check your state’s regulations on studded tire use.) If you’ve never driven on studded tires, you’re in for a treat as the LTs greatly improve snow/ice traction.
Nokian’s bear claw design enhances stud performance by supporting the stud. The bear claw holds the stud in the ideal position during road contact and braking, as well as in lateral movement.
The pre-shaped stud holes keep the studs firmly attached to the tire. The stud pin, bottom flange and the body of the stud are square shaped. The square shape means wider support and stronger anchoring in the tread compound. The stud does not twist or give way, which is particularly important in the shoulder area for braking performance.
We put the Hakkapeliitta LTs to a real test in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains when my buddy Brian stuck his pickup (he wasn’t running snow tires) and a trailer full of ATVs in a snow bank while we were hunting for our Christmas trees.
It was a tough pull getting him out even with my F-250 Super Duty, but the Nokians dug through the snow and ice down to the heavy rock road bed. The soft tread compounds took some hits, but the studs stayed in and his truck was put back on firm ground.
I’ve made several trips up to our local ski area on packed snow and ice and these studded Hakkapeliittas LTs have performed well, which makes a recreation outing more fun. They have also come through nicely when towing an equipment trailer on snow-packed roads going between jobsites.
Less stress on the road means being less stressed when you arrive on the job, which means your crew will thank you faster than you can say Hakkapeliitta.